OBJECTORS are lining up for a week-long public inquiry starting on Tuesday into a controversial £25m scheme for a new village.
The 100-home development would be set in the grounds of Combermere Abbey, near Nantwich, and has been described as a last-ditch lifesaver for the historic crumbling home, parts of which date back to 1133.
Sarah Callander Beckett, who inherited the abbey from her grandfather in 1992, says an Enabling Scheme, which planning laws allow in order to finance the restoration of historic buildings, is the only feasible way of saving the Grade I listed building which is in a dire state of repair.
She says the sale of 14 acres of her land to Crosby Homes NW would raise the £3.6m needed to restore the abbey.
Crewe and Nantwich Borough Council turned down the plan because it did not consider it to be the only way of saving the abbey.
Councillors also felt the disadvantages to the local rural community outweighed any benefits which may arise from the restoration of the abbey.
Dodcott-cum-Wilkesley, Newhall and Sound parish councils have all registered their objection to the scheme.
The public inquiry at the Municipal Buildings in Crewe is expected to last until June 1.
A spokesman from the council's legal department said there had been scores of letters of objection to the plan.
One of the objectors, local resident Michael Green, said: 'The village would mean something like 1,000 extra traffic move-ments a day on the A530 which has been named as one of Britain's most dangerous roads.
'It would also be impossible for the new villagers to blend in with the rest of the local community and would, I fear, lead to a ghetto on the side of a race track.'
But Mrs Callander Beckett said she was still hopeful the council's decision would be overturned.
She added: 'I have had enormous support for the plan and, in fact, several people have already put their names down for houses in the village should it be built.
'It is usually the objectors who make their voices heard, but I believe there are many people who are in favour of the idea.'
The inquiry, which will start at 10am each day, will be heard by Government planning inspector John Papworth.