RESIDENTS opposed to yet more plans for housing in Skipton could have been forgiven for leaving Monday's planning meeting of Craven District Council wondering if there was any real point to local councillors.

Having presented what they considered sensible and obvious reasons to refuse the planned 80 homes on a field close to Skipton Castle, they were told none held any weight whatsoever.

The ruining of views was never going to get them anywhere, but highways safety? The loss of a leafy and attractive entrance into Skipton? Or indeed the fundamental change of the nature of the town? Not to mention the increased workload on doctors surgeries and the perceived lack of space in schools.

Their objections were shared by more than one member of the committee, who argued against their own council policy and questioned the recently agreed housing supply figures.

Even those who voted to go along with officer recommendation and approve the plans, did so while admitting their 'hands were tied' and that a refusal would very likely end in a successful appeal to the planning inspectorate by the developer and costs being awarded against the council.

A threat they are constantly reminded of, along with being told repeated lost appeals could result in major applications being taken away from them and decided by a Government-appointed inspector.

They were told very little weight could be attached to the Craven Local Plan, only now after several years still only in its pre pre-draft form. But a great deal of weight needed to be attached to annual housing figures, as laid down by the Government and, even with a 25 per cent buffer, Craven had a current shortfall of 165 homes, on top of the 256 per year it is required to give permission for.

Residents surrounding 'Pig Field' at the far end of The Bailey will be feeling cheated and dismayed, but until there is a change in Government policy, they will not be the only ones.