Town’s 600 homes plan thrown out after outcry from residents

Local people have succeeded in persuading councillors to reject plans for 600 homes in one of Yorkshire’s prime housing locations which would have represented the biggest extension to a town’s boundaries for many years.

Hundreds of people had objected to outline plans to build on land in Harrogate in a move which they said would lead to the “over development” of the area amid claims it would also be highly visible from viewpoints surrounding the spa town.

Woodard Corporation, Hallam Management Ltd and Persimmon Homes were seeking outline permission to build 600 homes, a primary school and community and retail facilities at Penny Pot Lane, on the outskirts of Harrogate.

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Coun Don Mackenzie, who has been contacted by many concerned residents, said after the decision by members of Harrogate Borough Council’s planning committee: “I am very grateful on behalf of residents of Harlow Moor and Saltergate to the members of the committee for the wisdom of their decision, which I believe is entirely correct.

“Great doubts about the traffic arrangements on Penny Pot Lane and the unsuitability of Orchid Way as a bus route were cited as reasons for refusal.”

Coun Mackenzie, Saltergate county councillor, told the meeting that the plan if passed would “expand Harrogate deeper into the countryside than at any time since the 1960s”.

He also raised concerns the infrastructure, including highways, would not be unable to cope with the extra people who would move into the area.

He also said he did not believe that the application should be decided before the council’s planning blueprint, which lays out sites suitable for possible development over the coming years, has been formally adopted.

He told the committee: “Having waited over 40 years for a major expansion of Harrogate’s boundaries, surely we can and should do better than this on behalf of those whom we represent?”

Opponents argued that the scale and density of the development was too high and said that other smaller building sites should be developed.

They also raised worries the site did not have easy access to services and shops.

Killinghall Parish Council said brownfield sites should be developed first and warned the roads network will be unable to cope, claimed it represented “excessive urban development in a rural setting”.

Parish council chairman Coun Anne Holdsworth earlier said there were concerns about the scale of the development and the lack of adequate access to the site and other services.

“It’s enormous, it’s a small town,” she said.

Officers were recommending councillors deferred a decision to officers at Tuesday’s meeting, who would then approve it when conditions are agreed.

In a report to members, officers warned that the council’s supply of housing sites falls just short of the required amount under the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and said: “In the absence of a five-year housing land supply the council must consider the advice contained within the NPPF, which creates a presumption in favour of sustainable development.”

It said councillors may feel the application is “premature” but officers said Government guidance indicated that refusal on grounds of prematurity “will not usually be justified”.

The site was due to include affordable housing.

It said the applicant had created a travel plan and that the developer will be required to carry out a number of improvements including putting in traffic signals.

Officers believe that Penny Pot Lane will be able to deal with the increase in traffic.

The application also includes the creation of a bus link from the northern end of the site into the Jenny Fields estate.