A parish council is fighting to regain control of land once earmarked for housing.
Bearsted Parish Council spent years maintaining a green off Rosemary Road – despite the lease running out in 2014.
Parish clerk Sarah Lewis said: “There was a slight misunderstanding with Maidstone Borough Council (MBC).
“We’ve been maintaining the park without knowing the lease had expired. We asked if the council was going to take over the maintenance.
“They took that to mean we didn’t want the lease, which isn’t the case.”
Bearsted Parish Council first became aware it was no longer leasing the site when it was listed as a potential area for development in a secret report.
The news comes as the KM launches its Protect our Play campaign, calling for Maidstone council to commit to safeguarding vital open spaces and to confirm which sites might be sold for housing.
At the end of last year Gen2 surveyed sites from across the borough on behalf of the authority.
It found 23 locations, a mix of open spaces, playgrounds and urban plots, it deemed suitable for development.
MBC has refused to make the list public and has only discussed the places listed in private meetings.
Earlier this year the council received a petition signed by 153 Bearsted villagers to protect the Rosemary Road space, after they were tipped off over its potential development.
Mrs Lewis said: “It is not feasible to put anything there, it would be ridiculous.”
Stephen Kendall presented the petition and told the council: “The green space is an attractive area. The strength of feeling it should remain untouched and not developed is very high indeed.
“We therefore ask that the council leaves it as it is for the well being of all who use it now and in the future.”
A spokeswoman for MBC said: “The council took back the open space site on Rosemary Road, when the Bearsted Parish Council lease came to an end.
“The site has not been advertised for rent as MBC is currently maintaining it as part of its general responsibility for parks and open spaces, and the council has no other plans for it.”
Speaking of the work done by Gen2, the spokeswoman added: “The report was authored by third party consultants, so it would be wrong to infer any intentions on the part of the council from their recommendations.”
Petitioning from locals looks to have saved Rosemary Road from development, but neighbours are still unhappy with the state of it since Maidstone Borough Council took over maintenance.
Clair Karuhas is one of those who has noticed standards declining. She says she will not be returning after her daughters came back covered in muck.
She said: “My little ones played in there all the time. Now its overgrown full of weeds and dog poos.
“Its only happened in the last couple of months.
“The girls used to play hide and seek in there in the shade but last time they came back they were covered in mess.”
As of 2017 Maidstone Borough Council has 426 hectares of green space.
That includes 80 neighbourhood greens and 68 play areas.
Last week the Kent Messenger launched a campaign urging Maidstone Borough Council to Protect our Play and discuss potential development as openly as possible.
Borough councillor for Bearsted Val Springett said: “Myself and other Conservative councillors have raised concerns with the leader of the council.
“We’re concerned a lot of stuff is being kept out of the public domain, reports get put in restricted view when there’s only one small element that should be private.
“The council should be open, if there’s something financially sensitive then that is different.
“The council tried to keep the Gen2 report private and I felt it was right at the time.
“I was liaising with residents about Rosemary Road and there are no plans to do anything with it, which is fantastic news.”
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