Fears for Pinewoods beauty spot

The Pinewoods, near the RHS Harlow Carr site. (1301154AM2)
The Pinewoods, near the RHS Harlow Carr site. (1301154AM2)

A popular Harrogate beauty spot is at risk if plans now under public consultation go ahead, campaigners have claimed.

The Pinewoods Conservation Group (PCG) has responded angrily to a consultation launched by Harrogate Borough Council into plans to lease an area of the popular woodland to RHS Harlow Carr.

The lease – which would allow the RHS to develop a footpath from a new car park to the site – could open the door to more commercialisation of the area, the group has said.

PCG member Peter Blayney has written to Harrogate Borough Council with a list of 13 questions he believes need to be answered on the proposals.

The RHS need to explain why the lease is necessary, what the path will look like, and whether the plans will affect any existing rights of way in the area, Mr Blayney said, and he has asked for reassurance this lease is the “absolute extent” of the RHS’s plans for the Pinewoods.

The secretary of Pinewoods Conservation Group Michele Whitfield-Speed has also written to the Advertiser about the scheme: “If this lease goes ahead and we look at what might happen a year or two from now it’s not difficult to envisage further commercialisation of this area of Crag Lane, which, believe it or not, is a designated Special Landscape Area,” her letter said.

“One side of this road is now completely taken up by Harlow Carr, Bettys and an extensive car park. Once Harlow Carr build their new additional car park at the bottom of Crag Lane the only remaining non industrialised section on the other side of the road will be the section of the Pinewoods Harlow Carr are now trying to lease.”

Harlow Carr’s Building Services Manager Paul Griffiths has responded to the concerns, saying the proposed footpath through the Pinewoods is necessary to provide a safe route from the new car park to the north of the woods for visitors, and the area to lease is not excessive but gives an “easily recognisable boundary”.

He added: “The RHS has provided assurance that it will comply with the terms of the Pinewoods Management plan which Harrogate Borough Council has developed in conjunction with the Pinewoods Conservation Group.”

Details of the consultation can be found online at harrgate.gov.uk/parks, or people can write with views to Head of Legal and Democratic Services, Harrogate Borough Council Offices, Harrogate HG1 2SG by Feburary 8.

Last year, the RHS was granted planning permission for a 150 space temporary car park and a 500 space permanent car park neighbouring the Pinewoods land. The temporary car park of 150 spaces to the south will be used for up to five years, while the introduction of the larger facility will be phased in over 10 years.