Councillor calls for pause in housebuilding in Harrogate amid huge new development plans
In December, members of North Yorkshire County Council’s executive approved the creation of the document, which must be finalised within five years of the new North Yorkshire Council forming on April 1.
It will identify land that can be developed and will replace the seven Local Plans that are currently used by the soon-to-be-abolished district and borough councils.
This includes Harrogate Borough Council’s plan that was adopted in 2020 and says over 13,000 homes can be built between 2014-2035.
The council has previously said the document will guide planning decisions until the new Local Plan is created.
Harrogate’s local plan has led to large new housing developments being built in almost every corner of the district.
In February, approval was given to 162 more homes being built on Kingsley Drive in Harrogate.
But councillors have heard repeated concerns about whether the district’s roads, schools and GP practices can cope with the increase in housing.
The thorny issue came up at a full meeting of North Yorkshire County Council on Friday.
Statistics released in the government’s last Housing Delivery Test revealed 1,641 homes – or 266% – were built above target in the district between 2018 and 2021.
This led Liberal Democrat councillor for the High Harrogate & Kingsley division, Chris Aldred, to ask NYCC’s Conservative executive member for planning for growth, Simon Myers, if the new council would consider pausing new applications in areas where these government targets are being met.
“There are areas within the county where we’re well ahead of scheduled housing delivery targets. In Harrogate we are 200% over-target according to the government’s own statistics.
“While we’re developing a new local plan for the county, could you consider in areas where we are well ahead of delivery, we actually pause the application process so we don’t get any houses in areas where we might not have done when we’ve got the new Local Plan.”
The new council will create six new planning committees to oversee decisions across parliamentary constituency areas, such as Harrogate & Knaresborough and Skipton & Ripon.
They will be set up with councillors from across the political spectrum voting on whether significant planning applications go ahead.
But Cllr Myers suggested that pausing planning applications because targets were being met may not be lawful. He said:
“As far as pausing development on the basis targets have been met or exceeded. I’d have to take advice on that. I don’t know what legal implications of that would be, whether we could do it and whether it would be the right thing to do.”