Wetherby residents have vowed to keep battling a controversial development which was given the go-ahead by councillors who said they had no choice but to approve it.
The application by Hallam Land Management, for 210 homes just off Harrogate Road at Stockeld, has been met with hundreds of objections since it was submitted to Harrogate Borough Council (HBC).
In August, the application went before Harrogate Borough Council’s planning committee, who voted to refuse it primarily on the lack of secondary education provision.
But at the end of that meeting, the committee was told by HBC’s legal officer that they would have to take the vote again, after receiving more information in an exempt session. Taking the decision again on Tuesday, all councillors present and eligible to vote on the matter opted to approve the application subject to conditions.
Peter Swales, of the Better Wetherby Partnership, said, “We are going away very saddened that the councillors in Harrogate have made this irresponsible decision.
“We shall now consider our next steps to prevent this plan going ahead. We shall not give up in our efforts.”
Objectors at the meeting highlighted that those living on the development would consider themselves Wetherby residents and use the town’s services but would contribute nothing in taxes.
Among those giving impassioned speeches at the meeting were Wetherby Ward Councillor, Alan Lamb, and Mayor of Wetherby, Coun Galan Moss.
Coun Moss said: “I spoke to you last time you considered this application and, like many people, was left completely bemused as to what had happened.
“It seemed to me that you had done your jobs properly, you listened to all the arguments, asked many questions and made the right decision.
“I urge you to make the same decision again.”
In his speech, Coun Lamb again highlighted that the site had even been identified as unsuitable for development in Harrogate’s emerging local plan.
He said: “The proper place to consider this site was during the emerging local plan process using the duty to cooperate.
“Your officers did indeed consider it and their view was and I quote ‘the area has limited or no capacity to accommodate the type and scale of development proposed and there are few if any appropriate opportunities for mitigation’. They are the words of your officers.”
Defending the development, the agent for the applicant, Mr Irving told the committee: “All large scale applications and indeed many small ones attract objections.
“It is understandable as people who reside in an area where a planning application is presented often may not want change as there is always a perceived negative impact and we are always presented with the question ‘why can’t it go somewhere else?’.
Before the vote was taken, committee member Coun Pat Marsh (Lib Dem) said: “This is very difficult and one that we don’t take lightly.
“We would all love to refuse this but we sit here as pseudo judicial committee and we have to have good solid sound planning reasons for refusal and we haven’t got them.
She added: “Like my fellow councillors this is one that I am going to have to support but I do it with a very heavy heart.”