Adlington Retirement Living today received approval for the scheme which it said would become ‘unsustainable’ if scaled back.
It follows complaints from residents and councilors about building size, parking, traffic and the risk of flooding at the Wetherby Road site.
However, no objections were raised by those consulted by the law.
At a Harrogate Borough Council planning committee meeting today, Tory Robert Windass was one of eight councilors who voted in favor of the plans, while three voted against.
Councilor Windass said: “The applicant has taken significant steps to improve this scheme.
‘There are no objections from the clinical commissioning group, the Environment Agency or the motorways authority – it’s time we embraced this.’
Adlington Retirement Living – part of the Gladman Group – first submitted their plans in March 2020. Since then, a request has been denied and they have been told to think again twice.
The developers had agreed to remove a fourth floor from the building and also pay for a new pathway over the Grimbald Bridge.
It will also pay £40,000 to the NHS North Yorkshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCC) which had previously raised concerns that another care facility in the area could be ‘overloading’ local health services. The CCG subsequently withdrew its objection once the payment was accepted.
Despite these changes and agreements, residents had continued to press for the plans to be rejected.
Speaking at today’s meeting, resident Steve Benn said: ‘This development is twice the height of any current building on Wetherby Road. The developer says it took a minimum of 60 apartments to be viable, but its flagship project in Otley is only 48.
“Knaresborough town center and local facilities are one mile uphill from the site, and residents will not be able to get to churches and community events without personal transportation.”
The risk of flooding was another concern raised by Mr Benn, as well as councilor Pat Marsh, leader of the opposition Liberal Democrats, who had previously called for the building to be moved away from the River Nidd.
Adlington Retirement Living declined to do so after including a flood-proof storage basement in their plans. The company also previously said there was “no record” of the site flooding.
However, residents say the River Nidd overflowed the site as recently as February.
Councilor Marsh also told today’s meeting: ‘I have sent each member of this planning committee a photograph of a building literally just downriver from this site which has been severely flooded over the past five years. We know this area is flooded.”
She added: “This program is an overdevelopment and I still have very serious concerns about it.
“The developer has done nothing to allay these concerns.”
By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Journalist