Following 90 minutes of questions and debate, councillors voted with 10 supporting a refusal, 6 abstentions and none supporting the development.
Persimmon homes are seeking to build 600 hours on an area of land that is adjacent to both the Queen Ethelburga’s estate and the Jennyfields Estate. The plan proposes a single access point via Penny Pot Lane and a bus-only access through Orchid Way in Jennyfields.
The planning application had previously been considered on the 14 January 2014 and was sent away needing more work on the proposal.
Jim Ramsay of Signet Planning spoke for the developer. Mr Ramsay confirmed that he had met with planning officers and done all that he had been asked to do. They had looked at the drainage arrangements and met with highways, who have no concerns with the access to the development.
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Mr Ramsay answered comments about the application being opportunistic.
Mr Ramsay said: The planning application for 124 homes on the the Harlow Grange site is typical of an opportunistic application.
The Penny Pot site is a Council preferred site and could give a steady supply of houses over the next 5 to 7 years.
There was great discussion around having a single access route. Questioned by Councillors, Mr Ramsay confirmed that they had not considered an additional access route via Oaker Bank as traffic studies indicated that it was not needed. North Yorkshire County Council, Highways also confirmed that they had not considered it, nor think it was necessary. There were safety concerns raised on both having a single access point and on building an additional access point on Oaker Bank, given the undulations in the road.
The validity of the traffic modelling was questioned. Local residents had undertaken their own actual studies and thought that traffic volumes would be much more than the standardised model used by Highways and the developer.
There was discussion around ownership of land that would allow more direct access to the roundabout at the top of Jennyfields Drive. A road connection to it would allow the proposed 600 homes to integrate more with Jennyfields and make use of amenities there. No clarity given on this being an option that was going to be considered however.
Catherine Wright of QERA (Queen Ethelburga’s Residents Association) Action Group also addressed the meeting and voiced concerns around having a single access point to the estate. They felt that it would cause traffic congestion over a single-file bridge and also within the Duchy area.
Both Jim Ramsay and Highways refuted that there would be problem based upon the work that they had undertaken.
Councillor, Don Mackenzie addressed the meeting: Members will recall that I spoke against this proposal on 14th January. I stated that this proposal seeks to expand Harrogate deeper into the countryside than at any time since the 1960s.
I asked you to keep in mind that to approve such a measure we need to be absolutely certain that we have the support of our residents, and that we do not cause huge problems to the local and wider community by stretching the capacity of our roads and other infrastructure to breaking point.
It is my view, and that of many thousands of residents, of at least three Residents’ Associations, of the local parish council, of the Civic Society and of the police that these proposals give no such certainty.
I listened carefully to your debate last month, and heard your concerns about the traffic arrangements, which seek to create a single access on to Penny Pot Lane, which, as a route into town, is entirely unsuitable for the levels of traffic which this development would cause.
You had grave misgivings about the use of Orchid Way as a bus route on to the Killinghall Moor estate. I asked the question: why on earth choose to create this link via one of the estate’s narrowest cul-de-sacs, rather than by means of a direct link to the roundabout at the top of Jenny Field Drive, as our early 1970s planners intended. Taxpayers’ money was spent then with the view of constructing a major estate thoroughfare through to Penny Pot Lane. Instead, it now ends abruptly at a large roundabout, whose size far exceeds current requirements?
Cllr Pat Marsh asked last time why cannot our planning officers or the developer, after so many years of consideration of this site for housing, tell us who owns the land between the large roundabout and this development site. In response, the planning officer in his updated report states: “Officers are continuing to try to resolve this issue, and the applicant has indicated that should this be resolved they are willing to explore this bus access”.
The report goes on to say: “A bus link with Jenny Fields has been an objective of this council since 2007”. It is seven years later and we still have no clarity on this. Members, it is simply not good enough.
I should add that an anonymous resident has sent me in the last few days extracts from the Land Registry Title Plan apparently showing the two landowners to be the council and the owner of the land proposed for development, but I am unable to verify this.
Having waited over 40 years for a major expansion of Harrogate’s boundaries, surely we can and should do better than this on behalf of those whom we represent?
I return to the point I made last time: the importance of taking major decisions like this only with the support and backing of the residents who vote for us in the expectation that we will take heed of their views.
The developer has brought forward this proposal ahead of the adoption of our Local Plan, clearly seeking to exploit the fact that we cannot prove a robust 5-year supply of housing land, and jumping the gun on the results of the recent public consultation on where to locate our homes and jobs.
The officer claims that our current shortfall on a 5-year supply removes any justification for dismissing this application as “premature”. Try explaining that to our residents, who will rightly ask why a shortfall of land for 115 homes for the whole district over a 5-year period should force us into approving a scheme which is wrong for the local community and for the whole town.
Members of the Planning Committee, I ask you to reject this application.
The planning application was refused but may now go to a planning review meeting.