Harrogate's worst area for new housing prompts residents' campaign

Life in the Kingsley area of Harrogate has been disrupted for most of 2019 by house building. But what do residents say and what do the developers say?

Tuesday, 17th December 2019, 10:11 am
Updated Tuesday, 17th December 2019, 12:47 pm
Residents of the Kingsley area of Harrogate protesting about new housing in their area.

It was a battle which never looked like catching fire but, finally, the fed-up residents of Kingsley Road in Harrogate - angered by the tide of house building in their area - are making an impact.

Since the diggers and lorries first arrived at the beginning of the year, seven different new housing developments have started - or been proposed - in the tightly-packed residential area between Kingsley Drive and Bogs Lane.

In total, that is at least 600 new homes at a location served by narrow roads which feed into the congested Knaresborough Road.

When early complaints fell on deaf ears, frustrated residents convinced the streets where they lived were being targeted by the biggest set of housing plans in all of urban Harrogate, decided it was time to fight back.

Kingsley Ward Action Group was formed in late summer, members have been pushing for action not only from the various developers but Harrogate Borough Council and North Yorkshire County Council.

The noise and dust and mud may not have gone away, the building work has largely continued, but residents have made some progress.

Under pressure from Kingsley Ward Action Group, Harrogate Borough Council has stepped in recently to serve enforcement orders at times over the mess on the roads. But residents do not believe it is enough.

The three major housing developers have told the Harrogate Advertiser they are listening to residents and that processes have already been put in place in response to residents’ complaints, including regular road sweeping.

But resident and Kingsley Ward Action Group member John Hansard said it was not nearly enough to make life tolerable in the area.

Mr Hansard said: “We have had to cope with hundreds of truck movements a day along with the noise, pollution, dust and damage to our roads.

“On top of that, we have had the road dug up twice to lay cables, water etc for the new developments with all the noise and mess that that entails.

“The Persimmon development at the bottom end of Kingsley Drive have just finished a 20-day stoppage of operations because of complaints from residents about the state of the road, but what about the other two developers, Stonebridge and Barratts?

“They are both equally as guilty of the road mess and should, we feel, also have a stop imposed.”

Factfile: List of new housing developments in Kingsley area

1: Stonebridge Homes, Kingsley Farm: 57 houses being built (H47).

2: Stonebridge Homes, Kingsley Farm: Continuation of development + 60 more homes (H47).

3: Barratt Homes, Kingsley Meadows: 101 homes being built.

4: Persimmon Homes, land off Kingsley Drive: 26 homes, site being prepared (H21).

5: Persimmon Homes, land off Kingsley Drive: 244 homes, planning permission sought (H21).

6: Richborough Estates, 2nd field North of Kingsley Drive: 170 homes.

7: Richborough Estates, Kingsley Drive (top end) Granby Farm: 90 homes, awaiting permission (H22)

Gary Tremble of Kingsley Ward Action Group said the roads were not only a mess but, potentially, hazardous.

Mr Tremble said: “Kingsley Road now has so much mess on it that it is becoming dangerous. Vehicles exiting the building site make no effort to clean off the mud then just deposit it outside the entrance.

“How would you like to live on a road like this? Does this have to result in an accident before something is done?”

Housing developers' joint statement on Kingsley and Bogs Lane in Harrogate

As for the developers themselves, a joint-statement was issued to the Harrogate Advertiser yesterday, Wednesday on behalf of Barratt Homes, Persimmon Homes and Stonebridge Homes.

The developers say: “As part of an ongoing commitment to support the communities in which it builds, Barratt Homes, Persimmon Homes and Stonebridge Homes have responded to residents complaints regarding the Kingsley Road area in Harrogate.

“In tandem with both the North Yorkshire County Council and Harrogate Borough Council the three housebuilders have recently attended a number of meetings to discuss residents’ concerns regarding the cleanliness of Kingsley Road due to the development of three new-build projects in the area.

“The three housebuilders have taken all feedback into consideration and will be working together now and in the future to ensure a high standard of cleanliness is maintained moving forward.

“Processes have already been put in place in response to residents’ complaints, including regular road sweeping, and an additional high-pressure water jet service each Friday to prepare the road for an increase in traffic over the weekend.

“Significant contributions to local infrastructure, including education, highways and public open space have been made by each housebuilder as part of an agreement to ensure the local community benefits, not only from an increase in homes and jobs but also from a substantial investment in the area.”

Lying beneath residents’ specific complaints about the immediate effects of house building are more general fears for the impact in the long run.

Until work began at Kingsley Farm by Stonebridge Homes and at Kingsley Meadows by Barratt Home at the start of the year, houses in the Kingsley area had faced rough fields leading to the flora and wildlife of the Bilton-Ripley bridleway and Nidd Gorge.

Those fields and paths to these natural havens are now disappearing one at a time. The consequences, say residents, will be more road congestion where they live and on Knaresborough Road.

Harrogate Borough Council has always argued its hands were tied in trying to oppose any housing applications until its Local Plan was approved by the Government Inspector.

Members of Kingsley Ward Action Group understand the situation but argue the end result of things is bad for them and bad for the town.

Resident John Hansard said: “I walked my dog to the Kingsley Farm end of the road yesterday and I was flabbergasted at the amount of heavy machinery noise emanating from the three construction sites all at the same time.

“We, on Kingsley Road are weary of the unending stream of construction traffic pounding up and down our once peaceful residential street.

“We are tired of the constant noise. We are tired of our houses being shaken by the heavily-laden trucks, with drivers who think it’s okay to thunder down this road at 30mph or more with uncovered loads when there are young children walking to and from school.