Plans for 170 homes in Knaresborough refused again over 'poor' layout and design

Plans for a major housing development behind a Knaresborough school have been refused for the second time in two years over "poor" layout and design choices.

Thursday, 5th August 2021, 9:48 am
This is the Water Lane site. Photo: Google.

The proposals for 218 homes near Meadowside Academy were first rejected by Harrogate Borough Council's planning committee in October 2019 before the applicant Geoffrey Holland scaled back house numbers to 170 in his push for approval.

However, these latest plans were thrown out again by councillors at a meeting on Tuesday.

Recommending refusal, council planning officer Kate Broadbank said the Water Lane scheme had a number of "fundamental" issues.

She said: "One of the site allocation requirements is the provision of a circular recreation route - and this has been provided around the edge of the site.

"However, it is considered to be unsatisfactory as it is a narrow path between the site boundary and side elevations of dwellings, meaning it is not very well overlooked and would not provide a safe, attractive route.

"The same situation occurred around the open space and children's play area where houses backed onto this.

"The applicant has tried to overcome this by turning some houses around to face onto the path and play area, however, this has led to an issue with rear gardens now backing onto the streets.

"On the whole, the scheme is considered to lack character or a sense of place."

At Tuesday's meeting, an agent for Mr Holland urged the committee to not vote for refusal but instead defer a decision on the plans.

This, again, was rejected by councillors.

The agent said: "If the layout was fundamentally flawed, we should have been told that six months ago, not last week.

"I urge the committee, bearing in mind that most of the issues have been resolved, that the item be deferred for the final layout negotiations to take place."

Planning officer Kate Broadbank responded to say she did not believe a deferral would bring about major improvements to the key parts of the scheme, particularly the layout.

She said: "My view is that there would not be any fundamental change to the layout if it was to be deferred. We have been in negotiations for quite a long time now and my main concerns were expressed to the applicant last year.

"The revisions I have received to date have not overcome the fundamental issues with the layout which I have to say is probably driven by the number of units."

The site is allocated for more than 148 homes in the district's Local Plan, meaning development will happen once councillors are satisfied with detailed plans.

The latest proposals included a mix of one and two-bedroom apartments, as well as two, three and four-bedroom houses.

Eighty one of these properties would have been classed as affordable.

More than 80 residents had lodged objections against the plans which did not receive a single letter of support.

By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter