Harrogate based charity Pinewoods Conservation Group (PCG) has formally asked in a letter to local Councilors that Harrogate Council amends its draft local plan at the planned Cabinet Meeting on 13 December 2017.
Last month the main section of the woods was granted green status, but the areas known as Rotary Wood and Irongate Field had been excluded.
The Pinewoods group has reviewed the many local plan documents and say that there is no obvious justification for Irongate Field to have been excluded. They say that Irongate Field has been part of the Pinewoods for at 10 years as indicated by the councils own management plan.
PCG Chairman Neil Hind said:
Despite our best efforts the council have refused to amend the local plan or even acknowledge that incorrect assumptions may have been made in the exclusion of Irongate Field. We have therefore asked our local councilors to formally raise our concerns at the full cabinet meeting.
Our originally application made clear mention of Irongate Field and the same information has been provided to cover the entire Pinewoods footprint. Its exclusion therefore remains not only a mystery but also raises serious concerns about the councils plans for this land.
We know there is still opportunity for the local plan to be amended before the final consultation next year and hope that with our councilors support this will be done.
The council’s view is that the submission made for Local Green Space (LGS) designation only justified the woods to be designated, not Irongate Field as well.
HBC say that the PCG can make another submission for Irongate Field separately and in that demonstrate the level of community support and the special nature of the area – the council is happy to support that process.
Councillor Rebecca Burnett, Harrogate Borough Council, Cabinet Member for planning said:
We can not amend the LGS designation on the woods to include the field as well. It is my view, and the officers, that we cannot do this because the evidence isn’t there to back it up and we would be left very open to bring in other sites that also didn’t meet the criteria.
Whilst the LGS isn’t treated as seriously as housing allocations in the plan, the principles are the same and an inspector would see it the same way.
We wouldn’t bring in or take out a housing site simply because we were asked – there has to be evidence to back up the decision. The same applies here.