A MAJOR development in the Hambleden valley has been thrown out – to the delight of campaigners.

A proposal for an equestrian centre for Valentine Farm in Shogmoor Lane, Skirmett, was blasted by residents and organisations such as The Open Spaces Society after being lodged in October.

It was the second time the developers had made the application and opponents said it would wreck the beauty of the area.

The original plan in 2011 attracted national attention after Newsnight presenter Jeremy Paxman joined the campaign to stop it, comparing it to the size of Wembley Arena.

Renowned rugby commentator Nigel Starmer Smith, a former England international player was another high profile protester against the scheme, claiming it would "look like a prison".

Mr Starmer Smith told the Free Press: “We're delighted to learn that Wycombe District Council has agreed with so many objectors to refuse the application of that huge mass development in the Hambleden valley.

“It's a great relief not only for residents but for the ramblers, walkers, cyclists, the visitors from far and wide and the organisations that endeavour to protect this area of such outstanding natural beauty.

“It's vital that this historic gem of the Chiltern hills is saved for future generations. We are absolutely thrilled.”

The rejection came because officials decreed its scale and mass was harmful to the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and would damage its special character and appearance.

The Open Spaces Society, Ramblers, Chiltern Society, Chilterns Conservation Board, Natural England and more than 120 individuals had objected to the application.

Kate Ashbrook, general secretary of the Open Spaces Society, said: “This is wonderful news. The proposed development would have been a huge eyesore in this outstanding, unspoilt landscape. It is a peaceful area of immense beauty.

"The site is highly visible from the many public paths which criss-cross the area. We are relieved that the planners have refused the application in such clear terms, and we hope this will be the end of the matter.”