At the draft stage of the Local Plan, in late 2016, 381 people, who responded to the consultation on green spaces, asked for Bilton Fields to be designated as a Local Green Space (LGS). They represented nearly two-thirds of all those who responded on this issue across the Harrogate district.
Despite this show of support, Bilton Fields has failed to make it into the final list of LGS sites chosen by Harrogate Borough Council.
The reasons they have given for rejecting Bilton Fields are very questionable and can be challenged as being ‘unsound’ when the Planning Inspector comes to approve the plan later this year.
We have set out, in the table below, where we think their arguments against Bilton Fields are ‘unsound’. This is the angle your response must take this time around. Please use the information to help you compose your response, then use the link at the bottom to take you to the website where you can make your comments on the Local Plan:
|They say that:||This is unsound because:|
|Is the site discernibly beautiful or more beautiful than the surrounding areas?
“it is not apparent that this site itself is held to be of intrinsic beauty or to be discernibly more beautiful than other fields surrounding the settlement.”
|There are no fields surrounding the site. The site is bordered by woodland and the sewage works.
Any judgement about ‘intrinsic beauty’ is subjective. 381 people may think otherwise if they cared to ask.
|Does the site hold particular local significance because of its beauty?
“Insufficient evidence has been submitted to demonstrate that the site is considered to be of particular local significance for its beauty.”
|Many people who responded mentioned the beauty of the Nidd Gorge, when they meant Bilton Fields, because they consider the fields to be part of Nidd Gorge. N.B. If you respond on this issue you need to be specific about Bilton Fields rather than Nidd Gorge.
|Does the site hold particular local significance because of its recreational value?
“Whilst it is apparent form the representations received that the site is used for informal recreation, it is not evident that the site is of any greater significance for its recreational value than other recreation spaces within the area/the wider Nidd Gorge area. It is apparent that many of the representations received refer to the wider Nidd Gorge area and do not focus specifically on LGS32. Many representations also refer to the threat of a bypass or housing development rather than providing details of why this site is considered to be of particular local significance.”
|It is obvious to anyone who visits the site that Bilton Fields has recreational value for all its many regular visitors.
Here again they need to hear specifically about how you use Bilton Fields (LGS32) rather than the wider Nidd Gorge.
Dog walkers, ramblers, naturalists, runners, photographers etc all need to respond on this point with specific reference to Bilton Fields.
It would help the case if you didn’t mention the proposed bypass or the threat from housing. Focus on it’s recreational value to you.
|Does the site hold particular local significance because of its tranquillity?
“Only a small number of representations indicate that the site is valued for its tranquillity, however, no additional evidence has been provided.
It has not been demonstrated that the site holds particular significance because of its tranquillity.
|Again, it is obvious that Bilton Fields does provide an area of obvious tranquility on the immediate fringe of a densely populated urban area (Bilton), that is historically under provided in the amount of green space per capita. Tranquility is one of the main reasons people go there.
Respondents need to talk about the specific ‘features’ that make Bilton Fields tranquil rather than the wider Nidd Gorge area. How it manages to give you a feeling of ‘remoteness’ from the urban area. How it provides tranquility in a ‘busy setting’.
|Is the site formally designated for its wildlife value?
“Yes and No
The eastern half of the site is protected as Green Belt (not a wildlife designation), with a small part of this area also designated as a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC). As such, and in line with the council’s methodology for Local Green Space (LGS) assessment, this area is not appropriate for LGS designation. The remainder of the site (the western part) is not designated for its wildlife value.”
|The western field should be designated for its wildlife due to its high bio-diversity. It has been managed since 1982 by Bilton Conservation Group to become the recovered wildflower meadow and wildlife habitat it is today – with 50.000 memorial tree plantings in the area of the western field alone during this period. It is an exceptional area of wildlife for Harrogate, as close as it is to the urban area.|
|What are the other reasons which make the site significant for the local community? What features make this site important? Is the site a focal point or stopping place? Does it provide key views across or looking out of the local area?
“No details submitted.”
|Here, in your response, you can mention other reasons why this area is special to you. It could be the long range views over towards Nidderdale or anything else you think is significant about Bilton Fields.|
|The site holds particular local significance for another reason.
“Insufficient evidence has been submitted to demonstrate that the side is considered to be of particular local significance for any other reason.”
|Here again you can personalise your response to highlight how Bilton Fields is significant for you.
It may be that it provides wheelchair users easy access to the countryside or a place for your scout group to meet.
Just remember to focus on Bilton Fields, not the wider area, and don’t mention the road threat or development worries you may have, as it detracts from the issue of Local Green Space need.
|Should the site be recommended for allocation as Local Green Space?
“Whilst it is acknowledged that the site is valued locally for its wildlife and that part of the site is likely to be part of an ecological corridor, this part of the site is within the Green Belt and is, in part, also subject to a SINC designation. The site extends to 33 hectares and includes agricultural fields to the south which have no public access and which do not form a coherent or logical part of the submitted site.
As such the site is also considered to form an extensive
tract of land on the edge of a settlement. It is also apparent that a large amount of support for the designation has resulted from fears that the site could be developed for housing though the Local Plan or be located on the route of a new bypass. The site is a large area of land on the edge of the settlement, which is subject to existing protective designations (SINC, Green Belt, Policy HP6) within the Local Plan and it is not considered that it would be appropriate for the site to be given an additional protective designation. It is not recommended that the site is designated as Local Green Space (LGS).”
|There are many points of challenge with this conclusion which is ‘unsound’ for a number of reasons:
-Only Bilton Fields East is within the Green Belt. Bilton Fields (west) has no protection (its designation as a Special Landscape Area gives it no protection whatsoever from development).
– No part of Bilton Fields is a SINC (Site of Interest for Nature Conservation). The SINC designated area is adjacent to the fields on the wooded slopes down to the Nidd and Bilton Beck.
-There are no agricultural fields to the south.
– This site is no more extensive than Jacob Smith Park in Knaresborough or The Pinewoods – both of which have been recommended for Local Green Space designation.
– Fears over development are no reason to deny LGS designation! The purpose of LGS designation is to give the area protection from development (similar to Green Belt status)
To respond to the Local Plan on Local Green Spaces please go to:
Go to ‘View Comments’ alongside the top of Table 9.1 to read the first comment about Bilton Fields then go to ‘Add Comments’ after you have registered or logged in.
For more detailed guidance about negotiating the council’s consultation portal read this document:
if you wish to print off a paper copy to send in by post or deliver in person, use this link:
Remember the deadline is Friday 9th March.
Thanks for your help.
Nidd Gorge Community Action