Village forum

Letters for and against the development plans (2012-13) for land abutting Knaresborough Road

Below you will find letters from:
1.  Paul Heap
2. Jonathan Pimley
3. Tony Garnett
4  James Hobson
5  Martin Minett


Putting the record straight

Following the recent Open Parish Meeting and the discussion on the proposed Knaresborough Road Development, and your subsequent website article, I would like to provide some points of factual clarification.

One of the developer’s main arguments for the proposed density of development is to make the site financially viable. Many years ago when Kebbell Homes bought the site it had a planning consent for residential development. Kebbell Homes paid an appropriate amount of money based on the value of the site with the benefit of that consent. The developers, through their own error or misjudgement, did not manage to save or renew this consent and following a long legal battle that culminated in a House of Lords decision in 2003, it was confirmed that planning permission should not be renewed. 

At this point the value of the site will have decreased significantly from development land values to a value more attributable to agricultural use. The question of viability when considered in a planning context is not what the developer historically has spent on the site, but what it is currently worth. 

The developer would like us all to accept their argument that financial viability should demonstrate that they will recover all their historic costs. This methodology is not correct and the true financial viability test in planning terms is generating an acceptable profit to the developer based on the current agricultural value of the site.  Financial viability appraisals on this basis would conclude that the development does not need to be as dense as that currently proposed. This is also the same conclusion reached by the District Council who are wishing to promote up to nine affordable and local needs housing on the site. 

Finally on this point, at the end of the meeting I asked Mr Gasgoinge how his client was originally able to create a viable project on the basis of a planning consent for seven bungalows but now he is claiming it is only viable with 20 houses.  His answer was that his client has spent a lot of money over the years on legal battles. 

The extension to that answer is that they are now seeking to recover that money. That is no reason for this village to accept overly dense housing development. The Developer’s supporting statement to their planning application raises serious concerns about the ambiguity and exaggeration of support for the application from the village. 

There are many statements along the lines of “strong level of support…”; “…local residents remain supportive…”; and most interestingly at para 4.57 “whilst we recognise that there is a level of local objection to the proposal, overall there is support from the local community.”; and finally at para 4.59 “This proposal … is supported by the majority of the village residents.”

The 2007 consultation (now obviously out of date) received 102 responses from a community population of over 600.  Our responses are attached as an appendix to the Supporting Statement and are available to see on the website.  Even if all were positive, this is not a majority. 

The 2007 questionnaire states very clearly that if permission is obtained, the developer is willing to provide come community benefit(s).  However in paragraphs 4.75 – 4.78 of the Supporting Statement, it very clearly states that the developer DOES NOT INTEND TO PROVIDE ANY FURTHER FACILITIES TO THE VILLAGE.  THEY HAVE GARNERED YOUR SUPPORT ON A FALSE PROMISE.

Turning to the 102 responses, these can be broken down as follows:1 - nil response1 - response from the school8 - unqualified positive responses.22 - qualified positive responses. (Typical qualifications are that the scheme is too dense; the houses are too big; the scheme should only be for affordable homes.)33 - positive responses subject to the provision of community facilities.  The developer has taken this as support but will not now assist as promised as part of the public consultation, with the provision of additional facilities. Can they still count on your support? 37 – objections The Supporting Statement massages our responses to over generalizations and in doing so claims “strong levels” and “majority” support.  This is quite clearly not the case. There are many other reasons to object to the current proposals but in the first instance I wish to put across these factual points as to why the developer’s viability and community support arguments are not correct.

My personal objections to the proposal is that I am not against the principal of development.  I object to the proposed density.  Kebbell Homes and their architect are renowned builders of high quality homes and I welcome their involvement rather than a less renowned developer.  Bishop Monkton street scenes are dominated by back of footpath homes with principal elevations facing towards the highway. This creates and important and identifiable characteristic to this village.  Creating this proposed development in a prominent area without due regard to this unique feature in order to increase density will not be in keeping with one of Bishop Monkton’s unique features.

 I urge all of us with an interest or opinion to write to Harrogate Planning Authority at Knapping Mount, West Grove Road, Harrogate, HG1 2AE quoting reference 12/01087/FULMAJ.  The public consultation period expires on the 16th April. Finally, could I suggest that there is a dedicated area of the website for this subject as I am sure there will be many posts.

