A blueprint, key to the future of how housing will be developed across the district is set to go before government inspectors.
Harrogate Borough Council has confirmed that the Local Plan will be submitted to the Secretary of State by the end of today (Thursday, August 30), in order for an independent examination of the document to be carried out.
Thousands of new homes are proposed on sites across the district, alongside where businesses and infrastructure could be developed. HBC is proposing a minimum of 14,049 homes to be built through to 2023.
With the documents outlining how this will done set to be dispatched by post today Cabinet Member for Planning, Coun Rebecca Burnett , said that a milestone had been reached but the work is not over.
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She said: "We were working to the deadline of the summer to submit which we have achieved and its all ready to go. This is a big milestone but this not the end of the process. We will know in the next five weeks when a public examination will be held. We will update everyone involved in the process and it will be on the councils website as well.
"We expect this to be at the end of this year or in the early part of next year. The timings are however in the hands of the Inspectorate.
"We are submitting the plan with minor amendments, which I approved last week, and those will be online. Anybody who contributed to the publication consultation, including the last we held, their comments will be going to the inspector as well. It was an opportunity to submit comments directly to them."
She added: "The plan remains very much the same, we have added information or clarification where we thought it was helpful and added minor amendments.
"Planning officers still have a lot to do, we have submitted the plan but they are continuing work on the new settlement, which is being prepared separately. There are parts of the Local Plan they can still work on if new evidence comes through, we have new population data coming out next month. We will be checking things like this to ensure the plan we have submitted is very much up to date."
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Approval was given for the draft plan in December last year by HBC councillors, which was followed by a formal consultation.
The largest of the housing sites that are proposed in the document, a new settlement, could see more than 3,000 homes built. A broad location for this was identified within the Green Hammerton and Cattal area. Currently a Development Plan Document is being prepared by HBC and consultants, in order for the 'exact boundary of the new settlement' to be identified. A consultation will be held later this year once this is completed.
Earlier this month campaigners, challenging the choice of the Hammerton development, wrote an open letter to HBC councillors raising a number of concerns over development of the plan. Keep Green Hammerton Green highlighted a number of planning applications across the district which were recently approved which they believe showed a 'vacuum' in the district's planning system, due to the plan not yet being submitted.
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Following HBC's announcement their co-chair, Chris Eaton said: "We are encouraged that it's been submitted so an independent examiner can review it. This will give us the opportunity to make representation during the examination in public."
He added: “The Examination in Public of the draft Local Plan is the right forum for this matter to be settled. Until this happens there is a vacuum in the planning system and while we wait for the final version of the Plan, developers are submitting outline applications, such as CEG’s Outline Planning Application for the development of up to 3000 dwellings at Green/Kirk Hammerton."