Town Council area ?
A recent informal discussion between Harrogate Civic Society and Zero Carbon Harrogate identified the need for a mechanism to steer the town towards a ‘vision’. There have been differing views between the two organisations on specific projects within the town but we agreed on one thing: the town needs a strong and deliverable vision. We also recognised other individuals, organisations and business groups are developing and promoting their own visions. How do all these potentially different visions get realised? How do you get the wider community support?
Our strap line is “Celebrate our past - Enhance our present - Shape our future” The past, present and future of Harrogate is very much a product of the town and country planning system. This is because the planning system dictates what type of development is allowed in the town. The society has a successful record of commenting on planning applications which may change the town’s heritage and its buildings, but this is very much an ‘end of pipe solution’. There are greater benefits if we can influence the planning policy on which those planning application decisions are made. This is called ‘forward planning’ and planning policy is contained in the Harrogate Local Plan.
The challenge is to get an acceptable vision for the town promoted through the local planning framework. The current reality is Harrogate Borough Council has been abolished and replaced by a new, county-wide local authority - North Yorkshire Council. The new authority has already started the process of replacing our adopted Harrogate Borough Council Local Plan with a new, county wide local plan. But will this new plan include a vision supported by the Harrogate town community and will its planning policy shape the town the way we want it to be shaped? We could rely on a town council for Harrogate but this may not be formed for at least two more years.
So, how do we get local planning policy in place which is truly relevant to our future town development? This can be achieved by creating something called a Neighbourhood Plan. But how do we do this? Harrogate Civic Society and Zero Carbon Harrogate co-hosted a meeting at St Paul’s Church Hall on 7 November to answer that question and explore the possibility of starting a process to create a Neighbourhood Plan for the town of Harrogate. We invited a small sample of individuals and organisations to this meeting with the intention of gauging their opinion on the topic. There were a couple of dozen people representing ten or so bodies ranging from resident associations to Valley Gardens and the Stray Defence. They listened to a presentation on the neighbourhood plan process and there followed a lively discussion on what to do next. I’m pleased to report everyone at the meeting supported exploring the issue further and inviting a wider group of individuals and organisations – particularly businesses - to a follow up meeting.
A copy of the presentation given at the meeting is available via the link to the documents sub page below.
Paul Hatherley HCS Member.