Group raises new concern over Pinewoods' future

Excluded from new draft local plan - Irongate Field at the Pinewoods.
Excluded from new draft local plan - Irongate Field at the Pinewoods.

Harrogate-based charity Pinewoods Conservation Group (PCG) has formally raised concerns with Harrogate Council following the release of the new draft local plan.

As part of the original process the PCG applied for designated green space for the Pinewoods footprint, including Rotary Wood and Irongate Field.
This was originally refused but following a campaign by the PGC, its members and local resident groups, the main woods has now been included but with Rotary Wood and Irongate Field being specifically excluded by the council.
Rotary Wood originally installed by Harrogate Rotary and local school children is subject to outline planning consent by Harrogate Spring Water Limited.
Irongate Field off Harlow Moor Road was officially launched as a community green space in 2014 following lottery and grant funding being received.
This was a major two-year project by the PCG that included the installation of many picnic benches and thousands of wild flowers.
Irongate field is now maintained by local charity Horticap with free support from a number of local businesses.
PCG Chairman Neil Hind said "We were pleased that the council have reconsidered and now added areas of the Pinewoods to the local plan but disappointed certain areas were excluded.
"Although we can understand why Rotary Woods was not included with the planning permission pending the exclusion of Irongate Field is a major concern.
"Whilst appreciating this is a draft document we have formally raised concerns with its content.
"The site map included says “to be amended” that originally gave us hope the additional areas would be added but this has been confirmed as a drafting error and the map is actually correct.
"The document also states “The landowner (HBC Estates) has requested an amended site boundary to take account of the extant planning permission on Irongate Field” but we suspect this actually refers to the Rotary Wood planning.
"Our primary concern is that HBC have stated the majority of representations referred only to the mature woodland area.
"We feel this was not the case and we know our additional evidence that included a comprehensive bio-diversity list of plants and animals represented our entire footprint.
"The only conclusion we can reach is that the council wants to keep Irongate field available for possible future development that would be a great loss to the community and a further reduction of green space from the Pinewoods footprint.”
The PCG have asked that their concerns are formally submitted to various council meetings to approve the local plan and will plan to ask its members again to raise their concerns within the final consultation planned for January 2018.