Plan to build more than 70 homes in historic North Yorkshire village rejected over flooding and heritage concerns

A housing plan in North Yorkshire has been thrown out by councillors over concerns the development could cause flooding problems and be out of character of the historic village.
A plan to build 72 homes on a site in Spofforth has been thrown out by councillorsA plan to build 72 homes on a site in Spofforth has been thrown out by councillors
A plan to build 72 homes on a site in Spofforth has been thrown out by councillors

The proposals to build 72 homes at Massey Fold, in Spofforth, were rejected by Harrogate Borough Council’s planning committee at a meeting on Tuesday (Nov 17) – more than three years on from being submitted.

The plans – which were granted outline permission last year – drew complaints from hundreds of residents who expressed fears that raising ground levels by 1.5 metres to avoid flooding at the site would only cause problems elsewhere.

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And although council officers recommended the proposals for approval and said experts had no concerns over flooding, councillors voted to reject the plans.

Ward councillor Andrew Paraskos described the application as “wholly inappropriate” for the site and said the finalised plans on the layout and density of homes had done nothing to address local concerns.

He said: “Although the development area has been reduced by 20%, it is still trying to cram in the same number of houses. This reduction in plot size means smaller gardens and very little off-street parking, essentially creating an urban estate on the entrance to the historic village

“The developer has proposed to raise the site level by up to 1.5 meters. The water still has to go somewhere. This is likely to be the village, the play area and surrounding properties.”

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Spofforth parish councillor Chris Heslop also spoke in objection to the proposals which he described as a “carbuncle of urban sprawl”.

He said: “Over my lifetime I have seen the village evolving – as it has for the last 1,000 years – in a constructive and sympathetic manner. Development, however, must surely be in-keeping with the history and heritage of the village.”

Stephen Hughes, planning manager of the developers Yorkshire Housing, said the finalised plans “struck a balance” between reflecting the village’s heritage and protecting its countryside views.

He also said the company had been “pushed very hard” by council officers to ensure the scheme put before councillors was “high quality”.

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“This has resulted in changes to the layout, orientation and design of buildings, elevational treatments and uses of appropriate materials,” he said.

“The drainage strategy for the site is assumed to have a more restrictive discharge rate and provides additional surface water storage when compared to that submitted at outline stage. We therefore feel we have taken a conservative and cautious approach to this issue.”

The plans – first submitted in September 2017 – included a mix of one, two, three and four-bedroom properties, 29 of which were classed as affordable.

The site would have had access from Massey Fold off the A661 which connects Spofforth with Harrogate and Wetherby.

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The village prides itself on being mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 and is best known for its 13th-century castle and All Saints Church which sits almost adjacent to the rejected development.

Coun Bernard Bateman told the meeting: “We have a lot of lovely villages in North Yorkshire being turned into smaller estates of houses and this is happening quite often now.”

Councillors voted six to three to reject the plans. Almost 250 residents had also lodged objections online.


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