LDF Sites Consultation: May/June 2013

This is a draft / in-progress document.

Prior to this stage of the site selection process all comments about individual sites have been dealt with by Harrogate Borough Council themselves. This time the site selections are being reviewed by an external (independent) inspector who will be seeing the comments for the first time.

It is appropriate to raise any issues with the individual sites, even though the same comments have already been seen by Harrogate in earlier consultations.

Please remember that the consultation is for the whole document and all policies, not only for the individual sites. One of the difficulties when dealing with councils is that they will adopt rules and then stick to those rules even if they are not sensible. Challenging the proposed policies at the outset is important.

We feel that it is important to challenge not only aspects of the selected site, but also the policies around the site selection.   We know that Harrogate have been unable to identify suitable large sites for all of the group B and C settlements.    The concern is that they will try to push all of the rural housing allocation onto those villages where sites have been identified.

The fact that they have been unable to identify sites does however imply that the policies around selecting rural sites are both unjustified and ineffective.

Any residents who would like to add comments please contact the clerk or any member of the parish council

Direct link to the Harrogate site: Harrogate Sites and Policies PDF document

Direct link to the response form Sites and Policies response form

There are a number of issues raised by the documents which you may wish to comment on.   Please be aware that a separate response form seems to be required for each issue which you wish to raise.

We have raised the issue of the complexity of the response form with Harrogate and have been told that other responses will be considered but that they do need to include the information which is requested on the form.

If you wish to comment on an aspect of a particular site selection then I would suggest using the following details as a template.

Page 127
Policy Ref:SG6
Site Ref: 3032A
Development Limit: Burton Leonard
Sound: No
Justified: No

Then the reason why you believe the site selection is unjustified.  Please submit a separate form for each reason.

What would need to change in order for things to become acceptable.
If you wish to propose changes to the sites then you should probably include a map and appropriate details.
Residents should be aware that impact on property value in itself is unlikely to be regarded as a valid point.
If possible you should refer to existing council policies which are in conflict with the site proposals.

In this case page 127 is the page showing the Burton Leonard Site.
Policy SG6 is a list of the selected sites.
3032A is the reference number of the Burton Leonard selected site.
If you believe a choice is not legal then please let the Parish Council know, but realistically most objections will focus on the decision being unsound (ie the wrong choice).

There are many reasons why you may wish to object to the site.

This site was previously Rejected by Harrogate as the “sustainability appraisal indicates that development on the site would perform poorly against environmental objectives”.  This is not the only example of Harrogate changing their claims or the rules to ensure that Burton Leonard is nominated for development.

The site is excessive in scale and will have significant negative impact on the village and the conservation area.   40 Houses is a substantial increase in the size of the village and is not justified by any evidence.

The vehicular access through Scarah Lane and West terrace is unsuitable for its current level of traffic let alone an additional 80 vehicles.    It would be almost impossible to make this road of an acceptable standard.    Bollards would need to be installed at some point to prevent the use of this loop.    Limekilns lane (which is also a single track road) is subject to flooding on a regular basis.

The village infrastructure is inadequate.    The school does not have capacity for a 25% increase in pupil numbers.    They already have a temporary classroom.    Any large scale development should be required to provide additional classroom space as a requirement before development takes place.

The village drainage/sewage system is near capacity.   Despite substantial works by Yorkshire Water flooding (including flooding with sewerage) is a problem.   Any large scale development in the village should be required to provide the necessary upgrades to the infrastructure as a requirement prior to development.   Yorkshire Water have stated that development should be small scale only.

Public transport links are not ‘Good’.   The service is not sufficient to allow anyone to use it for access to work outside the village.

The Parish Council would ask that residents intending to object to the site selection for any reason also submit objections to the policy that Harrogate are following in selecting rural sites.

Page 5.
Paragraph 3.10
Policy Ref: SG6
Site ref: All rural sites (RL3032A if you wish to be specific to Burton Leonard)
Development Limit: all rural sites (Burton Leonard)
Map: RL3032A /PAGE 127

Sound: No
Justified: No
Effective: No
Positively Prepared:No

For the purposes of allocating the amount of housing in the rural district the council insists on representing the rural district as single location rather than relating back to the individual geographic areas which formed the basis of the original housing needs requirement (Harrogate District 2006 Housing Needs Assessment).    The nomination of Group B and C villages is also not related to the actual housing need distribution.
The selection of the actual sites in the rural area is not based on the evidence of need as quoted by the council.  Furthermore the rural allocation has been lumped into a small number of large development sites in the rural district which fails to distribute planned development in relation to each settlement/areas need for affordable housing.  As such the rural site selections are in breach of several stated policies of the Core Strategy.

