Starbucks drive-thru plans for Harrogate's Wetherby Road approved by inspector after appeal
A planning inspector has granted permission for a controversial Starbucks drive-thru at the site of a former dentist in Harrogate following three previous refusals of the plans.
Inspector Helen Hockenhull has today (16 July) given a go-ahead for the development at the former 1st Dental surgery on Wetherby Road which was previously rejected once by another inspector and twice by Harrogate Borough Council's planning committee.
The planning committee's latest refusal of the proposals in 2019 was subject to an appeal held last month when residents living nearby warned the drive-thru would "completely destroy" their enjoyment of their homes.
They also said traffic in Harrogate was already at "breaking point" without the development, but Ms Hockenhull concluded in a decision notice that the drive-thru would not cause "significant harm" to highway safety, air quality or the living conditions of nearby residents.
Her decision goes against that of a previous inspector who said initial plans would cause “unacceptable” harm to those living in the area.
Ms Hockenhull said: "I recognise that my findings will be disappointing to the local residents and ward councillor who gave evidence at the hearing.
“However, based on the technical evidence before me and all that I have seen and heard, with the proposed mitigation measures secured by planning conditions, I am not persuaded that the development would cause significant harm.”
Euro Garages is behind the plans which were first refused in 2017 before the retail firm lodged an unsuccessful appeal and then submitted a revised application two years later.
These latest proposals were again rejected by Harrogate Borough Council's planning committee but the authority, nor members of the committee, chose not to contest last month's appeal, leaving residents to defend the reasons for refusal themselves.
Euro Garages previously said it had given "very careful consideration" to the concerns raised and included a re-jigged car park, acoustic fence and opening hours of between 7am and 10pm in its plans - all of which Ms Hockenhull concluded were "reasonable" and would reduce the impact on residents.
During last month's appeal, Alan Evans, a legal representative for Euro Garages, said the retail firm would be seeking legal costs against the council for "unreasonable behaviour".
The full costs against the council are not yet known.
By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter