Memorial Field is the planned site for the location of the town’s new £2.8million community centre, which has become the subject of strong opposition.
Campaigning group Friends of Memorial Field have been trying to stop the building of the multi-purpose venue since last year, arguing the green space should remain untouched.
They have also raised concerns about noise, lack of car parking spaces, flooding risks and a general lack of consultation.
Earlier this year, a parish poll was commissioned by the town council, which showed overwhelming opposition by the local people to the proposed community centre, but Paddock Wood Town Council [PWTC] decided to press ahead with moving forward to finalise the planning process.
Now, in a move which the leader of PWTC says she has ‘no doubt’ is aimed at scuppering the plans for the community centre, campaigners have filed an application with Kent County Council [KCC] to change the status of the field to a village green.
“I’ve no doubt why this has been done,” said PWTC Leader Cllr Meryl Flashman. “As yet, we do not know who has filed the application. All we know is that KCC has received it.”
Village Green status can often prevent developments being built on green space, unless they have been approved in advance.
Cllr Flashman admits no planning application for the Memorial Field Community Centre has yet been submitted, as any such application will be made after the town council meets again to discuss the project in the coming months.
After the Commons Act 2006, which made it easier to register land as a green, it became commonplace for opponents of developments to use request the status to block projects on green space.
But the government introduced significant changes to prevent this in 2013, which has made it much more difficult to create new village greens. The ultimate decision will lie with Kent County Council.
A spokesman for KCC confirmed that they had received an application for turning Memorial Field into a village green. He said: “I can confirm that KCC has received the appropriate forms relating to this application and is now carrying out preliminary checks.”
Nobody was available from the Friends of Memorial Field to comment.