The application is to demolish the old Dunlopillo building in Pannal and replace it with a taller apartment block.
The application is made under permitted development rights – these rights mean that the conversion of empty offices to residential can be done quickly, the issues that can be considered when deciding whether to grant planning permission are reduced and, because of the short timeframe for a decision, potentially without going to a meeting of the council’s planning committee.
If a decision on the application isn’t made within 56 days then planning permission is automatically granted.
Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones has criticised this attempt to use permitted development rights to get a large housing development through the planning process and is asking Harrogate Council to call an extraordinary meeting of its Planning Committee to ensure that professional council planners can put the issues before elected councillors and so the public can have their say.
Mr Jones said: “Permitted development rights are to enable positive development and apply in specific circumstances to achieve a specific goal. I do not believe that these rights were introduced for the situation in respect of this development in a semi-rural location.
“Such a significant proposal should go through the normal planning process, be thoroughly appraised by council officers and scrutinised by the councillors at a committee meeting where the public can also have their say.”
Mr Jones has written to the Council’s Chief Executive making him aware of his concerns asking that a special planning committee is called before the end of the permitted development time limit for this scheme.
He has also written to Rt Hon Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Levelling up, Housing and Communities asking him to intervene should the council’s local planning powers not be sufficient to enable full scrutiny of the application.