Residents in a tranquil Rickmansworth Street are claiming victory in the latest round of a decade-long planning dispute.

Developer Henry Homes PLC, which wants to build four family homes on back garden land in Nightingale Road, was told yesterday that it had lost its latest legal attempt to force the plans through.

Three Rivers District Council, which rejected the plans for a tenth time in October last year, argues that the development would damage the look of a legally protected conservation area.

Neighbouring residents also fear a loss of privacy, traffic problems, and spoiled views.

Henry Homes, however, has continually rejected these suggestions, arguing that it simply wants to provide quality family homes in a highly sought-after location.

The company put its arguments to a government inspector at a public inquiry last month but was unable to overturn the council’s decision.

Inspector Michael Albous commended some elements of the latest application but ruled the development would still damage the conservation area.

He said: “I appreciate that this proposal would contribute to the mix and stock ofdwellings within the district, which is quite dependent upon redevelopment schemes of this kind to achieve housing growth targets… “However, I have found that the nature of the development proposed, in spite of the adjustments made to earlier schemes, would still have an adverse impact on the visual qualities of the conservation area.”

Rickmansworth Residents Association chairman Peter Crispin said: “This is very good news for us. The council has always said that this is a conservation area that needs to be protected and the inspector has upheld that view.

“I am continually astonished that they [Henry Homes] don’t seem to read the reasons for refusal. It must me costing them a lot of money to keep resubmitting this application.

“What we have here is a road that was developed in Victorian times because of the nearby railway. Effectively this application would break up that townscape.”