Car dealer's plan for ex-pub site rejected

A MAJOR Harrogate car firm has been refused permission to display used vehicles for sale on the site of a former landmark pub.

Reg Vardy Ltd applied to change use of land next to their Victoria BMW garage on Princess Royal Way, Spacey Houses at Pannal.

The application was rejected by members of Harrogate Borough Council Planning Committee.

Eleven councillors voted for refusal, two were against and there were three abstentions.

The application was rejected on grounds that it would have a serious adverse effect on the character and appearance of a key approach into Harrogate.

An additional reason for refusal was loss of land previously in community use when the site was occupied by the Spacey Houses public house, demolished in 2004.

This recommendation for refusal said no attempt had been made to actively market the site for its existing use or viable alternative community use.

Refusal of the scheme was successfully proposed by Pannal councillor Fred Willis, who said the line of cars facing the frontage would be greatly extended.

A planners' report said the cars already on the frontage covered 60 metres while the proposed extension would run for a further 70 metres.

Coun Willis said the impact on the area would be horrendous, would affect adjoining homes in Station Road at a lower level and bring with it extra signs and floodlighting, causing light pollution of the area.

Harrogate Civic Society objected to the scheme, saying it would conflict with two council planning policies.

Pannal Village Society's planning spokesman, Robin Barlow, said the application would almost treble the length of car forecourt frontage which would create the wrong impression of Harrogate to tourists and visitors.

He said there was no meaningful landscaping of the frontage which would screen out the view of cars for sale.

Mr Barlow said the applicants had pointed out that a survey of residents had revealed the need to improve existing local shopping.

But since the survey was conducted the local butcher's shop had closed after 45 years, leaving just one village shop-cum post office. There was increasing difficulty in finding a parking space in the area because on-street parking was taken up by rail commuters unable to park on the over-full Pannal Station car park.

The situation would worsen when Spacey Houses Farm site was developed with the loss of between 15-20 parking places.

Overall, he said, there was justification for a replacement community facility of parking to sustain the village shop, village hall and use of the railway station.

Mr Barlow said the society would be happy to be involved in discussions with the council and Reg Vardy Ltd to see how a community parking facility could be provided.

Talks could include owners of the car park (about 40 spaces) in front of the Dunlop Latex offices and next to the railway station. This was no longer rented by Dunlop Latex and stood empty.

A town planner, speaking at the meeting on behalf of the applicant, said the visual impact of the cars would be lessened by the landscaping scheme by a qualified landscaping architect covering the frontage of the site.

He pointed out that the existing BMW garage experienced difficulties over congestion on site and there were already difficulties accessing it.

He said they did not believe that the recommendation to refuse permission was justified.