Letter: Local Plan - Residents, please see the big picture

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I become increasingly depressed at seeing week by week letters in the correspondence columns of the Advertiser from residents’ groups formed to protest against proposed housing developments. It would seem that for every site to be considered in the local plan there is a pressure group to oppose it.

Surely it is time that we all considered the realities of the situation. For years house building has failed to meet demand and we are now faced with a national shortage. The effect of this in Harrogate District has been to push house prices to a level that is unaffordable for most young people.

There is a huge demand for reasonably priced housing in Harrogate and we have been set a target by the government to build an additional 16,500 homes by 2035.

Every group protesting at development in their area should recognise that this figure is set by government edict and if Harrogate Council fails to allocate land accordingly government inspectors will be sent in to run our planning department and do the job with little public consultation.

Whilst each protest group will have what they consider to be very good reasons why development should not take place in their area, they should at the same time realise that if it doesn’t happen in their back yard then it will happen in someone else’s back yard.

It should also be recognised that these potential development sites are not picked at random by the planners but offered for development by landowners, many of whom are local people themselves.

One of the main reasons for objection is that the roads are already congested and further development will only make matters worse.

There is an element of truth in this but whilst the government has given the local authority the responsibility to allocate land for housing it has not matched this with realistic budgets for highway improvements or schemes to reduce vehicle generated air pollution.

May I urge all residents of Harrogate District, both urban and rural, to consider the big picture and take a holistic view of the problems faced by Harrogate Borough Council in formulating its Local Plan.

Geoff Webber

North Yorkshire County 
Councillor

Bilton and Nidd Gorge