PEOPLE power has helped knock back a housing scheme that would have threatened the character of one of Guiseley's most distinctive areas.

Leeds Plans Panel (West) had been recommended to accept proposals to knock down a large, detached bungalow at 40 Southway, on Tranmere Park, and replace it with two, three bedroom semi-detached houses.

But 167 residents, two ward councillors and Aireborough and Horsforth MP Paul Truswell all objected on the grounds the development would be out of character and set a dangerous precedent.

And the panel, meeting last Thursday, was asked to note that Tranmere Park householders felt so strongly about preserving the estate that they had begun creating a Neighbourhood Design Statement.

Resident Jo Donnelly said: "There's been widespread opposition to this unprecedented application, 167 letters and representation from our MP and councillors.

"We have six areas of concern, firstly that this will set a dangerous precedent. This plan proposes to demolish a bungalow and squeeze in two semi-detached houses.

"We've never known a property to be demolished on Tranmere for such a purpose.

"The plan is out of keeping with the character and appearance of the estate. Tranmere was planned to be spacious, there are no semi-detached houses on Southway and the plans for this are out of keeping with other semis on the estate.

"There are inaccuracies in the plans, and in terms of amenity these houses would overlook gardens and the residents immediately opposite.

"It would also lead to a reduction of bungalows, and good quality bungalows are popular and necessary for the elderly and disabled and wheelchair users.

"This is not a knee-jerk reaction against change but we do want to maintain the area in an appropriate way for future generations."

Councillor Stuart Andrew (Con, Guiseley and Rawdon) backed those points. He said: "Tranmere Park is a distinctive area and having two houses on one of those frontages would be such a backward step and set a precedent - once this is done that's it, that's the worrying thing."

Councillor Ted Hanley agreed: "There's a coherence on that estate and I suspect this would be a process of fraying the estate away at the edges."

Councillor Brian Jennings said: "This bungalow seems a perfectly sound building, isn't there something in our policies about preserving old buildings and sustainability?"

Councillor Neil Taggart said: "Sometimes demolition can be justified but I wouldn't support that here because it would help destroy the character of the area.

"And for the demolition of a perfectly good bungalow you'd end up with just one extra unit, I don't think that's sustainable."

Principal Planning Officer Martin Sellens, however warned the panel that it could be on "difficult territory" in terms of refusing the scheme on purely planning grounds.

But panel Chairman Councillor Colin Campbell (Lib Dem, Otley and Yeadon) summed up the mood.

"Generally we're of the view that we don't want to accept this," he said, "and we'll be asking the officers to go away and find the words that go with that.

"We're concerned about the character of the area, setting a precedent and intensification of use on that site."

The plan was deferred for refusal.