Council says Harrogate business' £10million offer to save land at Pannal is 'a publicity stunt'

Rupert Visick, of Forward Investments, at the land at Crimple Valley.
Rupert Visick, of Forward Investments, at the land at Crimple Valley.

A £10 million offer by a Harrogate business to stop the council from developing houses on one of the town’s most famous views, has been described as a ‘publicity stunt’.

Currently Harrogate Borough Council’s Local Plan would see homes and industrial units built on 36 hectares of the Crimple Valley.

But Harrogate-based company, Forward Investments, published an offer of £10 million, to buy the land at Pannal, on Tuesday.
On behalf of the company, Rupert Visick explained that the proposal is to gift the land back to the community, affording it similar protected status to the Stray.

He said: “I live in Harrogate and would be incredibly saddened to see one of the most iconic views of Harrogate forming the Southern Gateway to the Town lost together with more of our precious, key green space.

“I believe Pannal should remain a village in its own right, but building on the Crimple Valley would see it become a de facto suburb of Harrogate. By making this offer, Forward Investments is offering to save the future of Pannal as a separate village.”

Forward Investments added that it was prepared to work with the council to help it meet its housing needs elsewhere, suggesting another plot of adjacent to the Dunlopillo site in Pannal.

But HBC’s Cabinet Member for Planning, Councillor Rebecca Burnett has explained that the situation is not as simple as ‘swapping’ plots of land and dubbed the £10m offer ‘a publicity stunt’.

She said: “We have had discussions with Forward Investments about the land for a long time, they have engaged with the local plan process and they are fully aware that we cannot

develop the land that they are suggesting, which makes me believe this is publicity stunt to force the council into changing its mind.

“The reason we cannot develop the land is because it is green belt land and National Planning Policy says specifically that if we can accommodate our housing growth outside of the green belt then it must not be used for development.

“Whilst I can appreciate the land at Pannal is controversial, we know that it will have to be developed incredibly sensitively to get it right.

She added: “By the planning framework, it isn’t possible to simply swap the land.

“Regardless of whether this man owns it, it simply can’t be done.”