An extraordinary meeting of a market town’s council has heard contradictory claims that a scheme to build a housing estate on farmland will either secure the town’s future or lead it to ruin.
Leyburn Town Council convened a virtual meeting to get residents’ views on Yorvik Homes’ proposal to build 103 two, three and four-bedroom houses and 24 bungalows at Hill Top Farm, Moor Road, following criticism that a consultation over the scheme had been held during lockdown.
The developer has stated the site is identified in Richmondshire District Council’s Local Plan as an area considered appropriate for development and for the planned level of expansion for Leyburn.
Nevertheless, the meeting heard the some residents believed the scale of the development was “extreme”, particularly as the Local Plan had called for 215 homes to be created in Leyburn by 2028 and by late last year the number of new homes had exceeded 170, in advance of 30 more being built at the Brentwood Lodge site.
Residents said the 127-home estate would swamp Leyburn and lead to retail chains being attracted to the town, destroying its unique character.
It was also claimed the proposed type of properties, including 17 two-bedroom and 21 three-bedroom affordable houses would not meet the community’s needs and fell well short of the district’s 40 per cent affordable housing target.
The meeting was told more public open space was needed in the town following Wensleydale School fencing off its playing fields.
Residents also claimed building the estate over farmland on the outskirts of Leyburn could cause a repeat of last July’s devastating floods and raised concerns over the safety of people walking from the estate to the town.
While some town councillors said they vehemently objected to the proposal, others said they believed the location and other elements of the plan were wrong.
However, Councillor Philip Holder told the meeting the government was set to reform the planning system to enable more houses to be built.
He added: “I don’t think you can deny housing to the next generation. There has got to be an expansion of homes whether we like it or not.”
District and county councillor for Leyburn, Karin Sedgwick said affordable houses were needed in the area.
She said: “I do think it is important that we look to the future of people who we would like to help.”
Fellow district councillor John Amsden added: “If Leyburn doesn’t get more houses over a period time it will die. This is what has happened to the national park. It is dying up there.”
Leyburn Town Council will submit its response to Richmondshire District Council which will make a decision on the scheme.