A fierce debate has raged over recent months as the authority considered two potential sites for the development of up to 3,000 homes to meet its housing shortfall.
Now, as it confirms it is to put forward the historic Green Hammerton over the rural Flaxby, potentially increasing the size of the village ten-fold, campaigners say they are losing confidence altogether in the planning process.
“We will be looking to our new MP to call for an examination in public of the case,” said Chris Chelton, chairman of Keep Green Hammerton Green. “Only then will we be satisfied that a decision will be made, wherever it is, on sound planning grounds free of any local or political influence.”
Harrogate Borough Council (HBC) has been considering the two sites for months, following a public consultation held in November and December last year, as well as two locations at Deighton Grange and Cattal, known as Maltkiln.
Today the authority confirmed it is minded to put forward Green Hammerton, confirming leaks to local villagers from several sources over a number of weeks.
Officers are set to recommend the proposals, as well as additional sites and changes to the timetable to allow for an additional six-week public consultation to be held, a statement issued by the authority said.
Richard France, managing director of the Oakgate Group, which had set its hopes on the Cattal option, argued that Maltkiln offered a unique opportunity that the others did not. Throughout the coming process, he added, he will continue to provide information to demonstrate further why this is still the best option.
Campaigners in Flaxby, who have been vocal in their fight against the plans, say the announcement brings them some measure of relief but they can understand how the news must be hard for Green Hammerton residents to hear.
“It’s great news for us,” said Matthew Davies, chairman of Goldsborough and Flaxby Parish Council. “Although it’s not good news for Green Hammerton.
“We’ve always felt that was a much better site than Flaxby, in terms of infrastructure. It seems HBC has taken that on board, although I’m aware the developers at Flaxby are likely to proceed with a planning application of some sort, so there may still be a process for us to go through.”
Harrogate Borough Council is to seek an extension to its Local Plan timetable to allow for a full six-week consultation to be held from July 14.
“It is important that we give people the opportunity to comment on the preferred location of a new settlement as it will play a part in shaping our district in the future,” said Nigel Avison, director of economy and culture. “Subject to agreement, this proposed public consultation will allow us to share the evidence underpinning our recommendation and to invite views before the final plan is reported to full council later this year.”