Alec and Councillors fight Stockeld Park proposals

Alec and local councillors in Wetherby continue to fight proposals to build on green land around Wetherby.

In October 2018, Alec raised the matter in the House of Commons and subsequently wrote to the Department of Housing, Communities and Local Government formally asking for a planning application for houses on the Stockeld Park Estate to be ‘called-in’.

Last week the Department of Housing, Communities and Local Government replied to Alec to outline why this application wouldn’t be called in. In reply, Alec and Cllr Alan Lamb has sent the following letter:

Dear Mr Brokenshire,

Re: Planning application 17/01897/OUTMAJ                              

I write with regard to the decision to not to intervene in the application to Harrogate Borough Council (HBC) for 210 dwellings on Harrogate Road, Stockeld, Wetherby, North Yorkshire.

I feel that your officials have rather missed the point somewhat in the call-in being requested. In most cases it is best for decisions to be taken locally, but in this case the exact reverse has happened and that is the key point that seems to have been missed.  I feel compelled to write and make you aware of the level of frustration and disappointment locally with this decision.

The uniqueness of the geography of this site has been overlooked when making the non-intervention decision.  Whilst the Spofforth Hill site does geographically sit within the HBC boundary, I would like to draw your attention to its proximity to Wetherby and the isolation from the rest of HBC’s settlements.

To illustrate this point succinctly, overleaf are two images. 

The first is taken from HBC themselves showing a close-up of the site and the proximity to Wetherby.  The Local Authority boundary abuts the eastern side of the WB1 (Spofforth Hill) site.  It is clearly evident from this diagram, the juxtaposition of this development will mean that future residents will use the facilities of Wetherby for their everyday business.

The second image is taken from Google.  The red circle in the lower right corner denotes the development site, with Wetherby south-east of this position.  It is clearly evident from this aerial view that there are no Harrogate-controlled settlements of any note within miles of the proposed site.

I wish to reiterate that the residents of the Spofforth development will, through no fault of their own but in parasitic fashion, devour the resources of Wetherby, yet contribute nothing toward their upkeep.  Likewise, such residents will have no representation from Wetherby Councillors as they will not be within the ward boundary, so will in effect be disenfranchised from their elected representatives who have a say in how services are delivered in Wetherby.  That alone goes against every fundamental principle of democracy.

My secondary concern is that this now sets a dangerous precedent for developers and neighbouring Local Authorities up and down the land.  I fear a Pandora’s Box may have been opened where one authority can effectively ‘dump’ a settlement on a neighbouring one with scant regard as to the implications that will have.

I am therefore asking you to reconsider your decision not to intervene on this occasion as I do believe the individual merits and circumstances of this case deserve full consideration.

I look forward to hearing back from you.

Yours Sincerely,

Cllr Alan Lamb – Leeds City Council for Wetherby Ward 

Alec Shelbrooke MP – Member of Parliament for Elmet & Rothwell