THE fate of the disused railway line between High Wycombe and Bourne End rests in the hands of a Government inspector.

Following a three day planning inquiry - where the council battled it out against developer Henry Homes to safeguard the five miles of track - inspector David Morgan now has to decide if 29 homes can be built on the line.

Henry Homes wants to build the mix of flats, detached and semi-detached dwellings on the 0.77 hectares of land behind Wycombe Lane in Wooburn Green. Henry launched its appeal after Wycombe District Council failed to make a decision over these plans within its target of 13 weeks.

An earlier application from Henry to build 33 homes on the site was turned down in November 2006, a decision which it appealed against but later lost.

Yesterday Mr Morgan, along with representatives from Henry and WDC visited the thin strip of land, and later heard both sides arguments' over the line.

The council, along with residents and conservation group the High Wycombe Society, want to safeguard the track so it could be reopened in the future to provide a light rail link between Bourne End and High Wycombe. This could then provide links to First Great Western trains via Maidenhead.

But Henry said the possibility of reopening the line was "highly unlikely".

In his summing up speech, Mark Beard representing Henry, said: "Any such use of the former track bed in the vicinity of the appeal site in the future is even more unlikely, having regard to the existence of recently constructed residential development, and the likely prohibitive costs of acquiring and demolishing the existing residential development on the track bed."

Members of the Wycombe Society attended the inquiry, which ran from Tuesday to Thursday, and gave evidence in support of reopening the line.

Elsa Woodward, leader of the society's transport group, said installing an ultra light rail system would help reduce congestion on the roads between High Wycombe, Maidenhead, Slough and Reading and bring down carbon emissions.

"Since 2005, climate change has become recognised world wide as a serious threat to be treated as the absolute top priority," she added, "We must reduce transport's carbon emissions, as well as congestion, and the use of hybrid ultra light rail offers an effective and economic way to do this."

Other reasons the council gave for refusing the application included the lack of amenity space for future residents, overlooking and the un-neighbourliness of the development.

Mr Morgan's decision is expected in a few weeks.