RETAIL giant Morrisons has won a battle with Bradford Council over whether it can open a convenience store.

A plan to open an M Local shop in Bradford Road, Clayton, sparked a huge outcry locally and was turned down by councillors in Bradford earlier this year.

But the supermarket's developer, Warrior Developments, appealed the decision and now a Government planning inspector has overruled the Council and granted permission.

And the taxpayer will foot much of the bill, after the inspector awarded costs to the developer.

The plan for the Clayton shop was originally turned down by the Council's Bradford area planning panel in February, after a 1,600-name petition was raised against the development and nearby shopkeepers said they feared the store would drive them out of business.

Councillors on the panel had gone against the advice of their own planning department and refused the shop plan for four reasons - that it would create traffic problems, generate noise, harm the character of the area and affect nearby businesses.

But planning inspector Anne Jordan has now said none of these reasons for refusal were justified.

In her report, she said she noted the "very large number of objections to the proposal", but said some residents' concerns, such as fears their homes would fall in value, were not matters she could take into account.

She also ordered Bradford Council to pay part of Warrior's costs in bringing the appeal, saying the authority had shown "unreasonable behaviour resulting in unnecessary expense" by failing to justify three out of its four reasons for refusal.

These costs have yet to be negotiated between Warrior and the Council.

Warrior's planning agent Gary Swarbrick said: "We worked hard during the course of the planning application process with officers at the Council to develop an acceptable scheme and were extremely disappointed that committee members went against the officer’s recommendation and refused planning permission."

He said this decision had "significantly delayed" the scheme and it was delighted the inspector had allowed the appeal, adding: "Our client is now intending to make a start on site in the coming weeks."

Councillor Sinead Engel (Lab, Clayton and Fairweather Green), who had campaigned against the plan, said she and her ward colleague Councillor Carol Thirkill (Lab) were "devastated" by the news.

She said they had nothing against Morrisons but had grave fears about road safety, especially as there was a primary school nearby.

Bradford Council declined to comment.