OPPONENTS of proposed housing development in Ilkley are celebrating after planning bosses overturned a recommendation to give it the go-ahead from their own advisers.

After making a site visit to Whinfield, on Hebers Ghyll Drive, off Grove Road, members of the Keighley area planning panel refused permission on the grounds of over-development, said Ilkley District Councillor Martin Smith (Con).

Developers wanted to knock down the large house which stands there and replace it with one detached house and six semi-detached houses.

The plan was vigorously opposed by many neighbours including David Cartwright who lives at Ghyll Wood.

After attending the planning meeting Mr Cartwright told the Gazette: "We were delighted - I knew we had a strong case."

Mr Cartwright said he hoped that the developers would now come forward with alternative proposals which would be more acceptable and suitable to the area.

He also praised local objectors who had worked hard to construct a strong case, assisted byparish and district councillor Smith.

In a report to the planning panel, officers suggested that the plan should be given the go-ahead despite objections from Ilkley Parish Council, Ilkley Civic Society and many individuals.

The report said: "The existing house is not listed or in a Conservation Area, not does it possess any special architectural interest.

"It is considered that the submitted scheme is designed to achieve the Government's objectives of making more efficient use of land without compromising the quality and character of the surrounding suburb."

In many ways the decision will be seen as a test case for the town. Available housing land is in desperately short supply in the area and developers in search of maximum profit have turned increasingly to the many large houses standing in their own extensive grounds.

Demolition clears the area for building a number of smaller houses or flats which can then be sold at high prices.

Campaigners are hoping to arrest the trend by creating a town Design Statement which may help protect sites outside the Conservation Area from housing blight.

Coun Smith told the planning panel: "We have seen over-density on two sites recently approved where the quality and character of the environment has been damaged. We should protect the style and character of the area more severely."

After the meeting Coun Smith said that he was hoping to have talks with the developers soon so a more acceptable scheme for the site could be proposed.

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