Campaigners against a massive planned housing development in Bingley have backed calls for the Government to re-think its proposed planning reforms.

Greenhill Action Group (GAG), which is fighting proposals for hundreds of homes in Sty Lane, Micklethwaite, says proposals to reform the planning laws may lead to a “desecration of beautiful countryside”.

Terry Brown, chairman of GAG, spoke out after ministers refused to back down over the Tory proposals, which enshrine a presumption of development in favour of “sustainable growth”.

The Government is holding a consultation on the draft policy framework, part of reforms aimed at making the planning system less complex, more accessible, and promoting sustainable growth.

The planned reform has provoked stiff opposition from organisations such as the National Trust and the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) which fear they could lead to a return to damaging development.

Mr Brown said: “I totally agree with their comments.

“Our site at Greenhill is a case in point. The developers want to desecrate a beautiful area, destroying it as a place of relaxation for thousands of people.”

Bradford Councillor Anne Hawkesworth echoed campaigners’ concerns that reform of planning rules could be “disastrous” for green belt areas such as Wharfedale.

Coun Hawkesworth (Con, Ilkley) is calling on Bradford Council’s planning department to consult representatives of parishes before consultation on Draft National Planning Policy Framework closes next month.

She said: “The frightening thing is that the Planning Inspectorate have been told to use them as material consideration before the legislation has been passed. It could be disastrous for green belt areas such as Wharfedale.”

Coun Hawkesworth wants Bradford’s planning authority to offer briefings to the joint parish liaison committee on the implications of the bill, so any concerns can be fed into Government consultation.

Ministers have said they want to protect the green belt and areas of natural beauty, but opponents are concerned it could lead to urban sprawl and uncontrolled development in the countryside.

CPRE’s chief executive Shaun Spiers criticised claims that the current planning rules were stopping economic recovery and house building, and said the proposed changes would lead to more poor quality development on greenfield sites.

Communities Secretary and former Bradford Council leader Eric Pickles has insisted the Government is determined to “win the battle” on the planning reforms to encourage economic recovery.

Ministers have accused opponents of being anti-growth and misleading the public into believing the plans will threaten the green belt.