A furious battle over the future of Harrogate’s grandest home is stepping up as contentious plans are revealed to build luxurious new houses in its grounds and gardens.
The vast 40-room Pineheath, once owned by the town’s richest family, was famously frozen in time after it stood empty and untouched for nearly 100 years.
It attracted international media attention when it was purchased in 2013 for a staggering £2m, new owner Jason Shaw vowing to bring the now derelict mansion back to its former glory.
But, after he was fined £24,000 by a court last July for illegally chopping down trees to make way for new buildings, neighbours spoke of their concerns for the future of the site.
“This is the house that time forgot,” said neighbours. “The plans have changed, and we are all left in the dark as to the future of Pineheath.”
An application for two detached two-and-a-half storey homes was refused by councillors in December, because of the scale of the development.
And now the battle has taken another twist as further plans are revealed to build two four-storey houses in the grounds instead, complete with five bedrooms, gyms, games rooms, and garages.
The application says they have been “thoughtfully designed”, in a traditional style and in-keeping with the area.
Five young saplings on the site, replanted after last summer’s court order, “do not contribute” to the significance of the conservation area and would be relocated to the front of the site, it says.
But outraged neighbours, including the Duchy Residents’ Association and the Harrogate Civic Society, have written to Harrogate Borough Council (HBC) calling for the plans to be refused outright.
“If this application were allowed then Mr Shaw would easily recoup the money he paid as punishment for his illegal felling of the trees,” said neighbours Emma and David Elgar. “Crime should not pay.”
Another neighbour, Andrew Lethaby, said: “If Mr Shaw is allowed to build on the exact plot where these trees were illegally felled, HBC will be setting a dangerous precedent - that residents can fell trees without consent as long as profits are in excess of the maximum fine.”
To view the plans, visit www.harrogate.gov.uk and search 14/05319/FUL.