New homes in Harrogate: Council defends masterplan to cope with 4,000 new homes in Harrogate

Harrogate Borough Council has been forced on the defensive after revealing the draft version of a long-awaited master plan on how part of the town will cope with 4,000 new homes.

The West of Harrogate Parameters Plan was requested by government to identify infrastructure, transport and education needs in the area.

After months of delays, the 160-page plan was finally published last week but hopes it would provide a clear vision for the future were quickly dashed when residents reacted with disappointment.

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Harlow and Pannal Ash Residents Association said the plan “totally avoids the heart of the problem” of thousands of new homes piling pressure on already congested roads.

The West of Harrogate Parameters Plan has been criticised by residents

The group also claimed the plan appeared to have been produced for the benefit of housing developers – not residents.

Harrogate Borough Council – which is working alongside North Yorkshire County Council – has now defended the plan which it insisted is still in draft form and will take account of residents’ concerns.

A council spokesperson said: “The West of Harrogate Parameters Plan (WHPP) is a high-level master plan that seeks to deliver the policies set out in the adopted Local Plan, including those related to climate change, design and active travel.

“As we have explained previously, we do not have the powers to introduce new policy requirements through the WHPP.

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“However, the WHPP will look ahead to planned changes to building regulations that are being introduced nationally and will continue to strongly encourage developers to meet high standards of design to help mitigate and adapt to climate change.”

Pannal and Burn Bridge Parish Council is another group which shares concerns over the impact of new housing developments on traffic congestion.

Its chairman councillor Howard West said the area’s infrastructure has suffered from years of “neglect” and that there is “no evidence whatsoever at this stage that any such provision has been made”.

Rene Dziabas, chairman of Harlow and Pannal Ash Residents Association, also said the plan should give greater importance to the need for investment in areas including bus services, road junction improvements, the widening of footpaths and more cycling routes.

He also questioned how schools will cope with an expected shortfall of nearly 700 pupil places across Harrogate and Knaresborough by 2025/26.

Mr Dziabas said: “Many of the problems have existed for years, so we feel that it is about time that they were properly addressed.”

The WHPP includes provision for two new primary schools – one off Whinney Lane and another off Otley Road. It also identifies potential locations for sports pitches, employment areas, public transport routes, community centres, allotments and walking and cycling links.

Once approved, the plan will sit alongside the Harrogate District Local Plan as a guide for how future planning applications should be decided.

Several meetings have recently been held between council officials and residents to discuss the WHPP, and the council said feedback is now being taken onboard before a final version is prepared.

A council spokesperson said: “Many of the community stakeholders – who have publicly stated that the plan should be published as soon as possible – have been involved since the preparation of the first draft of the WHPP over a year ago.

“And although there is no statutory requirement to consult, we are thankful for the ongoing constructive feedback we have received in response to the second working draft.

“Throughout the preparation of the plan, we have consistently aimed to deliver quality place-making that will provide a wide-range of private and affordable homes to meet the current housing demand, while also ensuring we have the necessary infrastructure to support these future communities.

“This feedback will be carefully considered as we prepare the final version for recommendation to the cabinet member.”