PLANS to build 137 new homes on a greenfield site in Skipton have been given the go ahead, but without any financial contribution to schools or for health provision.

Councillors at Craven District Council’s online planning committee meeting argued that developers Stonebridge Homes ought to make financial contributions towards the town’s infrastructure, and in particular to the nearby A6131 Harrogate Road junction with the A59, towards the building of a roundabout.

But, members were repeatedly told by planning officers and the planning solicitor that outline planning permission for the development had been granted in 2019, under the former local plan when there was no policy in place for education or health contributions and could not be asked for now.

Planning manager, Neville Watson told the meeting that he was sorry to keep repeating himself, but that the principle of the development at Hawbank field had already been established and only ‘reserved matters’, appearance, landscaping, layout and scale, were left to be decided.

“This application was determined under the 1999 plan. That plan did not have any requirements for education or health facilities or anything else. We have had this debate more than once and I am sorry to have to repeat that to members," he said.

Planning solicitor Alex Strickland added: “Members are not in a position to require an education contribution.”

Earlier, Karen Darvell, speaking for objectors, said she too had wanted to speak about the infrastructure , and failed to understand why it was not necessary for such contributions to be made.

In particular, she was concerned about the Harrogate Road access onto the A59, which had recently been described as having the highest number of fatalities and serious injuries in the whole of North Yorkshire.

Planning officer, Andrea Muscroft, said the 137 homes, including 30 per cent, or 41, affordable, would be two or three storey, would be a mixture of terrace, semi-detached and detached, ranging from one to five bedrooms. There will be 281 parking spaces, children’s play area and public open spaces.

Emma Ridley, speaking for the agents of Stonebridge Homes, said it was the first development in Craven for the Yorkshire based developer and they looked forward to bringing it forward.

She said all homes would include electric car charging points and financial contributions were to be made to Sandylands, Middletown Allotments and for improvements to highways.

But, Skipton councillor Robert Heseltine (Ind, Skipton South) said infrastructure was of the ‘highest importance’ and it was only right that the issue of financial contributions was discussed.

“The developer should be required to make a realistic contribution for these needs as a matter of principle," he said.

He said £15,000 was enough to pay for a feasibility study, or part of a study, but a roundabout was now hoped for at the A59 junction, which would cost between £1million and £2 million.

“We should not be giving permission for 137 homes with a very miniscule contribution to the needs of infrastructure in Skipton,” he said.

Cllr Andy Brown (Green, Aire Valley with Lothersdale) said either central government and its national planning policy had let the town down, or the way Craven had exercised its local planning, and described it as ‘seriously worrying’.

He added that he was in favour of the development, but wanted to add conditions, to strengthen the development’s green credentials, such as the inclusion of bat boxes and hedgehog runs, but was also told that was out of the scope of the reserved matters application.

Cllr Richard Welch (Con, Penyghent) reminded his fellow councillors what they were asking for could not be taken into account as outline permission had already been given, and proposed approval of the scheme, as per officer recommendation.

And, Cllr Stephen Morrell (Ind, Sutton), praised the developer for building 30 per cent affordable homes, when earlier the committee had debated a joint council scheme in Ingleton that had not included any affordable homes at all.

“We employed two independent reports and wriggled out of any of our required affordable homes and I think that reflects badly on us. I compliment this developer for their full complement of affordable housing.”

Eight members voted in support of the scheme, one against and two abstained.