The site allocations in the rural areas need to be smaller and distributed across a greater number of settlements – matching the actual distribution of need.
Harrogate need to adopt a more flexible approach to the development lines and enable small scale developments in a much wider range of settlements.

Page 5.
Paragraph 3.10
Policy Ref: SG6
Site ref: All rural sites (RL3032A if you wish to be specific to Burton Leonard)
Development Limit: all rural sites (Burton Leonard)
Map: RL3032A /PAGE 127

Sound: No
Justified: No
Effective: No
Positively Prepared:No

The inflexible approach to the sizes of the developments in the rural settlements has directly resulted in two distinct problems:  failure to locate suitable sites in many settlements because no large enough sites are available and the resultant bunching of the housing requirement into large sites which are inappropriate and excessive in scale for the remaining settlements.
While it is understandable that large developers and the council would prefer to deal with a small number of larger sites, this is not the best way to deliver the actual needs of the rural district.  The current proposals are not justified and are detrimental to the rural settlements.

The site allocations in the rural areas need to be smaller and distributed across a greater number of settlements – matching the actual distribution of need.
Harrogate need to adopt a more flexible approach to the development lines and enable small scale developments in a much wider range of settlements.

Page 5.
Paragraph 3.9
Policy Ref: SG6
Site ref: All rural sites (RL3032A if you wish to be specific to Burton Leonard)
Development Limit: all rural sites (Burton Leonard)
Map: RL3032A /PAGE 127

Sound: No
Justified: No
Effective: No
Positively Prepared:No

The inflexibility of Harrogate’s approach to the size of rural developments is detrimental to the rural economy and environment.  Small scale developments would be able to be taken on by local builders who have more sympathy with the local vernacular.   Large scale developments are more likely to be handled by larger national or regional firms with less regard for the local environment.  High quality development by local builders (such as the Crown site within Burton Leonard) should be encouraged.

Harrogate should be more flexible with the rural development limits and site sizes and be receptive to projects which are conceived and implemented by the local communities.

Type and density of housing.

Page 9/10.
Paragraph 3.30 / 3.31 / 3.34
Policy Ref: SG7
Site ref: All rural sites (RL3032A if you wish to be specific to Burton Leonard)
Development Limit: all rural sites (Burton Leonard)
Map: RL3032A /PAGE 127

Sound: No
Justified: No

The density of housing makes a significant impact on the character of a settlement. This is particularly the case in rural settlements and conservation areas. The density and distribution of housing and amenity space forms a key component of the character of a settlement. Imposing a minimum density of 30 houses/hectare may be inappropriate and may be in conflict with Policy EQ5 (Local distinctiveness p.52).

A policy would be justified if reference was made to the housing density of the existing settlement as well as the distribution of public amenity space within the settlement.
Site size is also a relevant factor. Rather than a single large site within a settlement, a number of smaller sites either within the same settlement or distributed across a number of settlements in a rural area.

We would also raise an issue with a policy which is being introduced under the heading of ‘Sustainable Development’

POLICY SD1: PRESUMPTION IN FAVOUR OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
When considering development proposals the Council will take a positive approach that reflects the presumption in favour of sustainable development contained in the NPPF. It will always work proactively with applicants jointly to find solutions which mean that proposals can be approved wherever possible, and to secure development that improves the economic, social and environmental conditions in the area.
Planning applications that accord with the policies in this Local Plan (and, where relevant, with polices in neighbourhood plans) will be approved without delay, unless material considerations indicate otherwise.
Where there are no Local Plan policies relevant to the application or relevant policies are out of date at the time of making the decision then the Council will grant permission unless material considerations indicate otherwise – taking into account whether:

  • Any adverse impacts of granting permission would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits, when assessed against the policies in the National Planning Policy Framework taken as a whole; or
  • Specific policies in that Framework indicate that development should be restricted.

This policy is a straight extract from the National guidelines, however it should be unacceptable to residents.  While the theory of sustainable development is of course a good thing, this policy (which will in future apply to all planning applications, not only the current site selections) is setting out the principle that any development which can be claimed to be sustainable should be approved (and Harrogate will help applicants to get the sustainable tag on their applications).

In response to our queries both Harrogate Council and the National Government have been unable to give any meaningful definition of sustainable development.   While many residents will assume that this means something vaguely ‘green’ or ‘eco’ the definitions which are being offered emphasise the business benefit to the economy.

