PROTESTORS against plans to create a holiday park on the Hellifield Flashes wildlife haven are rallying people for one last effort to have as much of the area designated green space as possible.

A public meeting at Hellifield Institute on Monday night saw a packed audience ahead of a planning meeting on March 25 where an application for a vast development on the site will be presented.

Ward councillor for Hellifield and Long Preston, Cllr Christopher Moorby, chaired the meeting to remind people there was not a lot of time left to sway the planning inspector into allowing the designation of green space to the flashes.

"The more support we can give this the more weight it has," he said.

The audience was told the main hope was that the planning application from Halton Homes for 300 lodges, a hotel, park and ride and leisure facilities, would be refused or deferred which would allow time to put their case forward in the emerging Local Plan.

Currently only the area around the Gallaber pond, which already has extant planning permission on it since 2005, is being accepted as green space.

The meeting was supported by the Save Our Craven Countryside group.

Spokesman Roger Haffield said the issue was very complicated, but said the sticking point as far as the inspector was concerned was the land was too big to designate as green space as a whole.

Mr Haffield said the SOCC was working alongside the Campaign to Protect Rural England and had the support of the district council.

A six-week consultation on the green space for the Local Plan ends on April 1.

Craven’s Draft Local Plan was examined by an independent inspector in October 2018. Over 100 modification were proposed along with requests for open and green space to be included.

However the flashes area was one of those not accepted by the inspector because it represented an 'extensive tract of land’.

Mr Haffield said the SOCC has been working on this for some time. A plan submitted for the whole of the flashes was rejected because it was too large and that some of the area already had permission to build on it, which was the area around Gallaber pond.

He said it was important people send in their own views for the use of the land and the reasons it should remain as green space but with the acknowledgement that there would be an acceptance of some development.

He said it was important that any representations relating to the site should relate to National Planning Policy Framework where designation of green spaces looks at space that is reasonably close in proximity to the community it serves; where the green area is demonstrably special to the local community and holds particular local significance, for example for its beauty, historic significance, recreational value, tranquility or richness of wildlife.

Views must also accept the conservation of the landscape and the setting and special qualities of the Yorkshire Dales National Park which bounds part of the land.

Mr Haffield added: "Craven District Council has been working with us on this and are really supportive.

"We have tried to get the whole area designated but the fact there is extant permission has stopped that," he said, adding that, as it stands, just a number of smaller areas of the area are earmarked for green status.

Members of the audience queried the validity of the planning application on the land, stating there had been provision for a football pitch and recreational area given to the village in perpetuity from the time the auction mart site was developed.

Others raised the question of where the developers thought the water would go to when development was started.

Mr Haffield said while all these questions remained unanswered, he stressed it was important that people write to the district council at or at the address in Belle View Mills before Monday, April 1.