Dear Reader: Ring of opposition to housing plans + sellotape blunder

A personal column by the Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers

Thursday, 27th September 2018, 11:54 am
Updated Thursday, 27th September 2018, 11:57 am
Traffic congestion on Skipton Road in Harrogate.

All of a sudden it feels like momentous things are happening all at the same time in Harrogate and neighbouring towns and villages, things which could shape its destiny for decades to come.At the exact moment the Government’s planning inspectorate is scrutinising the council’s latest draft Local Plan which contains a potentially life-changing number of housing developments, including a big settlement of more than 3,000 new houses in one area alone, the town centre’s business community are taking steps, with the backing of the council, to attempt to form the Harrogate Business Improvement District.

Both seek to tackle problems we cannot ignore, one to ease the country’s housing crisis, the other to ease pressure on the retail sector in the town centre.Both also concern economic growth and both ask questions of our transport system though, significantly from different directions, one by creating more traffic in passing, the other by attempting to reduce it.

Throw in North Yorkshire County Council’s current efforts to solve traffic congestion with, again, one eye on economic growth, which may or may not end up involving a relief road, and sometimes it feels that what’s confronting our district isn’t a series of different problems but the same issue in different forms - economic growth versus traffic problems.Such a complex web is hard to untangle or find a way out of.

But one thing at least is clear. You can’t fool the public. The public may not be sure of where it stands on every issue but it is sure about what it doesn’t want.

This week saw Harlow & Pannal Ash Residents Association join angry residents in other parts of the district in Hampsthwaite, Green Hammerton and more battling to block new housing.I suppose it was inevitable that a ring of new housing round Harrogate would eventually lead to a ring of opposition.

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I like to think I try to be helpful and generous in most situations.No. Don’t worry. I’m unlikely to feature in Harrogate and district's Volunteering Oscars any time soon.

I boycott certain shops and businesses - all of them major chains – not because I think it will change the world or I'm some sort of pompous idiot but because it’s not difficult to do.It’s a bit like an economic version of casting your lone vote in the ballot box at election time.

Like a lot of people, I support the likes of LMDC cafe and Bean & Bud Café and Imagined Things bookshop not because it’s trendy but because what they offer is good – plus I like the idea it’s local people putting local money back into the local economy.Still, I can’t help feeling I may have got a bit carried away the other day when the co-owner of The Kitchen coffee house on Otley Road shouted after one of its customers who wanted a bit of sellotape to cover the tiny gap on the coffee cup, presumably to keep the contents warm.

There I was running towards a 4x4 waving a roll of sellotape in front of the car’s windscreen in an attempt to be helpful.Sadly the mystery driver wasn’t the one who had just bought a coffee.

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