Harrogate Local Plan: Residents' group lodge open letter over "master plan" concerns

Three weeks of local plan hearings took place at Harrogate Borough Council in January.
Three weeks of local plan hearings took place at Harrogate Borough Council in January.

A residents' group opposing plans for thousands of houses in Harrogate's south and west have written of their concerns over what they call "serious inconsistencies" in plans for the developments.

Harlow and Pannal Ash Residents Association (HAPARA) have lodged an open letter to the council's chief planning officer, Tracey Rathmell, citing fears over a lack of a "master plan" and facilities in the proposed developments on the edge of Harrogate.
"We can see no evidence of the initial ‘masterplanning’ necessary to bring about your intention of a ‘new, planned urban edge’ to the south-west side of Harrogate," the HAPARA letter says.

The letter states that while developers put forward masterplans to cover their individual sites, there were concerns that the plans didn't take into account the agglomeration of the multiple sites.
"Such a masterplan is vital to ensure that the proposed urban expansion will deliver all of the facilities necessary to build a viable and sustainable community; without this masterplan, the consequence will simply be unplanned, unsustainable urban sprawl," the letter states.

With the cumulative number of houses on the south-west edge of Harrogate likely to amount to at least 2,600 dwellings, they had concerns that proper provision hadn't been provided for facilities such as a doctors and dental surgeries, primary schools, and new roads.

Cabinet member for planning, Coun Rebecca Burnett, said the issues raised in the latest submission by HAPARA had been addressed in the hearing process so far.

She added that commentary from the hearings would now be considered by Government-appointed inspector Richard Schofield in his final deliberations on the plan.

“The issues and concerns raised in the open letter from HAPARA have been fully explored through the examination process and it is now for the inspector to consider all the evidence that he has before him as he prepares his independent report for the council," Coun Burnett said.

"We have sent a letter directly to HAPARA, that they should receive imminently, confirming this.”

The submission from HAPARA comes at the end of three weeks of scrutiny hearings which took place throughout January.

Coun Burnett acknowledged that the hearing process isn't "straight-forward", but ample opportunity had been given for all parties to put their viewpoints to Mr Schofield.
“The Local Plan examination has been a long time coming for the borough council and I’d like to thank everyone involved for their efforts to date - it certainly isn’t a straight-forward process," she said.

"The discussions at the hearings, so far, have been wide ranging and we now await the inspector’s report to confirm whether our Local Plan is sound."

The final two days of hearings will resume on February 12, before Mr Schofield begins the deliberation process to see if the draft plan will be approved.

Lachlan Leeming, Local Democracy Reporter