Public have their say on plans for new Harrogate village

Outline sketch of Flaxby site. Pic by Skelwith Group.

Outline sketch of Flaxby site. Pic by Skelwith Group.

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Have your say

Plans to build an entire new village on the edge of the Harrogate district have been revealed to the public.

Outline sketches for layout of the development, which will see 2,500 new homes built on the edge of the small village of Flaxby, were shown to the public at a consultation event.

The plans involve bulldozing the existing golf course, which opened in 2004, creating a village centre with a primary school, community facilities such as a pub and a shop, and continue with the plans for a 200-bed hotel.

The ‘Advertiser exclusively revealed The Skelwith Group change of plans last month, and now local residents have weighed in on the scheme.

Like many nearby residents, Andrew MacMillan who lives on Wetherby Road in Knaresborough, raised concerns over the secondary school provision.

King James’s School in Knaresborough is highly rated by Ofsted who declared it ‘good’ in 2011 and a popular choice for parents in the area.

Mr MacMillan said: “People in Knaresborough are thinking, how will it affect the town.

“There is no secondary school in their plans, and King James’s School is already full. There are already plans for lots of houses elsewhere in Knaresborough, how long until they are all built?

“There will be thousands of extra children needing a school to go to.

“Will the hotel have an affect on the town too?”

He added: “All of this is just because Harrogate Borough Council is so far behind. Why not just add 50 or 100 houses to Flaxby, and then to other villages across the dsitrict. That way they can keep the village community.”

The Flaxby development has been proposed in the wake of Harrogate Borough Council scrapping its local plan sites and policies document, after a government inspector found the council’s proposals would need meet the demand for housing.

The council lacks a five year supply of housing, which has left it in a precarious position as national planning policy framework states that there is a presumption in favour of giving planning permissionto applications for sustainable developments.

Developers say the plan for the 280 acre site which borders the A1 and the A59 could go some way to allieviating the pressure on the Harrogate district’s housing demands.

However even if planning permission for 2,500 homes was granted the council would still fall short of the five year supply of housing.

A new local plan sites and policies document is being drawn up by council officers, but is expected to take up to three years to complete.

Coun Helen Flynn (Lib Dem, Nidd Valley) has long mooted the idea of a new town or village to take the pressure off Harrogate for housing provision.

She said: “I do still have concerns about the A59 and King James’s School but this is better than incrementally adding on to Harrogate and Knaresborough.

“People don’t want us to stand and do nothing, we need housing now.”

One Harrogate resident was viewing the plans with an interest in moving to the new development. Darran Hallworth lives in Starbeck and his daughter attends King James’s School.

He said: “I would maybe like to move out here, but would need to think about it.

“My worry is that King James’s is full already, with potentially 2,500 families moving here you would need a new high school. They need to work the council to come up witha solution, it needs joined up thinking.”

He added: “I quite like to idea of moving out here, I travel up the A1 for work, and there are more open spaces.”

Hundreds of residents turned out to the consultation at the Flaxby Golf Club Clubhouse on Tuesday (December 16).

Christine Granville-Edge has lived in Flaxby for 18 years and her home overlooks the current golf course.

She said that she was dissapointed that the facilities proposed in the new village - including the bus service - would be too far from the original village so residents would not benefit.

Mrs Granville-Edge said: “We are just a hamlet, not a village.

“From these plans it looks like the buses and the shop would be too far from us in the village.

“There are only three buses a day to the villlage and it would be too far to walk for this new bus service.”

She added: “We didn’t mind the golf course as it didn’t affect quality of life and improved house prices but this will have a detrimental affect on house prices.”

Knaresborough Town Coun Andrew Willoughby said the event had been busy all afternoon.

He said: “Personally I think it is a fantastic idea, but in the wrong place, stuck between the A1 and the A59.”

Many people in Knaresborough felt shocked by the idea which seemed to ‘come out of nowhere’, said Mr Willoughby.

He said: “I’ve not come across mnay people who are completely in favour it it, but it is difficult to stop . We will see housing concentrated abround Harrogate and Knaresborough.”

A Skelwith spokesperson said: “We held a very successful and constructive public consultation session which was attended by over 100 people.

“As we would expect, the full range of views were expressed and we got some invaluable feedback on the plans and local amenities that should be included in the new village centre.

“We are now in the process of collating the feedback, which will be worked into the plans, where possible.

“This is the start of a lengthy consultation process which will help make the plans offer as many benefits as possible.”

Golf club members told the ‘Advertiser they would be sad to see golf course demolished, and said the course was of an ‘world class’ standard.

What do you think of the proposals? Email news@harrogateadvertiser.co.uk

CABINET RESPONSE

Harrogate Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Planning, Coun Michael Harrison (Con, Killinghall) weighs in on the plans.

He said: “It is clear that with an increasing demand for houses, fresh ideas are needed - which may include significant expansion of existing settlements, or a new settlement.

“However, the council would much prefer the allocation of land for housing or employment be made as part of the development of our local plan.

“Bringing applications forward prematurely denies us the opportunity to plan strategically, as we are forced to consider applications piecemeal.

“My immediate concern is that as a council we are not allowed to include all planning permissions granted in our five year land

supply.

“This puts large parts of the district at risk of predatory developers.

“Many developers appear more interested in obtaining planning permissions than building houses.

“A report released just last week from the House of Commons Communities and Local Government Committee into the

Operations of the National Planning Policy Framework confirms this and has recommended that the Government amend the NPPF to make clear that all sites with planning

permission should be counted towards the five year supply of

housing.

“I will be writing to Eric Pickles, the minister responsible, to ask that he implements this

immediately.

“This would put HBC firmly in control of planning permission requests within the District.

“If a large application such as Flaxby was granted planning permission today, it wouldn’t make any difference to our five year land supply as not a single house would be expected to be built within five years.

“As a result, it doesn’t do anything to protect other greenfield land which remains under developer pressure.”

TIMELINE

The 280 acre site sits between the A1 and the A59 outside of Knaresborough.

Outline planning permission to build a hotel and golf course at the Flaxby site was first granted by Harrogate Borough Council in 1992.

In 1996 a further application detailing plans for a 93 bed hotel was approved by the council.

In 1992 plans for the construction of roundabout to serve golf course and hotel were approved. These were renewed in 2004 and varied in 2008.

Work on the roundabout finished earlier in 2014.

The roundabout cost £4million, making it the most expensive roundabout in North Yorkshire.

Flaxby Golf Club opened to the public in 2004.

The golf course was designed by leading golfing architect David Hemstock.

The site currently has over 15,000 trees and ten lakes. Developers Skelwith Group have emphasised that the development would keep these green aspects.

The Flaxby golf course was heralded as one of the premier courses in the North of England when it opened.

The facility had launched an ambitious bid to host the Ryder Cup in 2008.

However the Skelwith Group say the course is simply not profitable and that the region has too many golfing facilities.

Planning permission for the 300 bed luxury hotel was granted in 2010.

The Skelwith Group said it is committed to building the hotel but admitted it would likely be different from the luxury 5 star hotel spa hotel which was first mooted.