Council leaders ‘won’t capitulate to developers in Yorkshire Dales’

The Yorkshire Dales National Park.
The Yorkshire Dales National Park.
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Council leaders for the area covering large swathes of the Yorkshire Dales have vowed not to “capitulate” to housing developers as they prepare to approve plans which would see 230 new homes built every year in the district.

Craven District Council moved a step closer to confirming the details of its local plan, which has been five years in the making and will dictate local planning policy until 2032, after the latest draft was approved by its policy committee.

We’re not living in a chocolate box. This district has to work for its residents. It’s very important we get the message out there that we’re not capitulating to developers.

Simon Myers

The committee approved a recommendation for a minimum housing requirement of 4,600 net new dwellings during the plan period from 2012 to 2032, an average of 230 dwellings per year. During the process of drafting the plan, the target figure was 256 in 2015 before being lowered to 214.

Developers will also have to provide a minimum of 30 per cent affordable housing on any development in the district, which includes the towns of Skipton and Settle as well as parts of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

The inhabitants of Craven are said to be the happiest in the country, according to a recent study by the the Office for National Statistics.

But officials are concerned about the area’s ageing population and want to change its balance to ensure it has “vibrant, balanced communities with jobs and housing to support families across the district”.

Coun Simon Myers, lead member for Enterprising Craven, said in a statement yesterday: “We’re not living in a chocolate box. This district has to work for its residents. It’s very important we get the message out there that we’re not capitulating to developers.

“We’re anxious to see a sustainable form of development and we’re anxious to see that our policies are beyond challenge.

“We don’t want to waste council taxpayers’ money on legal challenges and we don’t want development without affordable housing. We are proposing this plan with the best interests of all residents at heart – not because we want to see blanket development.”

The policy committee has recommended the latest draft of the local plan, which sets out how land should be used in the future to achieve the area’s economic, environmental and social goals, for approval by full council when it meets on December 19.

If the plan is approved by full council, it will then be published after the Christmas and New Year holidays for a further six-week consultation, seeking views on whether the plan is sound and meets the tests in the National Planning Policy Framework.

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

The council’s planning policy team has considered more than 900 comments made by more than 230 people in the most recent consultation, which took place in June and July 2017.

A number of changes have been made in response to the most recent consultation, including the allocation of land east of the railway line in Skipton, for a new primary school.

Other proposed changes in the document include a new climate change policy, a policy on specialist housing for older people, and small changes to housing numbers in Settle and Bentham following the closure of Rathmell primary school.

Counc John Dawson, chairman of the council’s Spatial Planning sub-committee, said: “Although most attention with the Local Plan is focused on the amount of housing and where it is planned to be located, the Local Plan touches on many aspects of our lives,” he said.