Campaigners have welcomed a new victory in their 40-year battle to re-open a sports ground for the community.

Residents say the old gaelic football pitch in Avery Hill has been shut to them for 24 years while landowners apply to build houses on the site.

But this month a Greenwich planning board turned down the latest application - which would have seen 135 units built on the site in blocks rising three storeys high - citing loss of a protected area of community open

Now residents are hopeful the land can be bought and used as a new home for Greenwich Borough FC, who want to build two all-weather football pitches and an academy there.

Malcolm Bond from protest group Residents Against Gaelic Environmental Destruction (RAGED), said: "The residents here are absolutely delighted. This has been, for me personally, a 24-year fight. 

"Some of the more senior local resident shave been fighting this for over 40 years and this is the first time there's been a genuine application to take the site on."

He went on: "There is absolutely no need to build on it. There are people who want to take it on as a sports and recreation facility.

"With MP Clive Efford's support and guidance we've been advised it's possible to get a compulsory purchase order put on the site."

But he said he was wary that developers Linden Homes might appeal the decision, something they tried and failed in 2007 when a previous application was refused.

Greenwich Borough FC submitted an application for the site last month. The club were booted out of their Harrow Meadows home in 2008 and since shared grounds in Bromley and Dartford.

Mr Efford said:  “The council has now rightly refused the application from Linden Homes to build on this important community asset for the second  time in less than 10 years. 

“The  Gaelic Athletic Association and their partners must now accept that this is a sports ground and should be used as such.  There is an alternative application which may secure the long-term future of the site by bringing it back into use as a sports ground.

“I will be working closely with the local residents and the Council to look at the best way of delivering a sustainable sporting use for the site.”