'Compromise' plea over water firm's expansion plans in Harrogate

A Harrogate residents group has hit its fundraising target to campaign to save trees in the area known locally as Rotary Wood, in the same week as a national figure said he supported preserving the space, whilst recognising a compromise should try to be reached to allow a respected local business to continue to grow.

Wednesday, 22nd January 2020, 5:29 pm
Part of Rotary Wood in Harrogate which may make way for business expansion.
Part of Rotary Wood in Harrogate which may make way for business expansion.

Pinewoods Conservation Group said that, with a week still to go on Crowd Justice, its £5,000 target for legal advice to challenge Harrogate Spring Water's expansion plans in the area had now been reached.

The online fundraising site will remain live for the next seven days to allow for any further donations to be made.

The campaign group said it was delighted to hear that Matthew Wilson, who is a regular panellist on BBC Radio 4 Gardeners Question Time, had voiced his concerns about the much-loved wooded area of Harrogate.

Mr Wilson has fronted his own Channel 4 show Landscape Man.

Mr Wilson said: “UK woodlands are under increasing pressure, as is biodiversity in general.

"Rotary Wood is an important home to a range of species of plants and animals, but is equally important as an amenity to the people of Harrogate, in an area where development is taking place at a significant rate.

"I hope that everything can be done to ensure that Rotary Wood is preserved as an important feature for Harrogate and a suitable compromise reached that enables a respected local business to continue to grow.”

Representatives of Pinewoods Conservation Group, including its chair Neil Hind, sat down with managing director James Cain OBE and marketing manager Nicky Cain yesterday, Wednesday at the bottling facility on Harlow Moor Road.

Harrogate Spring Water were granted outline planning permission, with unanimous approval in 2017.

The revision to the outline planning application seeks to increase the size of the developable area by 40% in principle, whilst maintaining nearly half the total space for public access.

As a producer of natural source water the business has to be based at its current location.

Harrogate Spring Water, which employ 100 people, is one of the UK’s leading water brands and champion of environmental standards.

The company says its global success and the competitive nature of the market for bottled water, make expansion absolutely essential to maintain business and allow further job creation.

Harrogate Spring Water's managing director James Cain OBE told the Harrogate Advertiser:

Mr Cain said: “Our focus is on improving the area as an amenity for local residents. We will retain where possible and replant. Access will be improved and information boards introduced. We’ll also be giving consideration to living walls and green roofs.

“We’re local people that care about our town, our natural environment and give back to the local community.

““We pride ourselves on being good neighbours and we support the Pinewoods. But we are operating in a competitive era.”

Harrogate Council's planning department have confirmed they see the proposal to increase the development by a further 42% as a material change so Harrogate Spring Water's plans will be referred to the full planning committee.

PCG says the date has been confirmed for March 31.

Pinewoods Conservation Group also says a report has also been published from the council's principal eceologist who, it says, doesn't at present support the plans.

New ecological studies have subsequently been undertaken based on the revised application and will be submitted as part of the usual planning process.

Harrogate Spring Water has said that they will continue to consult with all the appropriate parties as well as further public consultation with regard to the plans for the appearance and landscaping of the site.

PCG confirmed it has been granted an extension by the council to February 2 to give comments on an updated ecological study on the plans.