Housing fears: Why parish councils and residents are concerned over future of Harrogate’s west side

Residents this week got their first look at the 162-page masterplan identifying the location of possible new schools, new shops, new bus routes and cycle paths to mitigate the impact of the huge wave of individual housing developments on the western side of Harrogate.

By Graham Chalmers
Friday, 14th January 2022, 2:39 pm
Traffic fears - Parish councillors in the Pannal and Burn Bridge areas are concerned about the impact of thousands of new homes on traffic levels in the western arc of Harrogate.
Traffic fears - Parish councillors in the Pannal and Burn Bridge areas are concerned about the impact of thousands of new homes on traffic levels in the western arc of Harrogate.

Members including Pannal and Burn Bridge Parish Council and Harlow and Pannal Ash Residents’ Association are due to have a session with representatives of Harrogate Borough Council and North Yorkshire County Council about the draft version of the West Harrogate Parameters Plan (WHPP) next Thursday, January 20.

So concerned have been local groups by what they feared was a lack of plans to cope with extra traffic in the face of thousands of new homes in the west of Harrogate, parish councils and resident groups came together in November 2020 to formed the Harrogate Western Arc Co-operation Group to lobby local authorities to do more.

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Although reluctant to give a verdict in advance of full discussions, the talks are unlikely to the core beliefs on the matter previously expressed by parish councils and residents associations.

These include:

1. All the necessary infrastructure and traffic plans should have been worked out before any new house building began in west Harrogate;

2. Roads are the key factor in mitigating the impact of new housing. As a result, parish councils and residents groups regard the Infrastructure Delivery Plan, which will address the roads question, as the most critical component for the future of west Harrogate.

3. They also argue the amount of new housing in the area adds up to 4,000, rather than the 2,500 mentioned in the Parameters Plan.

The long-awaited West Harrogate Parameters Plan (WHPP) does not address the most contentious issue raised by local parish councils and residents groups over the past two years - road usage and car travel.

Matters like road-widening schemes and junction changes will be addressed by another plans in the pipeline - the Infrastructure Delivery Plan for West Harrogate - which is being led by transport authority North Yorkshire County Council in liaison with Harrogate Borough Council.

Talking to the Harrogate Advertiser, Pannal and Burn Bridge Parish councillor, Howard West said: “Our initial observation is that this should have been completed before a digger made its first cut into any land for sites that will, together, be a new settlement to the West of Harrogate.

“A similar exercise but including traffic infrastructure should be a prerequisite for the Hammerton site.

“Our representations to Harrogate council and the county council have always included the effects of transport and traffic but this critical subject has slipped off the Parameters Plan agenda on to the Infrastructure Delivery Plan.

“To see a complete lack of addressing meaningful transport issues within the WHPP was a great disappointment.

He continued: “How to handle traffic from 4,000 homes - not the 2,000 mentioned in the WHPP - should have been the top priority, not consigned to a separate protracted study.

“Cycling and pedestrians are indeed important but account for less than 5% of travel, probably 2%, so why has vehicular traffic been discounted in the WHPP?

“We understand traffic was the driving force behind the Local Plan inspector’s demand for a Parameters Plan - to address such issues, so why is it now confined to the back burner?”