Residents have called for a moratorium on a string of development proposals, including a Rolls Royce factory, surrounding one of the North’s busiest road junctions until a masterplan for the area can be drawn up.
North Yorkshire Council has been urged to undertake a strategic assessment of Scotch Corner focusing on issues such as road congestion, public transport, employee recruitment and the impact on local retailers, landscapes and the environment in the wake of developers submitting 14 proposals to build off the A1/A66 junction.
The authority’s Richmond constituency committee heard residents from Middleton Tyas and the surrounding villages were concerned about the lack of the consideration of the cumulative impact of piecemeal developments on a road network already regularly unable to cope with traffic volumes.
The meeting heard residents were increasingly frustrated about congestion at the junction, leaving them facing time-consuming journeys to local schools or swimming pool.
One resident told the committee at busy times the roads at Scotch Corner became gridlocked, but the forecast four million visitors a year to the approved Designer Outlet Village and the country’s biggest garden centre would make the traffic situation significantly worse.
The meeting the council had recently approved proposals, such as a 37-unit warehousing and distribution facility while other proposals included four fast food restaurants, another petrol station and an amenity centre.
Alongside this, plans have been unveiled to expand the Designer Outlet Village by 50 per cent, as well as create a film and TV production centre and a Rolls Royce advanced engineering facility.
The meeting was told an upgrade of the A66 was scheduled to start next year, which has been forecast to increase traffic at Scotch Corner by a further 35 per cent.
A resident told the meeting: “If all these developments gain approval the largely agricultural rural landscape will be destroyed.
“There will be an increase in noise and pollution and the Scotch Corner roundabout will become overwhelmed and have a major impact on both local residents and travellers on the strategic highway network.”
The meeting heard the need questioned for additional cafes and restaurants at Scotch Corner, particularly as plans had been approved for a large-scale motorway service station five miles south on the A1(M) at Catterick, which would feature some 27 food outlets.
Councillors were told although the Richmond area “currently enjoys full employment” and shops in the area were already having issues recruiting staff, the Designer Outlet Village alone would need to find 1,000 employees, many from further afield, who would have to use cars and put further pressure on Scotch Corner’s roads.
A planning officer replied an opportunity to take a strategic approach at Scotch Corner would arise with the North Yorkshire-wide Local Plan, which was not set to be adopted until 2028.
The meeting heard until the agreed plan for the area was to develop sites close to the A1(M) for employment purposes.
He said there were about 14 planning applications in the Scotch Corner area, some of which had approval, and that national planning rules meant the proposals had to be considered “without unnecessary delay”.
The meeting heard the officer underline a situation where all future Scotch Corner applications would be suspended until more traffic information was available was “very very unlikely”.
Councillors warned unless congestion issues were tackled residents in the northern Yorkshire Dales and Richmond would struggle to get out of the area and motorists from elsewhere would steer clear of the area if it congestion worsened.
Richmond councillor Stuart Parsons said: “It does need someone to sit down and think about it fairly quickly. I’m afraid working towards a local plan in five years’ time will be of no consolation to any of those people who currently need to use the road network, and that’s before the developments.”