Housing anger: Why Harrogate residents are fighting on

The Government inspector may have already ruled that Harrogate’s Draft Local Plan contains too many housing developments, but residents groups across the district feel the battle is not won yet.

By Graham Chalmers
Friday, 22nd March 2019, 3:25 pm
Updated Friday, 22nd March 2019, 3:28 pm
'No' to more new housing - Members of Hampsthwaite Action Group opposed to new housing developments in their village.
'No' to more new housing - Members of Hampsthwaite Action Group opposed to new housing developments in their village.

Having ruled against the developers at 11 sites, campaigners are now hoping other areas will also be spared.

And, as the inspector’s deliberations continue, they say they’re gearing up to persuade Mr Richard Schofield that he should expand his list a whole lot more.

Where Harrogate's roadworks will happen next: GuideA spokesperson for Harlow and Pannal Ash Residents Association said they would be “extremely disappointed” if their evidence about the lack of infrastructure and what they describe as “excessive housing allocations” in the west of Harrogate were not to prove successful.

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So far the largest plot of land to be rejected is at Pannal, PN19, a block of agricultural land west of Leeds Road.

After arguing, successfully, that existing traffic problems and the threat to Pannal’s integrity as a village made the site unsuitable, Pannal and Burn Bridge Parish Council says the same logic applied to other possible locations.

Pannal and Burn Bridge Parish Council 'S Chairman Howard West said: “We trust that the inspector will show the same good judgement in throwing out PN18 as an employment site for the same reasons as he rejected our two housing allocations. The grade two listed viaduct would be invisible from the main southern approach to Harrogate, were warehousing and showrooms to be built on the land.

“The traffic impact doesn’t bear thinking about. Clearly Harrogate Borough Council haven’t thought it through fully.”

The inspector’s recommendations were also greeted with delight by members of Hampsthwaite Action Group who have been waging an intensive series of battles against a swathe of housing developments in their village for almost three years.

One of the most bitterly contested sites at Elton Lane (HM9) sits just behind the village High Street close to the Joiners’ Arms Public House and Sophie’s Coffee Shop.

Villagers were outraged that this beautiful stretch of meadowland could be lost if plans to build up to 71 houses went ahead.

A spokesperson for Hampsthwaite Action Group said they were determined to win their remaining battles.

“We feel justified in raising concerns over the past 18 months about the unsuitability of this particular site for housing and also congratulate ourselves on having won a significant victory.

“But the planning application for this site may still go ahead, even though the inspector has found the site to be inappropriate for development.

“Our campaign goes on.

“We will continue to lobby the council to refuse any planning application here.”