Dear Reader: Flooded by new housing + unusual bus ride in Pateley

A regular column by the Harrogate Advertiser Series's Graham Chalmers

Friday, 4th November 2016, 3:14 pm
Updated Wednesday, 16th November 2016, 4:01 pm
Changing the rules? The Stray in Harrogate.

Everywhere you turn these days, there are plans for new houses, whether it’s Ripon, Knaresborough or a plethora of places in Harrogate.

If it all feels a bit unstoppable perhaps it’s because it is.

It’s been calculated that the Harrogate district needs to build 11,000 new homes over the next 20 years.

As it’s central government which has promoted this calculation, it’s not something anyone can ignore.

The more troubling thing isn’t so much that this is happening, it’s the manner in which it is happening.

Truth, they say, is the first casualty of war. In the era of austerity, it seems to be planning.

So much is going on in this flurry of new developments, our authorities seem to be finding it difficult to see the wood for the trees.

Mind you, as some of the trees are also facing the chop, this issue may resolve itself.

The question is whether in 20 years times along with all these new houses, will there have been a similar explosion of facilties, infrastructure and traffic solutions?

It feels like all the protections in place for the public good are under threat.

Even The Stray in Harrogate now faces a possibly momentous relaxation of the rules which have guarded it against public events in the last century.

Can you imagine? A future where cyclists aren’t welcome on the grass but a Glastonbury-style festival is.

I had the great privilege of riding on the battle bus in the big vote last week.

No, not as part of the US presidential election, obviously, but on the vintage bus carrying the judges round Pateley Bridge in its exciting bid to be crowned the winner of the prestigious Great British High Street competition.

I’ve been to this lovely Dales town many times over the years, sometimes as a member of the public, at other times in my role as reporter.

I’ve always enjoyed my visits. Pateley still retains the character of what for most of us is our rural past but which for this small town and its residents remains its present.

But it’s been impossible not to notice in the last few years something stirring on its traditional cobble streets.

Fresh ideas, new events and renewed energy are reinvigorating this timeless Dales town.

But, if Pateley is to beat its two rivals in the national final, it won’t be just because it’s found favour with the judges from London.

It also needs all of us to go online and vote for it, too.

If you saw the scenes as the vintage charabanc passed slowly down the bunting-covered high street on a memorably rip-roarious afternoon last Friday you would know how much winning the award means to Pateley Bridge.

The crowds weren’t waving at the judges, really, or the town mayor or even the lovely 1940s bus.

The bus was a symbol of their pride in Pateley Bridge, a reflection of the undying spirit of the Dales.