Housing estate would ruin views to and from Richmond Castle, it is claimed

The location of the proposed development. Image: Google.

Views to and from Richmond Castle would be ruined if a developer is granted consent to build a housing estate on fields outside agreed development limits, it has been claimed.

Scores of objections have been lodged to Langlands Developments’ proposal to build 28 homes at Bolton Crofts, Richmond, just days after Zetland Estates’ scheme to build 32 homes on another nearby greenfield site was dismissed by councillors amid concerns for road safety and residents’ amenity.

Both proposals have generated concerns for the grade I listed castle, the building of which begun in the 1070s by Alan Rufus, who had fought at the Battle of Hastings alongside William the Conqueror.

Papers submitted by agents for the developer state although a substantial part of the application site is screened by trees, Bolton Crofts is visible is from the battlements and keep of Richmond Castle.

A heritage report submitted by the developer conclude due to the proposed estate form and position it would have the lowest level of “less than substantial harm” on the significance of heritage assets.

The report states: “The layout allows for the retention of views towards the keep of Richmond Castle and the Richmond Conservation Area from the north and creates new opportunities to experience the heritage assets from
within the proposed development and through connection to the existing footpath to the east side of the site.”

The documents also state the proposal, on grazing land off Bolton Avenue, forms “a logical infill development” and is next to set development limits for Richmond on three sides, so would link two existing residential areas.

The application claims the proposal would generate significant benefits, including eight affordable homes, improved emergency access to existing homes and significant improvements to connectivity and the accessibility of residential areas, open space, play areas and the nearby industrial estate.

However, the proposal has been met with fierce opposition from the Campaign for Rural England and residents, with claims it would have a detrimental impact on Richmond Conservation Area, heritage assets and their setting.

Objectors said “preserving spectacular views over a rural, historic town” remained as an important reason for refusal as when housing was previously proposed for the site in 1985.

One resident wrote: “The view across the valley from and towards Richmond castle will be ruined. Such views are what make Richmond such a joy to live in. Loss of this iconic view will impact the whole community and potentially affect tourist income.”

Other objectors have claimed the steep and inadequate access roads to the site would be treacherous in winter and lead to “a serious, potentially fatal, impact”.

Residents have said the proposed 69 car parking spaces on Bolton Crofts would lead to a large increase in traffic, adding extra risk of accidents and congestion issues at pinch points, and questioned the developers’ claims the site is within easy walking distance of the town’s amenities.

A residents’ group wrote: “The fact is that, given the steepness of Prior Avenue, most existing residents use their vehicles to access the town. Thus a major increase in traffic is inevitable.”