Bradford Council’s plans for homes in the West Bowling area of the city have been blocked by its own councillors, who decided the earmarked site was important play space that should not be built on.

The Council’s asset management department had hoped to win planning permission for 45 houses on a field off Parkway, on the Parkside estate, which it would then market to developers.

Neighbours of the site had vigorously opposed the development, saying it would rob them of one of the area’s only green spaces.

Ward councillors and Bradford East MP David Ward had backed their campaign and yesterday the regulatory and appeals committee voted to reject the plans – despite planning officers urging them to approve them.

More than 80 people had objected, and a petition signed by more than 100 protesters, also urged the committee to refuse the plans. They said the land was regularly used by people of all ages, and that the area could not cope with an extra 45 families.

The field was formerly occupied by flats which were demolished more than a decade ago, but objectors argued that even before the site was cleared, the flats only took up a third of the land.

The committee heard from planning officers that if they granted permission for the 45 homes the site would be offered for sale to developers. They said that the site was only an “informal” play area.

Objector Shaheed Islam told the meeting: “If young people don’t have this field to play in they will have to go on the street. We don’t want this to happen. People play on it, cycle on it, and go walking there, and someone’s decided to concrete it over.

“You should listen to residents and not just do something because it might save the Council some money.”

He said that although Bowling Park was within walking distance from the site any children walking there would have to cross a swamp and a cemetery.

Councillor Naveeda Ikram (Lab, Little Horton), said: “As a Council we should be a role model.

“We have a responsibility to make sure the right developments are taking place. This will create a lot of traffic issues and we don’t need further congestion here.”

Coun Shabir Hussain (Lab, Manningham) said: “I can’t go along with this. I would like to see this land kept as an area where children can play. I know we need houses, but surely there are other places we can build them?”

Committee deputy chairman, Coun Imran Khan (Lab, Bowling and Barkerend) said: “This is the only decent plot of land for kids to play on in that area. It is a valuable resource for people who use it.”

The committee then voted to refuse the application.