CRAVEN District Council is appointing a barrister to look at planning conditions and ongoing work at a wetland site off the A65 to the west of Hellifield.

Campaigners have been calling for a stop to the work currently going on the site at the village's main flash, known locally as Gallaber pond, and surrounding fields, claiming the 'natural conservation area' had been destroyed.

There is currently a valid planning permission on the site, dating back to when reserved matters were passed in 2005, for a hotel and rural regeneration centre.

On September 18 a public meeting discussing the development around the flash was held in the village and attended by CDC's chief executive Paul Shevlin.

This week Mr Shevlin has written to Long Preston and Hellifield ward councillor, Chris Moorby, who chaired the public meeting.

The email, which has been shared with the parish council's reads: "Having discussed this important matter with colleagues we are all in agreement that a thorough review should be under taken of all the planning and related files. As such, legal will be instructing a barrister to undertake this work.

"As soon as I have a sense of the timescale I will let you know."

Responding to a request for clarity from the Herald, Mr Shevlin said: "We had already carried out a vast amount of work investigating the Hellifield site prior to the public meeting on September 18, and we continue to monitor the site closely and examine all the evidence before us.

“During all the investigations so far, we have found no breach of the terms of the planning permission. However, we are now seeking external legal advice which will review all the documentation associated with this site. This will not be a quick process.

“At the public meeting, residents expressed concerns about steep sides to the flash being created in places. Although the slope into the water looks steep at present, the work to the edge is not complete and the bank needs compacting. The developer’s intention is to create gentler slopes into the water to encourage wading birds and other wildlife. Our officers continue to investigate the site, as do other agencies.”

At CDC's full council meeting on Tuesday night, Cllr Moorby spoke to express his concern over the flash site.

He said he felt it was his 'duty' to inform fellow councillors about what impact the Hellifield Regeneration Scheme had had on the people of Hellifield, stating, in his eyes, it had 'brought nothing but grief and heartache'.