A ROW has broken out in Gargrave over the proposed inclusion of a village site for housing.

The site, off Marton Road, has been allocated for a residential development of about 40 homes in the Gargrave Neighbourhood Plan and also in the Craven Local Plan.

Both planing blueprints are yet to be formally adopted, but are at an advanced stage after several years work. Periods of public consultation - when members of the public could have influenced what was in both plans have passed - although Gargrave’s neighbourhood plan will subject to a parish referendum later this year, which will need more than 50 per cent approval if it is to be formally adopted.

Around 20 people, including Marton Road residents, were at last week’s first parish council meeting of the year, when councillors were challenged about the keeping of minutes of the village plan working group going back five years, and on their position towards the site, which is on the outskirts of the village and currently an undeveloped field.

Members of the residents’ Marton Road Working Group, claimed there were flaws in the village plan, that proper consultation had not taken place and called on the council to oppose any planning application that might come in for the site.

But council chairman, Cllr Peter Ward, hit back by saying residents had ample opportunity to shape the plan from the start, and could have joined the parish council to help put it together, as he had done. He even offered to give up his place on the council, if someone else wanted it., and pointed out people could vote the plan out when it came to the referendum.

“Everyone in this room had the opportunity to get involved in the working group, there were no restrictions. You should have been here ages ago and said we don’t want houses on that site,” he said.

He also responded to criticism that meetings of the plan working group being held in closed sessions by explaining it had been an attempt to have discussions without the input of a developer, who was particularly interested in building in the village.

He also referred to correspondence by David Smurthwaite, strategic manager for Craven District Council, in which he had responded to earlier questions from residents about the site, saying it was too late to stop or amend either of the documents.

Mr Smurthwaite said: “As part of the development of the Craven Local Plan each site was subject to extensive research and consultation regarding issues such as highways, flooding, bio-diversity and visual impact and responses from organisations such as Natural England, the Environment Agency and North Yorkshire County Council Highways all contributed to the choice of site.

“The Craven Local Plan has recently been examined in public and this included the Marton Road site and related strategies and policies. Apart from some amendments to the development principles that affected most sites in the plan, the Inspector did not indicate the need for any modification or additional work to make it sound in relation to this specific site. I therefore do not see the need to suspend the Craven Local Plan examination. Likewise the Gargrave Neighbourhood Plan is mid examination and it is neither in my power to suspend the process nor do I believe that suspension of the process is appropriate.”