Review of Local Plan Must Be Independent, Fair and Transparent
After Harrogate Borough Council was instructed to review its choice of location for a major new settlement, the developer behind plans for Flaxby Park is calling on the council to make its reassessment independent, fair and transparent.
Under Harrogate Council’s draft Local Plan, thousands of homes could be built around Green Hammerton and the A59 would also have to be re-routed. However, independent government inspector Richard Schofield, who is tasked with examining the council’s proposals, has now asked for the locations to be reviewed.
Flaxby Park Ltd, which plans to transform Flaxby’s disused golf course into a new sustainable village community, now says this must be done independently, rather than using the council’s own staff to attempt it again.
Chris Musgrave, from Flaxby Park Ltd, said: “We have consistently argued that the council favouring Green Hammerton as the location for a new settlement, at the expense of Flaxby Park, is based on flawed and inaccurate information.
“The inspector has listened carefully to all of the arguments at the recent Examination in Public and clearly has serious concerns in relation to the selection process, hence his request for the council to reassess the Green Hammerton and Flaxby sites.
“I welcome the inspector’s intervention, which in my view, supports the argument we have put to the council for the past 18 months. We don’t want favours, we just want fairness, and that’s exactly what we now hope to see.
“Indeed, the inspector clearly has concerns or he wouldn’t have asked for the sites to be reassessed. However, if the council is doing the assessment again, they will in theory be critiquing their own work, after they have already publicly stated in the Examination that their opinion about the broad location won’t change.
“I am therefore writing to Wallace Sampson, the Chief Executive of the council to request that he appoints an independent third party, with no connection to the council to perform the review. This will ensure that a fair, impartial and transparent review occurs, which will consider all the information, so it can be accurately weighted and scored.
“I believe that if such a process occurs, then Flaxby Park will come out on top, due to the compelling evidence to support a new settlement on the site.”
In his letter to the council, independent government inspector Richard Schofield, said: “Having considered the submissions from Flaxby Park and Keep The Hammertons Green … it seems to me that the issue of whether additional sustainability appraisal work in relation to broad locations for growth for a new settlement is needed is finely balanced. This being so, I consider that it would be sensible for the council to undertake additional work in this regard.”
Flaxby Park Ltd is owned by internationally renowned businesswoman and philanthropist Dame Ann Gloag OBE, and regeneration experts, Chris Musgrave and Trevor Cartner. The company acquired the disused golf course in 2016. Flaxby Park has been designed by a team of leading consultants, including local, respected architects, Wildblood Macdonald and transport planning advisors, Fore Consulting.
A submitted planning application for Flaxby Park is currently available to view on Harrogate Borough Council’s website. It includes 2,750 high quality homes, a retirement village, two primary schools, a GP surgery, sports facilities and a new village centre. More than 50% of the site will consist of green open space and as part of the scheme, Goldsborough Railway Station will be reopened as a new park and ride station, called Flaxby Parkway Station.
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