Village fear over 2,700 homes bid

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Campaigners in a historic North Yorkshire village are preparing for battle amid fears it is to be chosen as a preferred site for an entire new settlement.

Harrogate Borough Council is considering two sites in the district for the potential development of thousands of new homes, as part of its Local Plan.

Now, ahead of any decision being due, residents in Green Hammerton claim they have had it confirmed that their village 
is to be named as the preferred site.

“Our initial thoughts were just of shock and disbelief,” said Chris Chelton, the chairman of the newly-formed action group Keep Green Hammerton Green. “That’s turned to a degree of anger.

“We understand that house building has to take place. But we feel that we’re under siege.”

Green Hammerton, recorded in the Domesday Book as Altera Hanbretone meaning village on a hill, is a small rural community between Harrogate and York with just 270 homes.

Developer Commercial Estate Group (CEG) hopes to build about 2,700 new properties, called Great Hammerton. This would provide a solution in meeting Harrogate’s development needs in a sustainable way, developers argue, and counter a shortfall in the area’s housing supply.

There would be investment in transport, education and health provision as well as community facilities, and the proposals would be carefully designed to respect the historic core and character of the village, CEG said.

“Our vision is to create a sustainable mixed-use community, providing characterful new homes and facilities in a way that respects the local setting,” said Steve McBurney, head of planning north.

The site is being considered by the council alongside another at the former Flaxby Golf Club near Knaresborough, with announcements to be made this month about its preferred options. But now, campaigners say, they have had it confirmed from several sources that the Green Hammerton site is set to be put forward.

They heard the news from a source at the council, they say, as well as at a meeting in the village on Tuesday where parish councillors aired a circular from HBC.

Furthermore, they argue, council planners have already hired out the village hall for a meeting the week after the decision is set to be made public.

“That is an indication that the decision has been made,” said Mr Chelton. “The feeling is that this very much is a fait accompli, and no matter the strength of feeling, the decision has been made.”

About 140 residents attended a demonstration at the village hall on Tuesday, and the action group has secured legal representation to help it fight the plans.

Green Hammerton would be the wrong site for the settlement, Mr Chelton claimed, altering the village and its close community irrevocably. There is no infrastructure, poor transport, and it would mean the destruction of prime agricultural land, he said, adding that Flaxby would be a better option.

“The fear is that Green Hammerton, as an historic village, will cease to exist,” he said.

The council stressed no decision has been made and that it would be inappropriate to comment further ahead of a Local Plan update meeting this evening.

“No recommendation has yet been made nor a decision taken,” said Nigel Avison, the director of economy and culture.

“A statement with an update about this issue, Local Plan time-frames and opportunities for consultation will be issued tomorrow, following the council member briefing.”