A massive injection of cash into Craven’s transport network could be on the cards.

Next week, Craven councillors will be asked to vote on plans to access up to £40 million of Government cash to pay for improvements, which could include a Cross Hills railway station.

But, in order to qualify, the council will have to commit to building 300 new homes a year up to 2026 – and express its interest in the next two weeks.

At last week’s policy committee meeting, councillors rebelled against noting the far-reaching report and called for a meeting of all members to thrash out the details.

Councillors argued they had been ill-prepared to make such a decision, that they knew nothing about the bid, complained about the tight timescale and said that few people across Craven knew anything about it.

Independent councillor Robert Heseltine said a decision to go ahead would have massive implications for Craven, and he warned that controversial development proposals – such as plans for 200 homes at Elsey Croft, Skipton – would have to be approved.

“Virtually any developer in Craven will be given a green light to build wherever they want outside the national park,” he said.

“Elsey Croft, of 200 houses, will virtually have to be recommended for approval if we agree to these recommendations.

“We have no structure in place for this scale of development across Craven and I would advise caution and not support this growth point.”

Sutton member Coun Stephen Place said: “I am appalled by what I have heard tonight. Nobody had heard anything about this and the electorate know nothing at all. It is absolutely crazy.”

He threw scorn on plans to build a railway station in Cross Hills without a bridge across the level crossing and said it would open the way to the building of homes across the valley.

“Funding will come purely on the release of this land. The whole scheme is badly thought out and is appalling,” he said.

Glusburn member Coun Philip Barrett added his fears for Cross Hills and its inability to cope with any additional development. And he pointed out that the only improvement to South Craven infrastructure was a potential railway station, when what was needed was large-scale improvements to the road network and an alternative rail crossing.

But Colin Walker, the council’s strategic director for environmental services, stressed that the council only needed to express an interest and it would not be committed to building the extra number of houses until contracts were signed.

He said that not to go forward with the expression of interest would kill off the bid for money and render the many hours of work already put in useless.

“This is an expression of interest and not a bid, the real work will begin in January next year. This does not give a green light to developers and it does not give a green light to Elsey Croft,” he said.

Council leader Coun Chris Knowles-Fitton warned councillors against rejecting the proposals out of fear.

And he approved the holding of a special seminar for councillors – despite Mr Walker saying there was little more information he could give.

Coun Richard Foster, lead member for housing, said: “By accepting the figure of 300 dwellings per annum, we will be ensuring that any growth in the area outside the Dales National Park would be accompanied with substantial infrastructure and economic improvements.”

The council is one of four authorities in the Leeds City Region which was awarded Growth Point Status in July this year following a joint bid made to the Government in February.

The special status means that the authorities can apply for money from the Community Infrastructure Fund (CIF) – which could include a new railway station for Cross Hills and improvements to roads.

Craven will also be able to apply to the larger Growth Fund.

The council has already agreed to 250 new homes a year up to 2026 and, in order to qualify for the funding, will have to agree to an additional 50 a year.

Last December, the council formally stated its willingness to the Government to provide the increased number of houses in order to stimulate the local economy and help address Craven’s large and growing need for affordable homes.

A private meeting of all councillors was held this Wednesday to go over the details of the proposals.

And councillors will be asked to vote again on whether to progress with the plan at a special council meeting at the Granville Street offices on Wednesday at 6.30pm.