Manse Farm 600 houses - two week delay on decision

kna  Land at Manse Farm, Knaresborough.  (130925M10b)
kna Land at Manse Farm, Knaresborough. (130925M10b)

Meanwhile a decision on controversial plans for 600 houses at Manse Farm has been delayed by two weeks, after some councillors argued they needed more information before making such a large decision.

HBC planning officers had recommended the committee should approve the plans to go to the Head of Planning Services (HOPs) to agree details including Highways Agency reports and affordable housing.

However some councillors argued the decision was too important to be passed over.

Coun Fox said: “To put this in the hands of HOPs I cannot understand.

“I have faith in these elected members who are directly responsible to the rate payers. This application needs to come back to these honourable people, not to HOPs.”

Coun Chris Lewis (Independent, Ouseburn ward) put forward the motion to look at the plans again in two weeks, after committee members questions were given detailed answers.

She said: “I don’t feel comfortable making a decision without all the questions answered.

“We will all be stuck, I feel, if we jump and approve it. We should take a very big interest in these plans that will leave Knaresborough lop sided.”

The debate lasted well over an hour and eight councillors voted to revisit the plans, seven opposed the motion with one abstention.

Coun Christine Willoughby (Lib Dem, Knaresborough East ward) had addressed the committee asking them to refuse the plans.

She said: “Please do not give permission for this development. This application is premature, the LDF has not yet been to inspection and the county council commissioned traffic study has not yet been completed.

“When the LDF process began, Harrogate council assured the people of Knaresborough that large greenfield extensions to the town would only come forward towards the end of the plan period, but here we are with the LDF not complete being asked to approve this application.

“This application will put intolerable pressure on the already congested and polluted streets of Knaresborough.”

She said she felt the idea of a rail halt at the site was unlikely to ever materialise.

“Land maybe allocated for a railway station but there is little chance of a railway station being built.”

Knaresborough Town Coun Andrew Willoughby said: “Getting a rail halt in Knaresborough to materialise is proving to be impossible.”

Steve McBurney from developers CEG defended the plans at the meeting, dismissing Coun Ivor Fox’s calls for the developer to provide more for the community.

“We are not a rail company, all we can do is safeguard the land and offer it at nil cost for a rail authority to use.

“We aren’t an education authority we cannot build the school, we are offering the land for a school and a financial contribution to the education authority.

“We are providing everything that is necessary, if we provided more than necessary than that would be illegal.”

After the meeting Mr McBurney said: “The Manse Farm site is identified by Harrogate Borough Council for new housing and employment in its emerging Local Plan. Our planning application proposal is in full accordance with what the Local Plan wants to see at the site in order to meet the needs of Knaresborough and the Borough.

“We are naturally disappointed by the short delay but we understand the need for the planning committee members to be fully informed on the important matters of highways and other infrastructure delivery.”The Manse Farm development is set to appear before Harrogate Planning October 8. See the Knaresborough Post for a full update.