Campaigners have won a David versus Goliath battle to stop a developer building on a Cornish beauty spot – at least for the time being.
Protesters have hailed the judicial review, which quashed planning permission to build 31 homes (21 affordable) on an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in Mevagissey, as a landmark decision not only for Cornwall but for the country.
Mevagissey Parish Council took Mevagissey Bay View LLP and Cornwall Council to the High Court in a last-ditch attempt to prevent the development of the School Hill site.
A previous attempt to halt the build through Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, failed – but Mr Justice Hickinbottom ruled the permission should be overturned.
Following the hearing on November 21, he ruled that Cornwall Council's planning committee had not given enough weight to alternative sites, which would have had less impact on the AONB.
The campaigners' fight was funded by residents and the Cornwall AONB Partnership, which includes the National Trust.
Parish council chairman Michael Roberts said: "Cornwall has one third of the national Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
"So the victory of Mevagissey Parish Council in protecting its spectacular coastal scenery from development on School Hill is a watershed moment in challenging planning decisions."
Mr Roberts added: "The judgement handed down in this case should stand as a landmark decision for all communities who are battling to save some of our outstanding landscapes from being exploited by developers who are using affordable housing as a means of obtaining planning permission that would not normally be granted."
Developer Mevagissey Bay View LPP said it was extremely disappointed with the decision.
In a statement, John Schuttkacker, director of Westcountry Land and Mevagissey Bay View LLP, blamed the decision on the "basis of a failure to accurately record the debate that was actually held by the planning committee", adding that "this decision is not a criticism of the approved scheme".
"The quashed planning application will now be put back to the committee to be redetermined, addressing the previous procedural issue."
David Hughes, who is on the AONB panel for Cornwall Council, said: "The judge made it quite clear the officer was not at fault."