CAMPAIGNERS hailed the Goring Gap verdict as “the best possible news”.

Ferring Conservation Group spoke of its delight after the High Court quashed a decision to allow 475 homes to be built at Chatsmore Farm.

The group has been fighting the proposed development by Persimmon tooth and nail, rallying support for its cause and speaking at a public inquiry.

Mrs Justice Lang published her judgement following a hearing on July 20, announcing: “The decision of the inspector is to be quashed by order of the court.”

Ed Miller, secretary of the Ferring Conservation Group, also serves as convenor of the Protect Our Gaps Alliance.

He said: “We were all flabbergasted when we got the inspector’s decision to allow Persimmon’s appeal.

“There was no doubt in our mind that Worthing Council’s policies and its emerging Local Plan made this application, to fill a green gap with 475 houses, a non-starter.

“Now the High Court has said that the inspector was wrong in law, in that he failed to take proper account of the emerging Local Plan – which had already been accepted, in broad measure by another inspector and also did not take into account sufficiently the impact on the South Downs National Park.

“All credit to Worthing Borough Council – both old and new administrations – for fighting back so well to save one of the last pieces of countryside between Goring and Ferring.

“Not only would this large housing estate obliterate farmland, wildlife habitat and a valuable amenity for local residents – it would have added an impossible amount of traffic to a local road system that is already choked up.

“Our thanks to Sir Peter Bottomley, too, who fought with us every inch of the way, in Parliament and on the spot, to the 1,250 residents who had sent in their objections.

“This is not quite the end of the story.

“The original application has to be ‘re-determined’ by the Secretary of State, probably in another appeal process.

“But as time goes on and the Local Plan moves to its final stages in the next few weeks it seems extremely unlikely that the appeal would be upheld.”

Sir Peter, MP for Worthing West, said the High Court judgement was "a massive victory for our local councils and for our communities".

He added: “Many people have fought the good fight. I am glad to have supported them and to have worked with them.

 “It was wrong that the appeal inspectorate over-ruled the elected council and the initial inspectorate’s justified refusal to build over 400 homes in the Goring Gap.

“Their decision was perverse. It wrecked the planning system as we know it and eroded the authority of our elected local council.

“Ministers should now intervene and give their own inspectors clear instructions and guidance to preserve the identity of local villages and towns, not to concrete every field, vineyard, market garden or recreation space.”