IT’S BEEN the scene of many storylines that have tested the emotions of the most ardent of soap fans.
But now the set of Emmerdale is at the centre of a real-life drama that could quite easily have made it into a plotline of the show itself.
The makers of the long-running ITV soap – which is filmed in Leeds – have found themselves at loggerheads with local villagers over plans to turn the ‘Emmerdale Village’ production set at Harewood into a tourist attraction.
Leeds City Council decision-makers will decide on Thursday if the plans to allow visitor tours on the existing set - which is currently only used for filming - will be granted permission.
There have been a number of objections from locals, with many fearing it will massively increase traffic flow into the area, as well as encroaching on Green Belt land and affecting valuable local heritage spots.
However, a report to the plans panel says there are “significant benefits of retaining filming of Emmerdale at Harewood” which justify the granting of the additional planning permission in “very special circumstances”.
The report adds the tourism boost will “reinforce the benefits of ITV’s contributions to the estate, Leeds city area, and the region”.
Set tours would be at weekends, and could see up to two coaches an hour entering the site.
Objectors say they are “sympathetic to the need to develop revenue raising activities... for the Harewood Estate” but are urging caution over potential harm to the “essential character and quality” of the area.
The Ramblers’ Association, which is among those opposing the plans, has said it fears that increased traffic across public rights of way - in a location already busy at weekends with visitors - will harm the character of the area and negatively impact use and enjoyment by members of the public.
The report to the planning committee notes that objectors say the original planning permission was granted on condition that the set was not to be used as a visitor attraction.
It adds that when large events such as the Game Fair and the VW Rally take place at Harewood there is an enormous increase in traffic and this creates congestion.
The ‘Emmerdale Village’ site sits in an area of farmland within Harewood Estate. It is screened from the main house on one side by a plantation, and lies within a small valley with woodland to the other sides preventing long distance views of it.
A public right of way runs between the film set and Stub House Farm and its buildings.