A green space has been protected after plans to put parking spaces on it were dashed by a government inspector.

Dacorum Borough Council wanted to use 140 sq metres of common land in Bovingdon for six car parking bays.

But the plans on the common land, situated near the junction of High Street and New Hall Close, had to be cleared by the environment secretary.

Planning inspector Richard Holland, acting on behalf of the environment secretary Theresa Villiers MP, refused the council's application, ruling that parked vehicles would "seriously interfere with public rights of access over the common".

Mr Holland added the spaces would also interfere with Easter and Christmas events and displays that take place on the land.

Common land is land owned collectively by people, but which other people have certain traditional rights.

The inspector's refusal has been welcomed by the Open Spaces Society, which describe themselves as Britain's leading pressure group for common land.

General secretary of the society, Kate Ashbrook, said: "We are delighted at this decision. Too often our precious commons are eaten away for car parks and other developments. This common is known as "amenity green" for a good reason. It is a broad, green verge which can be enjoyed by the public away from traffic, and it provides an attractive setting for the High Street.

"The parking bays would have destroyed the opportunity for the public to enjoy the land and sterilised this attractive common. This decision sends a strong message to local authorities that they should protect their commons not abuse them."

The council says the spaces would have helped solve parking problems in the village.

A council spokesman said: "As part of the verge hardening programme which aims to alleviate parking problems in the borough, Dacorum Borough Council applied to install six additional bays in an area of Bovingdon. This was following a request from Bovingdon Parish Council to help alleviate parking and congestion in the High Street.

"The council is now exploring alternative parking schemes in Bovingdon."