Celebrations as homes plan is rejected by Government
Plans to build 1,420 homes on a "green wedge" between a town and neighbouring villages have been thrown out by the Government.
Two developers wanted to build the houses on 183 acres of fields between Coalville, Whitwick, Swannington and Thringstone – dubbed Stephenson Green.
But Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, yesterday dismissed an appeal by Jelson Homes and William Davis Homes.
The news has been greeted with delight by residents, the council and the area's MP.
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North West Leicestershire District Council leader Richard Blunt said: "This is a great result for local democracy. This was a development that wasn't in the interests of the residents and certainly wasn't wanted.
"We are pleased that this has been recognised in the decision to dismiss the appeal.
"We want to see development – but not at any price. Stephenson Green was a step too far and the strength of local feeling against it showed that.
"That's why we took the decision to oppose the plans and to put such a strong and compelling case to the inquiry."
The plans included a primary school, shops and offices.
The inquiry was held in February after the developers appealed against the council's failure to make a decision on the plans within the required 13-week period.
Councillor Trevor Pendleton, the council's portfolio holder for planning, said: "We have always maintained that the proper consideration for development in north west Leicestershire is through our core strategy. This will protect the green wedge which the developers were proposing to use for Stephenson Green."
Sue Colledge, chairman of Whitwick Action Group, which raised £10,000 to hire a planning consultant to represent them at the inquiry, said: "We are absolutely delighted at the decision. It's all we could have hoped for at the end of such a long campaign.
"There was a massive effort by residents and this is a real red letter day for us.
"I would like to express my thanks to everyone who supported us and, fingers crossed, we hope that means the green wedge is protected."
Andrew Bridgen, MP for North West Leicestershire, said: "I have had numerous meetings with local government ministers about the area of land, and the importance that is attached to its status as an area of separation.
"The Whitwick Action Group, which led the campaign, has been incredibly organised and professional in it opposition to this scheme. It was the concise arguments put at the appeal hearing, together with the district council's core strategy being published, that helped defeat this application.
"I am pleased residents do not have the threat of development hanging over them."
Jelson declined to comment and nobody at William Davis Homes was available to comment.