Rash of housing sparks school fears in Harrogate village

Sought-after place to live - Hampsthwaite.
Sought-after place to live - Hampsthwaite.

A school governor near Harrogate has joined the chorus of disapproval over plans for swathes of new houses in a highly sought-after village.

Residents who are members of Hampsthwaite Action Group have been opposing plans for hundreds of new houses round the village for the last year now.

Residents in Hampsthwaite showing their feelings against new housing.

Residents in Hampsthwaite showing their feelings against new housing.

Although their vociferous campaign has led to a reduction in plans for new houses from 350 to 215 under current plans, they say that would still amount to a 60% increase putting intolerable strain on pupil numbers

Now the chair of Governors of Hampsthwaite C of E Primary School, which converted to Academy status in February 2017, said she, too, was alarmed by the possible effects on the village which currently contains approximately 470 houses with an extra 62 currently under construction.

Anna Ashford said: “The headteacher, staff and governors share a passionately held vision to keep Hampsthwaite C of E as a successful, leading primary school whilst retaining its identity as a village school.

“Village expansion on the scale currently under discussion will be damaging to the character and ethos of the school, the close knit community and indeed the village itself with the children being the ultimate losers.”

In terms of the cumulative impact based on a ratio of one primary school pupil from every four dwellings, which is NorthYorkshire County Council standard, the Hampsthwaite campaign group analysis suggests a potential shortfall of 74 places by 2022/23.

Applying what they argue is a more realistic ratio for developments focusing on four and five bedroom dwellings (the actual occupation ratios at the current Grange Park development in the village) will, they say, increase this shortfall further.

Local Plan and tide of applications for new housing

The determined opposition in Hampsthwaite is part of a wave of protests across the district as Harrogate Borough Council attempts to ensure enough new houses are built to create a favourable environment for new businesses and jobs to come into the district - and please the government’s Planning Inspector.

Having had its previous Local Plan rejected in 2014, partly for not guaranteeing a sufficient number of new builds, the council is putting its new version out to public consultation shortly with a cut-off point of March 4.

Campaigers in Hampsthwaite claim they have seen a flood of applications from developers in recent months from three to six as the dealine nears.

They fear developers are simply in a hurry to ignore government rules on including affordable housing whle they can before the Local Plan is settled.

Former teacher Margaret Willis, of Hands Off Hampsthwaite Action Group said: "The developers seem to be getting their plans in before the Local Plan comes out. There seems to be a new one almost every day.

"Once the new Local Plan is approved, they will have to have 40% affordable housing in every development."

'Pie in the sky' - school expansion and new medical centre

Members of HAG also believe the ideas of school expansion and a new medical centre at Elton Lane in Hampsthwaite raised by some of the developers amount to a case of ‘pie in the sky’.

Terry Mounsey Chair of Hampsthwaite Action Group said: “The planners and developers seem determined to ignore the views expressed by school.

“The school is full, there is no room to expand, the school does not want to expand. It is that clear.”

Local resident Sue Mundy-Jones for Hampsthwaite Action Group said: ‘’Any increased funding to support GP surgeries in the payment of increased rent and maintenance of a new structure would have to be approved by the local CCG and NHS England’s respective Executive Committees.

“Submission of a business plan to support such a move would not be necessarily automatically approved as increased funding is just not available currently within the NHS.

“Whilst any surgery would welcome the opportunity to move into a brand new facility, it is just not workable or feasible without approved extra funding- which just isn’t there.”

Hampsthwaite housing: Current planning applications

HM4&5 (Rowden Lane): Original proposal from Vernon and Co for 130 dwellings. After 200+ objections and a 367 signature petition the new proposal is for 80 dwellings of mixed housing types and a medical facility. 32 of the houses would be affordable.

HM7 (Brookfield Garth): Original proposal for 45 dwellings by Stonebridge Homes has been reduced to 39. Non are described as ‘affordable’.

HM9 (Elton Lane/Birstwith Road) :Original proposal from ID Planning for 101 homes. After 400 objections and a 540 signature petition the new proposal is for 82 houses with a medical facility. None of these are specified as being ‘affordable’. So far 380 objections have been submitted for this new proposal.

Church Lane: ID Planning propose to build 5 dwellings .Non are specified as ‘affordable’

Hollins Lane: Proposal to build 4 extra houses in addition to 5 currently being built. Non are specified as ‘affordable’.

Grange Park: 56 approved new dwellings have been built or being built. 22 identified as ‘affordable’.

Total: 215 new dwellings proposed

Hampsthwaite housing: Harrogate Borough Council meetings on current planning applications

HBC Planning meetings are scheduled for January 30, February 20 and 13 March 30.

It is possible that HM4&5, HM 7 and HM9 could all be presented on February 20.

However, outstanding reports (archaeology) may delay the presentation of HM9.

Harrogate Borough Council's planning predicament over housing

Harrogate's current lack of a Local Plan leaves everyone in a vulnerable position, not only residents but the council itself.

Without a plan, the council's powers to oppose new housing are weakened with the assumption being in favour of most applications.

But there is still disagreement over the council's annual housing targets going forward.

Campaigners argue government proposals, due to be published in March, indicate a much lower level of housing need in the Harrogate district than that current figure proposed by Harrogate Council.

The say the annual figure under the new guidelines mean Harrogate's, in theory, could drop from 669 new houses per year in the district, originally proposed by HBC in their developing Local Plan, to 395.

But the council says more new housing is need as part of a push to boost the economy - in villages as well as towns - and to ensure the housing supply is big enough to sustain jobs growth in the Harrogate district.