The Save the Crimple Valley Campaign highlights a fundamental weakness in Planning Policy which is creating problems everywhere.
Crimple Valley is designated SLA (Special Landscape Assessment)in recognition of its famous setting on the southern approaches to the town.
The visitor on a train on the Crimple Viaduct or the 36 ‘bus might assume that ‘SLA’ confers real protection – not so.
Experiences elsewhere on SLA sites like the controversial PennyPot Lane settlement of 700 houses shows that SLA is the kiss of death – simply a magnet for inappropriate development.
Pare away the the soothing platitudes and comforting green phrases and you are left with three words ‘go for growth’. The only safeguard is the qualification ‘sustainable’, but ‘sustainable’ has become a plasticine word without substance which can be moulded and shaped to fit whatever circumstances suit the developer.
Like so many successful towns, Harrogate is at the mercy of developers who cherry pick where, when and how slowly they build.
The town has to provide five years land supply to meet future needs and by September 2016 councillors were relieved to have achieved that objective. Plans were approved to build thousands of houses and the target of imposed growth seemed to have been met.
However the secondary target of building 500 houses a year is not being achieved because of the slow building rate and alleged ‘land banking’ – a national problem.
Perversely this is persuading the council to resume a frantic search for yet more land allocations. This may account for the reluctance to approve LGS (Local Green Space)protection for The Pinewoods, Allotment plots and Bilton Fields/Nidd Gorge. Harrogate has been a dormitory town for Leeds and Bradford since the 1950s but I cannot recall a time when we expanded the town so rapidly, not to meet local needs, but simply to encourage in-migration.
Keith Wilkinson MBE