Plans for 217 homes in Kingsley area of Harrogate rejected as developers say 'we need to make improvements'

Plans for a 217-home development in the Kingsley area of Harrogate have been refused in a victory for residents facing the construction of hundreds of more homes.

Wednesday, 4th August 2021, 9:24 am
This is the Kingsley Drive site. Photo: Persimmon Homes.

Harrogate Borough Council's planning committee has yesterday unanimously voted against the proposals from Persimmon Homes which said it had "got the message loud and clear" that improvements to the scheme needed to be made.

Paul Butler, an agent for the developers, asked the committee to vote for a deferral but councillors rejected this saying they wanted to take a "robust" stance against the Kingsley Drive development until it was made right.

Mr Butler said: "I want to make it absolutely clear that we very much want to work with the council and local residents.

"The site is allocated for housing and those further proposals and applications will always be forthcoming. The key from here is ensuring those details are right.

"When it comes to these details - specifically design, layout, highways and drainage matters - we have got the message loud and clear; we need to make improvements."

The Kingsley ward is one of the busiest areas for new builds in Harrogate with around 700 new homes already built or currently under construction, and with hundreds more in the pipeline.

The Kingsley Drive site rejected yesterday is allocated for more than 173 homes in the Local Plan and an application from Persimmon was first submitted in 2019.

The developers have since made several revisions - including scaling back house numbers from 244 - but council officers and residents say the plans are still far away from being ready for approval.

Speaking at yestrerday's meeting, council planning officer Mike Parkes said: "The scheme has gone through a number of versions but is still not considered to be acceptable.

"There is very limited scope for trees... and the area is dominated by hard surfaces, excessive frontage parking areas and an imbalance between tenures."

Ward councillor Nigel Middlemass also described the proposals as "the worst thought out" of all new applications for the area, while Chris Watt, a member of the Kingsley Ward action group, said the new homes would only add to congestion problems.

Mr Watt said: "As we have already seen from the current developments that are taking place, our local roads are simply not designed for more construction traffic operating at times from even 5.30am.

"Congestion on Knaresborough Road and the surrounding roads leading off it is already bad and this will only be made even worse."

The plans included a mix of one to four bedroom properties, as well as 87 affordable homes

There were 388 objections from residents and not a single letter of support.

At the end of yesterday's meeting, councillor Jim Clark said he hoped the developers would come back with improved proposals as well as a change in "behaviour".

He said: "We have to be robust - and this doesn't stop Persimmon coming back with another application, and maybe one after that, this is the way things work.

"But for them to say 'oh, we will get a deferral and then we will sort it all out' - that is just not on.

"We ought to be very clear that we are not going to accept this type of behaviour."

By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter