A DISTRICT councillor has branded plans to build shops and flats on a car park as 'more suited to Morecambe sea front than in the Dales'.

Cllr Richard Welch, ward councillor for Penyghent and also a North Yorkshire county councillor, said he was horrified when he attended a public meeting at Settle Victoria Hall where Craven Barnfield Regeneration Ltd, a joint venture company with Craven District Council, had set out its vision.

The plans are to move the car parking and public toilets from Whitefriars to a piece of land behind the Victoria Hall and in their place build shops with accommodation above.

The company also aired proposals for a commercial scheme on the former depot site at Langcliffe Quarry. There were also proposals from Broadacres Housing Association to develop the former toilet block site in Settle's Ashfield car park, with a community-led development of retail space and flats.

Cllr Welch said: "The plans (for Whitefriars) were nothing short of disgraceful, ill thought out, badly designed and showed a complete lack of how a Dales market town works.

"It is a long time since I have seen so many very angry people and heard as many bad comments towards councillors and CDC regarding the proposed plans.

"The main building was more suitable to Morecambe sea front than in the Dales. Whose idea was it to move the car park to the rear of the Victoria Hall?

"This will be a disaster for the takeaways and shops on Church Street and the Royal Oak as it will divert all the footfall up Kirkgate instead.

"It will have a knock on effect for accessing the surgeries and the church as more people will park up Townhead where there is a problem now with cars blocking entrances with indiscriminate parking.

"With many empty shops now do we need anymore? The bottom floor of the building looked set for a supermarket. Do we need another? It will be interesting to see the statements of the comments box because if they reflect the attitude of those present it would be hard to justify going ahead with this proposed scheme.

"I understand CDC has to generate its own income since losing its government funding but this is not the way forward to achieve that as it would be to the detriment of Settle and the area and its residents and businesses."

Settle town mayor Cllr Dan Balsamini said: "While I applaud Craven District Council for looking to invest in Whitefriars and Ashfield Toilets after several years of neglect, the proposals on the table need careful consideration, taking into account the thoughts of Settle residents.

"The Council will be discussing this issue at our November 4 meeting and would welcome representation from residents.”

Town councillor and Settle resident Joe Lord also felt the plans did not address the town's needs. He said: "My personal view, and not one on behalf of the town council is I do not think this is the type of development needed in Settle. Settle needs more decent housing for local families at a sensible rent and developments that will help retain families and young workers in the town.

"I would also hope that CDC will listen to the concerns raised by a significant number of people, and not just go ahead with the plan regardless."

Paul Ellis, Director of Services at Craven District Council and a member of the Craven Barnfield Regeneration board, said: “These were some initial ideas which we wanted to discuss with local people before taking any scheme forward. The potential Whitefriars development was just one part of a number of plans and a broader vision for the long term sustainability of Settle presented at the meeting. We consulted with all local members before holding this public drop-in event.

“The emerging Local Plan (currently at the final stages before being put forward for adoption by Council on November 12) identifies the need for more quality affordable housing and improved retail space in the town. By making best use of our land in Settle we can help address those needs for the benefit of residents, businesses and visitors.

"We will be considering all the feedback we have received, which will inform our progression of any proposals and thank residents for taking the time to comment.”