MP candidates respond to concern that Harrogate countryside is being lost to housing

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Over the last decade, swathes of green fields around the edges of Harrogate and Knaresborough have been turned over to housing.

It’s seen the area visibly change for the first time in decades.

With houses becoming ever more unaffordable, it has led to questions about whether the thousands of homes are helping to tackle the housing crisis or boosting housebuilders’ profits.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

At a hustings organised by Zero Carbon Harrogate on Wednesday (June 19), one resident told candidates about her concerns for the development of green fields.

MP candidates have responded to concerns that the countryside in Harrogate is being lost to housing projectsMP candidates have responded to concerns that the countryside in Harrogate is being lost to housing projects
MP candidates have responded to concerns that the countryside in Harrogate is being lost to housing projects

She also asked how, if elected, they will work to ensure green solutions are built into new homes.

Conservative Andrew Jones responded first and insisted more homes were still needed but not at the expense of the countryside and cherished green belt around Harrogate.

He said he favours a “hierarchy of development” which prioritises brownfield sites.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Mr Jones said: “We need to make sure we use lower calibre land and not high-quality greenbelt and agricultural land.”

Shan Oakes from the Green Party pointed to the success of Long Lands Common, which secured a community woodland on land threatened with housing between Harrogate and Knaresborough.

Ms Oakes said: “Doing something positive like that is good for the community to protect the land.”

Labour’s Conrad Whitcroft is the youngest candidate aged 24 and said more needs to be done to ensure young people can get on the housing ladder, which could include building on parts of the green belt under a Labour government.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Mr Whitcroft said: “I’m passionately pro-housebuilding – my generation has faced chronic underfunding.

"The price of housing has gone up and up and up and we need to reform and build more houses.”

Recent schemes in Harrogate like at Kingsley Road and Knox Lane have attracted a barrage of opposition from local residents.

Liberal Democrat Tom Gordon said communities who will be impacted by new homes must be engaged in the process.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

He said town centre living could be an answer which would also help boost retail and the nighttime economy.

Mr Gordon said: “Bringing people into towns so they’re living and working there is a quick win.”

North Yorkshire Council is in the early stages of formulating its Local Plan which will map out where homes can be built in Harrogate and Knaresborough for the next few decades.

Independent candidate Paul Haslam urged residents to engage in the Local Plan process because once a site is allocated for development it almost guarantees that homes will eventually be built there.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Mr Haslam said: “I believe the Local Plan is central to how we get this under control.

"But not enough people get involved and are then surprised when something turns up in the plan.

"I want everybody to get involved in this.”

This is a full list of candidates standing in Harrogate and Knaresborough:

Paul Haslam – Independent

Andrew Jones – Conservative

Tom Gordon – Liberal Democrat

Stephen Douglas Metcalfe – Independent

Shan Oakes – Green Party

John Swales – Reform UK

Conrad Whitcroft – Labour

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.