Knaresborough residents to fight off 74 home planning application after air quality concerns

Knaresborough

Knaresborough

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Concerned residents will attempt to fight off a planning application for 74 houses near Orchard Close on Tuesday, without the help of Harrogate Borough Council.

Despite being consistently rejected since 2014, the application from Persimmon Homes will now be judged at a Planning Hearing held at Knaresborough House.

The case has been referred to the Planning Inspectorate following council and residents’ concerns over access to the site as well as air quality issues caused by traffic.

In July, the council was forced to declare that a second “Air Quality Management Area” (AQMA) would have to be declared at York Place, joining the long-running Bond End problem.

It is the seventh consecutive year that Bond End has been classed an AQMA with an area in Harrogate and Ripon also being declared.

Despite the air quality across the district deteriorating, the council have now withdrawn from defending the crucial planning appeal next week.

Coun Rebecca Burnett, cabinet member for Planning and Sustainable Transport said that the council could not find an air quality expert to speak on its behalf.

She said: “The subject of air quality is one which we take extremely seriously, and we are doing our utmost to address this issue in Knaresborough.

“Members of the council’s Planning Referral Committee refused the application on the grounds that traffic generated by the development would increase traffic movement and the levels of air pollution within the Bond End Air Quality Management Area.

“In advance of the appeal, officers approached four specialist consultants to act for the council in respect of air quality, but their involvement could not be secured and as a consequence the council withdrew from the appeal.”

Coun Ivor Fox (Cons, Knaresborough Scriven Park) criticised the council for being unable to find a specialist consultant, considering the latest air quality report.

He said: “It’s extremely disappointing when you consider that the council has a team of experts within its environmental department who are responsible for looking after air quality within Harrogate.

“Bond End is continually an AQMA and there is nothing to suggest that there has been any improvement. We don’t seem to be taking the matter very seriously.

“Other authorities which have air quality problems use 24/7 measuring equipment but we use old fashioned equipment which measures it once a month.”

Coun Fox has now sent a letter to more than 1000 homes in Knaresborough outlining the issue and calling on residents to attend the meeting.

A Knaresborough Residents Group, the Harrogate Trust for Wildlife Protection, and Knaresborough Town Council will now assist Coun Fox in fighting the application.

Coun Fox added: “Until there is some significant improvement on this side of the town, where it is known there are traffic and pollution problems, planning should not be granted where it is shown that further cars and traffic will pass through Bond End.

“I have no objection to building new houses in the correct place which can be properly serviced however we still have a 5.5 year supply of housing stock so there is no urgency to build in these small pockets.”