IT HAS been a difficult week for Craven planners, topped off with a Government planning inspector overturning a decision to refuse the building of homes in Embsay.

Monday's planning committee meeting of Craven District Council followed the theme of recent meetings, with councillors doing their utmost to please their wards and turn down controversial developments, but being warned against it by their expert officers – because a refusal would be unlikely to win at appeal, resulting in possible costs, and even the very power to make planning decisions taken away and put into the hands of civil servants.

The planned development of about 20 new homes by CCM Auctions in Hellifield has turned out to be a right battlefield between determined villagers and the equally determined applicant, who has appealed to the Planning Inspectorate.

While a decision on that appeal is expected 'at any time', CCM Auctions has submitted an identical application for council planners to decide upon, with the explanation the situation is different from last year because the council has upped the number of new houses it plans to build quite considerably up to 2032.

Councillors chose to defer a decision on the resubmitted application until the decision on the appeal and run the risk of having costs awarded against the authority. And all this, despite being warned a decision could take many more weeks, or months, taking the second application over the required amount of time and entering possible appeal territory.

Meanwhile, a confident refusal by the council of nine new homes planned for Embsay, off Laurel Croft, has been overturned by a Government planning inspector. Both highways fears and impact on the conservation area were dismissed over the need for new homes, which doesn't bode well at all for the Hellifield houses decision.