Controversial plan for 162 homes in Harrogate approved
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National housebuilder Persimmon Homes saw a previous application for 217 homes refused in July 2021.
Since then, Persimmon has reduced the number of homes in the development twice.
The site is allocated for development in the council’s local plan, which maps out where house building can take place in the district.
As with almost every major housing project to come to Harrogate at the moment, concerns over how the homes will impact on local infrastructure have provoked the most opposition.
Many of the objections to Persimmon’s plans have centred on how nearby roads will cope with the increased traffic from new residents.
Residents protested outside the Civic Centre before today’s planning committee meeting, wearing t-shirts branded with slogans like “enough is enough” and “breaking point”.
Chris Watt, speaking on behalf of the Kingsley Ward Action Group and Starbeck Residents’ Association, urged councillors to defer a decision until more traffic studies take place.
He said: “In the last two years since you originally rejected these plans outright, other [nearby] plans have progressed and begun.
"These have increased congestion, air pollution, parking problems and destruction of wildlife in Kingsley Drive, Knaresborough Road and Starbeck High Street.
“Local people have suffered enough, at least pause and get more independent evidence.”
‘A scheme we can be proud of’
Persimmon has introduced renewable energy to some of the homes since the first refusal.
92 homes will include air source heat pumps to provide 100% of the heating and hot water.
The remaining properties will have conventional gas boilers, however, the developer says these will be supplemented by solar panels and waste water heat recovery, which recycles energy in wastewater to pre-heat the mains cold supply before it is boosted by the boiler.
Agent Paul Butler said the scheme is now much-improved and could “raise expectations of future developments in the area”.
He said: “We know we got it wrong with the first scheme, we admitted to that.
"We’ve taken 18 months to get it right and we present you today an excellent scheme that all involved can be proud of.
“We’ll deliver a beautifully-designed scheme that is organised around attractive streets and spaces.
“The density is much lower due to swathes of green space, tree-lined streets and wide green verges along Kingsley Drive.”
‘It’s getting out of hand’
Liberal Democrat councillor for Hookstone, Pat Marsh, said the roads around Knaresborough Road are currently “horrendous” and would be made worse by an extra 162 homes being built.
Liberal Democrat councillor for Starbeck, Philip Broadbank said the council is exceeding its housebuilding target already so the development is not needed.
He added: “This shows that things are getting out of hand.”
However, the plans received support from Conservative councillor for Pannal, John Mann, who said because the site is allocated for development in the Local Plan, he would, “with a heavy heart”, be voting for it.
Conservative councillor for Masham, Nigel Simms, praised the developer for introducing solar panels.
He said: “We’re getting a lot more than what we ever asked for with the solar panels.
"To me, it’s what every housing development should have had over the last 20 years.”
The plans were approved by 9 votes to 2, which prompted an outburst from Kingsley Ward Action Group member Catherine Maguire in the public gallery.
She shouted at councillors “disgrace” and “if a child gets killed you’ll have blood on your hands”.
Ms Maguire told the Local Democracy Reporting Service after the meeting: “At least I got the last word and a big round of applause from the public gallery.
"Most unlike me, but it was just raw emotion bubbling up and I don’t think I’ll be invited back to Civic Centre again.
“We’ve been fighting since 2017 and looking back after five years we have reduced Persimmon’s dwellings by almost a third.
"My mission is now to get Persimmon to agree to a large community parkland to benefit the whole community for years to come.”