New housing plans: Residents face up to fears over Harrogate beauty spot

The Pinewoods in Harrogate.
The Pinewoods in Harrogate.

Residents worried about the latest major housing development in Harrogate got the chance to face their fears for the first time.

Developers Taylor Wimpey held a public consultation exhibition at Rosseett Sports Centre last week and unveiled the details of their plans for 122 new houses near much-loved nature walk The Pinewoods.

Grass will go, hedgerows will go and trees will go if the development goes ahead at the site located off Crag Lane between the northern section of the Pinewoods, RHS Harlow Carr part two and Otley Road.

But the general opinion of the members of the public the Harrogate Advertiser talked to after the exhibition was more positive than might have been expected towards the idea of these new traditional stone and brick exterior houses arriving.

One visitor, who wished to remain anonymous, said the plans were not good for the area in principle but more new housing was required and the design itself was considerate to the location.

The developers themselves seems surprised by the size of the turnout last Thursday in a room full of drawings and maps, facts and figures about housing sizes and "green corridors."

A spokesperson for Taylor Wimpey said: “Overall there was a positive response from the local community on our detailed proposals for the Harlow Grange development, in Harrogate. We’re now looking to take on board the constructive feedback we received on the layout plan and house designs.

“The proposal of significant areas of open space and new landscape plantings were well received, and will provide recreational opportunities, as well as ecological enhancements."

Some visitors to the exhibition were impressed by the high-spec of the materials planned for the new housing which would range from one bed to five bed.

But a few voiced worries about the amount of 'affordable housing' in the new development.

At 40% it's one of the biggest projects of its time in recent years in Harrogate.

A spokesperson for Taylor Wimpey said: “The proposals feature a variety of different house types, designed to have a contemporary, high-quality feel with a more traditional stone and brick exterior. A provision of 40 per cent of affordable homes has been proposed in line with the outline planning permission.”

Another resident pointed out that, with more housing potentially on the way near Beckwith Road and a £16m Harrogate mental health unit given the green light recently, the implications for traffic on Otley Road would be serious.

The speculation was that two sets of new traffic lights might end up being required in the Otley Road area.

Access to the new housing estate will be solely via Crag Lane on a road built for the estate.

The group most concerned with Pinewoods future is determined to do as much as they can to protect this much-loved area.

Although the famous viewing point on the Pinewoods path will remain, Pinewoods Conservation Group are seeking to work with the developers to lessen the impact on the environment, the wildlife and the views.

Bats and birds are very much on their minds.

Chair of the Pinewoods Conservation Group, Neil Hind said: "We know there will be impact on the woods so it is important that we work with Taylor Wimpey to reduce any negative impact.

"We will also be ensuring that the many recommendation and enhancements from the various ecology assessments are implemented.”

The group will be looking to suggest changes to the proposed landscaping to further encourage bio-diversity within the area.

This may include looking for support to increase boxes for birds and bats within the woods to mitigate the loss of a major foraging area.

Talking to representatives of Taylor Wimpey at the exhibition, the Harrogate Advertiser was told the company hoped to submit a reserved matters application in September to Harrogate Borough Council.

Having already secured outline planning approval for their designs, a final decision on the housing plans could then follow in January with work on the site commencing next year.

Pinewoods Conservation Group is also speaking with Harrogate Borough Council about the proposed path leading from the development into the woods that currently would not join a maintained path so could be unusable for many months of the year.

Neil Hind said: “There is an opportunity now for the PCG to impact on the draft plans to benefit the area not only for current residents but for future residents of the development as well

“The committee is reviewing the detailed plans that Taylor Wimpey have shared and have asked members for their views. There are being summarised on our web site that we plan to keep updated.