Campaigners in Horncastle fighting to stop hundreds of new homes being built on their doorstep have secured another crucial victory.
Planners at East Lindsey District Council have rejected a revised bid by developers Gladman for up to 240 homes at the controversial Langton Hill site.
In December, planners also vetoed an initial application by Gladman for 340 homes at the same site.
However, a local campaign group - Save Langton Hill - is refusing to celebrate.
That’s because the latest setback for Gladman - one of the country’s biggest developers - comes just hours before the start of a public inquiry today (Wednesday).
The inquiry follows an appeal by Gladman into the rejection of the first application.
A planning inspector - appointed by the Government - will spend the next six days hearing evidence from both sides involved in the application.
David Rice, a spokesman for the Langton Hill campaigners, said: “I think everyone welcomes the latest decision by ELDC.
“However, because of the appeal - and the inquiry - no-one feels like celebrating.
“The champagne is definitely staying on ice.”
A key part of the appeal process will be ELDC’s own stance.
Mr Rice called on the council to stand firm against the considerable financial might of Gladman.
However, campaigners are confident the appeal will be rejected.
Both Gladman’s applications were turned down, essentially because the site is a hill-top development.
That goes against current national guidelines although planners are under pressure in East Lindsey to allow more new homes to be built.
ELDC’s own development plan - which will identify potential sites and the number of homes that can be built - has yet to be ratified.
Mr Rice added: “I am not sure what Gladman have up their sleeves for the appeal.
“Unless they plan to bring in bulldozers and level the entire Langton Hill site, I can’t see how they can hope to win.
“Yes, there are other issues but our campaign has also been based on it’s a hill top development.
“Any new homes would be seen for miles around. They would be a blot on the landscape - and a blot on Horncastle.
“We are not against new homes in the town. Far from it. Horncastle needs to thrive. However, there are better sites and hopefully the inspector will see that.”
Campaigners - and residents - will attend the inquiry which is being held at the former Horncastle College site off Mareham Road.
They will be backed by Horncastle Town Council which has previously expressed strong concerns about the proposed development.
Apart from the hill top aspect, there have been objections raised about potential problems with flooding, increased traffic - and the added pressure on school places and health services.
Gladman have produced various detailed reports, outlining why the site should be developed and why Horncastle needs new homes.
I’s understood any developers of the site would have to pay to increase the number of primary and second school places - and boost health services - via 106 agreements.
Mr Rice added; “Apparently, Gladman win something like 90 per cent of their appeals. Hopefully, that won’t happen this time.”