Controversial government proposals to reform the planning system which critics fear would see Bradford’s green spaces under threat were dealt a blow after the Liberal Democrats called for them to be scrapped.

A packed hall at the party’s conference in Brighton voted almost unanimously to oppose the Government's proposals, which would allow single-storey extensions – including conservatories – to be built without planning permission for a limited period.

In addition, they would ease the requirement on developers to include a proportion of ‘affordable’ homes in their schemes, and would remove planning powers from local councils that Ministers believe are guilty of poor-quality or slow decision-making.

Despite a plea from Communities Minister Don Foster, who was the only speaker to oppose the motion, the party members voted in favour of a motion saying the changes “ignore local democracy, will fail to protect local communities and will encourage more neighbourhood disputes”.

The Government claims it will stimulate the economy, but Bradford East Lib Dem MP David Ward said: “The Tories keep saying ‘slacken planning rules and suspend other rules’ but there are 400,000 homes across the country which have been given planning permission but are not being built.

“We need confidence in the sector and to be proactive and find funding for social housing, not say people can do what they like. Conference has rejected these proposals – there is a very strong feeling that allowing someone to extend their property and the economy will improve is laughable.

“I agree we need a growth strategy but we cannot fiddle at the edges. I fear allowing people to adapt their properties as they wish will also cause problems with neighbours.”