Flaxby remains at loggerheads with Harrogate council over new village site

The proposed central square of Flaxby Park.
The proposed central square of Flaxby Park.

The controversial and crucial decision of where to build a new village is soon to be locked in, but developers at loggerheads with Harrogate Borough Council are continuing to insist the authority has got their preferred location wrong.

Development company Flaxby Park, who are behind a proposal to build nearly 3000 homes on a former golf course east of Knaresborough, say the latest research on where to develop a new settlement could tip the "finely balanced decision" in their favour.

Flaxby Park's Chris Musgrave.

Flaxby Park's Chris Musgrave.

Harrogate Borough Council has steadfastly supported the development of a new village in the broad area around Green Hammerton and Cattal, as part of the development of the district's local plan.

However, Flaxby Park believe that the most recent research on a suitable location for a new village - carried out at the behest of Government inspector Richard Schofield - should tip the odds back in their favour.

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Chief executive of Flaxby Park, Chris Musgrave, maintains that the council's latest sustainability appraisal means their proposal matches or beats Green Hammerton in a range of areas including education, current land use, employment, infrastructure requirements and public transport facilities.

Among their specific gripes are that the current assessment doesn't "make enough" of employment opportunities near the site - including Flaxby Green Park, the proposal for a nearby business park predicted to provide up to 3000 jobs which was approved by Harrogate Borough Council earlier this year.

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Mr Musgrave also said he felt there had been little reference made to the land's previous use as a golf course, which means it shouldn't be regarded as agricultural farmland or greenfield.

"This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to create a new settlement for the benefit of Harrogate, with new homes for local people and increasing footfall for local businesses, but Green Hammerton is closer to York, and that’s also likely to be where residents would spend their money," Mr Musgrave said.

He also echoed his earlier appeals for a public hearing session to be held to allow the new settlement sites to be directly compared and discussed in a public forum.

In response, the council's cabinet member for planning Rebecca Burnett said she she was "entirely confident" in the work undertaken by the authority, and that comments made by Flaxby Park would have an opportunity to be considered by the Government inspector.

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"The work has been undertaken with an open mind and published for consultation," she said. "I am entirely confident in the work produced by council officers who work to the highest professional standards.

"Flaxby Park Ltd have the opportunity to raise their concerns through the current consultation.

"Their comments, alongside all other comments, will be considered by the independent Planning Inspector in drawing his conclusions on our local plan."

Public consultation on Harrogate's local plan will remain open until 4.30pm on September 20.

Lachlan Leeming, Local Democracy Reporter