Paul Heap



Packed housing estate would not enhance village

Thank you for highlighting the issue of Kebbel Homes' planning application. Harrogate Borough council would be happy with nine affordable homes for local people and the rest of the site being landscaped. This sounds like an excellent plan which we should be supporting instead of allowing Kebbel to take us for village idiots and put twice as many houses on the site, with only the ten being affordable.

Like everyone else I have spoken to, I am not against some development next to the Village Hall, but I have yet to speak to anyone who thinks a tightly packed housing estate would enhance the village in any way.

The Kebbel representative gave a presentation full of mis-representation in which he tried to persuade us that we were in some way lucky to be offered this plan. He wrongly and rudely attempted to discredit other opinions and the affordable homes option. He glossed over the problems it will cause to all of us by overloading the plumbing and sewage system, by claiming that adding some holding tanks would magically solve the massive increase in volume.

The fact is that it still has to go through and will do so when the holding tanks overflow.The truth is that Kebbel have lost a lot of money on this site because they failed to use their first planning approval for seven bungalows and their failed legal appeals have made this worse for them.

We have no responsibility to Kebbel homes at all and they will be giving the village nothing if they get their way. We will gain a traffic problem with cars parking all over the area including the Hall car park. We will lose some of the uniqueness and character of our attractive village.

Kebbel and Gascoigne claim to have a majority of your support - are you happy to be used in this way? If you would prefer some affordable homes and landscaping to a money-spinner for a developer please write to Harrogate Council and also encourage your Parish councillor to represent your views.

Jonathan Pimley

What could happen if application is refused

I have read and listened with interest to the reaction of just a few members of the village to the latest proposals now put forward by Kebbell Homes.I respond to the points raised by objectors to the proposals and I also consider what might happen if the planning application is refused.

The sitehas indeed a history and the statistics of responses is certainly interesting but a planning application has been made and needs to beconsidered by the village as a whole.The developer has taken on board over the past few years comments made by the village at a number of open meetings.

I recall considerable support fora mixed development not just affordable housing. The number of houses ha sbeen reduced in the latest scheme to 20 and the development site is now split into two with a new green grassed open area in the centre affording views from Ripon Road through the site towards the playing fields.

The appearance and scale of the development has now accordingly been reduced. Kebbell Homes have used an excellent local architect who has drawninspiration for the housing layout and elevational detailing from thecharacter of buildings within the village. The houses are built of brick andstone and use detailing from some of the older buildings. The houses facing Ripon Road pick up the character of the older farm buildings in the villagewhich do not face onto the highway. It is only the post Victorian buildings that do that. Window sizes are smaller and stone and brick walls connect the individual buildings.

As a development it will compliment the village character as well as attacting new families into the village which help to support the shop and school. Questions on flooding and drainage are well covered in the documentation.The regulations covering these are far stricter than even a year ago.

You may ask what is the alternative if this application is refused. The answer is that Kebbell Homes will probably sell the site and we will have lost a quality development. The alternative scheme put forward by residents local to the site showing 9 or 10 detached 'affordable' individual houses in the centre of the site surrounded by green grass looks pretty but is just not viable.

Affordable housing is built in terraces or semi detached units so that the rent is affordable.I would expect the site to be split. Part of the site nearest to the village would be sold to a developer who specialises in affordable housing who would easily get planning permission to build a terrace and possibly a semi detached unit next to the existing bungalows. This would be a basic brick development as there would be no for sale houses to spread theinfrastructure costs. The remaining two thirds of the site would be sold to a developer who has time to sit on it until the planning permission is given which eventually will happen with the new government planning changes.

Gone would be the green open space and we take the risk that we would get standard developers houses not in character with the village.The present scheme is excellent and has my support. Please look at the proposals and support it which I believe the majority of the village do.

Tony Garnett  

Understanding the policy position

Proposed Development at Knaresborough Road – Understanding the Policy Position

Following the recent submission of the proposed development at Knaresborough Road, I consider there is strong policy grounds to object to the scheme. I appreciate the policy position may seem confusing and contradictory and so, to help anyone who may wish to submit representations against the proposal, I provide an explanation of the relevant planning framework.

National Planning Policy Framework   You may have read in the media about the recent release of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). This document constitutes guidance for Local Authorities and decision takers as a material consideration in determining applications.

