THE official website for people to look at and comment on planning applications is "not fit for purpose", according to critics.

Bradford's Liberal Democrat group is calling for urgent improvements to Bradford Council's planning website after being inundated with complaints from frustrated residents.

The Labour-led authority has apologised, and has said it is working on improvements.

Councillor Dominic Fear (Lib Dem, Idle and Thackley) said people had been reporting problems particularly with the larger-scale planning applications.

He said he had complained to senior councillors and to officers, but wasn't convinced enough was being done to fix the problem.

He said: “These are applications that are affecting people's homes and their lives, and people feel they are not able to access the information they need."

Ed Butterworth, of campaign group Baildon Residents Against Inappropriate Development, said the website was "broken and not fit for purpose".

He said in his group's long battle against the new Buck Lane business park, he had encountered a range of problems, such as the website being down, key documents being unavailable to view and planning applications being altered without objectors being notified.

And Josiah Sulc, one of those who recently lost their fight against a large housing development in Allerton, agreed.

He said: "The website is down so often. When you try to access documents, it is so hit-and-miss."

Councillor Val Slater, Labour's executive member for planning, said the Council was working to improve it.

She added: "A number of years ago we outsourced the IT system and the contract has a couple of years to run, but maybe we haven't got out of that contract what we hoped and therefore our system isn't as effective as we would have liked.

"We are trying to make the best of it and work is being done to look at the public access system."

But Cllr Slater said people could also contact the council about planning issues by letter or telephone, by visiting the authority's Jacobs Well office in Bradford city centre or by contacting their ward councillor.

She said: "Yes, there is an issue, yes, we are sorry about it and we are trying to redress it. It might not be an immediate redress, but in the meantime there are other ways of getting in touch."