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Could a community green space in Harrogate's Pinewoods still be at risk?

pinewoods irongate field harrogate

1:42pm 14th November 2017
(Updated 8:49am 15th November 2017)

Harrogate based charity, the Pinewoods Conservation Group, has formally raised concerns with Harrogate Borough Council following the release of the new draft local plan.

As part of the original process the PCG applied for designated green space for the Pinewoods footprint, including Rotary Wood and Irongate Field.

This was originally refused but following a campaign the main woods have now been included.

However campaigners have highlighted the exclusion of Rotary Wood and Irongate Field.

Rotary Wood was originally installed by Harrogate Rotary and local school children and is currently subject to outline planning consent by Harrogate Spring Water Limited.

Irongate Field off Harlow Moor Road was officially launched as a community green space in 2014 following lottery and grant funding being received.

It was part of a major 2 year project hat included the installation of many picnic benches and thousands of wild flowers.

Irongate Field

Irongate field harrogate pinewoods

Irongate field is now maintained by local charity Horticap with free support from a number of local businesses.

PCG Chairman Neil Hind said "We were pleased that the council have reconsidered and now added areas of the Pinewoods to the local plan but disappointed certain areas were excluded.

"Although we can understand why Rotary Woods was not included with the planning permission pending the exclusion of Irongate Field is a major concern.

"Whilst appreciating this is a draft document we have formally raised concerns with its content.

"The site map included says "to be amended" that originally gave us hope the additional areas would be added but this has been confirmed as a drafting error and the map is actually correct.

"The document also states "The landowner (HBC Estates) has requested an amended site boundary to take account of the extant planning permission on Irongate Field" but we suspect this actually refers to the Rotary Wood planning.

"Our primary concern is that HBC have stated the majority of representations referred only to the mature woodland area.

"We feel this was not the case and we know our additional evidence that included a comprehensive bio-diversity list of plants and animals represented our entire footprint.

"The only conclusion we can reach is that the council wants to keep Irongate field available for possible future development that would be a great loss to the community and a further reduction of green space from the Pinewoods footprint."

The PCG have asked that their concerns are formally submitted to various council meetings to approve the local plan and will plan to ask its members again to raise their concerns within the final consultation planned for January 2018.

Councillor Rebecca Burnett, Harrogate Borough Council’s cabinet member for planning, said:

"Local Green Space is a new designation and allows the council through the Local Plan to recognise and protect those green spaces that are of most value to the community.

"We are allocating many sites across the district including allotments, parks, woods and other key outdoor spaces and have received a lot of support for the outcome of our work on this area of the plan. 

“The policy around Local Green Space puts the responsibility onto local communities and groups to apply for and justify an allocation within the criteria.

"The council can only act on the information submitted but we have helped many groups across the district with this process. 

“The sites in the plan are the sites our professionals believe to be appropriate based on the evidence.

"The plan is passing through the local democratic process in the coming weeks but it is important to note that there is still opportunity to influence the Inspector who will make the final decisions on the plan at the final consultation in January."

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