Plan for new homes delayed

A DECISION to delay a house-building programme in the Harrogate district will not further compound a critical shortage of affordable homes, a senior councillor has said.

Coun Richard Cooper, cabinet member for planning at Harrogate Council, said it was essential to pause the Local Development Framework (LDF) process as officers process hundreds of comments from residents about plans for the next 14 years.

The authority intends to build more than 5,000 new homes - 390 a year through to 2023-24 - and recently held an eight-week consultation over potential sites in the district’s urban areas.

Coun Cooper told the Advertiser why he had called for a delay. “It’s because I want the right decision, not a quick decision,” he said.

“I wanted to hear from as many people as possible, and I am pleased that we have had that response.

“I’m not going to set any artificial timetables, I want the officers to get it right.”

He added that the delay was not expected to be for more than “a few months” and denied the suggestion that the wait could add to problems over a lack of affordable housing.

“Not at all - we’re talking about delaying the responses by a few months as we plan what we are doing for the next 15 years or so,” he said.

“Our current policy remains in place, by which we try to secure 40 to 50 per cent of affordable housing on larger developments.”

He said the council would be unlikely to adopt its Development Plan Document - detailing all the sites to be developed - in May 2013, as previously planned.

Last year, consultation over building homes in the rural parts of the district led to the scheme being put back so residents’ comments could be considered.

The former cabinet member for planning, Coun Jim Clark, who oversaw the rural consultation, has welcomed the decision to postpone the urban strategy.

He said far too much housing was planned for the west of Harrogate, where road infrastructure was inadequate.