Letter: Development - Where should new housing go

editorial image

I was pleased to read the recent letter advocating the infill of the Bilton Triangle and surrounding area with a by-pass and housing. It is a reminder of the need to re-introduce logic into our housing policy.

The stupidity of many recent housing decisions is staggering. Skipton Road is one of the busiest stretches of urban road outside of London and at times is close to gridlock, so you would imagine that planners would get together and discuss how to limit additional vehicle input onto this road. No, that would be logical and therefore not part of “the plan”.

Instead, planning permission was granted for a large housing development on Claro Road with only one outlet - yes, Skipton Road.

Similarly, the area your reader wishes to cover in housing is in the centre of existing congestion, does anybody want to add to existing levels of delay, noise and pollution?

We need to look again at why we have Greenbelts. They were introduced to protect areas of land for us and our descendants.

There is a lack of affordable housing in the area but no developer is interested in building low value houses in Harrogate. Land is so valuable that builders must achieve a high return from their buildings and they will only build the minimum amount of low cost housing on their sites and these will be sited in the least attractive locations.

The need for a comprehensive set of by-passes was established 25 years ago and reached the consultation stage before the work had to be abandoned due an “administrative” problem. The greatest need was for a Western relief road to take the staggering amount of traffic using the A61, also a Northern route running from Ripley to Farnham corner and across to the start of the Southern bypass on the A59.

The local plan at the time identified sites in Knaresborough that would be suitable for housing if the Northern route was completed. The road wasn’t built but the houses on Halfpenny Lane exist and the only change to our transport infrastructure is a small roundabout near the railway bridge over Halfpenny Lane.

There are reasons why Harrogate is an attractive place to live, open spaces and quality of housing are major concerns. Walking or cycling through a housing estate or alongside a new relief road don’t quite have the same appeal as a quiet stroll across open fields.

We already have several pollution black spots across the district, Bond End in Knaresborough is particularly bad and respiratory problems are becoming more common.

Any new housing should be located in areas likely to reduce travel times to the main employment centres. The most obvious site for a major development would be the junction of the A61 and A658 to facilitate movement to Leeds and Bradford. Perhaps Northern Powerhouse money could be used to improve the roads into these two centres.

I admit to having a vested interest in the land between Harrogate and Knaresborough as I have lived in the area since 1983 and one of the relief roads would pass through or close to my house.

But if this has to happen then I can only hope that the case for losing this track of land is well researched and does not adversely affect the health and well-being of the local community.

Bob Almond

Harrogate