PLANS to create a nature haven on a grass verge in Oakworth have sparked a row with neighbours.

Residents fear a bench proposed for the verge would attract anti-social behaviour and affect their privacy.

A public meeting to discuss the overgrown grass area in the middle of Racemoor Lane attracted more than 30 residents.

Resident Irene Fowler put forward plans that would see the verge cut back and become home to hedgehog homes, bat boxes and wildflowers.

Residents discussed various ideas for the verge, and Keighley Town Council project coordinator Pip Gibson will use them as the basis for a community development project proposal.

If these proposals are agreed by the town council, they will be carried out in partnership with landowner Bradford Council

The meeting of residents from Racemoor Lane, Dendrum Close, Moor Way and Moor Drive was described as “passionate” by its organisers, town councillor Luke Maunsell and district councillor Rebecca Poulsen.

Cllr Maunsell, who regarded the meeting as a success, said his role was to give residents a platform to speak their mind and take ownership of proposals such as the verge project.

He said the focus would be on involving local residents in a range of environmental improvements that supported wildlife while hist providing an attractive community green space.

He said: “I was delighted by how many attended and contributed to the discussion. There was a lot of passion in the room, but the conversation was kept, relatively speaking, respectful and focused on the project.

“The most controversial part of these plans was a proposed bench which some residents feared would attract anti-social behaviour. The siting of the bench will be looked at following further consultation with residents.”

Following the meeting, around 16 people living in nearby streets signed a petition objecting to the alteration of the verge.

David and Maureen Clark, of Moor Way, Oakworth, said the grass verge was already home for bats and hedgehogs, and a bench would not enhance the natural habitat.

They said: “Residents are also concerned that their peaceful area would be transformed by people using this proposed bench to congregate outside their homes and deny them the privacy they enjoy at the moment.

In a statement posted on Facebook after meeting, Worth Valley ward councillor Rebecca Poulsen said different views were expressed of what residents wanted.

She added: “In the end there was agreement over putting together a plan for Pip Gibson to start small and do some work that is sympathetic to nature, and look at getting a bin installed.

“For now putting a bench in this location is on hold due to strength of feelings from some residents.

“Concerns were also raised about the wall along the area that is in a dangerous condition. I will report this to Highways and see what they can do to get the landowner to make it safe.”