A controversial plan to build Leyburn’s biggest housing estate in decades on a hilltop “landlocked site” with limited pedestrian access has been approved after years of talks, despite residents saying it would exacerbate existing road safety issues.
The last meeting of Richmondshire District Counci’s planning committee before the authority is abolished later this month heard a majority of councillors agree while Yorkvik Homes scheme to build 127 homes off Moor Road was much-needed development with its 30 per cent affordable housing, accessing the site on foot was far from ideal.
A spokesman for the firm since the application had been submitted in 2020 concerns over potential issues such as accessing the site and road safety had all been resolved and Yorvik Homes had received numerous inquiries about the estate from first-time buyers, indicating “pent-up demand”.
He said: “The quantum of development is not excessive or disproportionate to Leyburn.”
However, councillors were told there was no footpath on either side of Moor Road until it reached Grove Square, and pedestrian access to the estate linking it to the town centre would be through a woodland as well as sharing the vehicle access and Yarker Bank Lane.
Leyburn county councillor Karin Sedgwick told the meeting she had been working to get road safety measures introduced on Moor Road for some six years to no avail.
Moor Road residents said they were particularly concerned about the consequences of building so many houses with an entrance close to a sharp, poorly-lit blind bend on a stretch of road where authorities had recognised traffic speeds on the road was an issue.
One resident told the committee: “You have a duty of care to people on Moor Road. Please do not wait until somebody is seriously injured or killed to do something about this.”
Another stated the road already faced heavy vehicles from two nearby quarries and intense farm traffic from one of the biggest farms in the county.
He said: “We are looking at a development trapped by poor access due to its physical location. The proposed development is basically landlocked as far as suitable and safe access is concerned.”
Officers said while the proposed footpath did not meet best practise requirements and would be steep in parts, it had been deemed acceptable by county council highways engineers.
Some councillors said they feared the footpath would not be used and that traffic on Moor Road as a result of the estate would become “horrendous”.
The meeting heard while Leyburn Town Council had supported the plan, saying the town needed additional housing, the parish authority had failed to even mention that many residents had taken an opposite view and the reasons why.
Councillor William Heslop questioned how children would get to Wensleydale School from the estate. He said: “Are they going to walk back into town and out again? Somehow I don’t think so, so they’ll end up going in the car.”
After hearing there was little more that could be done to force the developers to improve pedestrian access councillors said the estate would represent a boost to affordable housing in the area.