Harrogate council hit back at "U turn" claims over new village location

The Goldsborough station site, which currently isn't in operation.
The Goldsborough station site, which currently isn't in operation.

The location of a new village remains one of the most contentious components of Harrogate's draft local plan, after the council branded a developer's claims there had been a "U turn" on transport issues as "ridiculous".

Flaxby Park Ltd, who have lodged a proposal for 2,750 new homes at a former golf course at Flaxby, last week stated plans to open a park and ride facility at the former Goldsborough station had "taken a step forward".

The statement comes after the council's latest round of work on the draft plan recognised the site's proximity to a rail line.
Previously, Flaxby's rail options had not been rated, a contributing factor to the council instead favouring land near Green Hammerton and Cattal for a new village.

However, the council hit back at the suggestions that the acknowledgement constituted a "U turn", with cabinet member for planning, Coun Rebecca Burnett stating: "Flaxby Park is rather jumping the gun and to suggest we've 'done a U turn' is ridiculous."

"At the request of the planning inspector, we carried out a further sustainability appraisal into the broad locations where a new settlement could go," she said.

"As part of this work, we added a score for Flaxby in recognition of the nearby rail line.

"This does not mean a station at Goldsborough has suddenly moved a step closer."

The cabinet member for planning also reiterated that the council still supported the area around Cattal and Green Hammerton as the site for a new village.

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In the latest documents released for public consultation, the council's reasons for backing Hammerton and Cattal is explained, including its position within a "key public transport corridor", which offers "the added advantage of having two operational rail stations".

The same documents state that the proposal as Flaxby "should not be selected as it does not offer the same locational advantages" as Hammerton.

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"It is currently not served by a key bus service (albeit it is considered that there is scope to extend existing services), it does not have an operational rail station nor any surety that one can be provided and the extent of available land makes effective place making more difficult," the plan states.

The location of a new village has been one of the most contentious parts of the formation of the local plan, the blueprint which will dictate where thousands of homes and businesses will be built around the district over the next 20 years.

Government Inspector Richard Schofield ordered in March that extra work be undertaken regarding the potential spot of a new village.

"I may comment further on the matter of the proposed new settlement in due course, if I deem it necessary in light of the additional work," Mr Schofield said at the time.

Public feedback on the latest developments in the plan can be made online at http://consult.harrogate.gov.uk until September 6.

Lachlan Leeming, Local Democracy Reporter