Yorkshire Dales: '˜Robust' pledge over district's plan vision

A planning vision for the next 15 years for vast tracts of the Yorkshire Dales that has been five years in the making is due to be published over the new year.

Early morning frost in Ribblesdale looking towards Long Preston in the Yorkshire Dales.

Craven District Council has considered more than 900 submissions for its Local Plan in the wake of concerns expressed by the Government nationally over how the planning documents are progressing.

The authority’s current local plan dates back to 1999, and work on developing the next plan, which will shape planning policy until 2032, began in 2012.

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Communities Secretary Sajid Javid announced last week that he had put 15 authorities on notice of possible intervention, including York and Calderdale, adding they had “failed” in their duties to co-operate and meet deadlines.

Since then, decision makers in Harrogate, where a plan is yet to be agreed, have said the authority “cannot rest on its laurels” or it could face the same fate, despite concerns that the district’s plan is not ready.

But the leader of Craven District Council has said it was “determined” to ensure that its plan was robust and that residents and business had the chance to have their say.

A six-week consultation on the draft plan - a third draft of the document - took place in June and July, and the 942 comments made by 237 individuals have prompted the council’s planning policy team to make a number of changes, which will be examined by the councillors on the district’s Spatial Planning Sub-Committee on Monday.

The changes include allocating land to the north of Airedale Avenue and Elsey Croft and east of the railway line in Skipton, for a new primary school.

Other proposed changes include a new climate change policy, provision for 32 hectares of employment land, a policy on specialist housing for older people, and changes to housing numbers for Rathmell, Settle and Bentham following the closure of Rathmell primary school.

There are also a number of changes to housing site allocations in Skipton, Settle and Bentham, and the area around Skipton Woods is proposed to be designated as Local Green Space.

Craven’s strategic manager for planning and regeneration, David Smurthwaite, said: “The Planning Policy team has worked extremely hard to respond to the comments made in the Local Plan consultation and we have made a number of proposed changes to address the issues raised.

“We are now inviting councillors to examine these proposals in order to ensure we have a Local Plan that is sound and robust.”

Members of the committee are expected to recommend the amended plan to Policy Committee on December 7 for approval. A further, amended report on affordable housing will also be presented to Policy Committee. The plan is then due to go before full council on December 19, and if approved, with be published in the New Year for a further six-week consultation.

It will then be submitted for examination by a Government-appointed inspector.

The leader of Craven District Council, Coun Richard Foster, said: “The Council is aware that the Government is keen for local authorities to get their Local Plans in place. We too are keen to see our plan in place as soon as possible in order to strengthen our planning process.

“However we are determined to ensure that the plan in place is robust. We have listened to the views of residents and businesses through a number of consultations in order to shape the future for Craven.”