Ilkley residents anxious to discover the fate of the former Middleton Hospital site will have to wait even longer for a decision because a public inquiry into its future has over- run.

Parish councillor Kate Brown told a planning committee meeting the inquiry had run over the eight-day period set aside and it would continue on Monday, March 22, possibly lasting another three days.

The parish council is opposed to a bid by Clays of Addingham Ltd to build a Dales-style village on the 23-acre site.

Coun Brown has attended most of the inquiry but said it was impossible to assess how the inspector, Mike Croft, would rule.

"I don't have a feeling which way it will go at this stage," she said.

The latter stages of the inquiry have been taken up with Harrogate Council's reasons for rejecting the application.

The Council has called a number of people to back its view that the former hospital site is not a suitable place for 77 new homes.

Evidence it put forward concerning the landscape implications states: "Approval of this proposal on the former hospital site at Middleton would be in conflict with the purposes of including land in the green belt. This development would not conserve the natural beauty of the landscape, but would be in conflict with the primary purpose of Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) designation."

It also claims the proposed scheme's architecture would not "reflect local distinctiveness".

Thomas Hill, counsel for Clays, has argued the proposals will not cause the "chaos" predicted or be a blot on the landscape. The company has submitted that the scheme would, in fact, be a way of "recycling" the site.

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