An outraged council chief has hit out after stunned villagers lost a bitter four-year battle to stop 170 houses being built in Great Glen.
Furious Cllr Bill Glasper, chairman of Great Glen Parish Council, said he was shocked after the controversial Miller Homes scheme got the green light from a government planning inspector.
The Edinburgh-based housebuilder has won its appeal after Harborough District Council refused permission for the sprawling development on land off Oaks Road last year.
Cllr Glasper said: “I’m absolutely devastated by this.
“And I’m sure that many of our villagers will be devastated as well. This is vandalism.
“It’s obviously not the outcome we were looking for and it’s come as a huge shock.”
He said hundreds of residents fighting to block the hated housing blueprint since 2015 had set up an action group called Hands Off Great Glen.
“Miller Homes came to us four years ago to test our reaction to their plans.
“We told them it was a most sensitive site, we had landscaping worries and we feared losing a historic 130-metre high ridge,” said Cllr Glasper.
“But they put an application in for 100 houses anyway – and we had a whole range of issues with it.
“So they came back with a scheme to build 170 homes instead!”
He said the strongly-opposed, high-profile initiative was rejected by Harborough council.
“So Miller Homes appealed and submitted a second application almost identical to the first.
“They lost the first appeal and Harborough council also turned down their second bid to build homes here,” insisted Cllr Glasper.
“But now a different planning inspector has backed them and said they can go ahead.
“There’s a complete lack of consistency here after they lost their first appeal and it makes no sense – it’s totally wrong.”
Angry Harborough MP Neil O’Brien this afternoon said he was “gutted” that the housing scheme is to go ahead.
Mr O’Brien said: “I’m gutted to hear that the Planning Inspector has overturned Harborough District Council’s decision to reject the application for 170 houses behind Coverside Road in Great Glen.
“This development I have campaigned against again and again for two years – at both the council level and planning inspectorate.
“It’s another example of how our planning system is totally broke.
“The council has a plan in place and a five-year land supply.
“It’s democratically elected and should not be overruled by remote officials.”
Doug Jackson, chairman of protest group Hands Off Great Glen, said: “This is completely bonkers. This will have a massive impact on our village.
“The development will send a lot more cars through the village and destroy a prominent ridge and beauty spot with magnificent views across the valley.
“The decision is a total mystery because Miller Homes’s second application is worse than their first – but it’s been approved.
“But we are not accepting defeat yet.
“We’ll get legal advice and we’ll try to get this terrible decision reviewed.”