IT was a shock to learn that education was "out of scope" for the planning committee considering the Hawbank Field development of 140 houses last week.

The Education Authority advised Craven District Council in 2017 that this development would lead to a need for 35 school places at Water Street and/or Parish primary schools in 2021/22 and therefore a contribution of over £475,000 was needed.

Omitting a contribution from the developers for education has been explained by CDC as because the 1999 Craven Local Plan didn't include any provision for this, however nor did the 1999 Local Plan make this land at Hawbank Field available for development. The land was only set aside for development in the Emerging Local Plan.

In the interest of local residents, there surely was the opportunity for CDC to negotiate that the developer could have this land "early" in return for an "early" schools contribution, a policy also included in the Emerging Local Plan. This is particularly so in view of National Planning Policy Framework guidance that "an LPA should take a proactive, positive and collaborative approach to ensuring there are a sufficient number of school places for existing and new communities" and “give great weight to the need to create, expand or alter schools through the preparation of plans and decisions on applications” which begs the question, just how much weight was actually given to ensuring sufficient school places rather than simply categorising it as "out of scope"?

Thankfully the Education Authority has made sure that school contributions feature solidly in the current Craven Local Plan and the Planning Committee will be able to rely on this policy in future.

Karen Darvell