CRAVEN'S much anticipated planning and development blueprint should be approved early next year, according to the leader of Craven District Council.

The draft version of the Craven Local Development Plan, which will shape development for the next 15 to 20 years, will go before the council's Spatial Planning Sub-Committee on Monday, August 18.

There will then be a six week consultation, before the plan goes to the council's Policy Committee in November, and full council in December.

Cllr Chris Knowles-Fitton told last week's full council meeting, if everything went to plan, it would be then submitted for approval to the Planning Inspectorate early in 2015.

The council has received much criticism for the delay in completing its LDP including from its own members and Skipton MP Julian Smith.

|n a recent letter to council chief executive Paul Shevlin, Mr Smith urged the council to complete the plan as a matter of urgency.

"I recognise the council is keen to get this process right, and I am grateful for all the hard work so far, but I feel strongly that it is now time to get a local plan in place and would like to see this objective as a top priority in the coming months," he said.

Mr Smith said many of his constituents across Craven had contacted him about unwanted development and the lack of a local plan.

"From my conversations with ministers and the Planning Inspectorate, I have been left in no doubt that having a local plan in place will afford communities much more control over local development," he said.

Cllr Knowles-Fitton, responding to the criticism, pointed out compared to other planning authorities, Craven was not doing too badly.

"Out of nearly 300 authorities, only 66 have had their local plans adopted and approximately half of those don't conform either to the National Policy Planning Framework or its guidance, which may lead to problems for them at a later date," he said.

Cllr Knowles-Fitton has already urged the publication on the council website of areas of land allocated as preferred areas of development for housing or employment.

Each settlement , village and town has been given an annual target figure for housing, of from 83 per year for Skipton, to just two for Bradley.