EMBSAY is set to expand following outline approval for more than 30 new homes off Shires Lane.

Despite strong opposition from the parish council, 229 residents and the village sports community, Craven councillors were told there were no valid reasons to turn it down.

In the absence of a Craven Local Plan, the default position was the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) which ruled in favour of development - irrespective if it was outside the development limits of the village.

Embsay with Eastby Parish Council chairman, Cllr Gill Quinn, told Monday's planning committee meeting that the village accepted there was a need for housing, but had several concerns, including increased traffic on Shires Lane, the impact on the cricket club and an already over-subscribed primary school.

The village itself had not developed its own Neighbourhood Plan and Craven was yet to publish its Local Plan, which left both Embsay and Eastby at the mercy of developers, she said.

James Ellis, for Rural Solutions, agents for joint applicants, landowner N and P Hargreaves and builders RN Wooler, said the site had been in the ownership of the Hargreaves family since 1927.

A senior member of the family had been a keen supporter of the cricket club and one of the Woolers played for the club now. As part of the application, the football pitch would be gifted to the village and a piece of ground provided for a five-a-side football pitch.

It would be a good quality development built by a local builder with strong connections to the site, he said.

Councillors were reminded that the application was in outline only and a detailed scheme, including site layout and exact numbers of houses would return at a later date - although there would be a requirement for 40 per cent affordable homes.

Cllr Ady Green (Cons, Cowling), who proposed accepting the officers' recommendation to approve the scheme, said there would be time to argue the detail of the scheme later.

"At this stage we are being asked to approve the principle of the development, all other issues will have to be achieved correctly and in the future," he said.

But Cllr Ken Hart (Ind, Sutton-in-Craven) agreed with the opposition. "I don't like this, but because our local development team are dragging their feet, there is nothing we can do about it - developers are attacking us from all sides now."

Committee chairman, Cllr Richard Welch (Cons, Penyghent) pointed out that very few planning authorities had a current local plan in place and were in the same situation as Craven.