A HUMAN chain will be formed this weekend in a peaceful protest near a disputed piece of land which is the subject of a public inquiry next month.

Ramsbottom Heritage Society is organising the protest at a footpath which edges the town’s Church Fields which have been closed to the public for the last three years.

Residents are being asked to support the demonstration at noon on Saturday.

A three-day public inquiry at Ramsbottom Civic Hall on March 4, 5 and 6, will consider a bid by the heritage society to secure town/village green status for Church Fields.

Society members have been examining the legal status of Church Fields since its owners, Peel Holdings, fenced the land off in April, 2011.

Society president Andrew Todd has already collected statements from many local residents whose memories of playing on the field stretch back to the 1920s.

He said: “We are asking everyone who has ever used Church Fields to come along to either end of the paved footpath from Bolton Street to Railway Street at noon.

"We want townspeople to demonstrate their opposition to the fencing off of the field by Peel Holdings and to show their support for the heritage society’s proposal that the land should be a town/village green.”

He said the society and Peel were at loggerheads over the history of the land, with Mr Todd claimed had been used by local people for at least 200 years.

The inquiry can be attended by members of the public, and will be chaired by independent inspector Alan Evans.

He will give his recommendations to Bury Council at a later date which will make a final decision on the issue.