A DECISION by councillors to side with objectors to a housing scheme rather than their own officers has been overturned by a government inspector.

Last summer members of Bradford Council’s Keighley and Shipley Area Planning Panel voted to refuse plans to build eight homes on two plots of land near Ben Rhydding rail station.

This was despite council officers recommending that the plans, by John Mawby and for an area of land known as The Sidings, be approved.

At a meeting of the panel in August councillors heard from some of the 22 objectors, including local councillors and the Ilkley Civic Society. They argued the plans would be an over-development of the area.

Members voted to listen to objectors rather than Council officers, and the plans were refused on the grounds of overdevelopment and access.

At the meeting, chair Councillor Doreen Lee (Lab, Keighley East) said: “I think this is an overdevelopment of this site. I don’t agree with what highways officers have said on this.”

However, Mr Mawby appealed that decision, and now a government inspector has granted the appeal - overturning the panel’s decision. And if a separate appeal for costs is approved, the taxpayer could be forced to foot the bill for the successful appeal.

Although planning committees are able to go against planning officers’ recommendations, they need to provide reasons that would stand up to scrutiny at appeal.

The development will see four houses built on the land, which is accessed through the station car park. A bungalow off St John’s Road would be demolished to make way for the other four homes.

Residents and councillors raised fears that the homes could cause traffic issues - with cars entering the site through the station car park.

But inspector R Jones said: “Whilst some inconvenience may result, the small numbers of vehicle movements associated with the proposed houses would not cause harm to the safety of vehicles or pedestrians using the Station Approach car park.”

He said that while he had “sympathy with the concerns of local residents” over traffic on St John’s Road, he did not feel there would be “significant conflict with existing vehicle movements.”

Other residents raised concerns that the back gardens of the houses would be too small. In the decision Mr Jones said: “Whilst I acknowledge that the proposed houses do not have large back gardens, they would nonetheless have access to private, useable outdoor space. The houses would therefore afford a good standard of living conditions for future occupiers.”