Halifax regional council has turned down a proposal to allow limited development in a Purcells Cove wilderness area.

A motion to allow some development in the backlands was defeated in a tie vote Tuesday, and city council is now eyeing the idea of turning the area into open public space.

This comes as a relief to some local residents who have fought against proposed development in the backlands, which includes nine lakes and dozens of kilometres of hiking and bike trails.

"It was a cliffhanger. Now I feel relieved," said Catherine MacKinnon, with the Backlands Coalition.

Those living near the backlands spent years battling against proposals to extend water and sewer lines in the area.

Residents won, but private developers then asked regional council to rezone the land so homes with wells and septic systems could be built.

Council turned down that idea on Tuesday.