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The Campaign group opposed to the creation of a new settlement in the Green Hammerton and Cattal area is ready to question members of the Full Council when they meet to vote for the Local Plan.
The Local Plan, proposes a new town is built as part of Harrogate Council’s plans to meet future housing need and that this should be somewhere in the Hammerton and Cattal broad location. But Chris Eaton, Co-Chair of the Keep The Hammertons Green Action Group, says the new settlement isn’t needed, and the group will be raising a number of questions to councillors when they meet on Wednesday 4th March 2020 at the Council Chambers.
The Planning Inspector who examined the plan has only said he thought the process taken in forming the Local Plan and the proposal for a new settlement as part of that was sound. He felt the issue of its location was a matter for Council Planners judgement, and we believe there are still enough concerns about that decision for the Full Council to reject a new town of this size, even at this late stage.
The four questions will raise major concerns about the environmental impact of building a new settlement in a prime agricultural area, whether the inclusion of the new settlement exceeds the over supply of sites needed by the Council to create a guaranteed housing supply, and the extent to which residents of the area can play a role in deciding where the boundaries of the new town would be if the plan is supported.
An oversupply of sites is common to most Local Plans to ensure enough houses are actually built. But that buffer is usually no more that 15% above what is actually needed. The Council is putting forward a 25% oversupply, much more than is needed. The new settlement is the most contentious and damaging part of the Plan and could be dropped without compromising its aims.
The group are also concerned about the role of District Councillors who are also members of NYCC when it comes to voting for the Local Plan. A potential part of the new settlement is subject of a covenant with the current land owner that would see a substantial amount of money paid back to NYCC in the event of it being developed for housing.
These fields could generate a significant windfall to NYCC, but would need the settlement to link onto Green Hammerton, needlessly making the village a part of the new town rather than a true new and separate development. This is something the Planning Inspector specifically warned against, but we are concerned that the votes of these NYCC Councillors could be influenced by money rather than proper planning considerations. We need to know that won’t be allowed to happen.
The group will be seeking formal answers from the Cabinet Member for Planning.