COUNCILLORS in a North Craven village which has increased in size by over 50 per cent in the past 20 years are opposing plans for 25 new homes.

CCM Auctions has applied for outline planning permission to to build 25 houses on land off Back Lane, Hellifield.

"It's inappropriate to consider building that number of houses all at once," said Councillor Brian Hugill, chairman of Hellifield Parish Council. "We feel that 25 is too much. If they get planning permission for 25, then they could build even more after that.

"If Craven Cattle Marts get planning permission, they'll just sell the site," said Cllr Hugill. "The company does own a number of fields around the perimeter of the village and we're worried that these could also be sold for development."

"They've already had one big bite of the cherry previously."

Cllr Hugill said that when the old Craven Cattle Marts Auctions site was knocked down, land in the Hammerton Drive area of the village had been redeveloped over several years, significantly increasing the size of the village.

"We're not against development, but it's the scale."

The outline plans have also attracted a number of other objectors in the village.

One of those objectors said the number of dwellings in Hellifield had increased from 434 in 1993 to 678 now, a rise of over 50 per cent.

Cllr Hugill also said that although the highways authority had no objections to the plans, the parish council felt that the access onto a "little back road would have an additional impact on road users".

But the agent for CCM Auctions said that the number of houses had been reduced from 44 to 25 after a public consultation was held in Hellifield earlier this year.

"It was really a response to the community after we had a consultation," said James Ellis, of Rural Solutions. "There was a clear message that there were too many houses."

Jeremy Eaton, general manager for CCM Auctions, said: "We went to the parish council, took on board what was said and adapted the plan."

If the site receives outline planning permission, Mr Eaton said he is "assuming that the land would be put on the market".

"We're a private limited company responsible to our shareholders and to manage our properties effectively it would remiss of us if we weren't looking at things like this.

"Areas around the fringe of the village are becoming increasingly difficult to farm because of livestock and the connection to the village."

He said that the site was most appropriate for development because it was "hemmed in by the railroad and housing".

Mr Ellis also said that the proposed amount of development was appropriate for the site.