A NEIGHBOURHOOD plan for Malton and Norton has been labelled a priority because of the potential impact 1500 new homes would have on the twin towns.

Malton Town Council agreed at its meeting last week that a joint group of councillors and community leaders, should be re-activated after being told that Ryedale District Council had earmarked £20,000 to fund the creation of a plan.

Music teacher, Ian Conlan, of Middlecave Road, Malton told the Malton councillors during a public session that there were growing concerns that while RDC had said some 1,500 new homes should be built in the area, no sites had been identified by the authority. "It is the developers who are setting the pace," he added.

Mr Conland said there was particular concern about the plan to build 500 new homes on a 46 acre site on Castle Howard Road by the Fitzwilliam Malton Estate."I urge the town council to get on with producing its neighbourhood plan and to engage with the community in doing so."

He further challenged the councillors by asking: "What is your vision for Malton in 15 years' time? I want a plan into which residents can have an input, but just one which is dictated by the Fitzwilliam Estate".

Mr Conland said the plan provided "a great opportunity" to outline the future for Malton and Norton.

Coun Paul Andrews said the Malton council had said that no more than 1,000 new homes should be built in the two towns while Coun Mike Knaggs added that already 1,150 homes were being planned by the Fitzwilliam Estate and the Fitzwilliam Trust.

Coun David Lloyd-Williams, a member of both Malton and Norton town councils, said he was concerned "about the rush" of current housing applications being put forward but added that a senior planning officer at RDC had been tasked with pin-pointing potential development sites.

Town Clerk, Mike Skehan, said both the town council were of the same mind about re-starting the neighbourhood plan initiative. The joint group for the towns could be helped by RDC in the production of the plan, he added.

Norton council has appointed two mem bers which will also include Malton councillors Paul Andrews, Denys Townsend and Jane Ford. Mr Skehan said a meeting was now to be arranged. "We have got to motivate people beyond our councils to contribute to the plan."