The Highways Agency has made a dramatic U-turn retracting a notice which would have seen a six month delay enforced on several planning applications across the district.
The agency has blamed the lack of a Local Plan for the decision, which will mean each planning application will be judged solely on its own individual impact on the road network, and no cumulative impact will be considered.
The decision has been called ‘illogical’ by opponents to the planning applications.
Murray Tantor, chairman of Harlow and Pannal Ash Residents Association, which has opposed plans for 450 houses at Cardale Park, said: “If all of the road impact is not taken into account, developers might be asked to contribute a smaller amount than needed, so the costs will fall to the taxpayer. To me it seems illogical to look at them individually. It is going to be difficult to prove which straw is the one to break the camel’s back.”
A Highways Agency spokesperson said: “Under the new legislation, as there is no Local Plan in place, each application is therefore judged on its own individual impact on the road network, not the cumulative impact of the submitted applications.
“The new policy will assist in promoting growth and development in Harrogate and aid the collaborative working between developers.”
Coun Jim Clark said: “I thought at least this would give us a six month pause.”
Coun Don Mackenzie admitted that the U-turn was ‘not entirely unexpected’ to him. “It would have given us a chance to take a step back, take a breath and get a good sustainable plan in place. I can just see there will be a great impact on roads that are already overused.”
When asked by the Harrogate Advertiser if he thought North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC)should assess the cumulative impact on the roads, Coun Mackenzie said: “They haven’t got the funds to do anything about it.”
An NYCC spokesperson said: “We do not have the power that the Highways Agency have to delay planning decisions. We consider each application on its own individual merit.”