An application by Harrogate based charity The Pinewoods Conservation Group (PCG) to have The Pinewoods designated as an official Local Green Space has been rejected by Harrogate Council.
The application, made in June 2016, was a formal submission as part of the soon to be released new local plan process.
The Pinewoods, a recent Gold winner in this year’s Yorkshire in Bloom awards, was officially registered an Asset of Community Value last year that offered the woods some protection, but not as much as the local green space designation.
This decision comes shortly after confirmation that a large area of land adjacent to the Pinewoods, currently owned by Harrogate Council and used for their garden nurseries operation, was a potential site for housing development in the new local plan.
The PCG had previously applied for Tree Protection Orders on several trees within this area that were also rejected due to “no potential risk of development”. This request has been made again following the new information received with a response awaited.
PCG Chairman Neil Hind said:
We are obviously very disappointed with the decision from the council and await the feedback with interest. The guidance on such applications is very clear and there is obvious community benefit with the Pinewoods with current high usage. We are likely to appeal the decision and would ask others to do the same.
This decision, alongside the potential loss of the area currently used by Harrogate Nurseries, is a major concern to the future of the Pinewoods. The Nurseries and their staff are great supporters and the potential loss of plants, bulbs and parking spaces would be a great loss as would the loss of trees and the open spaces.
It is hoped if the appeal is successful, and with the re-submission of our Tree Protection Order requests on trees in the area under threat of development, that the area can be preserved for future generations.
Rebecca Cabinet Member Planning and Sustainable Transport said:
The Pinewoods is an important part of Harrogate and is valued very highly by the council as well as residents and visitors. The absence of a local green space designation does not mean the Pinewoods is any less valued or protected as before. I know just how much the woods are valued as a magnificent asset to the local area from my work with the Pinewoods Conservation Group and local residents.
The guidance on local green space designation puts the responsibility on local communities to demonstrate why a certain area should be designated.
Any group which applied for local green space designation but didn’t achieve it can ask the planning policy officers for advice on how to improve their submission to meet the guidelines set out by government. There is ample time to do so as the local plan is still in draft stage – ready for consultation.
The council is asking local residents as well as local organisations and businesses for their views on the draft local plan in a 6 week consultation starting on 11 November. This includes local green space designations so we welcome any feedback.
Residents are being encouraged by the PCG to make their views known from 11 Nov 2016 on the all aspects of the local plan but especially on the decision to not award the area as an official green space.
Views must be formally recorded online via the councils portal at http://consult.harrogate.gov.uk