RESIDENTS were out in force to celebrate the official registration of their village green, marking a milestone described by one person as “better than Christmas”.

People living in the Oughtonhead area of Hitchin have been battling for five years to award land near their homes village green status, which affords it protection against development.

Herts County Council registered the green – located between Oughtenhead Way and Lavender Way – officially this month, with changes to government legislation stalling the process in the lead-up.

Residents had promised never to give up on their dream, and marked the good news with a party on Saturday on their new green.

Terre Leech, who completed the original application with husband Phil Gow and neighbour Toby Limbrick, said: “It has taken a while but it has been worth the wait.

“It is fantastic news, better than Christmas.”

The application had been checked and accepted by the county council in 2009 before landowners North Herts District Council decided to voluntarily register the area as a village green.

But changes in Government legislation stalled the process, with all issues finally resolved this month.

Photos showing the area was used for village green activities – including parties and sporting events – helped the application, including pictures taken before the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977.

Today, it is used for gatherings, activities and barbecues.

“We are very grateful for all the effort and support from all involved,” said Mr Limbrick.

“Particularly, we want to thank the Herts County Council rights of way and IT departments and legal services department at North Herts District Council as well as all the residents who helped us with the original application.”