VILLAGERS are celebrating after a High Court judge dismissed an appeal over plans for 200 homes on land around an exclusive spa.

A Government planning inspector last year rejected Thorpe Hall Leisure’s appeal over plans to develop around the Lifehouse Spa, in Frinton Road, Thorpe-le-Soken.

But it challenged the decision, arguing there had been an error in law.

It claimed the inspector was wrong to say she could not conclude there would be no adverse impact on the nearby Hamford Water special protection area.

It was also unhappy with the inspector’s findings over affordable housing provision and the business case.

The spa opened in 2010, but went into receivership within a year. Thorpe Hall Leisure then acquired it in 2012 with a debt of £8.5million.

The firm said it has become a success, but needs investment to secure its future.

It said: “Without a capital injection Lifehouse is highly likely to become insolvent in the next five years, with adverse consequences for its employees.”

It said sales of the land would pay down the debt and provide capital to upgrade facilities.

But High Court Judge Sir Duncan Ouseley said there were only minor errors in the decision made by the planning inspector.

He said: “This application is dismissed.”

Thorpe, Beaumont and Great Holland councillor Dan Land, who attended the High Court for the case, said he had been informed Thorpe Hall Leisure would now be appealing against the judge’s decision.

He added: “This is a continued effort to protect what we believe is our heritage - the historic park and gardens of Thorpe Hall.

“We have always felt this was an inappropriate place to build. It’s not our village’s responsibility to prop up a business.”

The original plans were rejected by Tendring Council in 2018.

The council has applied for a contribution towards its legal costs for representation in the hearing.

John White, chairman of council’s planning committee, said:

“While we welcome development within Tendring, it must be done in the right place and in a sustainable way.”