Harrogate District Draft Local Plan Additional Sites Consultation Submission
Reference: Site GH11 and Question 7
These observations are in response to the Harrogate District Draft Local Plan additional sites consultation. They are brief and to the point as there is no advantage in duplicating information and comments submitted by large numbers of residents, Parish Councils and a well organised and well-resourced action group.
The purpose of making these comments is to ensure that you are fully aware of the extent of the opposition and the common commitment by the communities of Green Hammerton, Kirk Hammerton and Whixley in opposing the ‘Draft New Settlement Allocation.’
A well attended public meeting, hosted jointly by the Parish Council of Green Hammerton, the Parish Council of Kirk Hammerton and the action group known as ‘Keep Green Hammerton Green and Keep Kirk Hammerton Green,’ showed a common commitment and well organised opposition to the current proposal. Each one of the above have provided me with copies of their submissions comprising well articulated and well researched comments. They deserve to be taken seriously and their representations given significant weight when you review the responses to the consultation.
Observation 1 – Support for the production of a Local Plan
There is widespread support for the development of the Local Plan. It is a Government objective that all Planning Authorities have a Local Plan and communities, as well as house builders, recognise and appreciate the clear decision making framework that it provides for making planning decisions.
Observation 2 – Opposition to the creation of new settlements but support for proportionate house building across the District
This phase of the Local Plan consultation concerns 21 sites for housing and employment land – 14 sites where there is a proposal for additional housing allocation, additional employment land at 4 sites, amended draft housing allocations at 2 sites and the draft new settlement at Green Hammerton. While the consultation concerns 21 sites only one of those sites – the proposed new settlement – has been brought to me by constituents as a serious issue. In the earlier stage of the consultation when Flaxby, Deighton and Cattal were options being considered there was a similar level of concern raised about these proposals and similar, very well attended, public meetings where residents were universally opposed to such proposals. While I will not comment on the relative merits of any of the sites that were put forward as potential new settlements, the common factor is that communities are strongly opposed to them. At the recent public meeting in Green Hammerton, there was support for new housing in villages that is in proportion to the current size of the village. There was also recognition and support for having a Local Plan because it would bring clarity to the planning decision making process. People in the meeting commented that the present situation with no Local Plan was leading to what they described as a “development free for all,” with developments in some unsuitable locations outside village envelopes being approved due to the lack of a five-year land supply.
Observation 3 – Concern over the process leading to Greater Hammerton being chosen from four options
Harrogate is very fortunate that four developers have invested heavily in preparing proposals for new settlements. The reaction to the proposals from neighbouring communities has generally been to oppose the development of such new settlements. Each proposal has therefore come under intense scrutiny by those communities and it is inevitable that all decisions will be intensively scrutinised. With respect to this phase, the critical decision was the selection of Greater Hammerton as the preferred new settlement site. The criteria for reaching this decision, and the relative weight given to key factors such as transport, facilities and utilities, needs to be completely transparent. This is a fundamental concern that the Keep Green Hammerton and Keep Kirk Hammerton Green groups have raised with me.
Observation 4 – Well organised opposition to the Greater Hammerton proposal
A public meeting involving two Parish Councils and an action group working as one and drawing an audience of over 100 shows clearly the level of opposition. They are also now starting to draw on professional help in preparation for the submission of the Draft Local Plan to the Secretary of State and ensuing Examination in Public.
Observation 5 – Concern about timescales for adoption of an approved plan
The objective of preparing and then gaining approval for a Local Plan is fully supported and the sooner that this can be achieved the greater the benefit. The strength of the opposition to the Greater Hammerton scheme suggests that difficulties may be faced in gaining approval by the target date.
The communities and the developers involved in this process are now all incurring significant expense and communities are faced with great uncertainty. If there is any way in which you think I may be able to assist you in quickly reaching an acceptable outcome, please let me know.
Nigel Adams MP
Member of Parliament for Selby and Ainsty
17 High Street, Tadcaster, LS24 9AP