We are faced with a tsunami of housing proposals, many of which will affect the south and west of Harrogate. Taken together, they will create chaos and do a massive disservice to the town.
I refer to the plans for Pennypot Lane, Lady Lane, Whinney Lane, Windmill Lane, the old Dunlopillo site, Leeds Road, Spring Lane and Yew Tree Road (the Old Police College). Collectively, they will add around 2,500 new properties as well as some additional light industrial sites.
The reason that these should be viewed as a whole is because of the cumulative impact they will have on the roads around the south and west of Harrogate (particularly through Pannal and Burn Bridge), on the air quality and on the rural environment.
In particular, the roads through Pannal and Burn Bridge are already congested at peak times, and access to and from Leeds is dreadful: this has worsened since the development of Cardale Park (the location of my place of work).
Specific to the PN17 / PN19 / PN20 development proposals, I’d make the following points:
The local road infrastructure is unsuited.
The school is already maxed out in Pannal.
The railway bridge at Pannal is one-way and will see increased traffic – does the council have an assurance from Network Rail that a new, two-way bridge will be constructed? And if so, how will that be achieved with the current housing and road layout?
The local bus service is already inadequate and will therefore fail to service increased demand.
The sites proposed are in areas of natural conservation – the Crimple Valley.
The differentiation between town and villages will cease to exist if these proposals were to be realised.
Perhaps the most important factor is the erosion of the distinctive style and environment that has made Harrogate and the surrounding area what it is: a destination town for visitors seeking something different.
Building developments along all of its arterial roads will not only make Harrogate like any other town in the UK; it will clog the surrounding secondary roads with unsustainable traffic, unacceptable levels of pollution and disgruntled visitors vowing never to return.
These proposals are foolish, ill-planned and ultimately damaging to Harrogate.