Spofforth residents hit out as play area homes bid is revived

Local residents Lynn Saunders, David Saunders holding grandaughter Violet Randerson (4), Dave Roberts, Val Roberts and Ian Parkinson at the Ginny Greenholes play area. (1511242AM1)
Local residents Lynn Saunders, David Saunders holding grandaughter Violet Randerson (4), Dave Roberts, Val Roberts and Ian Parkinson at the Ginny Greenholes play area. (1511242AM1)
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Spofforth residents have hit out at fresh proposals to build an access road over part of a community play area and nature reserve after original plans were withdrawn by developers following a number of objections.

The award-winning Ginny Greenholes Environmental Playscheme, designed by local children, opened in 2010, thanks to funding of more than £60,000 and the hard work of villagers who raised cash for the project.

Earlier this year developers David Holmes Ltd submitted plans to build five houses on land nearby, with the only access being through the car park and the top end of the playground and nature reserve.

Angry residents campaigned against the proposals and submitted a 200-signature petition to Harrogate Borough Council objecting to the scheme, and the plans were withdrawn.

However, they were shocked when the same developers submitted a similar application last month, meaning their original objections no longer stood.

David Saunders, chairman of Spofforth in Bloom, which counts the area as a significant part of its portfolio in the Yorkshire and Britain in Bloom contests, said: “The petition had 200 names against the original planning application which was withdrawn at the last minute.

“It has since been replaced with another, which is only slightly different from the one before. It means the petition has ben rendered useless along with all the objections made in the first place.

“I think this is underhand and a deliberate ploy on behalf of the developer.

“The access road to the five dwellings goes right through the top of Ginny Greenholes and the play area, making it very dangerous for children. It is also a conservation area and there is a lot of wildlife and information boards for children to read. It’s very much a learning area as well.”

Harrogate Borough Council’s planning committee will consider the new proposals on December 8 and residents had until Monday to make written representations, with 28 objections being lodged.

However, comments will still be considered up until the date of the meeting, with the case officer providing a verbal update to councillors.

Mr Saunders said: “We are not holding out much hope of getting this thing turned over, particularly in light of the petition, which is now useless. We just haven’t had the time to get another petition together for the deadline.

“Spofforth in Bloom has obviously invested time and effort and money into Ginny Greenholes, along with the residents of the village. A hell of a lot of money has been put into this project.

“I feel very aggrieved that the planning department at the council can even consider disregarding the money we have put into it -–this is volunteers’ money as well. It’s terrible, really.”

The Ginny Greenholes project was led by Harrogate Borough Council in partnership with Spofforth Parish Council.

It involved the whole village and a number of community groups contributed, including Spofforth in Bloom, the village society, church, school, playgroups and the cricket club.

This year Spofforth won the prestigious RHS Britain in Bloom gold award and the village was also announced as the category winner, with the RHS judges commending the village on the management of Ginny Greenholes.

The play area and nature reserve, which boasts a wildflower meadow and wildlife-friendly orchard, has also won a number of top accolades in the Yorkshire in Bloom competition.

A spokesman for Harrogate Borough Council, which contributed £12,000 towards the Ginny Greenholes scheme, said: “Representations are sought on the merits of each individual application.

“Irrespective of whether they object or support an application, they cannot be carried over on to a revised or subsequent application.

“Anyone wishing to comment on a revised application will need to submit new representation.

“In this instance, those people who organised the petition are welcome to re-submit it for consideration. The council accepts representations beyond the minimum time period and any received up until a decision is taken will be accepted and taken into account.

“All representations will be considered by the case officer.”

David Holmes Ltd was unavailable for comment.