Councillors have praised the High Court’s decision to dismiss a legal challenge brought by a property company against Epping Forest District Council.

The decision by the court endorses the council’s approval of the Local Plan for 11,400 new homes and paves the way for the authority to submit the Local Plan to the Secretary of State for independent examination.

CK Properties Ltd in Theydon Bois had challenged the council’s Local Plan Submission Version 2017 on four grounds.

Council leader Cllr Chris Whitbread said: “As councillors we take a balanced view between the protection of the character of the district we love and the need to provide decent homes for local people.

“We burnt a great deal of ‘midnight oil’ to understand and balance complex issues while collectively studying and guiding the evolution of the plan through workshops, meetings and engagement before making some really difficult decisions.”

Cllr John Philip, who is responsible for planning, described the court’s decision as “good news”.

He added: “The production of the local plan is possibly the most difficult thing the council has ever had to do.

“The issues involved in planning for growth in the district are very sensitive and, inevitably, emotions often run high, but the court has endorsed the council’s approach having scrutinised the decision-making process.”

Cllr Philip said he hoped CK Properties “will see the sense” of the court’s judgement and now pursue their arguments through the local plan examination process which he said would spare council tax payers the additional expense of an appeal by resorting to the legal appeal process”.

On December 14, Epping Forest District Council voted to destroy Jessel Green and build 154 homes in its place, to help meet central government targets.

Following the meeting, Save Jessel Green activists renewed their efforts and were backed by the Guardian.

Since then, more than 5,000 people have signed a petition urging the council to scrap the plans to build homes on the public Loughton field.

Last month, Cllr Stephen Murray accused Epping Forest District Council of “contradicting its policies” about clean air and encouraging physical activities when it took the decision to build homes on Jessel Green.