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Warning 4,000-home Maltkiln scheme 'could become North Yorkshire's HS2'

Councillors have been warned that the proposed 4,000-home Maltkiln housing scheme could become North Yorkshire’s version of HS2.

Warning 4,000-home Maltkiln scheme 'could become North Yorkshire's HS2' Councillors have been warned that the proposed 4,000-home Maltkiln housing scheme could become North Yorkshire’s version of HS2 if taxpayers’ money is used to complusory purchase land. In Northallerton this morning, North Yorkshire Council’s Conservative-run executive agreed to give the council the ability to issue a complusory purchase order to buy the land near Harrogate required to ensure houses are built. But the power to buy land without the consent of the landowner would only be used as a last resort if an agreement with landowner is not reached, according to a report prepared for councillors. A key landowner who owns fields around Cattal train station, making up around half of the proposed site, pulled out in January which has thrown the scheme into doubt. The potential town and two primary schools would be constructed towards York near the villages of Cattal, Whixley, Green Hammerton and Kirk Hammerton. Three parish councillors spoke at the meeting today with each questioning whether future compulsory purchase orders would be an appropriate move for the authority. Kevin Bramley from Hunsingore, Walshford with Great Ribston & Cattal Parish Council compared the housing scheme to HS2, which saw its northern leg scrapped despite millions being spent on compulsory land purchases. Clare Beckett, chair of Whixley Parish Council, also questioned whether it was “sensible use of public money” to proceed with the plans. Paul Townsend, chair of Kirk Hammerton Parish Council said it was “time to draw a line and move on” from Maltkiln. He said:

“We urge the executive to be very cautious spending taxpayers money at a time when many councils are on the verge of bankruptcy. "Does North Yorkshire Council really have the money available for speculative development proposals?”
Councillors also heard from Richard Holliday, an associate at Carter Jonas, who spoke on behalf the landowner Mr Dent who pulled out earlier this year. Mr Holliday claimed Caddick Group, which is developing the scheme, had an option to purchase the land from his client but then decided not to exercise it. He said:
“It's difficult to see how a CPO can be justified even in principle when the land could have been purchased by agreement. "CPO is a drastic tool when the agreement fell away due to the decision of the developer.”
The council’s Conservative executive member for open to business, Derek Bastiman, emphasised that a CPO would only be used as a last resort and was not being suggested as a threat. According to the report prepared for councillors, Caddick Group has agreed to discuss underwriting the costs of a CPO. If the council were to purchase the land through a CPO, it could also enter agreements with other developers such as the government’s housing agency Homes England. Cllr Bastiman said a development document that has been worked on by officers for the last few years will soon be able to be submitted to the Secretary of State who will scrutinise whether the scheme is deliverable. He added that the council has commissioned specialist advice to “show Maltkiln is a viable scheme”. Conservative executive member for housing Simon Myers said CPOs have been used by public bodies throughout history to deliver housing. He said:
“Without complusory purchase powers, going back to the 19th century, slums wouldn’t have been demolished and social housing wouldn’t have been built. "If push comes to shove, we have a responsibility to deliver housing. We have 8,500 people on housing waiting lists in North Yorkshire.”
By Thomas Barrett, Local Democracy Reporter Read more local stories from Your Harrogate here.

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