Harrogate council ‘demonstrated unreasonable behaviour’ over Starbucks rejection, says inspector
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Last updated Jul 19, 2021
Helen Hockenhull, a government planning inspector, who oversaw the hearing into the proposed Starbucks drive-thru on Wetherby Road.
Helen Hockenhull, a government planning inspector, who oversaw the hearing into the proposed Starbucks drive-thru on Wetherby Road.

Harrogate Borough Council “demonstrated unreasonable behaviour” in rejecting a Starbucks drive-thru on Wetherby Road, according to a government planning inspector.

Helen Hockenhull, who oversaw an appeal by developer Euro Garages in June, approved the development for the former 1st Dental Surgery site on Friday.

She also awarded full costs for the hearing against the council.

The council turned down the development back in 2019 on air quality and highways grounds, but later withdrew its objection.

The move forced residents fighting the proposal to defend the authority’s reasons for refusal at the hearing.


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In a decision notice, Ms Hockenhull said:

“The council have not provided any evidence to support their position. 

“The reasons for refusal in relation to highways and air quality amount to persistence in objections in respect of matters which an inspector has already found to be acceptable. 

“I accept that members would have local knowledge of the area and the junction and many members would have personal experience of traffic issues in this location. However, it was unreasonable to persist with such objections, particularly as the floor area of the proposal had been significantly reduced.

“Given the above, I find that the council has demonstrated unreasonable behaviour which has resulted in the applicant incurring unnecessary cost in the appeal process. A full award of costs is justified.”

In response the inspector’s comments, a council spokesman said:

“Officer recommendation of approval was carefully considered against a wide range of issues, including local and national planning policy, case law, consultation responses and anything else considered to be ‘material’ to the application.

“This recommendation was overturned by the planning committee and permission was refused, which led to a successful appeal by the applicant.

“An agreement on costs has not yet been reached.”

The proposed layout of the Starbucks site on Wetherby Road as submitted to Harrogate Borough Council. Picture: Euro Garages.

The proposed layout of the Starbucks site on Wetherby Road, as submitted to Harrogate Borough Council. Picture: Euro Garages.

A spokesperson for Euro Garages said:

“We are delighted to have received planning permission and we are very pleased with the inspector’s decision.

“This development will help to create up to 20 local jobs for the area.”

‘Angry’ and ‘astounded’

The move to approve the development came despite concerns from local residents over traffic and air quality.

Residents at the appeal warned that the road was already at “breaking point” and that such a development would adversely affect those living next door.

Ms Hockenhull said she recognised her findings would be “disappointing” to local people, but added that she was “not persuaded that the development would cause significant harm”.

Cllr Pat Marsh, who represents the area on the borough council, said she was left “anrgy” and “astounded” following the decision.

She said:

“Many people throughout Harrogate will be outraged by this. It is not an appropriate place to put a drive-thru.

“I cannot understand how they have come to this decision. I felt all our arguments had great strength to them.

“The residents could not have done better to put forward their arguments.”


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