MOST of us are proud of where we live, and would like to be able to have a say in whether development – be it additional houses, wind turbines or industrial units – should be allowed.

However, more often than not, the one time we attempt to influence a decision is when a planning application is lodged for a site near to us, and although comments are always welcomed by the planning authority – either Craven District Council or the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority – they are just that, comments. These are be taken into account, but without the back-up of policy, are destined to fail.

However, there is now a real opportunity during the next six weeks for anyone living in villages, towns and communities outside the national park to comment on the emerging Craven Local Plan. The plan, which has been 'under preparation' for several years and was last out for public consumption almost two years ago, will shape development and policy across Craven until 2032.

It details the council's vision for the life of the plan, and includes suggested policies, such as retail and industrial development, as well as the council's view on renewable energy schemes. It also outlines its future plans for main settlements, villages and hamlets, its community and sports facilities, plus its parking policy.

And, vitally crucial for so many people, it puts forwards sites it believes are suitable for housing. Residents, parish and town councils may well think there is no point in commenting on the plan, that they have done it all before and it has made not a jot of difference.

But they should think again. Comments will have to be measured and rational, but they will all be taken into account by the officers who, at the end of the day, are working to get the best for Craven.