VILLAGERS are preparing for a legal battle over plans to build hundreds of new homes in Chalfont St Peter.

The parish council will be taking the plans to judicial review after Chiltern District Council gave outline planning permission to build 198 new houses, 35 per cent of which will be affordable homes, a 75 bed care home and a playing field at the site of the former Holy Cross School.

If the judicial review is a success, alternative plans will be explored, which could see the building of a development backed by the parish council for the site which would mean less houses being built there as well as moving the Chalfont St Peter Academy to the site.

Chiltern District Council gave permission for the development in August 2010 despite receiving more than 500 letters and emails objecting to the scheme.

Villager Peter Morton, 56, an HR manager of Croft Road, said: "I fully back what the parish council are doing. We all know that some homes will be built there, but more thought needs to go into how the land will be built on, so that we can make sure that it fits in with the rest of the village."

Richard Allen, a member of the parish council, said: "The judicial review will determine the future of the village one way or the other.

"It is do or die and it is not a process we have entered into gladly. We have done it because we feel we had to in order to protect the village.

"We know that the Holy Cross site will have to be developed, but we do not feel sufficient thought has gone into how it will be done, and we want to discuss alternatives with Chiltern District Council."

The first stage of the process, which starts in March, will see a judge deciding whether or not to approve the debate for the full review, and from there the future of the site will be discussed.

If the review fails, then the parish council will have to accept the approved plans for the site.

The legal challenge will cost the council 'several thousand pounds' but if it wins, the authority will get the money back.