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A group campaigning against Harrogate Borough Council’s plans to build 3,000 homes near Green Hammerton, Kirk Hammerton, Cattal and Whixley, is calling for an open and public hearing session with the independent inspector to debate the new settlement options.
With the public consultation surrounding Harrogate’s plans due to close on Friday 20 September at 4.30pm, the Keep The Hammertons Green Action Group, has also called for the Council to reveal how the substantial infrastructure upgrades to accommodate the Green Hammerton development, will be financed.
These currently include rerouting the A59 and turning parts of it into a dual-carriageway, as well as making major improvements to Cattal and Hammerton railway stations.
Chris Eaton, co-chair of the Keep The Hammertons Green Action Group, explained:
This is a public consultation, but the public, including local residents and business, still haven’t had the opportunity to debate the new settlement options and the selection process in an open, public hearing session, with the independent inspector present.
We also deserve the opportunity to question the Council’s latest Sustainability Appraisal, which is unsound, contains weak arguments and looks designed to validate a pre-determined decision to build between Whixley, Green Hammerton, Kirk Hammerton and Cattal. The work received no independent scrutiny and doesn’t give weighting to any criteria, which clearly have different levels of importance.
If the selection process was assessed fairly and properly, then surely redeveloping Flaxby’s disused former golf course, would be a better and more sustainable option. It’s also much closer to Harrogate and Knaresborough, with recently upgraded road infrastructure already in place.
Crucially, there’s still no evidence from the Council to demonstrate an understanding of the viability and deliverability of the Green Hammerton settlement. To proceed without knowing how many tens of millions of pounds it will cost to reroute and dual large parts of the A59, or how many years of disruption it will cause for people travelling between the A1 and York, is profoundly unsound. Nowhere has the full cost and engineering of bringing the required electricity and gas supplies to the Green Hammerton site been properly addressed.
Another concern is that the two planning applications for Green Hammerton, show the major infrastructure works of diverting the A59 and building new vehicle bridges over the railway, is scheduled towards the end of the development. Therefore, there is a risk that these works could be abandoned by the developer and replaced by further linear development along the A59 and B6265 in the next plan period.
In addition, expensive upgrades will be required at Cattal and Hammerton railway stations and to Skelton Junction (in York) to increase capacity, but again it’s unclear how this will be financed and Network Rail have given no commitment to funding or carrying out the required upgrades. Surely the Council is obliged to reveal if the taxpayer will finance all this work, or whether the developer will pay in return for a reduction in affordable housing, or even both?