RESIDENTS from across South Craven are being urged to come together and prevent acres of green land being swallowed up for homes.

The battle cry has gone out following a crisis meeting of representatives from parishes across the district.

As the Herald reported last week, North Yorkshire County Council has produced a weighty document which highlights suggested areas for new homes between 2006 and 2016.

Now there are real fears that green fields in South Craven could be churned up and the area forced to take the brunt of any planned houses.

Villagers in Kildwick and Farnhill have already formed their own pressure group to fight the plan.

And representatives from the majority of South Craven parish councils are due to meet again tonight (Thursday) to draw up a battle plan.

The county council has produced several ideas on where to put development and is asking for views.

Suggestions include creating new towns; concentrating building around York, Harrogate and Scarborough; building in places close to the West Yorkshire boundary and concentrating on areas with good road and rail links.

It is the latter two which South Craveners fear could mean a loss of identity for many of the area's villages.

Coun Ken Hart, who represents Sutton, told the Herald: "What I'm doing is trying to get people to go for the option which maintains the status quo and leave South Craven alone.

"With road and rail being looked at, the re-opening of Cross Hills railway station is a double-edged sword."

And his colleague, Coun Steve Place, added: "What we're trying to do is convince people to start fighting now, even for something that's going to happen in six years' time.

"The game of home building leapfrog has to be stopped before green areas like South Craven disappear under urban sprawl forever."

Gail Simon, of the newly-formed Farnhill and Kildwick Action Group, urged local people to get involved as soon as possible.

The group held its first public meeting yesterday (Wednesday) to drum up support.

"It's not going to be a dull campaign with only words. There are lots of ways people from all walks of the community will be able to get involved," she said.

"I would ask people to fill in feedback forms which will be returned to North Yorkshire County Council who will be obliged to keep you informed all the way."

Copies of the forms are available from the Policy and Development Unit, Environmental Services, North Yorkshire County Council, County Hall, Northallerton, DL7 8AH, or by telephoning 01609 780780.

Converted for the new archive on 30 June 2000. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.