On November 29 2013 Harrogate Borough Council submitted its District Sites and Policies Development Plan to the Secretary of State for independent examination. This included all the major housing proposals including that at Pennypot for 600 homes. This followed extensive public consultation in which written objections were sought. Those who did object were advised that “As part of the Examination process there will be a series of hearing sessions where those invited by the Inspector will have the opportunity to respond to issues raised by the Inspector. The date for these sessions is yet to be confirmed but they are likely to take place in Spring 2014.” We now see from last week’s planning meeting that the developers have jumped the gun and submitted a planning application prior to any examination in public. Although currently deferred the application looks likely to be decided before any public enquiry can take place and any chance that the objectors had of putting their arguments to a planning inspector will be lost. The reason given for considering this application prematurely is that the council do not have extant permissions for five years supply of housing in accordance with government guidance. The planning committee have been cowered into craven submission by the advice of their legal officers that refusal could result in an appeal. So much for democracy then – the objectors who put their trust in the local plan process now see how a combination of an unprincipled developer and spineless council officers and elected members can so easily subvert the process.
This particular development has previously been the subject of correspondence in your columns because of the clear lack of infrastructure in the immediate area, particularly highways. Coun Jackson (Conservative, Saltergate), who voted for the inclusion of this site in the local plan, gave an assurance in a letter published in response to my criticism of Conservative support for this site that no development would take place without appropriate infrastructure improvements. Hollow words now!
Burnside Drive, Harrogate