One of the region’s most respected architects has written an open letter to Councillor Rebecca Burnett, Harrogate Borough Council Cabinet Member for Planning, urging the Council to reconsider its preference for the District’s proposed new settlement to be located in the Hammerton area.
Michael Wildblood MBE, of architecture practice Wildblood Macdonald, has written the letter reiterating how a settlement at Flaxby would benefit both Harrogate and Knaresborough. Wildblood Macdonald was appointed to provide architectural and master-planning services for Flaxby Park Ltd in 2016.
A planning application has already been submitted for the development which will see Flaxby’s disused golf course transformed into a new sustainable village community, with 2,750 high quality homes along with a retirement village, two primary schools, a GP surgery, sports facilities, a hotel and a new village centre. More than 50% of the site will consist of green open space and Goldsborough Railway Station will be reopened as a new park and ride station offering direct rail services to Harrogate, Leeds and York.
Although I obviously have a vested interest in Flaxby Park, I am at a genuine loss as to why the Council prefers the Hammerton option for a new settlement and I’m continually being asked what they can see that so few other people can.
I have to concede that I honestly do not know. Perhaps it’s because Hammerton has existing railway stations, but anyone who lives locally knows how sporadic and under resourced this service is, with just a handful of parking spaces available. However, Flaxby Park’s proposal to pay for and build a new 350 car parkway station within the site, which Network Rail agrees is deliverable, solves this issue. Maybe some councillors see a new settlement as a necessary evil and want it to be as far away from Harrogate and Knaresborough as possible, but it won’t be if well designed.
It has also been suggested to me that it is down to the fact that North Yorkshire County Council stands to gain tens of millions of pounds should part of the Hammerton site be developed for housing. This is not a planning reason and would be fully exposed at the local plan public inquiry which is due to be held early next year.
I, like so many others, are convinced that the planning case for Flaxby is overwhelming. It is much closer to Harrogate and Knaresborough rather than York, which will benefit their local businesses, it will have little impact on the wider landscape, the site is already controlled by Flaxby Park Ltd, through ownership and options, and the A59 won’t have to be diverted, which are all major issues the Hammerton site will have to overcome.
I therefore decided to write an open letter respectfully requesting that the Council reconsiders its preference for a new settlement in an as-yet undefined location in the Hammerton, Whixley, Cattal general area, rather than a specific deliverable site at Flaxby and I’m still awaiting a response.
Harrogate Borough Council have chosen to not respond to the open letter.
Flaxby Park was acquired in 2016 by Flaxby Park Ltd, which is owned by internationally renowned businesswoman and philanthropist Ann Gloag OBE and regeneration experts Chris Musgrave and Trevor Cartner.