Families inTrowbridge are celebrating after Wiltshire Council refused a planning application to build on former tennis courts used as a playground by children for many years.

The planning application for two four-bedroom detached homes on the land at Clarendon Road, referred to as The Circle by residents, was submitted by Ashford Homes South West.

However, residents argued that the land is regularly used by children in Clarendon Road, as well as those in nearby Green Lane and Paxcroft Way, and objected to the plans, with Trowbridge Town Council also opposed.

Wiltshire Council has now refused permission for the development, stating that it would result in the loss of an area of land that currently fulfils an important amenity and recreation function.

Resident Paul Adams said: “This was land that was previously protected by Wiltshire Council and it was question of them instigating their policy in a sensible manner.

“It’s incredibly important to us and the families who live in nearby roads, so while the decision could be appealed by Ashford, this is at least a first stage victory for sensible planning policy.

“The land is special to us and it has historic value as well and you can’t get rid of that. It’s a piece of land where we can let our kids go and play with other kids from the street, something you don’t get in modern housing estates.

“I always look outside and see children playing there, so for Ashford Homes to say it wasn’t used was nuts. I was overwhelmed by the support we had and so many people wrote representation letters objecting to the plans.”

A previous planning application was submitted for two homes in 2000, but was refused by Wiltshire Council’s planning committee for a similar reason to the one given in the council’s latest decision.

The land, last used as tennis courts in the 1940s, was designated as recreational space in the adopted Local Plan, but that was then replaced by policies in the Leisure and Recreation Development Plan Document in 2009.

Another resident, Lyn Baron, said: “We are really pleased and pleasantly surprised by the decision, but now we have to make sure it is secure for future generations. The threat of losing it really brought the community together.”