Harrogate residents tell inquiry Starbucks drive-thru will 'completely destroy' enjoyment of their homes

Harrogate residents living next to the potential site of a Starbucks drive-thru have told an inquiry into the plans that it would "completely destroy" their enjoyment of their homes.

Tuesday, 15th June 2021, 9:13 pm
Updated Tuesday, 15th June 2021, 9:16 pm
This is the former 1st Dental surgery on Wetherby Road. Photo: Gerard Binks.
This is the former 1st Dental surgery on Wetherby Road. Photo: Gerard Binks.

A government inspector today (15 June) opened a hearing into the controversial plans for the former 1st Dental surgery on Wetherby Road which Harrogate Borough Council twice refused before recently withdrawing a latest objection and opting not to contest the appeal.

Residents and ward councillor Pat Marsh have instead chosen to challenge the applicants Euro Garages themselves and will be hoping for the same result from 2019 when a previous inspector ruled the drive-thru would cause “unacceptable” harm to those living nearby.

Speaking at today's hearing, resident Joanne Richardson, who lives behind the proposed site, said: "If this proposal is accepted then the impact on residents will be huge - it is seven days a week, unsociable hours and our amenity will be completely destroyed."

Mrs Richardson also said revisions to the plans - including a re-jigged car park, reduction in the size of the coffee shop and an acoustic fence - did not go far enough to address local concern.

"What this current proposal does is move the drive-thru lane to literally meters from the windows of living areas directly adjacent to the site," she said.

"It is absurd to think that a two-metre boarded fence and a planted area of a few meters will mitigate the impact on residents surrounding the site."

Another resident, Mark Hinchliffe, told the appeal that the nearby Hookstone Drive junction with Wetherby Road was "probably the busiest" in Harrogate as he also warned the town was already at "breaking point" with traffic congestion.

He said: "Regardless of Starbucks arriving, there is already a major problem with that road - I can only describe it as the North Circular around London."

The plans were first refused by Harrogate Borough Council's planning committee in 2017 before the applicant lodged an unsuccessful appeal and then submitted a revised application two years later.

These latest proposals were still rejected in 2019 but the council, nor its planning committee, chose not to contest today's appeal because it previously made a recommendation in support of the plans. The council also said it was unable to find lawyers willing to fight the appeal for them.

Alan Evans, a legal representative for Euro Garages, told the appeal that the planning committee's latest decision of refusal should be overturned and that if successful, the applicant would be seeking full legal costs against the council for "unreasonable behaviour".

He said: "Members of the committee were themselves unwilling to defend their reasons for refusal so if you wanted to have a birds eye view of unreasonableness, then I don't think you could have a better one.

"No evidence has been brought forward, there never was any evidence and our application was based soundly at the outset.

"If the council can't defend any reasons for refusal, then the obvious opposite side of the coin is that it should have been granted permission."

Helen Hockenhull - the planning inspector in charge of the appeal - will carry out a site visit on Wednesday before making a decision at a later date.

By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter