Historic Harrogate village says it is threatened by 'mass development' from new housing raising new questions over Local Plan

Almost before a single brick has even been laid, residents of a small and picturesque village in the Harrogate district are up in arms over the Local Plan.

Thursday, 13th May 2021, 10:39 am
Updated Thursday, 13th May 2021, 10:40 am
Concern over housing developments - Bishop Monkton is a historic village five miles from Ripon and ten from Harrogate. It was first settled 1,000 years ago. Will this field in Bishop Monkton be turned into housing? (Picture Gerard Binks)
Concern over housing developments - Bishop Monkton is a historic village five miles from Ripon and ten from Harrogate. It was first settled 1,000 years ago. Will this field in Bishop Monkton be turned into housing? (Picture Gerard Binks)

Members of Bishop Monkton Action Group do not dispute the need to tackle the housing crisis or the basic idea of having a Local Plan to direct how this happens.

But they do question the effectiveness of Harrogate's hard-won Local Plan.

Will this field in Bishop Monkton be turned into housing? (Picture Gerard Binks)

Residents in the group say various different plans to build what could be a total of 300 new homes in their small but historic village, which currently has a population of just 800 people, amounts to “mass development” with inadequate recognition of the impact on local life and infrastructure.

The Local Plan may finally be in place after years of effort by Harrogate Borough Council but, in the view of Bishop Monkton Action Group, the end result for the village is "disproportionate housing burdens without a thought for the consequences".

A spokesperson for Bishop Monkton Action Group said: “It feels like things are getting out of control.

“In Bishop Monkton the Local Plan has identified various sites which would collectively increase the size of our village by 75%.

"We feel that it is irresponsible to consider development when the infrastructure isn’t there, ready to support it.”

Bishop Monkton: Housing applications*

BM2 and BM4

Currently seeking planning permission.

BM3

The indications are that developers are about to submit an application by canvassing residents to support it.

BM6 and BM8

Not in the Local Plan but have been identified for future housing.

BM1

Refused on appeal.

BM5

Withdrawn.

*Information provided by Bishop Monkton Action Group

Bishop Monkton: Flooding risks and inadequate roads

Members of Bishop Monkton Action Group say they’ve seen no evidence of any thought going into the impact of two housing developments currently seeking planning permission, with one about to submit an application and two more identified for future applications.

Specifically, this small village five miles from Ripon and ten from Harrogate, which was first settled 1,000 years ago, suffers from flooding risks with flood water sometimes containing sewage when the overloaded drains burst.

A spokesperson for Bishop Monkton Action Group said: “We were assured during outline discussions in 2017 regarding the Draft Local Plan for Bishop Monkton, that all aspects of drainage had been considered.

"Our village has a history of homes being inundated in heavy rainfall, sometimes combined with sewage from our drains which cannot cope with existing loads, never mind those envisaged by so many extra houses - all of which would drain down through the existing village due to the natural fall of the land".

The villagers also claim the road system is inadequate for the volume of new housing envisaged in Bishop Monkton.

A spokesperson for Bishop Monkton Action Group said: “There are other local infrastructure deficiencies in Bishop Monkton such as inadequate roads, some of which are narrow and just single track country lanes.

“In addition, we now find ourselves on a direct short-cut-rat-race line from the southern bypass, new Knaresborough conurbations, the Ripon bypass and the north east.

"Our country lanes which service the village were first laid for carts, not as a commuter belt."

What is the Local Plan?

Prompted nearly a decade ago by the David Cameron Government’s commitment to tackling a national housing shortage, Local Plans are a blueprint for future development drawn up by planning officials, agreed by councillors and ratified by Government.

They set out sites where thousands of new homes and businesses should be built up until 2035, and guide decisions on whether or not planning applications can be granted.

Both Harrogate Borough Council and North Yorkshire County Council say Harrogate’s Local Plan - and the planning system - ensures there is a rigorous assessment of all the factors in each housing development, including the affect on population size and local infrastructure.

Bishop Monkton: Claims that Harrogate Local Plan is not up to the job required

Harrogate Borough Council maintains that all sites allocated in the Local Plan are assessed on their sustainability and the impact of new housing and increased population size on highways, landscape, ecology, historic environment, flood risk and drainage.

But campaigners in Bishop Monkton say their village is just one example of what they argue is the weakness of the Local Plan - despite understanding that local authorities like Harrogate’s are under pressure from the Government to meet housing targets,

A spokesperson for Bishop Monkton Action Group said: "Harrogate Council has seemingly committed to building 9,000 new homes over the next 13-14 years.

"We are told that the infrastructural improvements are in hand, but where are they?

“In many respects what is happening to our village is a microcosm of the whole Harrogate area."

The spokesperson for Bishop Monkton Action Group continued: "Planning consents are already being given and continue to be sought for major housing schemes but we see no major road improvements or hospital extensions or anything else put in place in anticipation of all this."

“We think it is essential that all this sort of thing should be in place before housing is built."

"It is ridiculous to expect local councils to provide responsibly for local communities by working from national one-size-fits-all housebuilding algorithms.

"Harrogate Council is under considerable Government pressure to meet housing targets and it seems clear that the requirement to meet such targets could prevail over common sense.

"This does not auger well for good planning decisions."

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