Councillors have said they don’t appreciate being threatened with legal action by big firms who aren’t getting their way at planning meetings.

Councillor Doreen Lee, who sits on Bradford Council’s Regulatory and Appeals Committee, complained bitterly about “veiled threats” made by one of the firms fighting to build a supermarket in Shipley.

GMI Developments had its bid to build an unnamed supermarket in Otley Road turned down in December.

Planners instead approved a rival bid for a Morrisons store on Crag Road. But GMI, which is appealing the decision, has now accused the Council of putting up a “smokescreen” and has threatened legal action.

Although the committee approved the Crag Road scheme last year, a legal technicality means planning consent has not been signed off.

A planners’ report said this was because the applicants needed to sign up to a Section 106 agreement with the Council – promising money to fund improvements to the area – but as the Council was one of the landowners it could not enter into an agreement with itself.

At the meeting yesterday, the committee considered an alternative arrangement suggested by the applicants behind the Morrisons scheme, which would allow planning consent to be signed off, but GMI was objecting.

In a strongly-worded letter to the committee ahead of the meeting, GMI’s lawyers claimed there was an ulterior motive for this request.

This was that Network Rail – one of the applicants in the rival GMI plan – also owns some land for the Crag Road scheme and is refusing to sell it, or enter into a planning agreement, until their appeal has been heard.