Councillors turn against planning department as Penny Pot Lane plan is refused

NADV 1401146AM2 Penny Pot Lane. (1401146AM2)

NADV 1401146AM2 Penny Pot Lane. (1401146AM2)

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Harrogate councillors turned against their own planning department at a meeting yesterday, claiming they had ‘sat back and done nothing’ and needed to ‘get your heads together and sort it out.’

Plans for 600 homes on Penny Pot Lane were refused by Harrogate Borough Council for the fourth time, after councillors and residents said the single access road on to the narrow Penny Pot Lane was not suitable.

Coun Don Mackenzie (Con, Harlow Moor) spoke out against the proposals. He said: “What is the sense in creating a community for 600 homes with just a single access on a small country road?”

Reports from the developers and North Yorkshire County Council Highways department say the housing estate’s impact on nearby roads could be mitigated.

Coun Pat Marsh (Lib Dem, Woodlands) disagreed and said: “We have had expert surveys done on this road, but we are experts in our own way with our own experiences. We are the people who travel on these roads and we feel if we can’t have the second access it won’t work.”

It emerged during the meeting that Harrogate Borough Council officers had told developers, Persimmon homes, that the second access road to the new development from the Jennyfields estate should be for buses only.

Rosemary Carnaghan, chair of the Duchy Residents Association said: “This council has proposed this 600 house ghetto with just one access point.

“I am not saying you can’t have the houses here, I am saying you cannot have the single access to the site, it is unacceptable.

“To compel a developer to have a single access to 600 homes onto a country lane is unacceptable. The council has that question to answer.”

At a meeting earlier this year councillors had asked council officers and developers to look into land ownership of a green wedge between the housing site and Saltergate roundabout, with the hope of building a second entrance to the site from this main road.

The council’s legal officer explained that Harrogate Borough Council own the land, however there are covenants in place regarding its use and a consultation would be needed before a road could be built.

Coun Anthony Alton (Con, Claro) said: “Would it not have been sensible to have looked into the second access point in the last year? Time is being wasted because people raised the need for a second access point to the site and officers have just sat back and done nothing.”

Coun Ian Galloway (Con, Bishop Monkton) added: “I am very concerned that this committee has put issues to the officers that have been completely ignored. I find it intolerable that we are not getting simple questions answered.”

Former Cabinet member for planning, Coun Alan Skidmore (Con, Ripon Spa) said: “There is a convention that we do not criticise our officers in public but this is a near as you’re going to get it without us telling you that you are wrong.

“We said we wanted planning and highways things explained to us, we need to understand things which have never been explained to us as we are the ones who have to explain planning to the public. We can’t look our residents in the eye.

“It takes six months for our officers and county hall to get together and come and talk to us.”

Councillors have now spent more than six hours debating the Penny Pot Lane housing application in the last year, but despite four unanimous refusals the plans will now go before the planning referral committee to be voted on for the fifth time.

Coun Greta Knight (Lib Dem, Woodfields) said: “Stop telling us this plan works, it is getting a bit wearing. It is time developers and officers put their heads together and sort it out.”

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