402-home plan at Knaresborough deferred over education concerns

The site of the proposed 402-home development.
The site of the proposed 402-home development.

A decision on an application for a 402-home development on the outskirts of Knaresborough has been deferred amid concerns over a lack of secondary education in the region.

Planning committee members also heard of fears about the environmental ramifications of the development, with one public speaker comparing the recent removal of hedges at a nearby building site to "bombing a city full of nurseries and schools".

Goldsborough Parish Councillor Neil Taylor and Knaresborough Town Councillor David Goode both outlined their opposition for Taylor Wimpey's application at Highfield Farm on York Road.

1000 homes could be built on Knaresborough's York Road if latest plan goes ahead
Coun Taylor said the proposal should be considered "in the context of other developments" - including the adjacent Manse Farm site, where plans for 600 homes are forging ahead.

Both speakers outlined the impact of another population boom would have on public transport, health care facilities, and congestion in the town and the A59.

Knaresborough resident Shan Oakes also spoke about the potential removal of more hedgerows at the site, the week after clearing work was undertaken at the neighbouring Manse Farm development.

Locals outraged over Knaresborough hedgerow removals
While an independent ecologist was on hand for the removal, as planning conditions specify, it has still attracted criticism from locals over it occurring during nesting season.

Carrying a basket of chocolate eggs which she said represented birds' eggs at the site, she said: “I'm here on behalf of hundreds of outraged, tearful residents of Knaresborough".

“Taking this hedge out in May is like bombing a city full of nurseries and schools in wildlife terms."

“How crazy are we expected to be to accept that?

“The irresponsibility of this is beyond belief.”

Major housing development planned near Knaresborough
In response to a councillor query about the removal, a representative of the applicant said work was potentially two to three years away, enough time to make provisions for the removal of the hedgerows.

However, it was concerns over secondary education in the region which proved the major hurdle for the application.

While the Manse Farm development includes the establishment of a primary school, and the Highfield Farm proposal includes plans to contribute more than £1million towards local education, councillors were concerned about the lack of details regarding secondary school funding.

"You can't lose 1000 children," Coun Pat Marsh said, asking where secondary school-aged children would go once finishing primary schooling in the town.

It led to committee chair Coun John Mann raising the alternate plan that a decision be deferred until further explanation was received from the education team at North Yorkshire County Council.

Coun Zoe Metcalfe also asked if there could be more "clarity on the meat and bones" of work to be done on the A59 in conjunction with the development - saying there was already "huge concerns" with congestion and safety on the highway.

All 12 members voted in favour of the deferral, with the matter set to return to the committee within the next three meetings.

Lachlan Leeming, Local Democracy Reporter