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Birstwith Road Site (HM9)

Harrogate Borough Council is preparing a new Local Plan that will set out how the district should grow and develop to 2035. Birstwith Road is proposed as an Additional Site HM9 and is now the subject of a consultation exercise.


HBC would encourage you to submit comments to the Additional Sites Consultation through their consultation portal at

Alternatively you can write to HBC at P.O. Box 787, Harrogate, HG1 9RW or Please make sure you include your full name and address with any comments you submit. HBC will not accept comments submitted anonymously, or with only a name and email address.

However you choose to respond, please make sure your comments are submitted by 4:30pm on Friday 25th August.

Comments on the proposal thus far may be viewed at


HBC Sustainability Appraisal Summary for HM9

This is a triangular agricultural field to the north of the village. There are positive social effects as the site is large enough to provide affordable housing, which in turn has positive economic effects as provision of affordable housing will help support existing businesses. The site is accessible to a play area/amenity open space/outdoor sports and can meet the recreation needs of the area. Positive impacts occur as there is some accessibility to local services but negative effects arise as the local primary school is at or near capacity and may require expansion and the lack of pavements does not encourage pedestrian access to services. Some potential adverse effects on biodiversity but relatively easy to mitigate. Negative landscape impacts are identified with limited opportunities for mitigation and there is a negative impact on local distinctiveness. There is also likely harm to the significance of a heritage asset but mitigation is possible.

Previous Application to Create Two Football Pitches on part of HM9

In 2009 an application was made to create senior football pitches on the HM9 site. A full assessment was made by Harrogate BC - see appraisal document below.

The following are personal commentaries by the website author (GH) and are not neccesarily the views of Hampsthwaite Parish Council

Commentary on HBC Appraisal

(you may wish to reflect on some of these questions when submitting your own comments)

  1. "large enough to provide affordable housing"

    1. affordable to whom?

    2. how many and at what cost?

  2. affordable housing will help support existing businesses“

    1. how particularly, what is the evidence?

    2. why just affordable housing?

    3. what is the proven need?

    4. do all local businesses support this development, have they requested it?

  3. can meet the recreation needs of the area“

    1. Feast Field owned by NYCC and only leased, Cricket Club on private and – no other recreation or sports space of any significance.

    2. What happens if NYCC does not renew lease or landowner abandons Cricket Club or change of landowner?

    3. SA2 in the 2016 Draft Sustainability Appraisal lists Hampsthwaite as having a shortfall in sports provision and this site not able to address this?
  4. some accessibility to local services”

    1. lack of pavements?

    2. dangerous road with sharp bend around Village Green?

    3. most traffic would travel through village centre to access employment and services in Harrogate, Leeds and York?

  5. primary school is at or near capacity”

    1. would expansion affect the school ethos as the local village primary school which parents chose?

    2. where would the school expand – into its own playground or into Feast Field?

    3. if into Feast Field, would the village lose its only significant public recreation space?

  6. adverse effects on biodiversity but relatively easy to mitigate”

    1. how?

    2. nesting Curlews on this land?

  7. negative landscape impacts are identified with limited opportunities for mitigation”

    1. so are they to be ignored?

    2. what are they?

    3. Hampsthwaite on edge of AONB?

    4. start of Nidderdale Way?

  8. negative impact on local distinctiveness”

    1. would Hampsthwaite remain a village?

    2. danger of creeping urbanisation?

    3. loss of village community cohesion?

  9. likely harm to the significance of a heritage asset but mitigation is possible.”

    1. considerable increase in traffic through village centre Conservation Area?

    2. Sharp bend passed Village Green already a problem?

    3. High Street a Roman Road and only 5.130metres wide at Corner Shop?

    4. how mitigated?

HM9 Heritage and Landscape Setting
HM9 Heritage and Landscape Setting

General comment regarding the impact of current Local Plan proposals on villages.

We must assume that our Councillors and HBC staff care as much about the distinctive semi-rural quality of the area as we do and so, when thinking about the area, what images spring to mind? Why did TdF and TdY appeal so much? If at any point in such a thought process there is some reflection upon the attractiveness of our villages, our village schools and their landscape setting, what legacy of service to the community do we wish to leave for our children and grandchildren? You can make a village into a town but it is never reversible.

Consider also that if Harrogate itself continues to expand up the rising landscape beyond the Old Spring Well, then it too may loose its own landscape setting to the detriment of its attractiveness as a tourist destination? Additional housing is required of course. But especially ‘affordable housing’ and not on the scale now being put forward but rather as described in our Village Plan (see was our “participation in decision making” - has it been consulted? And by ‘Affordable’, we mean really ‘affordable’ and actually delivered as opposed to the broken promises of same on sites such as that currently being built at Grange Park.

Placing the heavy burden of 26% of all additional housing needs on just a few singled out villages is grossly unfair and will destroy some of those communities - for ever (i.e. you cannot ‘mitigate’ destruction of heritage). And it seems no account is taken of the different ‘starting points’ : the population had almost doubled between 1961 and 1985 and more recenty, Hampsthwaite has accepted the now waterlogged St Thomas a’Becket Walk development, welcomed the affordable homes at Cruet Fold and is currently enduring the unwelcome and misguided Grange Park development.

