Developers were handed another blow yesterday in their bid to steal a march in one of Bradford’s longest- running planning sagas.

Redrow Homes and Bellway Homes have been battling with campaigners over a scheme to build more than 400 homes in Sty Lane, Micklethwaite, Bingley, which will go to a ten-day public inquiry next month after being rejected by Bradford Council.

Now councillors have rejected their application to demolish a swing bridge across the Leeds-Liverpool canal and replace it with a new crossing as part of the access to the site.

Plans for the bridge were initially rejected last year as the whole process was knocked back by the Shipley area planning panel.

The developers have appealed against the decision, but resubmitted similar plans for the bridge in the hope of gaining permission and strengthening their position ahead of the public inquiry, which is due to start on Tuesday, February 21.

But they were turned down once more, despite council officers recommending the scheme for approval.

As the swing bridge application is part of the ongoing appeal, councillors were not asked to grant or refuse planning permission, but their decision will be noted by the planning inspector leading the public inquiry.

They were presented with two applications, one for a replacement of the current bridge to provide full vehicular access, and another for conservation area consent for the demolition of the existing crossing. Peter Fleming, for the Greenhill Action Group, which is campaigning against the Sty Lane development, said the bridge was still inadequate and inappropriate for emergency services.

“It doesn’t matter if it has single, double or six lanes,” he said. “It will have the same effect when it is wide open. It is our view the existing bridge is much more in keeping with the style and location of the conservation area.”

Councillors on the panel said they were against the bridge for the same reasons as last September, when the previous application was rejected.

They felt access to the site, via the swing bridge, was not adequate, the replacement bridge would make no positive contribution to the conservation area and the route would be detrimental to wildlife. They also said the existing bridge is of historic interest. Councillors voted six to one against the applications, with Coun John Cole (Lib Dem, Baildon) the only committee member to support the application.