Harrogate villagers call for 200 homes decision to be delayed over 'severe breakdown' in planning process

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Villagers facing the construction of 200 homes at the site of a former police training centre in Harrogate are calling for a decision due tomorrow to be postponed.

Harrogate Borough Council's planning committee has been given a recommendation to approve the plans for the National Policing Improvement Agency site in Pannal Ash at a meeting tomorrow (11 May) but some residents claim they were not made aware or invited to speak.

A spokesperson for Harlow and Pannal Ash Residents Association said there had been a "severe breakdown" in the planning process and that questions also remained unanswered on key ecology and parameters reports.

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"We've requested urgent confirmation from the council as to what may have gone wrong here and seeking assurance such an omission will not be repeated," the spokesperson said.

This is the former police training site on Yew Tree Lane.This is the former police training site on Yew Tree Lane.
This is the former police training site on Yew Tree Lane.

"In this case we feel that the council has no option but to postpone and defer this application to a future meeting so we can review documents as per the normal process and prepare properly for the planning committee."

The council was contacted for a statement but did not respond at the time of publication.

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The government's housing agency Homes England is behind the plans and last year submitted an application for the Yew Tree Lane site which closed in 2011.

Plans have been in the works to convert the site into housing since 2014 and the most recent proposals include the conversion of several former training centre buildings into 16 homes, and the construction of 184 new properties.

This comes after planning permission for 161 homes was previously granted in 2018 before Homes England took over ownership of the site a year later.

The latest plans also include the loss of three football pitches and a cricket pitch, and Homes England has offered the council £595,000 in mitigation through a section 106 agreement.

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A total of 29 residents have lodged objections online with concerns over the loss of green space and increase in the size of development.

Harrogate Civic Society said in a letter to the council that while development of the site was "acceptable," the "huge increase" in housing numbers was not.

A council report recommending approval said: "The proposal will make a significant contribution towards meeting the district's housing need and no significant harm has been identified from the principle of 200 units within the designated housing site."

The planning meeting is due to start at 2pm tomorrow and will be the first held in-person in over a year after all meetings were held remotely and livestreamed online during the pandemic.

Equipment is to be installed in the council chamber for livestreaming to continue, although not before tomorrow.

By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter

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