Campaigners celebrating after Cheshire East refused an application to build up to 225 homes on a Knutsford wildlife site said the decision was a 'victory for nature over planning'.

Dewscope Ltd wanted permission for the homes on the land east of Longridge, which has been allocated for development  in the Cheshire East Local Plan.

But the strategic planning board went against planning officers’ recommendations and refused the application on Wednesday.

Speaking after the meeting John Finnan, of Save Longridge Greenbelt, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “It was a planning v nature argument and thankfully nature won out.”

But he warned: “We’re not there yet, but I am over the moon.”

He was referring to fears the applicant may appeal the decision.

Knutsford town councillor James McCulloch, who chairs the town council’s planning committee, told the LDRS: “We’re thrilled with the decision today.

Knutsford Guardian: Campaigners Debbie Jamison and John FinnanCampaigners Debbie Jamison and John Finnan (Image: Debbie Jamison)

“The proposal put forward did not pay due attention to the ecology of the site or the wildlife that would be hurt and damaged by it, but, for me most of all as a resident there, the integration of the site into the rest of how Longridge has grown and matured as an estate currently.”

Knutsford deputy mayor Colin Banks said he was delighted the decision to refuse the application had been unanimous by Cheshire East councillors.

“It’s a very welcome outcome for the local community and the environment,” he said.

Knutsford Guardian: The top of North Downs field, off LongridgeThe top of North Downs field, off Longridge (Image: Debbie Jamison)

Debbie Jamison, of campaign group Knutsford Residents in Over Ward (KROW), was delighted with the outcome.

She said: “I’m very pleased that the fact that a covenant was never declared during the site selection process in the local plan was confirmed during the discussion today - and obviously that is key to the whole thing.

“The access through public open space, green belt, local green space, is clearly unacceptable harm and not very special circumstances.”

The strategic planning board refused the application on the grounds it would be inappropriate development in the green belt and it would have adverse impact on ecology and the LWS.

Knutsford Guardian: Campaigner Debbie presenting the KROW petitionCampaigner Debbie presenting the KROW petition (Image: Debbie Jamison)

Councillors also said the constraints on the site do not enable an effective well-accessible integrated design solution to come forward.