Housing targets for the Wharfedale district have been slashed by a total of 1,500 homes under a new plan drawn up by Bradford Council planners.

Local authority officers now say 1,000 new homes will be built in Ilkley and Addingham by 2030 in the proposed Core Strategy of its Local Plan – a development blueprint for the district.

But campaigners fighting to stop building on fields in the area have warned there could still be a battle to save the green belt.

And some claim the reductions have not gone far enough.

Council planners revised house-building targets from the 2011 Core Strategy Development Plan Document, which suggested a total of 3,100 new homes should be built in Wharfedale, 1,300 of which would be in Ilkley The new targets recommend 800 houses in Ilkley, and 200 in Addingham – half the figure proposed previously. The strategy also calls for 200 homes in Burley-in-Wharfedale and 400 in Menston.

However, there are fears scenic green belt land could still be under threat, and prospective developers may challenge the figures, pressing for greater numbers of houses.

Speaking in a joint statement, Addingham and Ilkley civic societies said: “Residents should be wary of thinking that the fight against inappropriate development is over. This plan is but a draft. It has many hurdles still to cross.

“Local campaign groups should be vigilant to analyse detail and validity of the policies analyses and data informing the headlines presented up to now.

“Bradford’s record gives us little confidence that the right plan for Wharfedale is going to sail through the next year without encountering some serious stormy weather.”

Local organisations and councillors believe a Habitats Regulation Assessment, charting potential impact on wildlife species associated with protected moorland nearby, has instigated the rethink.

Councillor Anne Hawkesworth (Ind, Ilkley) welcomed the reduction but thinks it should have gone further.

She said: “The habitat survey as I expected has forced a substantial reduction of housing along the valley. However I do not understand the logic of only reducing Ilkley by 500.

“I am happy that because of habitat regulation, Menston has been reduced, but Ilkley’s reduction should be higher. We have a longer area of boundary with the Moor and in much closer proximity.”

The revised total target for the Bradford District is down from 45,500 to 42,100 homes.

Councillor Adrian Naylor (Ind, Craven) welcomed Addingham’s target being halved. But he feels protected land close by in North Yorkshire could have pushed the figure down further.

And he warned the figures may yet be subject to legal challenges.

If Bradford Council’s Executive approves the publication draft of the Core Strategy on Monday it will go to full Council on December 10, and be submitted to the Government for examination.

Further documents will then be produced, allocating specific housing sites in the district.

A six-week period for formal representations to be made would take place in the New Year.

The Strategy also recommends five hectares of new employment land will be found in Wharfedale by 2030.

Meanwhile, Ben Rhydding Green Belt Protection Group is trying to get residents involved ahead of the six week consultation period on the strategy.

The group said: “Even though the latest report suggests a welcome reduction, we are still faced with the prospect of losing large areas of the green belt.

“Council decisions over the next few weeks will set the extent and location of development for the next 17 years.”

It stressed that two potential development sites are in the established green belt around Ben Rhydding.

The group has launched a website, benrhydding.org, to provide information, offer links to Council documents specific to Ilkley, and receive feedback.

E-mail contact@benrhydding.org or call (01943) 603979 to contact the group.

Bradford Council’s Executive Member for Housing, Councillor Val Slater (Lab, Royds), said the authority needed a “thorough and robust” plan to make sure the Council gets the right sort of development in the right areas.

She said: "If we get this right now, as we are trying our best to do, it will save a lot of problems in the next 20 years and help to protect our beautiful landscape.

"Of course we are subject to influences over which we have no control like the Government’s housing targets, and the way the economy affects housing and other investment, but we can develop a considered and practical response.