Concern that there will be more new housing in the Pinewoods area of Harrogate have been expressed after news that a long-standing, council-owned horticultural nursery may be sold.
The Pinewoods area is already facing a substantial reduction in size with plans for the Harlow Grange housing development.
If it gets final approval from Harrogate Borough Council, a total of 112 new homes will be built by Taylor Wimpey.
Now the Pinewoods Conservation Group is concerned that even more houses may be built in the area of this beautiful nature spot and its popular walkers' path after news that the nursery in Nursery Lane East, Harlow Hill may be moved to a new location on Claro Road and the land sold.
Harrogate Borough Council has responded to the Harrogate Advertiser explaining the situation in full.
Coun Rebecca Burnett, Harrogate Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Planning and Sustainable Transport said no decision had yet been taken over the future of the land but, added, that planning officers had identified it as a possible site for housing in a draft of the forthcoming new Local Plan.
She said: “An asset review was undertaken earlier this year which found that the site of the council’s nursery at Harlow Hill was not considered ideal for this use in the future, due to the layout, restrictions of the site and the significant investment required to maintain it.
“This does not necessarily mean we will be selling the land – indeed no decision has yet been made concerning its future use.
“As part of the assessment for the draft Local Plan, officers have identified the nursery site as a potential housing allocation.
“As with all allocations in the draft Local Plan, the public have the opportunity to give their views on this and other potential sites for new homes, as part of an upcoming consultation exercise which begins on Friday, November 11.
“I understand that this can be a sensitive subject and we want to ensure that the community has the opportunity to influence the final plan. I would encourage local residents and community groups to take part in the consultation and let us know their views on this location being a site for potential housing in the future.
"You can sign up to the Local Plan consultation portal in readiness for the start of the consultation at consult.harrogate.gov.uk.
“The council nursery will continue at the site, whilst its future use is considered.”
Earlier Neil Hind, chair of the Pinewoods Conservation Group, had said the group was worried about the possible implications of the new Local Plan.
He said: "We have just been made aware of the proposal to sell the Council Nurseries and still need to understand the detail. It has been confirmed that more details will be available in the soon to be published Local Plan but we expected this to be a potential development site of 50 houses to be added to the 2000 plus already being discussed for the Harlow and surrounding area."
Set up to promote the maintenance and conservation of the environment within the Pinewoods, including the conservation of the natural habitat of wildlife, this volunteer-run registered charity is also concerned about the impact of the possible sale on access to what will remain of the Pinewoods.
Neil Hind said: "The loss of the nurseries and the potential development causes us a number of concerns. The nurseries are a great resource to us and other local groups with their supply of their award winning plants.
"Nursery lane is also a key access route into the Pinewoods for our members, residents and visitors so we will be looking carefully at any impact on the woods if planning is approved."
Harrogate Borough Council is expected to comment later.
The Harrogate Advertiser will post that as soon as we get it.