Being a Yorkshire consultancy of several years standing, we are well aware of the ebb and flow of local planning policy and ‘culture’, and perhaps this has never been as dramatic as in Harrogate District where our North Yorkshire office is based.
Once upon a time the Council’s mission seemed to be to refuse as much development as possible no matter what its merits. But, having made a complete mess of its Local Plan process a few years ago, the Council has been on the back foot, facing mounting development pressure, increasingly out of date local policies and a dwindling land supply.
In these circumstances, a more ‘open door’ approach to growth has emerged – so much so, that recently the Council has been writing to applicants for planning permission telling them that they now have too much development land in the pipeline and would everyone mind a temporary moratorium on decisions!
Against this background, it is unsurprisingly that mega-projects are coming forward that would have been unthinkable even 5 years ago.
One such scheme is the Eataly ‘food-agri park’ proposal announced at the Cannes International Property Conference in March.
Details are scant at the moment. What we do know, however, is that the project will be similar to the company’s existing food and leisure attraction in London, and is proposed on a yet-to-be-announced site covering 188 hectares of land somewhere next to the A1 motorway and will involve 160,000 square metres of commercial, leisure and retail space. A planning application is also promised for submission in June.
Will the ‘food agri-park’ simply resemble a very large out-of-town shopping centre? Or will it be something more innovative?
Will it blend seamlessly in to the local landscape or stick out like the sore thumb of the Allerton Park incinerator?
Will Harrogate planners embrace the proposals or lie down and let this steamroller of a project crush them into the dust?
Only time will tell but our future is in their hands!
A couple of years ago Northern Planners helped local Parish Councils in Leeds district defeat an ill-conceived proposal of a similar scale to turn Thorpe Arch Trading Estate into a ‘new settlement.’ We will wait to see if local people seek our help on the Eataly scheme or welcome it with open arms. Watch this space for further updates.