A battle between bowlers and a property developer is continuing to rage.

Members of Newsome Community Sports and Bowling Club have again been locked out of the green they have been using since 1905 by Stuart Smith, who bought a two-year option on the former Newsome WMC last year.

Now club secretary Jacqui Sullivan doubts they will be able to move back onto the site, which Mr Smith insists he has rights to despite the exact historical ownership of the land being in dispute.

Mr Smith first fenced off access to the green in November after asking the bowlers to leave the site in September, saying he had let them use it for one season. The club became the Newsome Tap pub but that has now been shut down.

Watch Newsome bowlers cut their way through steel fence to access their green last November

Video thumbnail, Newsome bowlers cut their way through steel fence to access green
Video Loading

Mr Smith submitted an as-yet undecided planning application to Kirklees Council to build seven houses on the green, despite it being protected by a covenant which councillor Andrew Cooper says means it can only be used for bowling.

The bowlers are for the moment using the green belonging to Primrose Hill Liberal Bowling Club.

“It’s a damn shame, in fact it’s disgraceful”, said Ms Sullivan. “We are due to play our first game there on Tuesday .

“He locked the gates after we’d gone in to mow the lawn to maintain it.

“We’re still in the dark as to what’s going on but we are thinking that we are going to have to move.

“If we do, we can keep the Newsome name for a year and Primrose Hill are kindly allowing us to use their green. We’re upset because he’s depriving the area of a green. It was a lovely place for the community.

Newsome bowlers gather at the locked gates at their club.

“There’s nothing he can do with the land due to its covenant.”

Mr Smith remains adamant he has the rights to the land and does not believe the covenant poses a problem to his plans.

“The land is not theirs. It’s not a community bowling green, it’s always been a private one and it’s not a free-for-all.

“The bowlers had the option to pay me for the upkeep and if they had done, they could still be playing now. I’ve locked the gates to stop anti-social behaviour.

“If anyone tries to get onto the property again they will be sued for criminal damage and trespass.”

PICTURES: Protesters fight to save former Newsome WMC bowling green

He now seems keen on using the site for sports purposes, rather than the planned seven houses.

“I’m not sure If I will be able to get the covenant lifted but I think that I could turn it into a football pitch or tennis courts. Or I could take the grass off and donate it to the Woodfield Park green in Lockwood that Ken Davy owns.

READ MORE: Permission granted to turn Newsome Tap into a house even though it only opened last July

READ MORE: Newsome bowlers cut their way through steel fence to access their green

“I might just keep it as a green and put some lodges around it so that bowlers can come up from around the country to have a game and stay there.”

He had planned to start work on converting the Newsome Tap into a five-bedroomed house following planning approval in January, but said he is going to apply to turn it into six flats.

Clr Cooper said: “He’s wrong and has been told that and he won’t be able to put something else on it, regardless of the ownership.

“It would be helpful if he recognised the reality of the situation and spoke to the bowlers about allowing them to return to the green. It’s the only way forward.”