Northern Planners empathise with Knaresborough residents, following the recent decision by Harrogate Borough Council to grant outline planning permission for 175 houses to the east of the town off Bar Lane. Local people have been shocked by the approval seeing it as an unwarranted intrusion into the landscape setting of Knaresborough.
In granting the scheme this month, however, the Council’s Planning Committee struggled to find any planning justification for resisting the scheme given the lack of an up to date Local Plan for the Borough and the barely adequate housing land supply available locally.
It is most unfortunate that 15 years on from the 2004 Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act and 18 years on from the adoption of the last comprehensive Local Plan, the district does not have a modern policy framework at local level to guide critical development decisions that have public backing.
Without investment in Local Plans that have had proper public engagement and support, Councils can’t be surprised that their electorate may be angry when applications are approved that seem to breach established principles and threaten cherished environments.
Harrogate Borough Council’s failure to produce a competent Local Plan in recent times has left it vulnerable to proposals of this type, which although bringing some benefits, are seen by many as being simply imposed on places due to a crisis situation and the ‘power’ of national planning diktat.
As the Americans say: you snooze, you lose. When the Council do get round to having a new Plan in place, there is a real danger that in a majority of the borough’s communities, that document will not be leading the development process – it will simply be recording what has already happened by default.