Work on the controversial shops and cafe development at 9 High Street and land behind Skipton Town Hall is due to start soon.

Craven District Council announced just before Christmas that it had finally completed the long-awaited £850,000 sale of the land to developers Maple Grove Developments and that work would start “early in the New Year”.

The £5 million development will see two new cafe/restaurants, including a Pizza Express, in a new building on the site of the 50-year-old former clinic at 9 High Street, which is due to be demolished in the first phase of the development.

There will also be four new shops, including, it is believed, a Clitheroe-based Dawson’s department store.

They will be housed in a block to be called Albion Place, which will be built on land currently used as a car park behind the town hall and facing onto Marks & Spencer.

The small staff car park will remain open throughout the New Year holiday before being closed to make way for the development - about the same time as Yorkshire Water closes up to half of Coach Street car park for the building of an underground reservoir.

Council leader Coun Chris Knowles-Fitton (Cons), said the development was good news for the town and for Craven.

“It will create jobs and will make more retail space available within the town centre. This development is a great investment for Skipton and a real boost for Craven in this tough economic climate,” he said.

In a brochure put out at the end of summer marketing the development as a “prime retail funding opportunity”, Maple Grove highlighted Cotswold outdoor shop as one of its signed up tenants, in addition to Pizza Express, Brantano Shoes, and Next, which currently has a shop in the High Street.

It also included Dawson’s department store as a tenant soon to be signed up. Dawson’s deals in a variety of high-quality household items, including barbecues and cookware.

Earlier in the year, the council’s finance manager warned councillors that the council’s capital programme was dependent on the council receiving payment for land sales, including 9 High Street and Granville Street, where a residential development has been approved.