The NPPF acknowledges that applications must be determined in accordance with the Development Plan unless material considerations indicate otherwise. As such, the NPPF does not change the statutory status of the Development Plan as a starting point for decision making and it confirms that proposals that conflict with an up to date Local Development Framework or Local Plans should be refused. Development Plan (ie Local Development Framework (LDF) and/or Local Plan)  In terms of the Development Plan, the key document in the determination of this proposal is the Harrogate Core Strategy which was formally adopted as part of the statutory LDF process on February 2009. In light of the above principles advocated by the NPPF, I consider that the Core Strategy is the up to date ‘Development Plan’ that should be given significant weight in the decision making process. The Core Strategy sets out the direction and strategy for development in the Harrogate District. It determines the broad distribution of new houses and explains what this means in terms of settlement growth.   Policy SG2 of the Core Strategy identified Bishop Monkton as a ‘Group C Settlement’. The relevant section states:  “Group C Settlements will accommodate only very limited growth, mainly in the form of suitable development within their existing built up areas. Apart from very small scale ‘rounding off’, the only expansion of the built up area of settlements will be for small scale 100% affordable housing schemes for local people (rural exception sites).”(my emphasis)  In terms of the wording of this policy, it is reasonable to assume that the proposed development of 20 dwellings does not constitute ‘very limited growth’.

I would also argue that the site does not lying within the existing built up area of Bishop Monkton as it is more related to the adjoining recreational uses and development would extend the main built up area of the settlement beyond its existing visual limits. Whilst Policy SG2 allows for ‘rounding off’, this is strictly controlled to ‘very small scale’ which, in my view, would be one, two, or a maximum of three dwellings rather than 20 dwellings as proposed as part of this application.   The final element of the policy wording promotes the expansion of the built up area but for ‘small scale 100% affordable housing scheme for local people’ known as ‘rural exception sites’.

Taking on board the policy requirements of the Core Strategy, the Local Authority are currently promoting, as part of the LDF process, the Sites and Policies Development Plan Document which will eventually allocate land for specific uses including housing. Consistent with the wording of Policy SG2 of the Core Strategy, the Local Authority is seeking to promote the application site as a rural exception site for no more than 9 dwellings to be 100% affordable housing for the local people. In the context of this emerging policy, it could be argued that the term ‘small scale’ referred to in Policy SG2 in the context of a 100% affordable housing schemes is defined by the Local Authority as no more than 9 dwellings.
In summary, to demonstrate conformity with Policy SG2, any proposal for development of market housing will need to demonstrate that the development is of a scale that would only achieve very limited growth and the development is within the existing built up area of Bishop Monkton or the development would constitute very small scale rounding off.  In my view, the scale of the proposed development for market housing would be contrary to the adopted Core Strategy Policy SG2.   Policy SG4 of the Core Strategy sets out various criteria for assessing proposed developments and it confirms that there should be no loss of greenfield land unless justified by National Planning Policy or the Core Strategy.

Whilst a small scale rural exception site for 100% affordable housing for local people could be considered a good planning reason to justify the release of a greenfield site, the scale of the proposed open market housing on greenfield land is not, in my view, in accordance with Policy SG4. Policy EQ2 of the Core Strategy seeks to ensure that the landscape character of the district will be protected and, where appropriate, enhanced. Within the Bishop Monkton Conservation Area Character Appraisal (approved 15 October 2008) the Landscape Character Analysis Plan shows a ‘double’ key view arrow at the south western corner of the site looking in a north east direction (ie at the footpath entrance to the playfield near ‘Blaides’).

From studying the proposed layout, the arrangement of the new houses would impede this key view out of the village from Knaresborough Road across the playing field and so the proposal would be contrary to Core Strategy Policy EQ2.   Having regard to the up to date policy context set out in the adopted Core Strategy, there are clearly strong grounds to mount a serious challenge against the suitability of the proposal  Planning History The site has been subject to a lengthy planning history since it was granted outline planning permission in 1996 for seven bungalows. In January 2002, planning permission was refused for an extension of the period of time on the basis there was no need for this greenfield housing development. At that time, the Harrogate District Local Plan (adopted 2001) contained the relevant policies and the site was allocated as a housing commitment under Policy H3. In September 2007, Policy H3 was formally removed from the Development Plan and with it the housing allocation.

