Harrogate's Local Plan delayed due to higher housing needs

Approval was given at a Cabinet Member for Planning meeting on June 15 to alter the timetable for the Local Plan
Approval was given at a Cabinet Member for Planning meeting on June 15 to alter the timetable for the Local Plan

Harrogate’s Local Plan has been delayed following the council’s call for an extra stage of public consultation on additional sites that will be needed to meet higher housing targets.

Consultants informed Harrogate Borough Council this month that alongside more employment land, the Local Plan must include extra sites for 669 houses per year to meet demand in the district through to 2035 - an increase of 112 houses a year.

Approval was given at a Cabinet Member for Planning meeting on June 15 to alter the timetable for the Local Plan following the review.

This has pushed back formal public consultation to January 2018 to allow this new session to take place next month.

Cabinet member for Planning, Coun Rebecca Burnett has said the decision was made so the plan would include resident’s views on the new sites that will be needed.

Coun Burnett said: “The public will be able to have their say on areas such as the emerging recommendation for Green Hammerton through this public consultation, alongside the sites needed for the increase of 557 to 669 houses per year over the plan period.

“We have a need to find these additional sites and that is why we are holding this additional consultation, people may never have seen these before when it comes to the formal consultation as some of these will be new options.

“While there is a settlement that will provide 2,500 to 3,000 new homes there will be urban extensions which will be double digit or triple digit sites.”

She added: “Many currently allocated and new sites will be along railway lines, existing and potential bus routes and some villages will be grown.

“Looking at all the sites it’s clear that with the dots on a map the places where we are growing are well serviced or have the great potential to be.”

The council has said the delay being caused by the higher housing and employment update could not have been avoided, as evidence continues to be collected for the plan.

Figures provided by the council state the Local Plan will include provision for more than 17,000 new homes in the district, this number including a buffer in case of sites not being developed.

However the changes now mean the Local Plan has an estimated date of being adopted in spring 2019.

Between 2014 and 2016 1032 houses were built across the district, while 4,557 houses currently have approval for construction.

Close to 400 residents attended a public meeting organised by the Harlow and Pannal Ash Residents Association which included an update on the plan from Coun Burnett.

A spokesperson for Harlow and Pannal Ash Residents Association said: “Of immediate concern is the continued speculative planning applications that we are seeing across the district due to an approved local plan not being in place.

“We know from recent experiences that even when the council reject the applications they are then approved when appealed. The proposed delays in the new local plan will only lengthen this window.

Approval was also given for the change in the timetable following work to find sites for travellers in the district.

Last year residents in Pannal were left dismayed at a draft plan proposal for a site in the area.

Although no exact details could be provided until next month Coun Burnett said: “We are exploring an option which utilises several existing sites rather than needing to allocate a new one”