Campaigners are “reserving their joy” over a setback for plans to build a huge tomb in the middle of the greenbelt.

Barnet Borough Council officers have advised its planning committee to reject proposals for a new mausoleum on land next to Westminster Cemetery, in Milespit Hill, Mill Hill.

More than 1,000 people have signed a petition to block the “astronomical” scheme amid fears it could harm wildlife.

GLA member for Barnet, Andrew Dismore, who has been leading the campaign, was told of the news just after 2pm this afternoon.

However, the Secretary of State could still override the application if developer Monument Properties Investment chooses to appeal.

Mr Dismore told the Times Series: “It’s not the end of the story, and we’ll be playing to the whistle on this one. But it would be very unusual for it not to be dumped.

“I’m saying victory is in sight rather than completely claiming it, but I’m fairly confident we have won.”

BBC SpringWatch presenter Chris Packham has also spoken out against the plans, as the land is a haven for wildlife and includes badgers, hedgehogs, slow worms and deer.

A recent bat survey proved there were five different species of the animal living on the land – three of which are of rare varieties.

The land has already been classed for use as a cemetery - even though it was last used as a pig farm before the Second World War and has never housed any graves.

Claire Fox Baron, who is part of the newly-formed protest group Save Mill Hill Greenbelt, said: “It’s great news for now, but we need to reserve our joy.

“It could be they go to the applicant and offer them the chance to change the existing application. We’ll still do all we can to block this, regardless.”

To find out more about the group, click here.