Decision deferred for 200 homes at former Harrogate police training base

A decision on controversial plans for 200 homes at a former police training base in Harrogate has been deferred while a key report on how the wider area will cope with thousands of new residents is completed.

Friday, 4th June 2021, 11:50 am
Updated Friday, 4th June 2021, 11:52 am
This is the entrance to the former police training base on Yew Tree Lane, Pannal Ash. Photo: Harrogate Borough Council.

Harrogate Borough Council‘s planning committee yesterday went against a recommendation of approval to delay a decision on the Pannal Ash site after residents and councillors warned the West Harrogate Parameters Plan will be "crucial" in whether the development should go-ahead.

There are, however, questions over when the parameters plan - which looks at infrastructure needs for the up to 4,000 new homes to be built in the west of Harrogate - will be ready.

It was due to be finalised last year but has been delayed, and councillors yesterday heard it could be "years" before its completion.

Objecting to the 200 homes, David Siddans, secretary of Harlow and Pannal Ash Residents’ Association, told yesterday's meeting residents were "dismayed" that the application was being considered at this time and urged councillors to delay despite uncertainties around the parameters plan.

He said: "You are told that the parameters plan is a material consideration when it comes to assessing this application, the problem is, at this point in time, there is no parameters plan.

"We know when it comes the plan will be wide ranging. What we don't know is what will be in the parameters plan when it is approved."

Mr Siddans also said residents were angered by an increase in the number of homes for the former police base which was allocated for 163 in the Local Plan and already has permission for 161.

"Our principal concern is over the quantum of housing," he said. "Throughout the parameters plan area - and the wider western arc - the uplift in housing numbers is huge. Every extra house comes with its own carbon footprint and pressure on the infrastructure.

"What is the point of the Local Plan if developers regard it as a licence to build as many houses as they can and the planning authority can do little about it?"

The west side of Harrogate currently finds itself with around a quarter of the entire Local Plan housing allocations for the district - at around 3,500 to 4,000 new houses.

Worried about how the area will cope with an influx of new residents, several community organisations have come together to form the Western Arc Coordination Group.

This includes Pannal and Burn Bridge Parish Council which said in a statement at yesterday's meeting: "While we appreciate this site has extant permission for around 160 houses, the proposed significant increase can not be adjudged without knowing what measures are being proposed to mitigate for the huge increases planned for other western arc sites.

"Why is there such a rush to get this passed before the parameters plan is ratified?"

On the flip side, an agent for Homes England, which is behind the plans, argued the development was a “viable and deliverable scheme” which did not receive any objections from statutory consultees and would be ready for construction to start next year.

The former police site on Yew Tree Lane was used as a base to train more than 1,200 officers a year before it closed in 2011.

The plans from Homes England include the conversion of several former training centre buildings into 16 homes and the construction of 184 new properties.

If approved at a later date, the development will also see the loss of two football pitches and a cricket pitch, and Homes England has offered the council £595,000 for upgrades on local facilities.

The decision to defer was narrowly voted through by the planning committee with four votes for and three against.

By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter