Ilkley residents have voted to set up a fighting fund to help protect the town against intensive house-building, ahead of a consultation on the influential Core Strategy of the Bradford District Local Plan.

More than 200 people attended a public meeting organised by Ilkley Parish Council last Wednesday over the proposed publication of the draft Core Strategy, which sets a housebuilding target of 800 new homes in Ilkley by 2029, and hundreds more in Addingham, Burley-in-Wharfedale and Menston.

The meeting, at the Clarke Foley Centre, heard the official public consultation period run by Bradford Council will take place for six weeks, starting on February 17.

Ilkley Parish Council is working to publicise the consultation, encouraging as many people as possible to have their say at this stage, before the Core Strategy is sent to the Secretary of State for approval.

But many residents also agreed to support a “war chest”, which could pay for legal representation on behalf of the community when the Core Strategy is submitted to the Government’s Planning Inspectorate for examination.

There are continuing concerns about the numbers of houses proposed for Ilkley – as well as fears property developers may put forward a case for housing target numbers to be increased.

Councillor Stephen Butler said the meeting was one of the biggest events to take place in Ilkley for a long time.

“It was a really positive meeting. It should be said to the powers-that-be that the people of Ilkley are very concerned about what’s happening,” he said.

Bradford councillor, Anne Hawkesworth (Ind, Ilkley) said there was strong support for a fighting fund at last week’s meeting.

She said: “There will be a war chest. There was a vote taken, everyone was asked if they felt it should be set up, and asked if they would put something into it.”

Suggestions were also made at the meeting that people should lobby their MP over concerns about overdevelopment of the valley, loss of greenbelt land, the likely strain on the local infrastructure, and greenfield sites being developed ahead of brownfield land elsewhere.

Meanwhile, Ilkley Parish Council is gearing up for an effort to promote the forthcoming six-week Bradford Council consultation period on the Core Strategy.

Councillor Paul Kitching said: “Our concern is to make sure people are aware of the changes that are coming up, so they do comment. This is the last opportunity that they’re going to have to comment on these houses.”

The Parish Council is looking for public venues to put up display boards about the Core Strategy and the consultation. It is also seeking a volunteer to help publicise the consultation on social media.

Contact the parish clerk on (01943) 436212 or e-mail Coun Kitching on to help.