Rather than the arbitrary, and now out of date, segregation of villages into Classes (e.g Hampsthwaite has lost employment opportunities it once had), it is probable that all villages would accept some small scale infill development to make up a more reasonable total. This is more complex of course. It would be less attractive to developers of course. But these are not sufficient justifications for the destruction of our landscape heritage.

Commentary on SA Objective by Objective with regard to HM9:

Quality housing available to everyone.
  • HBC Appraisal and Summary : "large enough to provide affordable housing" . . . "affordable housing will help support existing businesses“
  • Challenge :
    1. An irrelevant statement since most sites are "large enough” in this regard but there is no evidence from the current building at Grange Park that the promise of “affordable housing” is fulfilled – i.e. affordable to whom?
    2. What is the evidence that local businesses in Hampsthwaite wish this – the majority of local businesses are currently displaying posters objecting to this proposal and some have already submitted written objections, including one thriving and much loved village enterprise which describes how it will be detrimental to their business.
Conditions and services to engender good health.
  • HBC Appraisal and Summary : “Accessible to play area/amenity open space/outdoor sports” . . . “can meet the recreation needs of the area“
  • Challenge :
    1. Feast Field owned by NYCC and only leased. The Cricket Club is not public and on private land. There is no other recreation or sports space of any significance and we will even lose Feast Field if NYCC does not renew the lease in 14 years time.
    2. SA2 in the 2016 Draft Sustainability Appraisal lists Hampsthwaite as having a shortfall in sports provision and this site is not able to address this – the promise of a small grass amenity space does not begin to address the issue.
Safety and security for people and property.
  • HBC Appraisal and Summary : “Dependent on application of design policies and community policing.
  • Challenge :
    1. Not specified except for reliance on non-existent community policing in villages.
Vibrant communities that participate in decision making.
  • HBC Appraisal and Summary : “Provision of affordable housing will help reduce social isolation" . . . "Local school at or near capacity and may require expansion”
  • Challenge :
    1. Surveys for the creation of Hampsthwaite Village Plan (see attracted a response from 59% of the population and concluded that most respondents want either no further building development or have it restricted to low cost housing for young people.
    2. We are not currently ‘socially isolated’ other than we are a discrete semi-rural village and wish to remain so – there is no local desire to become a suburb of Harrogate and thus lose our distinct semi-rural village identity.
    3. Our Village Plan was our ‘participation in decision making’ and that makes it clear that additional housing on this scale is not required - 64% of respondents wanted the village to remain as it is and 52% chose to live here because of its rural location.
    4. If the school is expanded it would have to do so either by compromising its own play area or at the expense of losing the public play area and recreation space on Feast Field as referred to in SA2 – there is no other public recreation space and the Sports Field is in private ownership
Culture, leisure and recreation activities available to all.
  • HBC Appraisal and Summary : “Can meet recreational needs of the area" . . . "Does not contain features of recreation or amenity value”.
  • Challenge :
    1. See response to Objective SA2. above – recreation needs will not be met if the school is expanded on to Feast Field
    2. HM9 contributes much to the ‘amenity value’ of our current and much valued setting surrounded by a rising landscape on the edge of the Nidderdale AONB – the ‘Gateway to the Dales’ and the start of the Nidderdale Way.
Local needs met locally.
  • HBC Appraisal and Summary : “Some accessibility to local services but poor accessibility to rail service, secondary school, and employment”
  • Challenge :
    1. Local businesses are accessible from HM9 only via a dangerous winding road on which there have been fatal accidents; it is without pavements and enters the village centre at a hazardous blind corner by the Village Green.
    2. All development in Hampsthwaite is on the wrong side of Harrogate with regard to employment, education and entertainment with consequent exacerbation of the existing traffic issues across Harrogate and particularly along Skipton Road. In addition HM9 is on the wrong side of Hampsthwaite in this regard.
    3. Very little traffic from HM9 will travel towards Birstwith and most will have to negotiate the dangerous blind corner passed the Village Green and up the High Street adding to the already considerable congestion there. The High Street is a Roman Road forming a central ‘spine’ to the village Conservation Area. It is only 5.130 metres wide opposite the corner shop and effectively single lane as it continues up towards Rowden Lane as a result of residents’ parked cars. High Street residents on one side have no driveways and there is no public car-park within Hampsthwaite.
    4. Access from HM9 to the nearest train service in Harrogate is also through the Conservation Area. The local bus service is already infrequent and soon to become more so and the cost of taking a family of 4 to Harrogate and back is exorbitant.
    5. The Doctors Surgery is only a satellite service already oversubscribed : planning was granted for a purpose-built surgery some years ago but this was not used as such and is now a private residence.
Education and training opportunities which build on the skills and capacity of the population.
  • HBC Appraisal and Summary : “Local primary school at or near capacity and likely to require expansion”
  • Challenge :
