The largest housing development proposed for Harrogate since the 1960s has been given the go-ahead.
Councillors say they were ‘held over a barrel’ and could not refuse the plans for 600 houses on Penny Pot Lane.
Harrogate Borough Council’s planning committee voted 7 to 5 in favour of approving Persimmon Homes proposals for the site.
Chair of the committee, Coun John Batt (Con, Knaresborough) said: “The main reason for approving it was that the applicants have an appeal with Harrogate Borough Council which is not dependable with traffic and high ways reasons. The council took legal advice and the solicitor said he couldn’t defend the appeal.
“If we refused, we would lose the appeal and be liable for costs of around £100,000.
“It is like being stuck between a rock and a hard place, we didn’t have much choice in the matter.”
Coun Batt told the Advertiser that the developer had told Harrogate Borough Council that they would withdraw the appeal and not claim costs if the application was approved.
He said: “I think all of us are disappointed that we are in this position but it is because of the national planning guidelines.
“Councillors have really no choice on development in their own towns because of the guidelines.”
The plans for 600 homes, and village centre including shops and a primary school have been put to the council in two separate applications, one of which is being appealed, and councillors have spent more than eight hours of debating the plans.
Coun Don Mackenzie (Con, Harlow Moor) spoke out against the plans at the meeting. He said: “This development seeks to expand the town of Harrogate deeper into the countryside than at any time since the 1960s.
“In order to give the developer approval for such a measure, we need to be absolutely certain that we have the support of our residents, and that we do not force huge disadvantages on to the local and wider community by stretching the capacity of our roads beyond what they quite understandably consider to be breaking point.”
Coun Val Rodgers (Lib Dem, Bilton) sits on the planning committee and voted to refuse planning permission.
She said: “I am very disappointed, it has been refused five times before.
“We have concerns over traffic but reports by North Yorkshire County Council say it won’t be a problem. They say they have to base things on traffic modelling, which I don’t agree with.”
She added: “It is the same old, same old, if it goes to appeal the council can’t defend it. We did what we could do.”
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