THOUSANDS of new homes could be built on sites across Harrogate if plans being considered by the council come to fruition.
Preferred locations for at least 2,500 homes in Harrogate - plus up to 1,300 more in Knaresborough and Ripon - will go to consultation in September.
They are part of Harrogate Borough Council’s target of building 390 homes per year until 2024 to cope with a growing population and try to address a critical lack of affordable housing.
Coun Richard Cooper, cabinet member for planning, transport and economic development, said the scale of building was actually a third of that which took place in 2001.
He said: “Although it is more houses, it’s the lowest rate of house building we’ve had in 40 years, which is a bit of a triumph.
“But clearly we want to preserve our area to the very best of our abilities.”
Among the largest of the sites is land near Cardale Park, pictured, to the west of the town centre, which could have up to 1,900 new homes built on it. A plot to the north of Skipton Road is earmarked for a potential 432 new homes, while land at Penny Pot Lane could see a development of 500 properties.
But also included in the proposals are new primary schools, shops and health centres for the largest sites, areas of open space between houses and improvements to roads and junctions to ease the impact of the additional traffic which would be created.
And between 40 and 50 per cent of every development would be affordable housing, available to local people and families.
Coun Cooper said: “Affordable housing is now designated in every council document as ‘homes for local people’, so the absolute intention is to solve what is a housing problem and enable people who were born here and have families here to stay here.”
An eight-week consultation is due to begin on September 9, with 51,000 newspapers to be delivered to homes across Harrogate, Knaresborough and Ripon. In addition, 16,000 flyers will be delivered to homes and businesses, 3,000 letters will be sent to landowners and parish councils and six public exhibitions will be held.
The council is also keen to hear from landowners, agents and anyone else who can suggest additional sites which could be developed. It is already looking at the possibility of using the current Harrogate Town and Harrogate Rugby Club grounds for housing, once the clubs have moved out.
The current consultation follows a similar one last year on proposed sites in rural areas for nearly 1,000 new homes which led to a huge response from the public. The decision over how to proceed was then delayed to give the council more time to consider residents’ comments.
The results of both consultations will be considered over the winter before being published in March 2012. The final decision over sites to be developed will be sent to the Secretary of State next August, with the policy expected to be formally adopted in May 2013.
After the strength of feeling displayed in the first response, Coun Cooper is keen to get an equally complete picture from the urban consultation.
“If you are talking about where houses are going to be built over the next 15 years, it is impossible not to put them somewhere where no one will object,” he said.
“This is the most important issue that we will ever deal with. This is about the future of our district and where people are going to live. It is critical that everybody has their say.
“I don’t care if we have to take longer to finish this process because we have had such a huge response. Even if people are angry with what we are putting forward, I want as many people to respond as possible.”
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