A CAR company has been refused retrospective planning permission to store millions of pounds worth of cars on one of the main gateways into Bradford city centre.

Hundreds of vehicles, from Range Rovers to minivans, have been stored on the plot of land between Valley Road and the rail line leading into Forster Square Rail Stations for over a year.

However, planning permission was never granted for such a use of the land, and this week Vertu Motors, which runs the site, was refused retrospective planning permission to use the land as a vehicle storage compound.

Planning officers said the proposals spoiled the view of that area of the city centre.

They said the plans would “result in an obtrusive feature in the streetscene along a public transport corridor to the detriment of the visual amenity of the area.”

Vertu Motors said it was “disappointed” with the decision and will now be “working through the appeals process” to determine the site’s future.

Retrospective plans for wedding venue at historic battlefield submitted to Bradford Council

As well as storage for up to 360 cars, the company had also sought retrospective permission for a single-storey wash and valet bay facility, part two-storey workshop with Class 4 MoT, parts storage and ancillary accommodation, a single-storey portable cabin, screen panels to existing palisade fencing and landscaping.

Their application was submitted in July.

The site, in the shadow of Bradford City’s Valley Parade ground, had previously been unoccupied scrubland, fenced off and fringed by saplings.

It is also now bordered by the City Connect cycleway - a segregated cycle lane that opened last month, and the rail line, and is one of the first city centre sites that rail passengers see arriving into Bradford.

The company’s application said the vehicles were being stored on the site prior to delivery at two dealership showrooms across West Yorkshire.

Replying to the proposals, a report by the Council’s Landscape architects criticised the lack of landscaping at the site, saying trees and shrubs were needed to screen the land, rather than just the metal fence currently bordering the land.

They added: “We believe that the visual impact of the proposed development would be detrimental to the landscape character of the local area, including the important railway transport corridor and Valley Road and the new adjacent cycleway.

“We are therefore unable to support the current proposals for the site.”

The cycleway is part of the multi million pound City Connect scheme that links Shipley to Leeds, and was built to encourage more people to commute by cycling.

When the Telegraph & Argus visited the site yesterday there were over 120 vehicles, including Range rovers, cars and vans, parked up and watched over by numerous CCTV cameras and an on site member of staff.

The application was refused almost a year after it was first submitted. After the refusal, a spokesperson for Vertu said: “We’re understandably disappointed with this outcome, but we hope to continue working closely with the relevant parties throughout the appeals process.”

The Bradford Civic Society has been campaigning for improvements to the appearance of the city centre. On hearing the reason for the refusal, chair Si Cunningham said: “To be honest, most members of the Civic Society will be more concerned about the current state of Forster Square station itself rather than the industrial plots leading up to it.

“I sort of understand the council’s position, what with Valley Road having so much green investment recently. A vast plot full of 4x4’s won’t do much for our environmental image.

“On the other hand, the proposal doesn’t look any worse than the back of Foster Square retail park, which is just a collection of rusting sheds and trade waste bins.

“Perhaps a compromise can be found and the applicant can be encouraged to introduce some significant greenery to the site.”

Retrospective planning has proved a contentious issue in Bradford in recent years. Although submitting a planning application after work has already started, or been completed, is illegal, it can cause headaches for planning departments, and costly for developers if work that has already taken place is refused.