Harrogate Local Plan: Council responds to Flaxby Park's calls for "independent" review into new village

An artist's impression of Flaxby Park's proposed centre square.
An artist's impression of Flaxby Park's proposed centre square.

Harrogate Borough Council have confirmed they will carry out their own additional research into the location of a new village in the district, despite a developer calling for an independent body to undertake the work.

Harrogate Borough Council have confirmed they will carry out their own additional research into the location of a new village in the district, despite a developer calling for an independent body to undertake the work.

Flaxby Park Ltd, who have lodged plans for 2,750 homes on a former golf course east of Knaresborough, earlier this month called on the authority to ensure further study for the draft local plan to be "independent, fair and transparent".

It comes after government inspector Richard Schofield last month asked the authority to undertake additional research into potential areas for a new village, in his first round of feedback since local plan hearings ended in February.

"I consider that it would be sensible for the council to undertake additional work in this regard," he wrote.

“In short, for it to assess broad locations around each of the proposed potential sites."

Flaxby Park Ltd's Chris Musgrave said he had since written to council chief executive Wallace Sampson to ask for an independent third party to undertake the work.

"This will ensure that a fair, impartial and transparent review occurs, which will consider all the information, so it can be accurately weighted and scored," Mr Musgrave said.

“I welcome the inspector’s intervention, which in my view, supports the argument we have put to the council for the past 18 months.

"We don’t want favours, we just want fairness, and that’s exactly what we now hope to see."

However, cabinet member for planning Coun Rebecca Burnett confirmed that the authority would not bring in any consultants to do the work.

"The inspector has asked us to undertake further sustainability appraisal work to assess broad locations around each of the proposed potential new settlement sites," Coun Rebecca Burnett, the cabinet member for planning, said.

"We've confirmed in writing to Flaxby Park that we will approach this work with an open mind and will respond to the outcome should it indicate a different approach."

The Flaxby Park proposal includes plans for a retirement village, two primary schools, a GP surgery, and sports facilities, in an area that hasn't been supported for a new village in the draft plan.

The council has instead favoured a site around Green Hammerton and Cattal, where two applications have already been submitted: a 4,000-home development called Maltkiln Village by the Oakgate Group, and a rival 3,000 home project by Commercial Estates Group (CEG).

The location of a new village was referenced frequently during local plan hearings in January and February.

During those meetings, representatives of the authority defended their preferred site, with factors such as Green Hammerton and Cattal's proximity to existing train station and railway connections working in that area's favour compared to Flaxby.

Council representatives also said the preferred site had more scope for expansion, unlike Flaxby which sits between the A1 and Knaresborough.

Lachlan Leeming, Local Democracy Reporter