Controversial Knaresborough housing development overturned

Knaresborough and Harrogate Councillor Samantha Mearns spoke against the proposal for Knaresborough's Bar Lane.
Knaresborough and Harrogate Councillor Samantha Mearns spoke against the proposal for Knaresborough's Bar Lane.

Harrogate Borough Council is set to fight another appeal against developers, after the authority overturned its own decision to allow 175 homes to be built on Knaresborough's Bar Lane.

The planning committee expressed frustration when they originally approved Gladman Developments' plan for Knaresborough's north when it first fronted the council in January.

Despite concerns over traffic, pollution and environmental damage, councillors at that meeting said they felt forced to approve the plans, lamenting the lack of a up-to-date local plan, with Coun Pat Marsh saying at the time: "Until we can get this local plan over the line we are in a position (where we) have to approve them. I'm left with what else can I refuse this on?"

However council officers recalled the decision to this month's planning committee, citing the advancements of Harrogate's draft local plan since January as the reason.

Coun Samantha Mearns, whose ward encompasses Bar Lane, addressed councillors ahead of the meeting,

"Members will recall your last consideration of this proposal in January where - after a long and difficult planning meeting during which the initial vote was for refusal - members finally reluctantly voted to approve," she said.

"At the time I spoke of Gladman pushing this application through the committee in order to exploit the council's vulnerability due to its lack of local plan...The application before you today is unchanged, but the circumstances before you are very different."

During debate, councillors acknowledged that the advanced state of the local plan, which is likely to be adopted later this year, meant they now had the opportunity to reject applications and not worry about losing costly appeals from developers.

It saw them vote unanimously to overturn the initial approval of the 175 home development, with councillors now rejecting it due to it not being included in the local plan.

Councillors were told the reversed decision would likely result in an appeal from Gladman.

Also rejected at the meeting was a proposal for four homes on Hazelheads Lane, adjacent to the Bar Lane development.

Coun Mearns spoke on this as well, saying it was a "tag on" to the Bar Lane Proposal, and urging councillors to dismiss it.

"It would basically leave the site in the middle of the countryside - four houses in the middle of the countryside would be a bit of an eye sore," Coun Nigel Simms said, before councillors voted in favour of rejecting it.

Lachlan Leeming, Local Democracy Reporter