Residents of an historic Warwickshire village have won their fight for a public referendum in a bid to stop developers doubling the size of their community.
Stratford Town Council has agreed to hold the public vote so the town's 18,500 residents can have their say over plans to build 700 homes in nearby Shottery.
The referendum comes after a U-turn by Stratford-on-Avon District Council, which had previously ditched the housing plans only to resurrect them over fears it could face legal action from developers.
Residents said the area, which attracts thousands of tourists to the house of Shakespeare's wife Anne Hathaway, has been blighted and Stratford had already become over-developed.
Although the referendum will have little political clout, campaigners believe it will show the district council the public had lost confidence in its abilities to handle planning issues in the town.
James Philpotts, spokesman for Residents Against Shottery Expansion (Rase), said: "Politically, it has no value at all but we will be looking for a vote of no confidence if we get a no vote, which we are hoping for. We have no confidence in what the district council is doing for the town."
The plans for Shottery were included in an inspector's report, published in June, over the future of the area.
It said 8,200 homes needed to be built by 2011 to meet Government targets.
The report highlighted a greenfield area at Shottery as a potential site, which would also see a relief road built.
Since then the Government re-assessed housing levels and said Stratford had already met its targets.
A Liberal Democrat motion to have the Shottery proposal withdrawn from the development plan was successful, but the ruling Conservative group appealed and forced an about-turn.
The referendum is expected to be held in December. n Demand for farmland has fallen for the first time in more than two years as the cooling housing market took its toll, figures showed today.
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors said the price of land also fell for the third quarter in a row during the three months to the end of September.
At the same time, sales activity was quiet as surveyors reported a drop in the availability of both residential and commercial farms.
The group said the cooling of the property market had contributed to the fall in prices and the drop in demand for residential farms, while a recent downturn in agricultural output had hit demand for commercial farms.
Continuing uncertainty over some areas of Single Farm Payment entitlement, following reform of the Common Agricultural Policy, has also led to a fall in the amount of land coming on to the market.
Overall, the cost of farmland in Britain fell by 2.3 per cent during the third quarter to average £9,382 per hectare, one per cent less than during the same period last year.
Surveyors were slightly more optimistic going forward, expecting to see modest increases in the price of commercial farms over the coming year, although residential farms are expected to fetch lower prices - the first negative outlook since the survey began ten years ago.
RICS rural spokeswoman Sue Steer said: "The return of big City bonuses expected at Christmas may provide some boost to farmland prices as they have been a strong driver of the market in previous years.
"With the wider housing market exerting such a strong influence on rural land prices, the general housing slowdown is restraining growth for now."