Duchy residents opposed to a swathe of possible new housing which may spoil the view at a cherished Harrogate beauty spot will have to wait a little longer for a decision from the planning inspector.
The site of the potential new development of 165 new homes is located in the western part of Harrogate at two large fields near Cornwall Road below the Pinewoods and Irongate field.
The Planning Committee of Harrogate Borough Council rejected the application earlier this year by the area’s landowner the Duchy of Lancaster after protests from residents.
Rebecca Oliver, secretary of the Duchy Residents’ Association, said: “There were more than 120 objections to this application from local people and organisations including the Civic Society, Residents’ Associations and the Campaign to Protect Rural England.
“The reason people feel passionate about the site is that it is special – the footpath that cuts across the top end of the fields from Cornwall Road to Harlow Carr and Birk Crag is used by visitors and locals alike as a public right of way, and the open fields around it are what give the footpath its amenity value.”
The 33-acre site is within a Special Landscape Area, and is adjacent to the Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) at Birk Crag.
It is outside the current town development limit and was not identified as a preferred site for development in the last or the current draft Local Plan.
Landowners the Duchy of Lancaster decided to appeal the council’s decision which led to the launch of a public hearing last week in front of the planning inspector at Harrogate Borough Council’s Crescent Gardens headquarters.
It believes the possible development is simply a response to the National Planning Policy which calls for local planning authorities to demonstrate a good five-year supply of new housing.
Whichever way the verdict goes, the end of the process may still be weeks away. The six-day inquiry ended on Tuesday without a decision while the planning inspector deliberates further.
The Duchy Residents’ Association says they recognise that more new housing is required but argue the green field sites in question are uniquely important to the town.
Rebecca Oliver said: “Harrogate has an affordability problem with housing but building on Special Landscape Areas such as this land is not the solution. We understand that many people are affected by the current boom in planning permissions being granted – over 3000 homes have already been given permission to be built just in the west of Harrogate.
“But this particular site is an asset for the whole town.