Councillors voted to challenge a government planning inspector over his proposals on the district’s housing need at a fraught meeting last week.
At an extraordinary meeting of Harrogate Borough Council last Wednesday night (May 14) councillors ignored officers recommendations to withdraw the local plan.
A Conservative majority swung the vote 23-17 in favour of asking for more time to find more employment land in the district and question the housing numbers proposed by the planning inspector.
A Lib Dem proposal to vote that the council had no confidence in the Cabinet member for planning, transport and economic development was thrown out by a clear majority, though the two parties agreed to make a complaint to the government over the planning inspector’s handling of the local plan.
Planning Inspector Phillip Ware called off the examination of Harrogate Borough Council’s Sites and Policies Development Plan Document (DPD) after just two days last month.
He said he had serious concerns that HBC’s current plans would ‘fail considerably’ to meet the housing needs of the district and estimated that between 862 and 1,086 houses would need to be built per year to meet housing need - almost three times the 390 houses per year HBC were proposing in their local plan.
The idea of creating a new town or village in the Vale of York, close to the A1 motorway was proposed by Lib Dem councillors.
The discussion divided the council and council leader Claro Coun Anthony Alton (Con) declared an interest and left the meeting during the debate.
Nidd Valley Coun Helen Flynn (Lib Dem) seconded the motion to look at the idea of a new town and said: “To bury our head in the sand is ludicrous, to think we are above house building and Leeds should have it all is ludicrous.
“We need to look at sites and infrastructure.”
Planning committee chairman Coun Nigel Simms (Con) said: “We will join with York in three years at that rate.”
The council voted against the proposal to look into the idea for a new town and have called on the inspector to reconsider the proposed housing numbers.
High Harrogate Coun Richard Cooper (Con) said: “This is the biggest issue the council faced in 15 years. We have to fight to get what our residents want, they aren’t coming to me to say we want 900 houses a year.”
HAVE YOUR SAY. Should the council be considering a new town? email news@har