Residents’ fears over lease plans for much-loved Harrogate Pinewoods

Harrogate's Pinewoods. (1301154AM3)
Harrogate's Pinewoods. (1301154AM3)

A public consultation into the future of a much-loved Harrogate beauty spot as been extended and the council has released further details of plans for the site.

The consultation into proposals to lease part of the Pinewoods to RHS Harlow Carr will now run until March 15, and Harrogate Borough Council have released more detailed plans of the site.

The move would see part of the Pinewoods be leased to the Royal Horticultural Society.

They plan to build a footpath through the woods to bring visitors from a new car park into their site at Harlow Carr.

The matter will also now be decided by the council’s full Cabinet, rather than the executive member.

Harlow Councillor Jim Clark has welcomed this news, and said: “I am pleased the consultation has been extended because it gives a chance for more residents to make their views known.

“I know people feel particularly strongly about this.”

But local residents have warned the proposals could open the door to more commercialisation of the Pinewoods – an area well used by dog walkers and Harrogate residents.

Despite the new information HBC has released, many of the Pinewoods’ supporters are still concerned.

Michele Whitfield-Speed, secretary of the Pinewoods Conservation Group, said: “This further information has done nothing to allay our fears.”

The group is concerned about the RHS and the council’s future intentions for the site, she added.

When the consultation was first launched Pinewoods Conservation Group (PCG) member Peter Blayney, submitted a number of questions to HBC seeking more information on the scheme.

Now, HBC have published answers to those questions on their consultation website.

The lease will run until May 2095, concurrently with the RHS’s lease for the Harlow Carr Garden, it has been revealed.

But, the council’s statement states, the new arrangements will free up some of their resources by passing responsibility for the land on to the RHS.

“Clearly we have limited resources and they are reducing, which will result in a reduced presence in all our areas,” it says.

Mr Blayney said he is disppointed another question - this time about the rental chrage the RHS will pay - has not been answered.

He is concerned about what this lease might lead to for Harrogate’s open spaces.

He said: “I regard this as the thin end of the edge.

“What about the rest of the Pinewoods, and then the Valley Gardens?”

Objectors are also worried about the impact of the RHS’s plans to site a new car park on the northern edge of the Pinewoods, bringing more vehicles along the narrow Crag Lane.

The lane is popular with dog walkers and local residents, and Mr Blayney said the bringing more cars along it would put both walkers and the RHS’s visitors in danger.

For more information on the consultation click here