PLANS for hundreds of homes on green belt land in Burley-in-Wharfedale have been refused by the Secretary of State for Housing Communities and Local Government.

The Secretary of State has over turned Bradford Council’s decision to award planning permission for 500 houses and a school at Sun Lane in the village.

The development was subject to independent scrutiny at a public inquiry at the Queens Hall, Burley-in-Wharfedale, between May 14 and 23 this year. Local campaigners - Burley Objectors' Group - turned out in force to argue against the application by CEG Ltd.

This week it emerged the Planning Inspector David Wildsmith recommended the application be approved, and planning permission granted, subject to conditions. However, the Secretary of State disagreed with the Inspector’s recommendations and has refused planning permission.

A letter signed on behalf of the Secretary of State and dated November 5 states: "The proposal is inappropriate development in the Green Belt, and this harm carries substantial weight against the proposal."

Councillor Jackie Whiteley (Con, Wharfedale) said: "This is a momentous decision for the village, as such a large scheme would have changed the character of the village forever and placed an intolerable burden on local infrastructure.

"Myself and my fellow District Councillors, Dale Smith and Gerry Barker would like to thank those local people who presented reasons why the scheme was flawed to Her Majesties Planning Inspector at the recent inquiry held in Burley-in-Wharfedale. In particular, the contribution of Bob Felstead , Karl Lavery, Bernie Poulter and Jeff McQuillen and others should be applauded for the considerable time and effort they invested in researching the legal basis of the planning permission and presented at the inquiry. They were up against professional legal teams. Thanks must also be given to the hundreds perhaps thousands of local people who attended the four day inquiry to show how important the character of our village is to us."

Philip Davies, Conservative candidate for the Shipley constituency, who has opposed the development since it was submitted to the council, said: "I am absolutely delighted with the decision of the Secretary of State to overturn the planning permission granted by Bradford Council. This is a victory for common sense, for the local community and for the protection of the green belt. It is just a shame that Bradford Council cannot be trusted to protect our green belt."

A Bradford Council spokesperson, said: “The Secretary of State has decided to refuse planning permission for the Sun Lane development.

“This is against the advice of the Planning Inspector who carried out the two week public inquiry earlier this year.

“The Secretary of State concludes the potential harm to the Green Belt outweighs the benefits of providing housing and a new school in this location.

“It will now be up to the applicant to decide if they wish to challenge the decision.”

CEG Ltd has a right to challenge the decision which must be done by making an application to the High Court within six weeks for a statutory review under section 288 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.