Maltkiln scheme, York: Council threatens to use compulsory purchase orders to save 4,000-home Maltkiln scheme

North Yorkshire Council is prepared to compulsory purchase land as a “last resort” so the 4,000-home Maltkiln settlement can be built, according to a report.

The potential town and two primary schools would be built off the A64 towards York near the villages of Cattal, Whixley, Green Hammerton and Kirk Hammerton. However, the future of Maltkiln was thrown into disarray in January when a key landowner, which owns fields around Cattal train station making up around half of the proposed site, pulled out.

The land in question also forms the “village centre” at the heart of Yorkshire-based developer Caddick Group’s vision for the new town. The scheme does not yet have planning permission but is the largest allocation for housing in Harrogate’s Local Plan, which sets out where housebuilding can take place until 2035.

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This gives the council a say in how the scheme is developed and officers have been working on a Development Plan Document (DPD) for several years ahead of a submission to government.

A plan for the huge new Maltkiln scheme in North YorkshireA plan for the huge new Maltkiln scheme in North Yorkshire
A plan for the huge new Maltkiln scheme in North Yorkshire

Building homes near the railway station has been the unique selling point of Maltkiln due to its links into York, Harrogate and Leeds. It was one of the reasons the defunct Harrogate Borough Council picked the Maltkiln area ahead of Flaxby near Knaresborough following a bitter row that lasted years and ended up in the High Court.

A report that has gone before the council’s Conservative-led executive ahead of a meeting on Tuesday (Dec 12) warns that Maltkiln would no longer be deliverable without the land around the station.

It says work on the DPD might then have to stop, essentially ending the scheme in its current form as the report says the landowner has “made it clear” they don’t want to sell.

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To break the impasse, the report says the council would therefore be willing to use a compulsory purchase order (CPO) as a “last resort” to ensure that Maltkiln is built. Although it adds there is still a possibility the landowner may yet change its mind and sell up without it getting to that stage.

Officers have explored expanding the boundary of the settlement but concluded this would mean Maltkiln can no longer deliver its “key principle” regarding sustainable travel opportunities for residents at the train station. It also says changing the boundary of the scheme would be problematic as roads may need to be rerouted.

The report says if the executive resolves to potentially use the council’s CPO powers, it would “provide evidence” to government that Maltkiln is still deliverable and work on the DPD can continue, despite the key landowner refusing to sell.

This would then allow the council to submit the DPD for inspection by the government’s Planning Inspectorate in 2024. According to the report, Caddick Group have agreed to discuss underwriting the costs of the CPO. If the council were to purchase the land through a CPO, it could also enter agreements with other developers such as the government’s housing agency Homes England.

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The report said: “The new settlement at Maltkiln presents an opportunity to deliver a significant number of homes in a sustainable location on an existing railway line, and in a manner that ensures that infrastructure and facilities can be provided on site.

“National planning policy makes clear that development should be genuinely plan-led and so halting the DPD, or ‘going back to the drawing board’ would miss an opportunity to capitalise on the work (including community consultation) undertaken so far and deliver much-needed homes in the area.”

Arnold Warneken, Green Party councillor for Ouseburn, said the CPO proposal “cannot be justified” and that the council should drop the scheme from its county-wide Local Plan.

Coun Warneken said: “It’s coming across as desperation to justify all the work and cost so far. If this was so robust why was the landowner allowed to bow out? I feel that was totally their decision and we don’t need to question that. So much emphasis has been put on the rail link which is in theory a great idea but this has always been the wrong setting for this to enable the stated benefits for climate and biodiversity.”

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