Sustainable Development

Page 2.
Paragraph 2.1 – 2.8
Policy Ref SD1
Sound: No
Effective: No
Positively Prepared: No

The document fails to provide any criteria for assessment of ‘sustainable’ development. Since this policy introduces a presumption in favour of developments the failure to provide any criteria cast doubt on the soundness, effectiveness and preparation of this policy.   Furthermore the assertion in paragraph 2.8 that the policy will be monitored and evaluated seems to contradict the contents of the Monitoring Statement (p.91) which states that there is no indicator to be monitored and no indicator of successful implementation of the policy.

A framework for assessment or minimum criteria would be required to make this a sound policy.

Section 2 of the document covers what may be a new concept to many residents. This has been characterised as unnecessary interference and restriction on developers or as giving a green light to unwanted development. It all depends on your point of view.
In theory ‘sustainable development’ should meet the needs of the economy, society and the environment without impacting on the future. How this is actually implemented makes all the difference. I would argue that this should be a minimum standard for all development, whereas Harrogate seem to be taking the view that this would be enough to ensure the approval of development.

2.1 Sustainable development is defined as ‘meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’ (Resolution 42/187 of the United Nations General Assembly). The NPPF makes clear the important role that the planning system has in contributing to achieving sustainable development.

Resolution 42/187 was the motion which accepted the so called Brundtland Commission report “Our Common Future” from which the definition is actually derived.

2.2 Policy SD1 sets out the Council’s approach to determining planning applications so that there is a presumption in favour of sustainable development. This approach will help to ensure the all applications that are in accordance with other planning policies are dealt with in a timely manner. It is considered that by encouraging proposals for sustainable development, this policy has the potential to support all Core Strategy objectives.

Which seems to be saying that pretty much all development will be approved. It is of concern that the term ‘sustainable development’ is understood by many people to have strong green/eco connotations which do not seem to be intended by Harrogate. This needs much better clarification. I could argue that homes built under such a policy should be passivehaus standard. Any other construction which results in less energy efficiency is having an impact on the future. I suspect Harrogate won’t agree with me.

2.3 The NPPF (National Planning Policy Framework) makes clear that the purpose of the planning system is to contribute to the achievement of sustainable development.
Sustainable development is described as having three key mutually dependent dimensions; the economy, society and environment. To achieve sustainable development applicants and the Council will need to consider how development contributes to all three elements. Officers will work proactively with applicants where there is scope for an application to achieve sustainable development.

Contact with the Government department responsible for this policy reveals that there is no criteria for assessing ‘sustainable development’. It will be a matter for local government to determine what is appropriate in the relevant situation.

2.8 The Council is committed to ensuring an up to date plan through the regular monitoring of policies, for example, through the Annual Monitoring Report (AMR). The Council will undertake a review or partial review of the development plan where necessary in accordance with the most up to date Regulations and guidance regarding plan making.

Except that the Monitoring section (p.91) states ‘No Indicator’ for both the assessment criteria and target.

3: Settlement Growth

This section is the core of the document which will be of most interest to residents. It defines the new policies which will apply to development in the district and also identifies those sites in which development is intended to take place.

FLOOD RISK

section 4: homes local people.
Inequality of income and wealth seems to be large in the district. Salaries withing the district seem low compared to property costs. Noticeable that large numbers commute into Leeds/York/Bradford/Teesside. People working in the hospitality industry and the rural economy are typically struggle to afford open market housing.

Concerns that the situation within the AONB is particularly difficult, with the less well off being increasingly squeezed into the towns. Consideration should be given to ways of providing housing for local people in the countryside.


Page 83.
Paragraph
Policy Ref: IN3

Viability of a rail link which ends at Ripon will always be in doubt. The line becomes more viable if it were to be extended to Northallerton.

The Policy should cover the whole Harrogate – Northallerton link, together with potential stations for commuter traffic

Page 68.
Paragraph 8.18
Policy Ref:

The councils desire for public access to school grounds is likely to be in conflict with OFSTED guidance on safeguarding. Schools have recently been told to erect secure gates and signage to prevent public access.

There should be no expectation that school grounds will be available for public amenity use. The presence of school grounds should not be taken into account when planning for recreational land.

6.18 Park and ride- parking near rail stations poor. Provision of parking for access to rail/bus transport.

8: COMMUNITIES

Social cohesion

8.18 – shared use of school facilities and playfields – conflict ith offsted ? Safeguarding
Cannot assume that school fields are available as public recreation areas.