More radical approach needed to solve district’s housing woes

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An Entire new town or village could be the answer to a Yorkshire council’s planning nightmare, an opposition group has proposed.

Harrogate Borough Council voted to withdraw its planning blueprint on Wednesday, after a planning inspector warned that the number of homes it allowed for was short by more than 4,500.

In May, the council queried the inspector’s findings, and asked for extra time to find extra employment land, but were told this would not be possible.

The only option was to withdraw the plan and come up with a new blueprint - which could take years, opposition councillors warned.

Deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats opposition group, Coun Helen Flynn has called on the Conservative-run authority to entirely re-think the way it addressed the housing need in the district. She said: “Incrementally adding 400 or 600 houses to settlements around Harrogate or Knaresborough is unsustainable - there isn’t the infrastructure. We need to look at a more radical solution. A idea of new village needs to go on the table.”

She said a more robust method to ensure “all boxes are ticked” to get any new plan approved.

“In the meantime we are very vulnerable. Without a plan to fall back on, any development that is rejected and then appealed could possibly go through.”

Coun Michael Harrison, the cabinet member for planning, said the council would move “as quickly as possible” to prepare a new plan, which would incorporate elements of the old plan,

He said talk of a ‘planning free for all’ was “wide of the mark” and the authority would refer to existing planning policies when determining planning applications.