POTENTIAL housing and employment sites for the next 15 years have been identified by Craven District Council.

The 70 sites across 16 villages, towns and settlements, are due to go out to consultation during the summer as part of the draft Craven Local Plan, when they will be accompanied by policy and strategy statements.

And although the council will not formally be opening consultation with the public, it is releasing details of its preferred housing sites now in the spirit of openness.

Coun Richard Foster (Cons, Grassington), chairman of spatial planning, said it was important that the sites were out in the public.

Councillors had heard complaints from members of the public earlier in the meeting of a perceived lack of consultation and awareness of meetings.

"The sites list exists now and I think it should go on our website, but with the proviso that we are not yet in the consultation period, this is the document that people want to see," said Coun Foster.

"People want to know where and when and if we can also include an optimum number of houses on each site, that should be done so people have an idea of how many houses there will potentially be in their backyard."

At the moment the consultation draft document includes details of every town, village and settlement, with its predicted number of houses to be built each year and a map of suggested sites, but with no indication how many homes for each site.

Coun Chris Knowles Fitton (Cons, Barden Fell) said it was important optimum numbers were included so as to avoid houses being "squeezed in" if the number of new homes required was increased.

Councillors were also keen to get the process moving as quickly as possible and to avoid any delay.

Sian Watson, spatial planning officer, explained how the current figure of 165 new houses every year could change with the publication in September by the government of population statistics.

She said it was likely that the figure would stay the same as consultation should take place first, but added it could be higher, or even lower.

Although the sites would be available for people to view on the council website, it was important that they realised the formal consultation had not begun, she said.