The Harrogate village 'cracking at the seams' with housing

In just five years seven major developments have been approved
In just five years seven major developments have been approved

Only eight years ago, the population of Killinghall stood at just over 4,000, but will the 2021 census bring back similar numbers?

Current Killinghall residents would be inclined to disagree.

Headteacher Sarah Bassitt and Parish  Councillor Val Blackburn

Headteacher Sarah Bassitt and Parish Councillor Val Blackburn

In just five years, the parish has seen seven major developments approved, giving planning permission to nearly 1,000 houses, some of which have not even reached the start of construction.

But while the number of houses is set to double, the village amenities have dwindled away.

Vice Chair of the Parish Council, Val Blackburn said: “When we moved in it had the school, a village hall, a Post Office, a nursery and playgroup, a local shop, two pubs, a small doctors surgery.

“Once the Post Office closed down, the shop went. They keep on going on about the 36 bus but that has gone from every 15 minutes to every 20 and then only once an hour after 6pm.”

But with such few amenities left, why does Killinghall continue to be such a popular destination for ambitious developers?
Coun Blackburn explains: “These houses are sold as being in a village, people think they are buying a life in a village. It’s all been popularised by Escape to the Country.

“On paper Killinghall provides all these things but in actual fact it doesn’t, it’s cracking at the seams.”

And the evidence is continuing to mount.

Just recently the Greyhound pub has closed its doors to customers, and the local doctors surgery has gone from serving 4,000 patients to 20,000 after merging with Dr Moss & Partners, the largest practice in Harrogate, in 2013.

But despite warning that the village primary school is now full in its later year groups, the headteacher believes the ‘worst is yet to come’ for Killinghall.

Sarah Bassitt has been the head at Killinghall CofE Primary, for the last eight years.

She said: “When I started the number of pupils sat at about 90, now we have just over 150. That increase really has happened over in the last three years or so I would say.

She added: “Killinghall parents express concern about the changing face of the school, how it’s grown and how increased pupil numbers will affect the family feel and the ethos, which has been very important to all of us and we have engaged with the parents consistently throughout, as we have come to change things.”

Until recently, the school had just four classrooms, but in 2017 it was able to use some money from a developers’ community investment levy to build another two and is in the process of securing a third.

Another new addition to the school is its traffic light controlled pedestrian crossing, which Mrs Bassitt says the village has been fighting for to combat the increasing number of cars racing along Otley Road.

But one of the biggest issues has been parking for parents.

Mrs Bassitt said: “The speed of the developments is having a big effect and I think nobody is taking into account that most families have two cars and that for every house that goes up there are two more cars on the road.

She added: “We have parents who park their cars on Moor Close because there is nowhere else to drop off and pick up at the moment.

However, the school is hopeful that in this respect, the level of development will have some positive impacts.

Mrs Bassitt added: “From the schools point of view we are now a very viable school. A lot of schools, financially, sitting around about the number of pupils we were at previously, it’s not long before you become financially non-viable. We are now sustainable as a successful school and financially.
“The hope is that eventually the vast majority of children in our school will be residents of Killinghall, where previously being a village school meant we were always having to take out-of-catchment children.

“Once we get to that point we hope the majority of the children would be walking to school, that way we would be able to also alleviate some of those parking issues.”

Keen to ensure the village school continues to educate its students on the values of village life, Mrs Bassitt said the children have even had lessons on the heritage and history of Killinghall.

But highlighting the fact that many of the biggest developments have still not reached completion, Mrs Bassitt questioned how Killinghall will look in another five years.

She said: “I have a lot of sympathy with the residents, it’s still going to continue changing, we haven’t seen the end of it yet we only have one and three quarter of developments complete, we haven’t yet seen the impact of all the other developments and they seem to be starting all of the time.

“I think we have still yet to see the actual real impact and eventually you have to question will Killinghall still be a village.”