Approval of Harrogate's Local Plan paves the way for thousands of homes and businesses to be built in the district
Harrogate's housing blueprint for the next 15 years has finally been adopted - despite calls from disheartened campaigners for one huge settlement to be scrapped at the last minute.
The Local Plan was last night given a final stamp of approval from Harrogate Borough Council - six years after it was first laid out on the table.
It confirms the council's backing for a 3,000-home settlement in the Green Hammerton, Kirk Hammerton and Cattal area which residents have fought against for the last three years.
However, all building sites included in the masterplan will need full planning permission before they can go ahead.
And although many councillors raised concerns over proposals for their individual wards - they agreed it was "better to have a plan, than no plan at all."
Leader of the Conservative-dominated council, Coun Richard Cooper, said: "I am proud that this council, whatever our differences on some of the sites, views housing as a way of solving our areas problems.
"I realise that no one wants any more housing near them. I also realise the illogicality of that statement – if no more housing is put anywhere near anyone then no housing will be built.
"Whether we approve of each individual allocation or not, we should all be proud to be part of a process and decision finally working for young people and their families, to reduce congestion, to tackle poor air quality, to address homelessness and to support local businesses."
The decision comes after the blueprint was last month concluded to be "sound" by government planning inspector, Richard Schofield, who recommended the district's housing targets to be reduced by 16 per cent and 24 site allocations removed.
It sets the housing need at 637 houses per year - or a total of 13,377 houses over the period of the plan which runs until 2035.
With a "heavy heart and no hope", Conservative councillor Ann Myatt backed the campaigners' calls for the recently revised Green Hammerton, Kirk Hammerton and Cattal settlement to be completely removed from the blueprint.
But the council voted against her amendment over fears any further delays would leave the district open to a "free for all" of uncontrolled developments.
The council's cabinet member for planning, councillor Rebecca Burnett, said in a statement: "I hear people across the whole of our district telling me that they accept the need for more houses, but that they should be built ‘over there’. There is no consensus over where the new housing should go because almost no-one wants new housing to be built near them.
"This is understandable, but not a realistic position for the council.
"Development is rarely popular with everybody but we will, as a council and a community, fail future generations in terms of housing, the environment and jobs if we fail to address the housing issue."