Council refuses controversial Crimple Valley housing scheme which would “erode distinct character”

North Yorkshire Council has refused a plan to build 17 homes at Almsford Bank Stables in Harrogate saying the scheme would “erode the distinct character” of the Crimple Valley.

Developers Square Feet Ltd and Antela Developments Ltd submitted a plan for 17 homes with 7 of them classed as affordable and 10 as custom self-build for people who want to build their own home.

The site has been in equestrian use and includes farmland, barns and stables.

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It’s the third attempt to build housing on the site, which is on the edge of Harrogate off Leeds Road and is overlooked by the imposing Crimple Valley Viaduct which dates to 1848.

Crimple ValleyCrimple Valley
Crimple Valley

In 2021, plans for 65 homes were withdrawn. Last year, a smaller application for 35 homes was refused by Harrogate Borough Council.

The application was met with fierce resistence from the Save Crimple Valley campaign group who argued the homes would harm the appearance of one of Harrogate’s most picturesque locations.

The plans received 360 objections and no letters of support.

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Documents attached to the application by the developers said they reduced the size of the scheme to minimise its impact on the countryside with homes only built on the northern part of the site.

A southern section would have provided a “significant landscaped area”.

The land is not allocated for development in the council’s Local Plan, which sets out where development can take place, however the developers said that the document supports the delivery of self-build homes on the edge of towns.

However, the council did not agree and gave seven reasons for refusal in a lengthy decision notice.

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Reasons included the site not being allocated in the Local Plan, the loss of open fields, re-routing a public footpath, and the removal of a “relatively large” number of trees.

The council’s highways department also the scheme would interfere with the free flow of traffic on Leeds Road and potentially cause “danger to highway users”.

North Yorkshire Council case officer Jillian Rann wrote: “The proposed development would result in harm to the character and appearance of its surroundings, including the Crimple Valley Special Landscape Area, through the loss of open fields and woodland and the introduction of unacceptable and incongruous (sub)urban development into an area of high landscape value, which is important to the setting of Harrogate and the setting of the grade II* listed building, Crimple Valley Viaductand to the separation between, and individual distinctiveness of, the settlements of Harrogate and Pannal.”

The developers can choose to appeal the decision.

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