A plan to build a housing estate on a field in Richmond has been rejected after objections from the local community.
North Yorkshire councillors meeting at Mercury House’s council chamber in the town unanimously refused Zetland Estates’ plan for 32 homes over a popular open space on Richmond’s western boundary at Hurgill Stables, a former renowned racehorse training facility, off Westfields.
Community opposition to the development had seen more than a thousand signatures on a petition and the packed room erupted into cheers and applause as delighted residents shook hands and embraced each other.
After the meeting, former mayor of Richmond, Councillor Clive World, said residents hoped to be able to buy the land from Zetland Estates, to keep it as pasture in perpetuity, and that a crowdfunding campaign could be launched to raise the funds.
The meeting had heard officers recommending the plan be approved, after concluding it would cause less than substantial harm to Richmond’s conservation area and that its merits, such as the provision of quality housing close to the town centre, outweighed its negative impacts.
An agent for the developer told the meeting building the estate on the 4.6-acre site would have a positive trickle down effect on the local economy at a time of instability.
Zetland Estates, of which the fourth Marquess of Zetland’s son, the Earl of Ronaldshay is a director, had claimed the development would “transform the lives of many” while providing “a transition to energy efficient building practices on a larger scale”.
He said the applicant wanted to build a development that respected its context and that the scheme would deliver much-needed affordable housing as well as a 23 per cent biodiversity net gain, well above the required amount.
However, speaking for Richmond Town Council, Ian Woods said a planning inspector had already ruled building in the area was contrary to policy.
He highlighted how building the homes would uproot a significant amount of hedgerows, see 65 trees felled and harm the Coast to Coast trail.
Mr Woods told the committee: “Refusal is the only response.”
Speaking on behalf of residents, Tom Pearson, said due to its elevated position, the proposed development would “tower” above nearby homes, would “deeply wound” the pastoral character of the area of Richmond while eroding the historic significance of heritage assets such as Hurgill Lodge.
Councillor Stuart Parsons added as Richmond had already met its housing target so there was no need for the development.
He then accused the applicant of “simply landbanking sites” around the town and said the amount of affordable housing being affordable was unacceptable.
Councillor Angus Thompson then questioned why consent should be given when the applicant’s family had approval for an application for 40 houses inside the town development limit.
He said: “How can we possibly accept this proposal? It is a non-starter.”