Parish council hit out at "reckless" plans to overhaul Flaxby in Draft Local Plan

Flaxby Parish Council have hit out at "fundamentally flawed" proposals to overhaul the village in the Draft Local Plan.

Tuesday, 10th January 2017, 10:58 am
Updated Tuesday, 10th January 2017, 11:06 am
Land at Flaxby

As part of its Draft Local Plan, Harrogate Borough Council (HBC) has identified a number of possible locations across the district for 11,697 homes to be built by 2035.

However, the council have proposed a new settlement entirely at either Flaxby or in the Hammerton area as there are currently "insufficient" sites to meet the full need of homes.

The council have stressed that only one location will be included in the final Local Plan but are confident a new settlement would provide a "significant element" of the overall housing supply.

Land to the north of the A59 at Flaxby has been earmarked for 3244 houses while 39.8 hectares of land to the south of the A59 at Flaxby Green Park has been put forward as an employment site.

In response, Goldsborough & Flaxby Parish Council submitted a furious 25-page letter to HBC outlining their detailed objections to the "reckless" proposals.

Matthew Davies, chairman of the Parish Council, raised issues over the "extensive" effects the plans would have and said Hammerton would be "much more able" to create a successful new settlement.

He said: "The proposed eventual new settlement at Flaxby would be approximately twice the size of Boroughbridge and half the size of Knaresborough.

"Both of these towns, however, are ancient in their history, foundations, sense of place and communities, having grown and evolved over multiple centuries.

"Any new town at FX3 would, by its very definition, singularly fail to correspond with this and, we would contend, crucially fail to engender any discernible sense of community.

"This is not an attractive prospect for a proposed new population of up to approximately 8,000 people, both in terms of initially attracting people to live there and thereafter, once there is a resident population."

Mr Davies said that Hammerton with its "existing and developed village and community" would be better suited to integrate into the existing communities than Flaxby.

Flaxby has been at the centre of planning speculation since 2014 when its land owners, Skelwith Group, proposed to transform the golf course into a new village.

Despite the golf club's closure, the plans were halted following Skelwith's liquidation but were reintroduced by Flaxby Park Limited in April last year.

Mr Davies admitted that the golf club being vacant and "left to rot" may lead HBC to favour the site at Flaxby and said its inclusion in the Draft Local Plan was worrying.

In its Housing Background Paper, HBC said either settlement will require time for a masterplanning and planning process to undertaken with early infrastructure provision needed to support it.

As a result, HBC admitted that eaither site would not contribute to early housing delivery but would provide "significant levels of housing" throughout the rest of the plan period.

Mr Davies said: "Given that Flaxby would be unable to provide any delivery of actual liveable homes for a considerable period of time, the premise of considering it as part of the solution for addressing the Borough's housing requirements is fundamentally flawed and without basis.

"Given that 20 years of building work would only deliver less than half of Flaxby's capacity, it is not a tolerable prospect that the site continue to undergo heavy building work well beyond 2035.

"The clear preference is to locate future housing growth at the development of existing urban areas, with a focus on Harrogate and Knaresborough.

"It would be reckless and without justification to select FX3 as a new settlement where there are innumerable and fundamental issues that remain to be understood and analysed – in terms of viability, feasibility, deliverability and cost."

The Parish Council has held a number of public meetings in the past over plans proposed by Skelwith and Flaxy Park Limited with hundreds of concerned residents attending.

However, Mr Davies said that the parish council had not formally objected to the plans until this point as they have not had any official development proposals to object to.

He said: "The settlement has been included as part of the consultation on the Draft Local Plan so there's a bit more concrete basis for us to examine and form a response to.

"The information and evaluation which Harrogate Borough Council certainly makes the plans more definitive than before and makes it seem a bit more real.

"Our opinion is that the decision to build a new settlement should be based on the fact or analysis of whether the site is feasible and whether it is suitable."