THE public inquiry which could decide the future of Harefield’s Medi Parc is under way at Hillingdon Civic Centre.
Campaigners are battling plans by developers Comer Homes to build housing on the green space, in Hill End Road.
The enquiry, chaired by an independent planning inspector, hinges around a bid by the village’s Save the Medi Parc group to make the site a village green, using a little-known law.
They will be producing evidence that the grassland has been used by dog walkers, joggers and others without needing permission or being stopped, for the last 20 years.
Tina Wane, one of the leaders of the campaign who has lived in Hill End road for 15 years, was the first to give evidence yesterday and was on the stand for a day and a half.
She faced a barrage of questions from Comer lawyers about her own knowledge of the site and people she saw using it.
Arguments so far have hinged on access points, fences and signage.
More witnesses are due to give evidence this afternoon and the hearing will continue this week and next.
The campaign has been backed by the Open Spaces Society, which helped to hatch the plan to register the land as a village green.
Although the law has not been extensively tested, two 19th century statutes seem to suggest that these criteria allow land to be declared a village green, so protecting it from development.
In 2010 landowner Comer Homes moved in and cleared the land, which it wants to use to build 80 homes.
The village green registration bid was made shortly after that, and the land has now been sealed off.
Nicola Hodgson, case officer for the Open Spaces Society, said: "The residents have a good case for registering the land as a green and we wish them every success.
"They set a fine example in their dogged determination to protect their green space for the communitys use and enjoyment for ever more.
The Open Spaces Society works to help local people register greens where they have good evidence, and to save the green spaces which are so important to our daily life."