Harrogate Borough Council has hit back at criticism to its housing plans, saying thousands of new homes could help inject new life into the district’s towns and villages.
Speaking to the ‘Advertiser on the overall state of the Local Plan as the additional sites consultation deadline approaches, HBC Cabinet Member for Planning, Coun Rebecca Burnett, said the additional 16,500 homes proposed for the district could address a range of issues.
Among these was the potential for community facilities and services to grow, while businesses could be boosted by the growing population.
Coun Burnett said: “There are several villages in the district we are allocating land for housing, more people using services in these areas is going to keep these places vibrant and it brings investment to these communities.
“Development in my view can only make our rural areas stronger by boosting facilities already there. While we are not making allocation in villages with no facilities, because it would put a burden on them, if a village has community centre, perhaps a small shop, pub, hairdressers, church and those sorts of things it can be very well sustained by more development locally.”
She added: “There is no formula as such but we have a settlement hiercahy, this sounds obvious but the most sustainable are at the top.
“Once we get away from the main towns and city we are looking at villages, from there we assign them based on the facilities they have. The more they have the stronger it is as a community to support more people. But I don’t think it should be seen in just this way though, what’s there and how that can support new people. Its about how new people can support whats there already.”
Harrogate’s housing stock contains many larger family homes, something which Coun Burnett added HBC has identified and that it aims to provide more one to three bedroom homes within the district.
The council has suggested that the introduction of such housing could open up the door for younger buyers to secure their first home, or offer workers commuting to the district a chance to live here.
Coun Burnett said: “We have an affordability policy that covers up to 40 per cent of developments, and these can be run through housing associations, directly through the council, shared ownership, there are lots of schemes.
“The more we do the more likely that people growing up here can afford to stay.
“If we don’t start the process we wont get there. We need developers to come forward with what we need as a district, not what a developer can sell on the market.
“If we were having developments come forward that absolutely fit already there would be no need for the council to do this (the Local Plan). But this is something the market doesn’t provide, because there is money in other things.
“People are represented by us and we address problems in our district, this is a very positive way of doing it and in the next say 20 years we could have a much better economic and housing market for young people.”
The consultation runs until Friday, August 25. Find it at http://consult.harrogate.gov.uk/portal/pp/lp/as17/as17