PLANS to build 500 homes on greenbelt in Burley in Wharfedale have been halted after government intervention.

The controversial proposals will now be subject to independent scrutiny and a public inquiry following a decision by Local Government Secretary James Brokenshire to "call in" the scheme.

The move has been welcomed by Shipley MP Philip Davies who has raised the issue with government ministers.

He said: "This is fantastic news for my constituents who have been opposed to the plans to build on the green belt site. No homes should be built on green belt sites until all brownfield sites are used. It was clear from the beginning this proposal was wrong, not only was it on greenbelt land but using the land at Sun Lane and Ilkley Road was not going to meet the need for housing in the city centre. There are ample brownfield sites to meet demand.

"I am delighted now residents will be able to have their say and the proposal independently scrutinised. The fact that only about ten planning applications are called in each year by Government shows my concerns and those of my constituents about the Council’s decision have been recognised."

Mr Brokenshire said: "The Government’s policy on call in is to be very selective. It is right that almost all cases the initial decision on whether the application should proceed should be taken by the local planning authority. In general, planning applications are only called in if planning issues of more than local importance are involved."

He added: "There are occasions when it is right for me to decide the issue, normally following a public inquiry. I have sent a letter to Bradford Council which explains the reasons for my decision and indicates the issues on which I wish to be informed for the purposes of my consideration of the application. Arrangements for the public inquiry will be made shortly."

Wharfedale ward councillor Jackie Whiteley argued Burley was ill equipped to cope with 500 additional houses because it lacked the required infrastructure.

She said: "Providing extra primary school places and a bus service to the station hardly compensates when school places at Ilkley Grammar School can only accommodate children already in the system. I fear children in parts of Burley would suffer if the school is obliged to shrink its catchment area. There are no plans to build another secondary school despite plans to build at least 2700 houses between Addingham and Menston in the next ten years. Planned house building around Otley and Guiseley will mean places at Prince Henry’s and Guiseley School schools may shrink too. "

She added: "It remains to be seen if the Secretary of State is convinced by Bradford’s arguments that Sun Lane is the only option. Bradford is a young city and it is in the centre of Bradford where homes are needed and where Bradford is building more schools."

The application for the Sun Lane site was approved by Bradford Council in May despite objections from more than 200 residents and all three ward councillors.

The council's regulatory and appeals committee was told the site was instrumental if the target of 700 new homes in Burley-in-Wharfedale were to be reached.

Committee chairman Cllr David Warburton (Lab, Wyke) told the meeting: "Somewhere in Burley there has to be 700 new homes, and looking at the area I can’t see any other place that could accommodate this amount of houses."

The CEG scheme includes nearly £1 million of local highways and transport improvements, as well as reserving part of the site to enable a one or two-form entry primary school to be built as demand for places increases.