Feeling the squeeze: Councillor speaks out against latest Knaresborough development

Councillor SamanthaMearns at the site of the latest housing development application in Knaresborough.
Councillor SamanthaMearns at the site of the latest housing development application in Knaresborough.

A Knaresborough councillor has spoken out against the latest development proposed for the town, saying she holds "grave concerns" over the amount of homes "squeezed" onto the site.

Councillor Samantha Mearns, who represents the Knaresborough Scriven Park ward, has come out against plans for 218 homes on greenfield land between Water Lane and Hay-a-Park.

Applicant Geoffrey Holland lodged the plans, which include access works, landscaping, and the construction of play facilities, in June.

Coun Mearns she had multiple issues with the proposal, which if approved would be the latest in a list of developments comprising hundreds of new homes around Knaresborough.

Although included in Harrogate's draft plan, the land was recommended for just 148 homes, instead of the current application's 218.

"Here the developer is proposing nearly 50 per cent more homes than the allocation and you can see from the site plans the density of the proposed development," Coun Mearns said.

"Furthermore, the transport plan indicates only one access into the development which the developer proposes is made via Mint Garth in Hay-A-Park.

"In my view, not only is this too narrow, it pushes all this extra traffic directly next to a children’s play area. This needs a total rethink."

The size of the proposal means it'll front an upcoming Borough Council planning committee, with Coun Mearns confirming she would speak against it.

"I will be there to speak against the proposals and residents are welcome to contact me and let me know their views," she said.

It comes off the back of the 402-home Highfield Farm proposal on Knaresborough's York Road being approved earlier this month, which itself is next to the 600-home Manse Farm which is currently being built.
However, Coun Mearns said those larger sites provided more "structured development" with services often built in-step with the homes.

She was concerned that "piecemeal" smaller applications ran the risk of not having the appropriate services built alongside them.

"The point here is that the developer should be pushing on an open door - it's in the local plan, it's an allocated site, but there's an expectation it'll be done responsibly," she said.

"We do need more homes, (specifically) homes for young people, but it's about whether they're the right development for Knaresborough.

"The development has to be suitable for Knaresborough, and this certainly is not."

She blamed a "lag" in approvals of new builds for giving the appearance that a lot of development was now being rushed in, saying Manse Farm was approved several years ago, even if it was only being built now.

"The reality is that Harrogate has been slow off the mark in delivering what it needs to deliver," she said.

"It wouldn't be quite as noticeable if they started several years ago - big developments (like Manse Farm) take time."

Lachlan Leeming, Local Democracy Reporter