Defiant shopkeepers are refusing to remove security shutters put up without planning permission, saying they need protection from criminal raids.

Four shops in Bradford city centre’s conservation area have been sent enforcement notices from Bradford Council telling them to remove their external roller shutters.

The shops are all in Ivegate, where shop-front shutters are usually only allowed if they are inside the windows or made out of traditional timber.

But business owners are digging their heels in, saying criminals have repeatedly targeted the street. The firms affected are phone shops iPhone Plus, Mobile Zone, Connecting U and Sidats Telecom.

Irfan Qaiser, who runs iPhone Plus, said he thought he had permission for shutters, so was taking legal advice.

He said he used to run XLine Mobiles next door, where in 2012 burglars had smashed the glass door and fled with a haul of expensive phones. The raid had cost him £10,000.

Burglars also struck Mobile Zone in October, taking £1,000 of goods. Owner Muhammad Rizwan said he wanted the area’s crime problem sorted before he took the shutters down.

Ebrahim Sidat, of Sidats Telecom, said a burglary there had cost the business £14,000, so he had no option but to keep the shutters.

And Asad Ashraf, of Connecting U, said: “I’m not going to budge and I’m not going to take any shutters off.”

Councillor Val Slater, the Council’s executive member for planning, said: “Ivegate is very important to us because it’s a key part of the city centre and a conservation area. With Westfield coming onstream, it’s important we make the rest of the city centre as attractive as we can.”

Coun Slater said metal roller shutters could bring the look of an area down, and nearby North Parade was a good example of how shutters could be put up within the rules.

She said: “We wouldn’t ask them to take their shutters down and compromise their security. We just ask that they use the right type.”

Val Summerscales, of Bradford Chamber of Trade, called for a compromise to be found.

She said it was important to maintain the appearance of the conservation area, but the permitted shutters were more expensive to fit, so the Council should offer to subsidise them.

She said: “Some of these Council officials who make these policies want to try to run a business for a month and just see the difficulties.”