Merits of Richmond housing estate plan ‘outweigh negatives’, planning offices conclude

Land off Hurgill Road, Richmond, close to where Zetland Estates wants to develop into a housing estate. Picture: Google

A proposal to build houses across fields on the edge of Richmond would be in the public interest, council planning officers have concluded, despite fierce opposition to the scheme from conservation groups and local residents.

North Yorkshire councillors meeting next Thursday to consider Zetland Estates’ plan for 32 homes over a popular open space on Richmond’s western boundary are set to hear officers conclude the housing scheme is “suitable, sustainable and deliverable” with merits which “outweigh the negatives”.

Alongside nine affordable homes, the development would see a £36,690 contribution towards the redevelopment of the Friary Community Hospital and Surgery to off-set the inadequate clinical space to accommodate all the new residents of the development.

The planning meeting comes some 18 months after the firm, of which the Marquess of Zetland’s son, the Earl of Ronaldshay, is a director, lodged plans for the 4.6-acre site, off Hurgill Road and Westfields, which has historical links to Richmond Racecourse and renowned racing stables.

The site was part of West Field, one of the three former open fields of medieval Richmond, until the land was enclosed in 1803, and is viewed by some as key to the setting of Richmond Conservation Area, particularly as it can be seen from Richmond Castle’s keep.

The site is beside the Coast to Coast walking route, which is set to open as an official National Trail, in 2025.

Agents for Zetland Estates have claimed the scheme’s high quality design would give it the ability to “transform the lives of many, contribute positively to the local community and provide a transition to energy efficient building practices on a larger scale”.

However, an officer’s report to the meeting states alongside “strong objections” from Richmond Town Council, including that it represents “a visual unacceptable intrusion of housing into the particularly attractive countryside”, some 295 representations have been received over the plan of which just six are in support and all others objecting.

The report states while petitions have been received with 715 signatures and 1,204 on a digital petition it is planning issues, such as road safety, raised by the objections, rather than amount, that are relevant to councillors# determination of the application.

Alongside objections by CPRE and Richmond Civic Society, Richmondshire Landscape Trust said the proposed development would “irrevocably alter the character of this very special landscape and destroy valuable wildlife habitat that is part of a wider ecosystem in that area”.

It added: “This particular location is very sensitive in that it mirrors the Richmondshire Landscape Trust-owned historic pasture land of Westfields, with each parcel sitting either side of the historic Westfields and famous Coast to Coast route.”

Ian Hibbert, a spokesperson for a community group that has formed to oppose the development, added in a statement issued today: “This is an important test case to see if the newly formed North Yorkshire Council is listening to the wishes of the community.

“This application flies in the face of planning policy and there are many sound reasons to refuse the application.

“Community opinion should also be taken into account if impending government legislation is to be taken seriously.

“We have an important role to play in the future of our town: what it looks like, what it values and how we live in it.”

However, officers have concluded the development would cause less than substantial harm at the lower end to Richmond Conservation Area and the non-designated heritage assets of Hurgill Lodge stables, Westfields landscape and the medieval open field system.

The report states the provision of high quality, moderately sized new homes close to the town centre and affordable homes means the scheme’s benefits outweigh its negatives, with “minor weight” being given to the landscape harm and “great positive weight” given to the use of high quality materials exceeding that required by building regulations.

The report states: “Local representations raise that the site is currently used by residents for leisure and dog walking, however, as a private site this access could be suspended at any time.

“Concern has been raised in respect to road safety and capacity, however, Highways have not raised an objection and it has not been found that the residual cumulative impacts on the road network would not be severe.”

3 Comments

  1. If this development goes ahead, it will make a mockery of local opinion yet again.
    This type of development does nothing to ease the current housing crisis in any way, no matter how the developers try justify the proposal with sentences specifically aimed to please.

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