A group campaigning against Harrogate Borough Council’s plans to build 3,000 homes near Green Hammerton is calling for an open and public hearing session to debate new settlement options.
Keep The Hammertons Green Action Group, who have previously voiced their opposition to the authority's support of a new village in the area, have called for a hearing to allow members of the public to have their say in front of the government inspector.
Among their concerns regarding the Green Hammerton area are how substantial infrastructure upgrades to accommodate development, including potentially re-routing the A59 and turning parts of it into dual-carriageway, would be financed.
"This is a public consultation, but the public, including local residents and business, still haven’t had the opportunity to debate the new settlement options and the selection process in an open, public hearing session, with the independent inspector present," Chris Eaton, co-chair of the Keep The Hammertons Green Action Group, said.
"We also deserve the opportunity to question the council’s latest Sustainability Appraisal, which is unsound, contains weak arguments and looks designed to validate a pre-determined decision to build between Whixley, Green Hammerton, Kirk Hammerton and Cattal. The work received no independent scrutiny and doesn’t give weighting to any criteria, which clearly have different levels of importance."
The action group have previously thrown their support instead behind the development of a new village on a former golf course at Flaxby Park.
"If the selection process was assessed fairly and properly, then surely redeveloping Flaxby’s disused former golf course, would be a better and more sustainable option. It’s also much closer to Harrogate and Knaresborough, with recently upgraded road infrastructure already in place."
Harrogate Borough Council have maintained the area near Green Hammerton and Cattal is more suitable, pointing to its transport links and wider scope for growth as key points.
The council's cabinet member for planning Rebecca Burnett said last week she was "entirely confident" in the work undertaken by the authority, and that comments made by Flaxby Park and others during the consultation process would have an opportunity to be considered by the Government inspector.
"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."
Government Inspector Richard Schofield, who is tasked with approving Harrogate's local plan, chaired several weeks of hearings on the plan in January.
He published major alterations to it in March, before the updated plans were opened up to public consultation.
The latest round of public consultation surrounding the local plan is due to close on Friday September 20 at 4.30pm.
Lachlan Leeming, Local Democracy Reporter