Public inquiry starts today over plans to build near Stockeld Park in Wetherby
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At a meeting back in September, members of Harrogate’s planning committee voted to refuse the application for 210 homes at Spofforth Hill, Stockeld, with the decision met with a round of applause from a packed council chamber.
But this means the authority now has to fight its case at a public inquiry, after applicants Hallam Land Management and Stockeld Park lodged an appeal against non-determination after their plan was stalled last year.
The hearing begins this week, but campaigner Paul Crossan, who is leading representations for community group Better Wetherby, claimed the plans could only bring problems for the area.
He said: “Better Wetherby is challenging this appeal because, if the development is allowed to go ahead, then it can only be bad news for the people of Wetherby and those living in nearby villages.
“We know they have real concerns about the harmful impact this development will have on the landscape, character and our local environment. It will also contribute to a worsening of the town’s existing highways and result in further demands on already overburdened schools, GP surgeries and other local services.”
While the site sits within Harrogate Borough Council’s boundaries, the development itself is adjacent to the town of Wetherby, which falls within Leeds City Council borders.
Last year the controversial application was initially rejected by Harrogate councillors, before legal advice received in a private session saw them perform an abrupt U-turn and approve the plans.
The move provoked outrage from Wetherby residents and led to Elmet and Rothwell MP Alec Shelbrooke lobbying the Secretary of State to reject the proposal.
The application was subsequently frozen while the office of the Secretary of State for Housing – which saw applicants Hallam Land Management and Stockeld Park lodge an appeal for indecision.
The Secretary of State decided in May to leave the proposal to Harrogate council to decide.
A spokesperson for Harrogate Council said: “The public inquiry regarding the proposed development on Harrogate Road, Stockeld is due to start Tuesday, December 17 at the civic centre in Harrogate and is anticipated to last four days.
“The applicant’s appeal will be heard and then determined by an inspector from the planning inspectorate.”
Hallam Land Management declined to comment, Stockeld Park was approached for a comment.