Maybe it was the vast wave of opposition in the town that swayed them, maybe the ongoing presence of the protest camp after nearly four years, maybe the articulate and knowledgeable speeches against the development, maybe the tangible seething anger in the hall from a wide spectrum of the town's population, maybe it was something to do with the forthcoming elections...
It is also very likely that the developers' consortium will appeal, of course. But that's a fight for another day.
This is the moment to celebrate the winning of a massive local victory - and the reprieve, for the time being at least, of the woods and fields of West Durrington from the powers of greed and destruction.
Here's what the local paper put up on its website:
Elation as councillors reject West Durrington development
WORTHING Council's planning committee has rejected the controversial West Durrington development, which would have eventually featured around 1,200 homes and a school and led to the destruction of ancient woodland.
The council's development and control committee unanimously voted against officers' recommendations that the decision be referred, with their backing, to the Secretary of State, and instead rejected the plans outright.
Around 180 people attended the meeting, which was held at the Assembly Hall to accommodate the intense public interest in the scheme.
Many cheered and hugged in the aisle when committee members voted against the scheme.
Others shouted "thank you" and gave the committee a standing ovation.
Violent scenes at previous meetings meant numerous security officers monitored public access and patrolled inside the hall and a heavy police presence kept order outside.
But disturbances inside the hall were limited to a few vocal interruptions and any threat of disorder evaporated once councillors' opposition to the plans became apparent.
For a full report of the meeting, read Thursday's Herald.