    1. There is no space for the local primary school to expand other than by losing its own play space or by invading Feast Field and thus deprive the community of its only public sports and recreation space.
    2. The local primary school is popular and successful in part because of its village primary school ethos which would be lost if over expanded.
    3. All local secondary schools are on the opposite side of Harrogate thus aggravating the congestion and general traffic problems both through the conservation Area and on to Skipton Road
Biodiversity and importance of the natural environment.
  • HBC Appraisal and Summary : "Some potential adverse effects on biodiversity" . . . "High landscape sensitivity" . . . "mitigation opportunities limited".
  • Challenge :
    1. Hampsthwaite is set in the Nidd Valley and surrounded by rising landscape. This landscape setting is put at great risk by continued development up the surrounding hillside – indeed, the setting of Harrogate itself is being compromised by the continuing creeping developments up the rising landscape towards the Old Spring Well roundabout thus putting at risk its attraction for tourism in general and events such as TdF and TdY in particular.
    2. Hampsthwaite is on the edge of the Nidderdale AONB, a ‘Gateway to the Dales, and the start of the Nidderdale Way. It is the probable location of a Roman Fort half way between Ilkley and Aldborough. No amount of ‘mitigation’ by planting a few tress can ever compensate for loss of this heritage.
    3. HM9 is a known habitat for ground nesting birds such as Curlews.
Minimal pollution levels.
  • HBC Appraisal and Summary : "Unlikely to have an impact on air quality" . . . "Some adverse effect on surface water and watercourses"
  • Challenge :
    1. The volume of additional traffic travelling through the Conservation Area will add to the already severe congestion with resulting stationary traffic and consequence increase in CO2 emission. Similarly, once out of Hampsthwaite this impact will be repeated along Skipton Road through to the Empress Roundabout – a stretch of road that is already virtually at a standstill each afternoon during term time.
    2. The southern slopes around Hampsthwaite are well known to be the source of underground springs many of which add to our considerable drainage problems at times of heavy rain (e.g. Church Lane, bottom of Hollins Lane)
    3. Tankers regularly travel though Hampsthwaite carrying away sewage which the local pumping station is unable to cope with
A transport network which maximises access whilst minimising detrimental impacts.
  • HBC Appraisal and Summary : "Significant transport and/or accessibility problems"
  • Challenge :
    1. Bus services are minimal and reducing
    2. Most employment and entertainment is to the other side of Harrogate, York and Leeds therefore most traffic will go through the centre of the Conservation Area.
    3. The High Street is a Roman Road only 5.130m wide and effectively single lane because of residents’ cars parked there – these is no public car-park in Hampsthwaite.
Minimise greenhouse gas emissions and a managed response to climate change.
  • HBC Appraisal and Summary : "Bus stop not within 400m"
  • Challenge :
    1. Bus service so infrequent as to make the issue of Bus Stops irrelevant
    2. The inevitable traffic congestion in the Hampsthwaite Conservation Area will generate considerable pollution by CO2 emmission.
Prudent and efficient use of energy and natural resources with minimal production of waste
  • HBC Appraisal and Summary : “All new development will increase use of primary resources and increases energy and water consumption and waste.”
  • Challenge :
    1. Agreed that all building is detrimental and, in addition, the location of HM9 will lead to excessive energy wastage and CO2 emission as a result of the congestion created by building on the wrong side of Harrogate and the wrong side of Hampsthwaite.
Protect and enhance the historic environment.
  • HBC Appraisal and Summary : “Likely to harm significance of heritage asset”
  • Challenge :
    1. Development will cause considerable harm to local heritage assets which cannot be mitigated: excessive traffic will be forced through the narrow streets of our Conservation Area and cause congestion by the Village Green.
    2. The landscape setting for our Conservation Area will be despoiled for ever as a result of development on rising landscapes around the village
A quality built environment and efficient land use patterns.
  • HBC Appraisal and Summary : “Negative impact on local distinctiveness”
  • Challenge :
    1. Hampsthwaite’s distinctiveness as a semi-rural discrete village surround by a de facto Green Belt and on the edge of the AONB will be permanently damaged.
    2. Building on rising landscapes destroys local settings and cannot be mitigated by the simplistic planting of a few trees.
Good quality employment opportunities available to all.
  • HBC Appraisal and Summary : “Only proposed for residential development”
  • Challenge :
    1. No additional employment will be provided and almost all existing employment is outside Hampsthwaite in Harrogate, York and Leeds which will exacerbate the existing problems of congestion on Skipton Road and through Harrogate
Conditions for business success, economic growth and investment
  • HBC Appraisal and Summary : “Provision of affordable housing will help support local businesses.”
  • Challenge :
    1. See SA1 : there are very few local employment opportunities and no evidence that local businesses require provision on this scale.
    2. Experience of current building at Grange Park brings into question what developers think is ‘affordable’ and to what extent such promises are realised
Birstwith Road Site (HM9)
Harrogate Borough Council is preparing a new Local Plan that will set out how the district should grow and develop to 2035. Birstwith Road is proposed as an Additional Site HM9 and is now the subject of a consultation exercise.