Legal challenge over Harrogate's new settlement plans

Flaxby Park Ltd announced this week that their solicitors have written to the council
Flaxby Park Ltd announced this week that their solicitors have written to the council

A developer’s legal challenge over the district’s Local Plan has been labelled as ‘nonsense’ by Harrogate Borough Council.

Flaxby Park Ltd announced this week that their solicitors have written to the council over their proposals for a new settlement to be sited in the Green Hammerton and Cattal area.

Development director Matt Johnson, from Flaxby Park Ltd

Development director Matt Johnson, from Flaxby Park Ltd

The company, which has put forward a site for 2,750 homes in Flaxby, have said this choice was made without enough evidence being presented.

Development director Matt Johnson, from Flaxby Park Ltd, said: “The Council’s District Development Committee is promoting a scheme that has no proven sustainability, deliverability or viability credentials.
“There is a huge amount of public opposition to the recommendation, and clear evidence that this location has not been properly or objectively considered, therefore the whole Local Plan process is at risk of legal challenge.”
He added: “There is a serious level of concern regarding the whole process of the Draft Local Plan and this was clearly evident at the recent District Development Committee, where officers failed to even present the new settlement plan, despite displaying and acknowledging every other hamlet, village, and town allocation in the borough. This is extremely concerning given the new settlement is the largest development ever to happen to Harrogate.”

The letter has been sent to the principal planning policy manger, head of legal services and the chief executive over these concerns.

An ‘undeclared bias’ for this broad area was also flagged by the developer, who say North Yorkshire County Council could benefit if it goes forward.
They pointed to land sold in 2003 by NYCC in Green Hammerton, a covenant meant if the land was sold again within 30 years NYCC would receive 70 per cent of the proceeds.
The County Council’s Executive agreed to vary this so the sale could go ahead and be put forward, but no further details have been provided due commercial sensitivity.

Harrogate Borough Council Cabinet Member for Planning, Rebecca Burnett said: “We are in receipt of a letter from lawyers representing Flaxby Park Limited.
“We are carefully considering the contents and will respond, in detail, in due course.
“However, we do not believe there are any legal flaws in the local plan process, nor do we accept that a new development in the broad Green Hammerton area isn’t sustainable or deliverable.
“Alleging a site has been chosen because another council stands to gain is a nonsense.”