Luxury Harrogate district hotel set to have helipad application refused by planners

A five-star luxury hotel and wedding venue in the Yorkshire Dales looks set to be refused permission to operate a helicopter landing pad at the site.

Wednesday, 16th June 2021, 1:34 pm
Updated Wednesday, 16th June 2021, 2:51 pm
Grantley Hall from above.

Grantley Hall - an 18th century mansion near Ripon which opened as a hotel after a £70m refurbishment in 2019 - wants to use an existing helipad to attract top events including luxury car launches and yachting clubs but has been recommended for refusal at a Harrogate Borough Council meeting next Tuesday (22 June).

After a previous application was rejected in March 2020, the hotel said it had restricted flights to no more than three a month to address concerns over noise disruption to nearby residents and animals.

It also said it could lose £650,000 in income if the helipad is not made available to the type of clients that it wants to attract.

However, a council planning officer has questioned how the helipad could fetch that much money and said the restricted number of flights would still have too great an impact on the area.

They said in a report: "Whilst there are economic benefits to be considered with relation to the local economy, it is not considered that these are sufficient to outweigh the harm created by the proposal.

"Concerns are raised that the content of the business plan does not directly appear to correlate with the small number of flights proposed and it is difficult to assess if the numbers proposed.

"Nor is it considered that the visitors arriving by this manner are likely to be direct spending with other attractions in the area, rather they will fly in and fly out."

Nidderdale AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty), Grantley and Sawley Parish Council and residents have also objected to the plans, with one local warning the noise from flights would disturb daily lives and nature.

Robert Ash said in a letter: "Grantley is a peaceful village, much-loved for its tranquillity both by residents and visitors. In these days of mindfulness it is very therapeutic to be able to listen to the countryside rather than intrusive helicopters.

"This is a totally unnecessary, self-fulfilling application which should once and for all be rejected."

As part of its application, Grantley Hall commissioned its own noise impact report which concluded restricted flight times and paths would mean access to the helipad would be carried out in the "quietest manner".

However, the reasons for recommending refusal are the impact on the Nidderdale AONB and Studley Royal Park, which is classed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well the impact on ecology and biodiversity.

The planning officer's report added: "A temporary permission for 12 months would allow for a more robust assessment of the impacts of the proposal and the viability of the proposed number of flights and hours of operation, however, it is considered that without the ability to adequately control the routes of the helicopters that these impacts would be significantly adverse."

Grantley Hall has 47 rooms, four restaurants including one with a Michelin star, and 30 acres of wooded parkland and grounds.

It was once used by West Riding County Council between 1947 and 1974 as an adult education residential college, as well as a training and conference centre by North Yorkshire County Council.

By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter