Joy as plans rejected
Campaigners in Wetherby are overjoyed after triumphing in their long-fought battle to defeat plans for more than 200 homes at Spofforth Hill, Stockeld.
The application for 210 homes attracted several hundred objections, and has been the subject of four separate hearings by Harrogate Borough Council’s planning committee, culminating in a public inquiry in December last year, as applicants Stockeld Park and Hallam Land Management appealed against its rejection.
Government inspector Bryn Bowker dismissed the appeal in his report last week - a decision hailed by Better Wetherby campaigners as one that prevents harmful change to the landscape and character of the area.
Paul Crossan, who headed representations for Better Wetherby at the Public Inquiry said: “The inspector’s decision to reject the appeal is extremely welcome.
“Better Wetherby has always maintained that it would be transformational and harmful to the landscape, character and local environment, contributing to a worsening of Wetherby’s existing highways, congestion and air pollution problems.
“Moreover, it would have placed considerable further pressures on our already overburdened schools, doctors and other local services.
“With this decision, the dreadfully adverse impact on Wetherby and our neighbours in surrounding villages has now been avoided.
“I wish to express my sincere thanks to all the local people who supported Better Wetherby in our efforts at the public inquiry.”
In his report, the inspector highlighted factors such as the impact on the character and appearance of the surrounding area, and highway safety and the road network, influencing the decision.
The acting chair of Better Wetherby, Peter Swales, said: “We are immensely grateful that the inspector has dismissed the appeal.
“It has been evident for some considerable time that Harrogate Borough Council had an emerging Local Plan which fully met their housing needs until 2035.”
Mr Swales added: “The fact is that the Stockeld Park development is not in that plan and is simply not needed by Harrogate to fulfil their housing needs.”
Coun Alan Lamb said: “Along with my ward colleagues and the Better Wetherby group, I have always said this development was poorly located, being right on the border of Wetherby and would be completely dependent on our town for facilities, yet contribute nothing to their upkeep.
“The Inspector agreed with our view that these houses were not in keeping with the surroundings. I have publicly said before that I am not against development per se. What we do need is the right homes in the right place.
“I would publicly like to thank Better Wetherby for their hard work and dedication and to everyone who has contributed in us getting to this point. I have no doubt that the depth of public feeling shown at the meetings from Wetherby residents helped in getting to this decision.”