Dear Reader: Feeling pain of new housing + walking into trouble

Diggers at work - The consquences of new housing developments in Harrogate are being felt in Kingsley Drive, in particular.
Diggers at work - The consquences of new housing developments in Harrogate are being felt in Kingsley Drive, in particular.

A personal column by the Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers

From the first time prehistoric man decided it might be a good idea to build a new cave, housing has tended to attract controversy.

Nowhere ever seems to be the right place for development.

But that doesn’t mean, therefore, that everyone making a complaint is a NIMBY.

Not unless you think the Government’s own Planning Inspector is one, too.

After only a couple of months’ consideration, he’s already thrown out 11 sites identified for new housing in Harrogate Borough Council’s latest version of the Local Plan.

The problem, he said, with plans for Pannal in Harrogate and other mainly rural locations across our district, is they’re simply unsuitable because of questions like transport and the possible effects on the environment.

Both are factors some might argue could be applied to almost any of the new housing develipments in the pipeline for urban areas, too.

Such considerations aside, the price might be worth paying once the dust has settled if there was a genuine chance it was going to solve Britain’s essential housing problem, which is not so much a lack of new housing but a lack of housing that the majority of people can afford to buy or rent.

As it is, the price right now is being paid by residents and motorists.

I say this after paying a visit to Kingsley Drive in Harrogate earlier this week.

I arrived just in time to see a large digger in the middle of this narrow residential street pick up a huge mound of dirt before dumping it in a large pile right in front of someone’s house in what is normally a parking bay.

I can’t think of any previous era where this sort of behaviour would have seemed acceptable except, perhaps, back in the days of the cave man.

Where Harrogate's roadworks will happen next: Guide

The Americans are different to us. Anyone who’s been there much will tell you they are even more wedded to their cars than we are.

In fact, in most towns and cities they simply don’t seem to walk at all.

.

But that’s not we Brits and it’s not me.

Which is why, when I was meant to meet a friend at The Kestrel pub near the bypass roundabout in Harrogate the other week, I decided to try Shanks’s pony.

It was dark when I set off by foot, the street lights shining on the pavement as I went.

Then, as I turned the corner from Forest Lane into Wetherby Road itself, the lights disappeared, then the pavement, too.

Pretty soon it was just me and the grassy verge of the road and total blackness as the odd car whizzed by.

From what I could tell, what I was walking on was full of awkward lumps and ruts.

Just as I was wishing I hadn’t decided to walk, a vehicle pulled up beside me.

“Would you like a lift?”

It was a black pick-up truck with what seemed like two men inside, the driver and another riding shotgun.

I’m sure they meant well but I decided to turn down their kind offer.

I’d seen too many scary movies where nothing good ever happens when a pick-up truck is involved.