Harrogate residents' fury over housing is rejected by council

Such is the anger of Kingsley Ward Action Group's over plans for 149 houses in what they say is an unsuitable part of Harrogate they have launched their strongest attack on Harrogate council to date.

Friday, 31st July 2020, 5:45 pm
How the Kingsley area of Harrogate has looked for much of the last 18 months because of a series of new housing developments.

Residents in the campaign group accuse Harrogate Borough Council of being "slap dash" in the way it has handled the latest in a lengthy list of housing developments in the same part of town between Kingsley Road and Bogs Lane near Knaresborough Road over the past 18 months.

Gary Tremble of Kingsley Ward Action said: " "Despite hundreds of letters of objection and petitions over the years, the council's general attitude seems to be that these fields are on the Local Plan and so is fine to built them.

"The planning meetings have been conducted in a slapdash way in, even more so since lockdown when they’ve been conducted online."

But the council itself rejects the accusations and says it has been following procedure properly for the plan by developers Richborough Estates' will is scheduled to be decided by its planning committee in a virtual meeting next Tuesday.

Harrogate Borough Council spokesman said: "There is a clear need for housing in the Harrogate district and the local plan, which has been approved following a full public consultation and independent examination, establishes how and where these should be built to meet these requirements.

"The Kingsley Road site has been recommended as a location for new housing via this process.

“To suggest that planning committee meeting are conducted in a slapdash way is simply not true.

"Every effort has been made to ensure these, and other meetings, continue as best as possible during these difficult times.

"Anyone who objects to an application can still comment in the same way as before and these comments will continue to be shared with the committee prior to the meeting.”

The Kingsley Ward Action Group's criticisms of Harrogate Borough Council

Residents criticise the council for...

"Allowing so many new housing developments to go ahead on what was once greenfield space and which was supposed to be immune from future development in order to protect our environment, our clean air and the health and well-being of our children.

"The slapdash way in which planning meetings are conducted, even more so since lockdown when they’re conducted online.

"Despite hundreds of letters of objection and petitions over the years, the council's general attitude seems to be that these fields are on the Local Plan and so is fine to built them.

"This is so even though, at the moment, the council has a stock either built or in build at the moment of 6.7 years worth of housing.

"It is interesting to note that local residents were not directly consulted or even notified of inclusion in the local plan, but only allowed to comment on it on the planning website and only then if you knew that this facility existed.

"The only conclusion it is possible to draw is that the council don’t care about residents, they don’t care about wildlife, they don’t care about pollution, congestion or the environment .

"In fact the chairman of the planning committee is on record at a recent planning meeting as saying: "I don't think we can refuse a planning application just because it doesn't meet all the environmental aspirations."

"This was stated at a recent planning meeting. They don’t care that there are no public transport links within the recommended walking distance from these sites, they don’t care about community and the effects of huge developments on mental and physical health.

"They do make all the right noises, put out all the right sound bites and they insist all the required reports, traffic assessments, ecological surveys etc are done.

"But it is interesting to note though that the one survey which does not seem to have been done is an Environmental Impact Survey.

"According to the council this does not need to be done as none of the six housing developments are over the recommended number of dwellings.

"The six developments literally butt up to one another and yet because they are separate, they can get away with not doing an independent Environmental Impact Survey.

Why Kingsley Ward Action Group opposes the housing plans

"Over the past two years Harrogate Borough Council have allowed a large number of new housing developments in and around Harrogate.

"The majority of these are located on the outer fringes of Harrogate bordering the rural areas. However, one of the sites, Kingsley Road, is situated on fields within an existing extensive residential area.

"These fields, bordering Bogs Lane, Kingsley Road and Kingsley Drive are the amongst the most unsuitable places you can imagine to place a housing development for the following reasons:

1. One of the fields being historically subject to extensive flooding during the winter months.

2. The roads are far too narrow to cope with the construction traffic and hundreds of extra cars which would be travelling to and from, should all these developments go ahead.

3. The roads are already used as a dangerous “rat run” between Forest Lane Head and Knaresborough Road.

4. Knaresborough Road (A59) is already heavily congested at rush hour both ends of the day and is due to become even worse when the new developments in Knaresborough and up Otley Road come fully on stream.

"The results of this will devastate the current residential area and create vast numbers of extra traffic movements along narrow residential roads such as Kingsley Road, Kingsley Drive, Rydal Road, Leyland Road and Birstwith Road.

"There is also likely to be extra pollution which goes along with that, the danger of accidents, particularly with many schoolchildren using these routes to walk and cycle to nearby schools which adjoin the fields.

"This goes completely against the grain of the current effort to combat climate change and makes a mockery of any pledges made by the council on cutting emissions.

"The fields and hedgerows are home to an abundance of wildlife, including foxes, hedgehogs, deer, amphibians from Kingsley Carp Water, and numerous nesting birds which are on the RSPB “at risk” list.

" Despite hundreds of letters of objection and petitions over the years, the council's general attitude seems to be that these fields are on the Local Plan and so is fine to built them.

"This is so even though, at the moment, the council has a stock either built or in build at the moment of 6.7 years worth of housing.

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