Knaresborough retirement complex plan thrown out by Harrogate councillors against officer advice
A bid to build a retirement complex on the outskirts of Knaresborough has been thrown out by councillors concerned about its impact on the town - despite officers recommending approval.
Planning officials at Harrogate Borough Council had recommended a go-ahead for the proposals for 69 care apartments near Grimbald Bridge on Wetherby Road but councillors on the authority's planning committee yesterday voted overwhelmingly to reject the bid.
The application from Adlington Retirement Living involved demolishing a derelict bungalow and house to make way for the three-storey care complex which councillors described as "over intensive".
Councillor Phil Ireland, who sits on both Knaresborough Town Council and Harrogate Borough Council, said: "Concentrating 69 dwellings into this area means that the size and scale of development is overpowering and will block natural light for adjacent properties
"The visual intrusion will be evident to all entering Knaresborough from the bypass."
In its plans, Adlington Retirement Living said the site would have been served by a new junction on Wetherby Road where improvements to an existing crossing would be made, however, councillors still had concerns over road safety.
Councillor Ireland said traffic levels at the traffic-light controlled Grimbald Bridge had increased "substantially" since the nearby St James Retail Park was built and that road access to the care complex was "potentially dangerous".
He also said a lack of footpaths in the area meant crossing the road at rush hour was "virtually impossible".
"The proposed access and egress is inadequate and potentially dangerous being on a downhill bend with limited visual splays," he said. "The view left towards the bridge will be restricted by the trees needed for screening and the view right obstructed by the bend in the road.
"Traffic levels in this area have increased substantially since of the development of the retail park with queues of vehicles frequently stretching up from Grimbald Bridge reaching Farfield Avenue and beyond."
Highways officials at North Yorkshire County Council did not flag any concerns over the proposed junction or traffic levels on Wetherby Road and therefore the road safety worries from councillors were not listed as reasons for refusal.
The design, height and "over intensive" nature of the proposals however were.
Adlington Retirement Living said the care complex would have created up to 20 jobs and that it was "much-needed" because the number of over 65s is "expected to increase dramatically over the coming years."
Robert Gaskell, planning manager for the company, also argued: “The accommodation brings a social life that combats isolation and loneliness - in the context of current lockdown, this is surely something to be supported.”
The plans included a restaurant, lounge and hair salon which would have been run by a care team.
Drawings also showed the three-storey development would be made up of 22 one-bedroom, 37 two-bedroom and 10 three-bedroom apartments.
Recommending the plans for approval, a Harrogate Borough Council planning officer said: "The design and landscaping of the buildings are appropriate for this site and impacts with regards to the residential amenity, environmental impact and highways are acceptable.
"The development will create jobs and provide social, environmental and
economic benefits to the local area."
Councillors rejected the plans with 11 votes for refusal and one abstention.
By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter