Letter: Housing - Villages at saturation point

The entrance to Hampsthwaite from Birstwith.
The entrance to Hampsthwaite from Birstwith.

I feel I must address the article in the Advertiser; ‘Council hits back over housing’ (August 17) by Coun Rebecca Burnett.

Coun Burnett’s article attempted to justify the councils proposed plans for the supply of 16,500 houses across the district and in particular claims that “thousands of new homes could help inject life into the district’s towns and villages.”

Coun Burnett believes that these new housing developments will keep villages vibrant and investable. The logic of her argument is that a sustainable village will be further sustained by increased local development and that the stronger it is the more able it will be to support new people. Coun Burnett also states that it is not the council’s intention to make allocation in villages with no facilities because it would put a burden on them. However, the irony is that the village of Hampsthwaite is a vibrant community despite the burden of inadequate roads, inadequate sewage system, poor public transport and an oversubscribed school.

We already have absorbed sufficient housing to sustain a village hall, pub, local store, post office, surgery, café and hairdresser. The proposed building of a further 350 homes will double the size of the village and will be an intolerable burden on the village infrastructure. The village has few employment opportunities and the proposed developments will only attract more commuters to the proposed employment sectors to the east of Harrogate and beyond.

Currently the council is consulting on an additional allocation of 101 houses in Hampsthwaite, in our view this represents a gross oversupply. The council originally planned for 11697 houses with a proportion of 665 or 5.7 per cent coming from site allocations in Primary Service Villages- of which Hampsthwaite is one of nine.

The 2016/17 Plan for 16,500 houses now shows over 25 per cent of houses are to be provided by the Primary Service Villages. This increased number, including the proposed new settlement of Green Hammerton is out of all proportion to previous allocations.

All of our Primary Service Villages are at risk of losing their identity, heritage, environment, landscape and uniqueness. Indeed these beautiful villages appear to be being needlessly sacrificed to satisfy an insatiable demand from developers and landowners.

Grant Blakemore