Duchy Estate residents are hopeful that a new move from Harrogate Borough Council will prevent the building of luxury homes in the grounds of one of Harrogate’s grandest homes.
Councillors voted to confirm a tree protection order for newly planted trees in the garden of the historic former Bomanji mansion on Cornwall Road.
The council moved to protect the woodland after owner Jason Shaw, who paid £2million for the 40-room building which had stood untouched for decades in 2013, illegally felled trees.
He was fined £24,000 by a court last July for illegally chopping down trees, and has since applied for planning permission to build two four-storey houses in the grounds, complete with five bedrooms, gyms, games rooms, and garages.
Neighbour Andrew Lethaby told the planning committee: “Crime should not pay, the £25,000 fine is peanuts to the owner, especially if he can build two further homes in place of the trees, which would be worth £1.25million. Greed is the great motivator here, nothing else.” Following the decision he said: “This is a victory for common sense for the conservation area.”
Mr Shaw was not present at Tuesday’s meeting, and was unavailable when contacted by the ‘Advertiser Series for comment.
Pineheath, once owned by the town’s richest family, was famously frozen in time and revealed to the world’s media in 2013 when it was bought.
Mr Shaw had vowed to bring the derelict mansion back to its former glory, though neighbours have now raised concerns about the current state of the building.
Mr Lethaby said a large number of doors and windows appear to be broken. He remembers Mehroo, daughter of Lady Bomanji with fondness, and said that her family loved the gardens and trees of Pineheath, and would have wanted these trees to be enjoyed by future generations, as her lasting legacy.
The planning application for two semi-detached homes in the grounds of Pineheath was submitted in December, and a decision is due in the next month.
The planning committee will have to take into consideration the tree protection order put in place, even though they are currently just small replacement trees.
A council report said: “The trees are visible from Rutland Drive although in their current form they have low visibility they have the potential to be much more than what they are now.
“It is unknown what the future of the site may be. The trees make a positive contribution to the visual amenity of the conservation area.”
The planning row has parked a debate on the ‘Advertiser Facebook page, visit www.facebook.com/HarrogateAdvertiser and like the page to join the debate.