The future of an historic funfair site at the top of Shipley Glen tramway hangs in the balance after controversial plans to build houses on the site were deferred.

Members of Shipley Area Planning Panel visited the area and could not decide whether it fell under new rules governing open space, sport and recreation.

Funfair owner Paul Teale, who leases the site, applied for outline planning permission for the homes on the Prod Lane site because he wants to sell it.

He said closure was inevitable within two years because of spiralling costs.

But a 2,200-signature petition was handed to the panel from objectors who want to preserve the area and fear the Victorian tramway might also have to go.

Cathy Richardson-Roberts told the panel that planning policy for open space, sport and recreation, published in July last year, said land should not be built on without an assessment.

"The funfair has bouncy castles, merry-go-rounds and swings which are providing facilities for play and social interaction for children," she said. "It encourages tourism and recreation."

She said under the guidance from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, developers needed to consult the local community and demonstrate the proposals were widely supported by them. "The fact that more than 2,000 people are opposed to it is quite powerful," she said.

Roger Teece, a resident of Plod Lane, spoke in favour of the proposal saying it would enhance the residential nature of the area and as a brown-field site it should take priority for development.

Mr Teale said the only way the funfair could survive was with substantial cash injections of £50,000 up front and £20,000 each year over the next five years to keep it running.

The panel has asked for more information regarding the new policy guidance, which recommends councils should seek opportunities to improve the value of existing facilities by better management or capital investment. They will decide on the application at the next meeting in June.

Speaking after the meeting in Shipley Town Hall, objector Mike Short said he was delighted the Council had listened to the views of the public and they were now confident of success.

Mr Teale said if the application was turned down it would not solve the problem and he could be forced to consider putting the rent up to carry on.