Efforts to protect an area of green belt land from development have moved a step closer.

Epping Town Council has had 170 questionnaires returned by campaigners wanting land known as Old Pastures in Stonards Hill to be registered as a village green under the Commons Act 2006, protecting it from development.

The land is a popular walking route and in order to protect it the town council will use evidence from the survey to show Essex County Council the land has been used by the community for sport or leisure for more than 20 years.

The bid to protect the land was made in response to the district's long-term plan for 10,000 homes to be built over the next two decades.

Because of this, restrictions on developing green belt land have been relaxed, sparking the demand for more protection. 

A spokesman for the town council said: “Thanks in large part to the members of the Epping Society, whose members put in a lot of effort to raise awareness of the campaign, we now have over 170 completed questionnaires, which we are now collating and which will form the evidence base for our application.

“Many thanks to all residents who took the time to complete the questionnaires.”