Harrogate Spring Water
Harrogate Spring Water

Chair of Harrogate Area Committee refuses to allow debate on land disposal for Harrogate Spring Water development

28 November 2022

The Chair of the Harrogate Area Committee, Cllr Pat Marsh, has declined to allow debate around a question put to the committee around the expansion of Harrogate Spring Water bottling plant into an area of the Pinewoods.

Harrogate Spring Water is now majority owned by the corporate Danone, and they are pursuing plans to extend their bottling plant into an area of the Pinewoods known as Rotary Wood.

The expansion would see an undisclosed increase in the production of plastic and glass bottled water, under the brand name of Harrogate Water.

The Pinewoods Conservation Trust put a question to the committee, that is made up of the Harrogate District County Councillors, around their view on the sale of the Rotary Woods.

The development itself has two parts, planning consent, and the sale of the land. The land has outline planning consent, and the question put to the committee was around the sale of the land only.

It was stated at the meeting that meeting chair, Pat Marsh (Libdem) did not want any comments, questions or discussion in relation to the Pinewoods question for risk of predetermining the planning application.

Which is a strange statement as the question was about the sale of the land, and not about the planning application, albeit closely related.

It should also be noted that individual councillors were stopped in voicing their views at the meeting, and there wasn’t a vote if the matter should have been discussed.

It would have been expected that there should have been discussion on how the potential sale of the land for a plastic bottling plant is in alignment with the council’s own established green policies.

Under public questions:

Neil Hind on behalf of the Pinewood Conservation Group put the question:

Councillors are hopefully aware of plans for Harrogate Spring Water to expand onto public woodland, known as the Rotary Wood, as there is public concern around this.

As from the 1 April that land will transfer ownership from Harrogate Borough Council to the new North Yorkshire Council.

Could the committee confirm that it would not approve any proposal for the council to sell or lease this land for development.


Response from BES (Business and Environmental Services Officers) at North Yorkshire County Council said:

Harrogate Spring Water have been investigating expansion at the site for a number of years. The company is a local business and employer, now part of Danone.

Expansion of the site would initially need to be considered in the same way as any development, therefore if the company can obtain the appropriate statutory consents, including planning permission, the council would need to consider if it would allow use of the land, and the terms for any transaction.


Following the meeting, Neil Hind of the Pinewood Conservation Group said:

We welcomed the opportunity to raise this issue, that is of concern to our members and many residents, with this new committee. However, it was disappointing that there was no discussion and debate from councillors on this matter and the question raised wasn’t answered.

A policy statement from the new council on potential disposal of council green space and woodland within the district could have been debated that could have given a clear message to Danone and any other potential threat to the woodlands of Harrogate. We will continue to highlight our concerns and monitor the situation carefully as plans develop.


Councillor Michael Schofield said:

I was disappointed in not being able to discuss the question raised by The Pinewood Group..

My commitment to this cause and the hard work the Pinewood Conservation Group and Save Rotary Wood group is unwavering, and as a local Councillor I will support them however I can.


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