‘Let’s make the best of it’: Hopes and fears for 3000-home Maltkiln settlement
Last updated Jul 22, 2022
Chris Hay (left) and James Veitch from Green Hammerton's Post Office / Cattal village

Heated public meetings, protests outside council offices and legal challenges in the high court couldn’t stop Harrogate Borough Council from deciding that 3,000 homes should be built around the villages of Cattal, Green Hammerton and Kirk Hammerton.

The decision was mired with suspicion and ill feeling but now residents are trying to look ahead to how the project can work for them and the people who will eventually live there.

The cold-sounding “new settlement” has been given the more homely title of Maltkiln and a draft document has been published that outlines how the the 3,000 homes along with roads, schools, shops and public spaces will develop over the next few decades.


Since 2016 the name Green Hammerton became synonymous with the new settlement, usually in debates that pitted the merits of developing land there versus Flaxby, which is closer to Harrogate and Knaresborough.

The council’s preferred option for the settlement is now centred around Cattal railway station, on the other side of A59 from Green Hammerton.

Chris Hay and James Veitch are shareholders of Green Hammerton’s Post Office, which also serves as a shop, newsagent and soon-to-be cafe.

The two have a grudging acceptance that the homes will be built but are concerned that Maltkiln will erode the village’s identity, which stretches back to Domesday times.

Green Hammerton

They have already seen Green Hammerton, population 675, swell with three new build housing schemes in recent years.

Mr Veitch said:

“The word inevitable comes to mind but you have to be grown up and make the best of it”.

Not a village

A development plan document (DPD) drawn up by Harrogate Borough Council includes a vision for what Maltkiln will eventually become, which is a “garden village with a distinctive identity where people want to live, work and spend time”.

It conjures up a pastoral scene but with an eventual population larger than Boroughbridge, calling Maltkiln a village is misleading to some.

Mr Veitch said:

“They call it a village don’t they? How on earth can you call a 3,000 development a village? It’s a town, not an insignificant one at that. It will be big enough to create traffic jams on the A59”.

3,000 new homes is likely to result in at least 6,000 cars. Mr Veitch fears that much more investment in Cattal Station is required if commuters are going to leave their cars at home.

Cattal Station

He added:

“There will be a lot of commuting, that’s the bottom line. The A59 will be busy and the railway will not increase its capacity much more than what it is. I don’t buy the argument that it’s a hub where you can transport 10,000 people to anywhere.

“People will still use their cars, anyone who suggests otherwise is naive.”

Fresh blood

Keith Welton and his wife Val have lived in Cattal for 16 years, close to the railway station that the developer Oakgate Group hopes will be one of the unique selling points of Maltkiln.

With homes set to be built in green fields that currently surround the family home, Mr Welton might be forgiven for feeling negative or even bitter about the development.

However, he’s taking a pragmatic approach and sees several benefits that it could bring to the area and the people who live in the villages.

Serious infrastructure investment is promised in the DPD, including improvements to the dangerous Whixley crossing on the A59. Cattal Station already saw £10m of investment in 2020 to increase the number of trains to Harrogate and York.

Kirk Hammerton will also be impacted by Maltkiln

Mr Welton has seen his children and their friends priced out from living locally and he hopes affordable housing can inject some younger blood into the area.

He also hopes the new North Yorkshire Council will be firm with the developers and ensure that affordable housing genuinely is affordable.

Mr Welton said:

“There’s an acute need for affordable housing. Many of our young people come out of university and want to go to Leeds, Manchester or London. They settle down, and they want to come back. We need to capitalise on that talent and make housing available for them.”

“I’m 74 and you can’t have a village full of 74 year olds!”

‘Make the best fist of it’

A criticism of HBC for choosing Green Hammerton over Flaxby was a perception that its residents will be heading in one direction towards York for work and leisure.

But Mr Welton said the majority of his family’s trips are to Harrogate to visit restaurants or the theatre.

He believes Flaxby is “one of the most desirable commercial sites in the whole of North Yorkshire” and that homes built next to a noisy motorway would have made it a poor choice for housing.

He added:

“I do think the location for Maltkiln makes sense. It’s now up to people to make the best fist of it. It’s easy to be negative. We should turn those energies around to get the sort of development that will be an exemplar and people think, wow”.

Climate emergency

The DPD for Maltkiln is 88 pages long and the words ‘climate change’ are mentioned on 36 of them.

It’s clear that HBC hopes the settlement will differ from every other large housing scheme in the district it has approved in recent years that have done little to tackle the climate emergency or help the council reach its emission reduction goals.

The government is set to ban gas boilers in new build homes from 2025. It means the homes in Maltkiln should be powered by renewable energy sources such as heat pumps or solar panels.

The document also claims the development will offer a “biodiversity net gain”, which is a planning phrase that means it will leave the environment in a better state than it was before the homes were built.

But when Maltkiln will involve concreting over vast swathes of green fields, it’s an ambition that could appear impossible.

Land in Cattal earmarked for development

Arnold Warneken, Green Party councillor for Ouseburn on North Yorkshire County Council, said he hopes the developer can be influenced to ensure go further than government regulations around the environment.

He said:

“It’s really, really important we don’t get into lip service and tokenism around biodiversity but it’s going to happen so let’s make sure it happens for best of our community, not just stand back and say I don’t agree with it.”

He added:

“The solution is not to concrete over it, but then the scenario is where do you build the houses? Some people say brownfield but people underestimate the biodiversity of brownfield sites, nature gets everywhere”.

Council’s legacy

Harrogate Borough Council will cease to exist in less than a year’s time but arguably the biggest decision it made during its existence was deciding to change the face of Green Hammerton, Kirk Hammerton and Cattal forever with the new settlement.

How successful Maltkiln will turn out could be HBC’s ultimate legacy.