CAMPAIGNERS desperate to save land which will be left vacant by the demolition of Frenchay Hospital are celebrating securing village green status.

Frenchay Residents' User Group (RUG) were due to have the fate of 25 acres of the hospital site decided at a public inquiry last Thursday (March 20) but an 11th hour agreement was reached before the meeting got underway.

North Bristol NHS Trust, which runs Frenchay and Southmead hospitals, met residents’ terms just before the inquiry was due to start by agreeing to a voluntary village green which will protect the land from future development.

Resident and village green applicant Bob Woodward said he was thrilled particularly because a voluntary green provides the highest level of protection.

“We have been on the brink of finding a solution several times,” he said. “Just an hour before the inquiry was scheduled to start we had confirmation that the trust had drawn up the agreement whereby they will register the land, around 99 per cent of which was included in the application, as a voluntary village green.”

The trust has already won planning permission for 490 houses and a new primary school to be built on the site when most of the hospital buildings are knocked down following the transferral of health services to the new £420million Southmead Hospital, which opens in May.

The plans were vehemently opposed by residents but Mr Woodward said this agreement would protect at least some of the land for public use.

“This is the ideal outcome for the people of Frenchay and helps to soften the blow of South Gloucestershire Council's granting of outline planning permission for a high density development on this unique site,” he said.

“At least many acres of green open space that has been used and appreciated by generations of Frenchay folk will now be retained as a lasting legacy for future generations.”

He said RUG hoped to now work ‘in harmony’ with health bosses over the redevelopment of the hospital site.

A spokesman for the trust said: “We have working with the Frenchay Residents User Group on the future of the hospital site at Frenchay and last week came to an agreement to register some of the green space land on the site as a Voluntary Village Green.

“This will safeguard this piece of land for the residents use and prevents future development taking place on it. We can now focus on continuing with our plans to develop the rest of the site.”