200-homes plan for former Harrogate police training base back on the table at meeting next week
A decision on whether to allow the construction of 200 homes at the site of a former police training base in Harrogate is to be made next week.
Harrogate Borough Council's planning committee has been recommended to approve the plans for near Pannal Ash at a meeting next Thursday (3 June) after a previous meeting was called off at short notice because some residents were not told it was happening.
Members of Harlow and Pannal Ash Residents’ Association (HAPARA) were among those who were not informed and are opposing development of the Yew Tree Lane site which was allocated for 163 homes in the Local Plan
Group secretary David Siddans told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: "We are concerned at the huge uplift – over 23% - in the number of dwellings applied for compared to the Local Plan provision. This overprovision far exceeds the identified housing need.
"Carbon reduction targets are at risk since each additional dwelling comes with its own carbon footprint and additional infrastructure pressure.
"Without much improved public transport provision, which is not part of the plan, the site will become heavily car-dependent."
HAPARA has also argued that a decision on the site should not be taken until the West Harrogate Parameters Plan (WHPP) - which looks at infrastructure needs in the area - is agreed. The plan was due to be completed last year but has been delayed.
A HAPARA spokesperson said: "Although the council accept that the parameters plan is a material consideration in this application, no definitive plan exists at this time so it is illogical, let alone bad faith, to bring this matter to a decision at this time.
"We cannot understand the rush to judgement on this application, considering the time normally taken for decisions on major developments. Our confidence in the council’s consultation process and indeed the Local Plan process itself, is being severely tested."
Council planning officers said in a report recommending approval that while work on the parameters plan so far should be taken into account, there are no policy requirements that mean a decision on the 200 homes should be delayed until after its completion.
The report said: "Accordingly the applicants have included provision of a segregated cycleway to link up with other west Harrogate sites and will be transport improvements/contributions that take into consideration the cumulative impact of sites within the West Harrogate area.
"As this is a committed site with an extant consent and emerging WHPP requirements have been provided, there is no policy basis to require a delay in the determination of the application until the completion of the WHPP."
The report added: "The proposal will make a significant contribution towards meeting the district's housing need and no significant harm has been identified from the principle of 200 units within the designated housing site."
The former police site was used as a base to train more than 1,200 officers a year before it closed in 2011.
Planning permission for 161 homes was previously granted in 2018 before the government's agency Homes England took over ownership a year later.
The new proposals include the conversion of several former training centre buildings into 16 homes and the construction of 184 new properties.
If approved, the development will also see the loss of three football pitches and a cricket pitch, and Homes England has offered the council £595,000 in mitigation through a section 106 agreement.
By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter