Planners in Harrogate are being urged to explain their actions – after planning permission for housing was turned down for housing development on Fulwith Lane.
The call has come from the Fulwith Residents’ Association as it steps up its “campaign for common sense” which opposes a planning application.
The land is owned by the Audrey and Stanley Burton 1960 Charitable Trust, who want to sell the land for development to generate extra funds for the local charities it supports.
Trustees were told by planners that the application to build five houses would only be considered if it also included provision for affordable housing as well – in the form of three additional apartments for the over 55s.
The residence association has revealed that the Trust’s preferred option had been to offer no fewer than six family homes elsewhere in Harrogate as part of the application – but this had been refused by planners despite it more than doubling the amount of affordable housing being created.
They have this week written to Harrogate MP Andrew Jones urging him to step in – and put pressure on Harrogate Borough Council to reconsider its decision.
Residence Association representative John Parker commented:
“Families priced out of the property market are being robbed of a rare opportunity because of council planners.
We are urging the decision-makers to see sense and reconsider.”
Members of the association – which includes those living on Fulwith Mill Lane, Fulwith Drive and other addresses on the ‘Fulwiths’ – are now finalising individual letters of opposition ahead of the consultation deadline next Friday (April 15). Local councillors and other pressure groups are also being lobbied for support.
Mr Parker explained further:
“This is a most generous offer by Trustees and one which forms a massive helping hand in overcoming the Borough’s declared shortage of affordable homes for families.
The homes would be bigger and there would be more of them.
On behalf of Harrogate taxpayers, we are calling upon Harrogate Borough Council to explain and rethink its decision as a matter of urgency. ”
Mr Parker added:
“There is no objection in principle to the development of this land. More importantly, and unusually, there is no disagreement between residents and the applicants – we are all united in the view that the area is both unsuitable and unsustainable as a location for affordable housing accommodation.
Indeed, the Trustees, their advisers and the Harrogate Families Housing Association are so convinced of the fact that they spent more than a year in discussions with council planners aimed at agreeing an alternative arrangement.
These prolonged efforts failed because of the intransigence of planning services.”
Harrogate-News contacted the Borough Council and they have provided the following statement:-
National guidance (in the form of Planning Policy Statement 3), is clear that a mix of affordable and market tenures are required on development sites and calls on local authorities to challenge developers to integrate affordable and market units in a mixed community.
The guidance goes on to note that the presumption is that affordable housing will be provided ‘on the application site’ so that it contributes towards creating a mix of housing and mixed communities in a locality.
The council’s current policy on affordable housing (Saved Local Plan Policy H5) states that the council will negotiate for the provision of an element of affordable housing on suitable new housing developments. The policy does provide, in appropriate circumstances, for the ‘affordable’ provision on a ‘suitable alternative site’ in the locality. But, in line with national guidance, such provision is very rare.
The application submitted on behalf of the Trustees of the Audrey and Stanley Burton Trust seeks to comply with the council’s policy on affordable housing by proposing the provision on-site of both affordable and market units.
Council officers remain of the view that the subject site should be developed in line with both national and local objectives in respect of securing an appropriate mix of housing.
To make an exception in this particular case, with no robust justification for providing affordable housing off site, would also create an unjustified precedent which developers making other housing proposals could seek to exploit.