CRAVEN councillors were faced with very strong feeling from two communities this week – and on both occasions were able to make the popular decision.

In Embsay, they had to decide on a third application in just a year for the building of houses on a piece of land much-valued by villagers as an open space.

On this occasion, North Yorkshire highways made a rare objection to the safety of the proposed junction with the village's Main Street, giving Craven's planning committee a solid and appeal-safe reason for refusal without going against the advice of their professional planning officers.

In Cononley, they chose to go against the advice of officers and allowed the building of a farm house.

Officers had advised against the new build away from the village because the financial sustainability of the farm had not been proved. But in a joint show of support, both the parish council and the ward councillor argued the family should be allowed to develop their farm.

The applicant herself made a heartfelt plea, saying farming is a passion and a way of life, and that she and her family are totally committed.

Their colleagues at Skipton Town Council were also faced with a united community, this time against the planned residential development of 'Pig Field', just above Skipton Castle. The town council, which is not the planning authority and can only comment, backed residents and added its strong objection to the scheme for 80 new homes, stating it was unwanted, not needed and would put pressure on schools and other services.

Tonight, housing figures and future development will be back on the agenda at Craven District Council when its spatial planning committee decides on new housing targets. Councillors are being asked to increase the annual target for the whole of Craven from 160 to 256. They will be told the figure correctly reflects housing need and is an attempt to provide housing for working families, of which the population in Craven is in decline.

If Craven loses its working population, people will have to commute from other places, adding more traffic onto already congested roads, or employers might simply choose to relocate.