UPDATE: Plans for 875 homes next to Titnore Woods have been unanimously rejected to a standing ovation from protesters who danced for joy in the public gallery.
Protester Trevor Hodgson, of Pavilion Road, Worthing, said he was surprised by the decision but absolutely delighted.
He said: “I think they realised the residents are so against this.”
Councillor John Livermore, chairman of the planning committee, said: “The decision is only one step down the road. This will be back, that’s for sure.”
He added the developers may now submit an appeal or go for a judicial review.
Resident Raymond Cawson, 70, of Adur Avenue, West Durrington, said common sense had prevailed.
Before the meeting, more than 120 protesters chanted "Save Titnore Woods" before this afternoon's crucial planning meeting.
There was a heavy police presence outside the Assembly Hall, Worthing, as people attending the meeting were body-searched by security guards before being allowed in.
Banners and placards were confiscated at the entrance amid fears that trouble would erupt during the meeting to discuss the new estate at West Durrington, Worthing.
Councillors and officers were booed as they took their seats and within five minutes there were interruptions from the floor.
Among the protesters was Sid Wakeham, 73, of Cobden Road, Worthing, who was dressed as a green man.
Joy Hurcombe, the first member of the public to speak, urged the committee to abandon the meeting, prompting loud cheering and applause.
She said a Government inspector had ruled that Worthing had built too many new houses.
Coun John Livermore urged people to act with decorum so everybody was able to get their points of view across.
James Appleton, the council's head of planning, regeneration and wellbeing, said before the decision: "There is a requirement to provide a continuous five-year supply of housing land. Unfortunately the planning committee cannot just not deal with this planning application. It is required to deal with the application."
He said the meeting had been moved from the evening to the afternoon so there was more time to debate the issue.