Four lovingly-tended gardens have been saved from a Council development plan after the authority was accused of trying to drive up their value before selling them off.

The gardens, off Railway Road, Idle, are owned by the Council and rented out to households who live in nearby New Street.

But the authority’s asset management team applied for outline planning permission to build a house on the land.

The plan was discussed by the Bradford Area Planning Panel yesterday, where Idle and Thackley ward councillor Jeanette Sunderland voiced her objections.

She said the gardens were well-used and were “in effect community space”.

And she said the Council had no intention of building the house itself, but that it simply wanted to sell the plot and was trying to drive up its value.

She said: “Local councillors were approached around the sale of it. It is garden space. People have invested a lot of money in them over the years.

“This is nothing more than a speculative application to raise the value of the land. I am disappointed to see it.”

Coun Sunderland, the leader of the Council’s Liberal Democrats group, said building one house wasn’t going to solve Bradford’s housing shortage.

She said: “Let the Council sell the land as gardens to the residents and not over-inflate the price.”

Nina Ramsden, who rents one of the gardens, told the panel that they were well-tended and were used by lots of local people, including a disabled child.

She described the “community spirit” they helped to foster in the road. She said: “We all love having our gardens.”

Panel member Councillor Malcolm Sykes said he agreed with Coun Sunderland, and called the development plan “wholly inappropriate”.

He told planning officers: “I find it absolutely incredible that the Council’s asset management department has actually placed this in your lap.”

Councillor Shabir Hussain, panel chairman, said: “I would say to asset management that they should talk to these residents to see if they can sell the land to these people who have actually cared for this land and looked after it.

“I know there is a shortage of houses but this isn’t going to make a difference.”

After the meeting, Mrs Ramsden said: “I’m so relieved, I could cry.”

Peter and Sandra Haste, who pay the Council £80 a year to rent one of the four plots, were delighted.

“We are absolutely over the moon,” said Mrs Haste, 60. “We had resigned ourselves to losing it. We thought that if they want to sell it, they will sell it.

“Everyone round here was against it.”