THE long awaited Craven Local Plan will go out for a final six week consultation in the new year before it heads off to the secretary of state.

Councillors at Tuesday's extraordinary meeting of Craven District Council heard planning barrister Michael Bedford QC say the publication draft plan was ready to be submitted for government scrutiny.

He said Craven's current plan dated back to 1999 and that the district needed a spatial planning strategy to take it into the next 15 years.

"The local plan has had a long gestation, but it is now ready for submission, but before that can happen there will be a period of consultation," he said.

Cllr John Dawson, chairman of the council's spatial planning sub-committee, praised the work by officers and councillors over the last five years and said the plan would now go out for six weeks of consultation on January 2.

A number of changes to the plan have been made in response to the most recent consultation, including the allocation of 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, 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.

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.

The plan seeks the building of a minimum of 4,600 homes across Craven - outside the national park - between 2012 and 2032, or around 230 new homes every year.

And in a change to council policy, developers will be required to build a minimum of 30 per cent affordable homes, instead of 40 per cent.

The six week consultation starting in the new year will seek views on whether the plan is sound and meets the tests set out in the National Planning Policy Framework.

After that, it will be submitted for examination by a government-appointed inspector. At the 'examination in public' the inspector will examine the plan, the evidence supporting it and representations received and judge whether it is sound and meets its legal requirements.

For more information on the local plan go to the council’s website: