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Excellent response to Local Plan consultation

The autumn consultation on Craven District Council's Draft Local Plan received an excellent response from resident and organisations. A total of 864 individual comments were received covering a range of issues and we are very grateful for all the time and effort people have taken to provide so many constructive comments.

David Smurthwaite Strategic Manager for Planning and Regeneration said: "Broadly the draft local plan strategy and policies have been well received and responses to the preferred sites have largely been positive but there a number of areas that require further work to ensure that the final Local Plan fits better with communities needs and is sufficiently robust so that it will be found to be sound when it is examined by the Planning Inspectorate."

Mr Smurthwaite continued: "Some further evidence needs to be included in the draft Local Plan to justify the site choices and policies in particular regarding the heritage and natural assets of the area.  The Council is currently commissioning this further research alongside our partners."

A small number of sites received a significant number of objections and the options in those parishes will now be reviewed. A number of new sites have been suggested across the District which may offer better alternatives to those in the Draft Local Plan and they will now be assessed for their suitability.

The most significant new site to be identified is Ashfield Farm in Cross Hills. A developer is proposing to build around 220 houses but also fund a new bridge over the rail line.

Leader of the Council, Cllr Richard Foster said: "This is a really interesting proposal for us to explore however there is considerable work required to understand the feasibility and viability of a new bridge and will be subject to consultation with communities in the area. If a viable project this may partially address the traffic issues that affects the South Craven villages and also remove the key barrier to re-opening Cross Hills Station."

David Smurthwaite concluded: "Unlike many Planning Authorities who are producing their Core Strategy first and then a few years later allocating the sites, Craven are doing both together so that residents and employers can be engaged directly in developing the strategy and fully understand what this means for their communities. This will also enable the entire process to be shortened.  The autumn consultation was the first time that people were able to see the entire plan which is the culmination of two previous consultation rounds on the strategy and the sites."

It is intended that most of the additional evidence will be collected by Spring and once incorporated into the Local Plan a further consultation will take place.  Depending on the result of the consultation the final Local Plan would be produced in the autumn of 2015.