At that time, the Local Plan policies also encouraged reasonable growth to Bishop Monkton (Policy H6) which has now been removed and superseded by the policy restraint position now set out within the Core Strategy at Policy SG2. Until the emerging Sites and Policies Allocations DPD is adopted, there is a policy anomaly since the Development Limits of Bishop Monkton set out in the Proposals Maps of the Local Plan (2001) remains in place and this goes around the application site. However, when interpreting Policy SG2 of the Core Strategy, there is careful avoidance of the words ‘Development Limits’ and instead reference is made to suitable development within the existing built up area of the settlement. Development Limits distinguish both existing built up areas and proposed areas allocated for development. As the site has already been removed as a formal housing allocation in 2007 and it can be concluded that the site does not fall within the existing built up area (see above comments), it becomes an irrelevance for the determination of this application that the site has a history legacy of falling within the Development Limits of Bishop Monkton. This view is further supported by the ‘clear direction of travel’ of the policy position set out within the adopted Core Strategy to allow only very limited growth to the village. In summary, the policy position has significantly changed, not only since the outline planning consent was granted in 1996, but also again since the previous refusal in January 2002 and there are now strong policy grounds to resist the development. Public Consultation  The applicants place significant weight on the community consultation exercise undertaken in March 2007. Not only is this over five years old but, as demonstrated above, the policy position has significantly changed in this period with the removal of the housing allocation from the Local Plan in 2007 and the adoption of the Core Strategy in 2009. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that people’s views and perspectives within the community may have altered as a result of the changes to the policy framework. By not revisiting this aspect in order to give people a further opportunity to make their views known before submission of the application, I consider this is a significant oversight by the applicant.  Rural Exceptions Site  Consistent with the wording of Policy SG2 of the Core Strategy, the emerging Site and Policies Allocation DPD proposes up to nine dwellings on the application site all for local people and families at affordable prices. The Sites and Policies Development Plan Document is currently going through its consultation process and likely to be adopted in 2013.  The proposed split of the tenure on the site is as follows: 1.      50% of dwellings Social Rent or Shared Ownership (ie 5 dwellings). 2.      50% of the dwellings will be for ‘Rural Discount Homes’ with a locals only restriction (ie 4 dwellings). Social Rent/Affordable Housing is rented housing owned by the Housing Association for which guideline target rents are determined at a reduced rate through a national regime. Shared Ownership Affordable Housing is buying a share of a property and paying rent to a housing association on the remainder.   Rural Discount Homes would essentially be market housing but cheaper than open market housing as occupants would be required to have a local connection, thereby reducing the market value by 25%. A similar initiative already operates in National Park areas. 

I trust this explanation of the policy framework is helpful when formulating your representations to the proposal. The public consultation period expires on 16 April and, whilst you should submit your comments as soon as possible, don’t worry if you slightly overrun this deadline, since the Local Authority are obliged to consider all representations up to determination which is unlikely to be until the end of May at the earliest. 

James E Hobson 

From a slightly different perspective  

The Parish Plan, conducted in 2008 and obtaining the views of over 80% of the 360 or so households in the Parish, identified a need in the village for two main avenues of housing development –  the ‘provision of more family housing of various appropriate types and with sufficient of an affordable nature’ together with - the ‘creation of facilities to enable the more elderly to be provided for with the potential of releasing larger properties thereby creating a chain effect’.  

The proposed development, which I feel is an improvement on predecessors, goes someway to addressing the first requirement (though could be much improved) but fails totally with regard to the second requirement.  I realise this would require a major change to what is now about the 4th ‘plan’ for this land (commencing some 15 years ago with 6 or 7 dwellings) and that the developer has to make some profit from the site, certainly to cover its failings over the years.  However, 10 dwellings (at full market prices) and 10 through ‘affordable’ schemes where the profit will be somewhat lower, is, to my mind, quite a step up from the initially apparently viable project. 

I understand the ‘general’ requirement for some increase in density compared with 6 or 7 or even 9 dwellings, particularly if this then raises the likelihood or number of what I (and the 2008 Parish Plan) feel are appropriate and needed dwellings.  Limiting the site to say just 9 dwellings is to my mind not an option – if all are ‘open market’ then Kebbell make their money but the village gains very little though if all are of a rent/affordable nature then from their sheer plots and position (within the 0.9ha) they would be so desirable they wouldn’t remain affordable (and Kebbell  wouldn’t be interested as their return would be too low).  

