Harrogate Borough Council has warned there can be no delay for the district’s Draft Local Plan following news of potential central government intervention across the country.
Speaking after the District Development Committee last Thursday Cabinet Member for Planning, Rebecca Burnett, said the plan must go forward following news of Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid, writing to 15 authorities including York with notice of possible intervention after they failed to produce plans.
This has been challenged by campaign groups who say the council is using the news to drive through ‘an unsound plan’. However the council believe a delay puts the district’s planning powers at risk.
Coun Burnett said: “The government have said for some time that councils need to crack on with their plans and clearly they singled out these authorities for not making enough progress.
“I can thankfully say that Harrogate is not on this list but he was indicating what he will do with other Local Plans. Other councils cannot rest on their laurels and that message has been clearly received.
She added: “Some are asking us to pause or make significant chances but I think the message is clearly that is going to be unreasonable.
“We have a plan that is sound and although we welcome challenges we need to push this forward without any delay, it could put the whole plan in jeopardy.”
Following meetings of Cabinet and Council the plan will be published and a formal consultation held in January. The council say this gives residents further opportunities to raise concerns, with comments added to the plan for review by the Secretary of State.
However at the committee residents, representatives of campaign groups and councillors flagged concerns over the current state of the plan, including the continued preference for a new settlement at Green Hammerton.
Christopher Chelton, Chairman of Keep Green Hammerton Green said:“What has become obvious tonight is that Harrogate Borough Council are clearly very keen to avoid government intervention, but by not having a sound Local Plan.
“They seem determined to drive ahead with the Green Hammerton plan regardless of consequences for the community and that is very disappointing.”