Campaigners have been stunned by a decision which means a developer will not have to green over a longstanding Otley eyesore.

Conserve Otley Riverside Campaign called for “seven years of visual blight” to be brought to an end at the former Bridge End Cattle Market site.

But a planning inspector has upheld an appeal against the enforcement notice Leeds City Council served, in 2010, to have the conservation area plot tidied, levelled and grassed.

That decision marks a victory for landowners Parkmount Estates, who have been trying since 2005 to get building permission.

Councillor Colin Campbell (Lib Dem, Otley & Yeadon) described it as a blow.

He said: “I am bitterly disappointed at the inspector’s decision, which effectively abandons this site to further dereliction. The land is in a prominent position, seen by thousands of visitors to Wharfemeadows Park, and the inspector seems to have completely disregarded local wishes by allowing the remains of the buildings to be left in their current condition with no attempt to clean up the site.”

Coun Campbell has asked council officers to scrutinise the ruling to see if it can be challenged.

Conserve Otley Riverside Campaign chairman Penny Mares said: “We’re very disappointed. This throws out a previous inspector’s decision and appears very sympathetic to the developer’s arguments, despite the fact that the site has continued to deteriorate since 2005. It does beg the question, what is the point of conservation area policy if the Planning Inspectorate is unable to come up with a decision that gives it teeth? It’s not a total defeat, as the landowner put forward a unilateral undertaking at the inquiry to demolish the remaining buildings and remove the ugly metal fencing. If this happens, it is a small, positive step forward."

Read more in the Wharfedale Observer.