A CAMPAIGN group fighting development in Menston secured a victory yesterday as a major homes plan was refused.

Councillors on the district's Regulatory and Appeals Committee decided to go against the recommendation of their own officers and threw out plans for 137 homes on fields off Bingley Road.

Menston Action Group (MAG) had long argued that the site suffered from problems with water emerging from the ground, and that building on it would increase the flooding risk in the area.

At the meeting at City Hall yesterday, an independent expert on flooding, Dr Duncan Reed, backed up these claims.

He said: "Development has to take place somewhere, I recognise that, but at this Bingley Road site, in my opinion, the groundwater emergence is a problem."

Committee member Councillor Anne Hawkesworth (Ind, Ilkley) said: "Would you buy a house on that site?"

Dr Reed said: "Of course I wouldn't, no."

The council's own experts had maintained that a drainage scheme put forward by the developers, Taylor Wimpey, would allow development to go ahead.

MAG's solicitor, Chris Schofield, urged the committee to reject the plan, saying: "Put simply, if you get this wrong, householders and their insurers are entitled to hold you legally responsible."

He said if the developers appealed, the matter could then be dealt with through a public planning inquiry, which would be able to examine the issues in far greater depth.

The developers' agent, Mark Johnson, said if the plans were refused, they might not appeal and could go down a different route.

He said they already had outline planning permission for 135 homes on the site, and that they may instead pursue this plan.

He added: "We have now spent five years on this planning application, talking about - in detail - drainage matters."

The six-person committee took the matter to the vote, with all but one opting to reject the plan.

Afterwards, MAG campaigner Graham Booth said: "Five-one. It was like a Bradford City away score!"

Fellow campaigner Dr Steve Ellams added: "At last common sense is prevailing and five years of hard work is beginning to show dividends."

MAG have been battling against a string of housing plans for green fields surrounding their village.

They are also in the early stages of a High Court legal battle over plans for a separate 179-home housing development on green fields at Derry Hill.