Harrogate Council confirm they will close their plant nursery site and sell the land to housing developer

A councillor says Harrogate Council’s decision to relocate its horticultural nursery from Harlow Hill will mean a “big, sad loss” for the area.

The council’s cabinet met yesterday to rubber stamp a purchase of land so a larger nursery can be built elsewhere in the district.

The move paves the way for a sale of its current nursery at Harlow Hill to a housing developer, with 62 homes mooted.

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The site on Nursery Lane is where the council grows flowers for its displays across the district. It also sells plants to members of the public to bring in revenue.

Poinsettias are grown for public sale at Central Nursery in Harlow HillPoinsettias are grown for public sale at Central Nursery in Harlow Hill
Poinsettias are grown for public sale at Central Nursery in Harlow Hill

Officers prepared a report that does not disclose the specific location of the land the council wants to buy, citing a confidentiality exemption, only that it’s in the Killinghall and Hampsthwaite ward and is valued above £250,000.

Liberal Democrat member for Harlow & St George’s Division on North Yorkshire County Council, Michael Schofield, told the Local Democracy Service the move away from Harlow Hill will be keenly felt by residents as many have walked there to buy plants for decades. He said: “You’re forcing people who live here to drive their car elsewhere. That could be detrimental and it’s not very eco-friendly.”

Cllr Schofield is also landlord of the nearby Shepherd’s Dog pub and he decorates the pub with plants bought from the nursery.

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He said many people enjoy buying plants there and walking through the Pinewoods and Valley Gardens afterwards.

He added the nursery also serves as part of a horticultural trail as it connects with RHS Harlow Carr and Horticap. He said:“I understand what people may call progress but we have three fantastic horticultural sites all within walking distance of each other. That inspires people. Residents living here will be very sad to see it go”.

Harlow Hill is not represented on Harrogate Council after Conservative Jim Clark resigned in October. There will not be a by-election as the council will be abolished on March 31.

The council argues in the report discussed last night that a move to a larger site will enable greater commercial opportunities.

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The Harlow Hill nursery is a significant earner for the council with its 2020/21 annual report stating it brought in income of £153,477.

Conservative cabinet member for environment, waste reduction and recycling, Cllr Sam Gibbs, told cabinet that the move away from Harlow Hill is “the right next step”. He said:

“We will be aware of all the good that the Harlow Hill nursery does but also its shortcomings, particularly around size and commercial opportunities going forward. Therefore, there’s a real need to move on from Harlow Hill as we look to the future.

“The land identified seems to tick all the boxes and I’m fully supportive if all other members are”.