So some combination of sizes, styles and targets is sensible and, to an extent, this is what Kebbell propose.  However, to my mind it could be radically enhanced. For example, by something like a total of  22 ‘dwellings’, comprising 3 open market houses (4 beds), 13 ‘affordable’ dwellings (2/3 beds) in two or three units together with 6 small ‘retirement’ designed linked bungalows (1/2 beds) with appropriate services/communications and possibly a level of support.  Compared with the 20 planned dwellings (ie 10 plus 10), this concept would ‘appear’ less dense and intrusive and would sit far more comfortably with the Parish Plan. The location, right by the Village Hall, is ideal for retirement communal activities as well as the playing field for younger families.  It would also increase the number of young families that would (could) live in the village, which is imperative for its future.  

Housing costs are now, at long last, accepted as the major problem facing most villages and their ongoing ‘success’ – it’s why we have five times as many residents in their 60’s as their 20’s, it’s why the school had 120 children some 30 years ago, with virtually all living in the village, but at present has well under half that number from the village (though, because it’s now a good school and pre-school etc, it has about an equal number from outside the village), it’s why the cricket club has well under half as many ‘adult’ members as it did 25 years ago, it’s why the football team doesn’t include a single player from the village etc.  In the last 35 years there has been little development (bar Renton Close, on a smallish scale) that enables (younger) families to either move here (from far or local) or to ‘remain’ here. The St John's development plus Melrose and Meadowcroft of the 60’s and 70’s provided a large boost to the community though that housing is now, unfortunately, out of the reach of most young families.   However, assuming that this opportunity is lost and now turning to the details of the current application, I see a number of virtues in the plan but do have several concerns including: 

1. The car parking space is inadequate – in Section 10, Kebbell defines 20 spaces – but for 20 dwellings!  In 2008 in the village, the average was 1.6 cars per dwelling with over half having 2 cars or more, particularly those households with children.   Living in a village and off a main/regular bus route leaves no other options and this average will certainly not decrease.  That said, a detailed examination of the Site Plan does put the figure a little above 20 spaces.  For the record - two dwellings with double garages (and extra parking space), 10 with single garages (of which 2 have adequate extra parking spaces, 7 just a small strip right in front of the garage door and one with nothing extra),one with parking under its arch and 7 with just a parking slot (mainly in a communal group).  However, this total is still far from adequate.  So for many, where would they park their second car?   Probably permanently out on the Access Road or grassed areas, especially as constantly shuffling a car parked on the small drive directly in front of the garage door is not a workable option.  Besides, how many use their garage for other storage!  What about visitors and others – for 6 dwellings at least there would only be pedestrian access, so more on the Access Road?  

2. Not only are there insufficient ‘affordable’ dwellings but I feel that the balance is wrong.  At the open meeting I believe we were told a 7:3 split between Social Rented and Intermediate (Shared Ownership) though I see the Planning Application has a 6:4 split.  I suggest that the village would benefit more from the reversal of that ratio (with ‘ownership’ there generally comes a likelihood of longer duration and increased commitment).  It is also important to bring new blood into any community or organisation and I think that the restrictions that are being imposed are too constraining (though discussions at the meeting became somewhat confusing with too much planners jargon!).  Yes, certainly ‘reserve’ some for local residents but do not exclude the rest of the country from everything!  This again points to the need for a larger number of these dwellings.  

3. The layout of the site appears to me to create a problem for itself.  Eight of the 10 ‘affordable dwellings (which are H1 to H7 and I assume, H8, plus H9 and H10) are positioned in what seems to me to be some of the prime area, including a front aspect across the playing field and away. For many this would be amongst the top ‘plots’ in the village in terms of aspect and view (and we all know what has been hinted at regarding taxing views because of the added value!).  Surely, this then would have an impact on their market values which must make them, initially or whenever, less affordable  

4   While much consideration has been given to the visual impact when approaching from Ripon, and the artists impressions certainly look quite reasonable, I find little favour with dwelling L1.  It virtually adjoins the road and for some distance together with high walls plus its own height (a semi 2nd floor?) thus making it far too dominating in the tight small surrounds.  To a lesser extent, the large block of 7 dwellings (H1 to H7) would also be quite dominant from the playing field side at least and while I realise it’s more economical to build in that manner, two smaller units would be a visual improvement.  
Martin Minett