Key planning document delayed for west Harrogate residents facing 4,000 new homes

Residents worried that west Harrogate won't be able to cope with thousands of new homes are facing further delays to see another key document on how under strain services should be improved.

By Jacob Webster
Wednesday, 1st June 2022, 9:32 am
The two key planning documents deal with the impacts of 2,500 new homes in west Harrogate - although as many as 4,000 properties are set to be built in the wider area.
The two key planning documents deal with the impacts of 2,500 new homes in west Harrogate - although as many as 4,000 properties are set to be built in the wider area.

The West Harrogate Parameters Plan was met with dismay when it was approved by Harrogate Borough Council in February after almost two years of work between council officers and housing developers.

It was criticised as a "developers' charter" by locals who said the long-delayed plan failed to recognise the pressure that around 2,500 new homes will put on the area's roads, schools and health services.

And now a delivery strategy on when proposed improvements will be carried out and how much they will cost has been hit by yet more delays.

The West Harrogate Infrastructure Delivery Strategy was due for completion in May - but the borough council has now failed to say whether it will be approved before the end of the year.

Councillor Howard West, chairman of Pannal and Burn Bridge Parish Council, said he had "little faith" in the outcome of the delivery strategy, but added he was prepared to accept the latest delays if it "yields the infrastructure we need".

He said: "Pannal and Burn Bridge Parish Council has offered to cooperate with Harrogate Borough Council and North Yorkshire County Council from day one regarding highway infrastructure for the new settlement on Harrogate’s Western Arc.

"Our offers of continuous involvement have constantly been rebuffed with a 'we know best' attitude that allows only a token consultation once the draft has already been made."

West Harrogate was identified for major expansion during the creation of the district's Local Plan when a government inspector ordered the parameters plan to be made.

Once complete, both the delivery strategy and parameters plan will be used together to shape decisions on how west Harrogate will cope with 2,500 new homes - although as many as 4,000 properties are set to be built in the wider area by 2035.

There are proposals for two new primary schools and four playing pitches, as well as two new local centres for shops and health services.

Land has also been designated for other businesses, as well as new cycle lanes, footpaths and bus routes.

As part of the delivery strategy, a review of existing infrastructure is being carried out ahead of the document being published in draft form during a public consultation.

A Harrogate Borough Council spokesperson said it aims to publish the draft document in mid-July, but did not say when it could be signed off.

The spokesperson said: "Since the completion of the west Harrogate Parameters Plan, we have been working with our appointed consultants to prepare the West Harrogate Infrastructure Delivery Strategy document.

"This has included topic based discussions with technical officers on matters such as education, sports and greenspace, transport and health alongside phasing and trajectory input from site promoters.

"We are currently in the process of pulling this information together to provide a document to help the long term coordination of infrastructure across the West Harrogate sites.

"We intend to hold an information session with local stakeholder groups in mid-July to present the draft West Harrogate Infrastructure Delivery Strategy document, with a further session scheduled for autumn before the document is signed off."

By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter