WIRRAL residents were left "relieved" after developers' plans to build new apartments were shot down by councillors.
The Devonshire Park Residents' Association had fought against proposals to convert the former Rainbow Day Nursery in Rockybank Road, Tranmere into eight self-contained flats.
The scheme, which was put forward by agents Edward Landor Associates, had been recommended for approval by planning officers but local councillors rejected the application when they met on Thursday night.
Similar proposals had also been refused on two previous occasions in recent years.
Councillors' refusal came after more than 400 local residents signed a petition against the plans amid fears of increased noise and traffic.
Neighbouring householders were also worried that the increasing number of flats in the area was in danger of changing its "character."
Lynn Evans, chairwoman of Devonshire Park Residents' Association, said: "We are so relieved about the decision because we feel that we have been battling against this inappropriate development since 2006.
"We wanted to protect the sustainability of our community and make sure we continued to have a good mix of housing in the area.
"Although communities are not built out of bricks and mortar, families are more likely to move into houses when they are settling down as opposed to flats and we were at tipping point with the amount of empty flats here.
"We have felt for many years that we are a community under siege from developers and there is a constant threat and anxiety that we will be taken over.
"I do hope this will encourage other residents in Wirral to stand up against big property developers because you can make a difference – you don't need to be a planning expert, you just need to be passionate about your community.
"We are now hoping to meet with the building’s owner to discuss how it can be used."
Under the plans, the applicant argued that the building was in a "dilapidated" condition and had been neglected.
However Birkenhead MP Frank Field, who addressed the committee, said the scheme could have changed the "family culture" of the neighbourhood.
He told the Globe: "I made a plea that the council should support the local community and their wishes.
"It is largely a family area and there are already hundreds of empty of flats in the vicinity so it was important that there were no further changes.
"This absolutely shows that communities do have a voice and can make a difference."
Speaking on behalf of applicant Berkley Partnership, planning agent Edward Landor Associates said: "We are very disappointed at the planning committee's decision and perplexed at their reasons.
"It seems that the residents and Mr Field would rather a building be left vacant than it be brought back into use, creating construction jobs in the process.
"We will be discussing with the client about the prospect of lodging an appeal with the Planning Inspectorate."