Campaigners fighting to save land at Borehamwood's Woodcock Hill from development have launched a new drive against a Government inspector's decision that it should be taken out of the Green Belt.

Campaign Group WHOSE! (Woodcock Hill Open Space 4 Ever) is carrying out a survey of how residents use the open space to present to Hertsmere Borough Council, which it hopes will resist the inspector's decision.

In November last year, a Government inspector ruled, after a public inquiry, that the borough council should take the nine-acre plot out of the Green Belt so that it could be used for house-building in ten years, if no other land was available in Hertsmere.

This went against the council's argument that it should be kept in the Green Belt, and that other previously-developed sites were becoming available for future house-building.

Landowner Laing Homes argued that the land, off Byron Avenue and Vale Avenue, should be 'safeguarded' in case it was needed to meet future housing targets.

WHOSE! chair Pat Strack said: "We are hoping to influence the council by showing that local people use Woodcock Hill for recreation.

"At the moment the council are sympathetic to us, but they may be directed or forced to do something they do not want to do.

"It is about time local people have a local say we should not have imposed on us what big business demands and there is no evidence we need any housing there at all."

Campaign supporter Mary Hanson, of Tennison Avenue, said the open space needed saving because there were no other parks nearby, and added: "It is a place for walking, for exercising dogs, for taking children for walks and for nature study.

"From the top of the hill, there are views across the county to Bedfordshire on a clear day."

Borough Councillor Bryan Stanley was due to propose a motion, at a meeting of the borough council last night, that the council reject present recommendations for the land to become 'safeguarded'.

Councillor Stanley hoped, if his motion was agreed, it would encourage the council to formally oppose the inspector's ruling on Woodcock Hill, when it takes its decision at a future meeting.

Mr Stanley said there was no need to build on the borough's Green Belt because previously-developed sites, like the Fire Research Station and the town's middle schools, had become available for house-building.

Laing Homes' strategic land director, Brian Smith said that, if the council decided not to follow the inspector's recommendation, the company would consider taking the council to the High Court so that a judge could decide.

He added: "We would be rather perturbed to see the council going against the independent inspector we would seek to ensure that the land was 'safeguarded'."

Council planning officers are intending to present a report on the issue to the council's regulatory committee on February 26, but only the full council, which next meets on April 10, can decide to alter the council's District Plan, in which the change from Green Belt to "safeguarded" would be made.