History of the PVS
Pannal Village Society – the Early Days
In the early 1990s Eric Waight, who was then one of our District Councillors, sounded out a number of people about the need for an organisation to reflect the views and concerns of local residents particularly on issues being considered by the Planning Committee. Eric sat on that committee and thought that Pannal was missing out by not having a Parish Council. Parish Councils are statutory consultees in planning matters and, as such, have to be consulted on planning issues within their Parish and, in Harrogate, have an opportunity to present their views to the relevant meetings. From the outset one of the main purposes of the Society was to keep an eye on planning applications and make comments to the Council when appropriate, concentrating on significant applications.
The inaugural public meeting was held on 15th March 1994. Eric arranged for a fellow Councillor – Cllr Chris Brown, M.B.E.- to give a talk about his personal experiences in climbing the North-Ridge of Everest. Although was not directly related to Pannal the purpose was to attract as large an audience as possible to get the Society off the ground. To quote from the publicity flyer for that meeting – “ There will be an opportunity to learn about the progress of the Society which is an independent non-political body formed to protect the character, amenities and environment of the Pannal and Burn Bridge district and to promote interest and discussion about the area”. At this meeting an embryo committee was elected to take things further. The first formal committee meeting of the committee was on 18th October 1994.
There was considerable discussion amongst the embryo committee members as to what would be a suitable name for the Society. Looking at the map there is a clearly defined settlement comprising Pannal, Burn Bridge, Spacey Houses, Walton Park and Daw Cross. It was considered that Pannal would be widely accepted as an appropriate indicator of the area covered. .
From the outset the view was taken that it was important to have as large a membership as possible and to this end subscriptions were kept very low. An alternative option was to have higher subs so that we could accumulate a fighting fund for whenever the need might arise. This option was rejected and the decision taken that we would only start a fighting fund if a specific need arose.
One of the first activities of the Society was to be present at the Public Inquiry into the proposed change of use of the Auction Mart site. Three options were being considered : Business use, housing, hotel. We did not support the business use option and when asked by the Inspector which of the other two options the Society preferred we replied that it would depend on the actual design. A good hotel would be better than bad housing and v.v. All that was being sought was a change of use. No specific proposals were presented. At the Public Inquiry the Inspector asked the Village Society representative why the Society had not submitted any comments on the original application. The reply was simple – we had not existed at the time. As we now know the final outcome was housing.
The society was formed in time to take an active role in the discussions about the District Plan and this kept us very busy. For some specific issues the Society has worked with other organisations and it took the lead in co-ordinating the activities of the Protect Crimple Valley Group which was an umbrella organisation set up to co-ordinate the various organisations objecting to the proposed development in the Crimple Valley between Pannal and Harrogate, and to present a combined submission to the public inquiry on this particular aspect of the District Plan. The inspector backed most of our views and ruled against the development. More important is the fact that his comments and reasons are relevant to any future proposals for development in that part of the Crimple Valley. A further success in the development of the Plan was that the Society asked that the proposal for a retail park on Leeds Road should be dropped, and the Council agreed to do so.
Traffic has been an ongoing concern over the years and the Society has been involved in consultations with the Council on issues such as traffic calming and the traffic lights at Pannal Bank/A61/ Follifoot Road junction.
Early meetings of the Society included a talk by Anne Smith on the History of Pannal and talks by the local police. In the days before pensioners’ bus passes the Society worked with Harrogate Council to help with the distribution of travel tokens. For many years the Society has had a stall at the Cricket Club August Bank Holiday Gala.
It was recognised in the early days that it would be important to retain members interest in the Society between major planning issues. There was a risk that the Society could become dormant and interest would have to be reactivated every time a major issue arose. Therefore it was decided that a regular newsletter would be issued and meetings of a social nature arranged. One of these has been the Annual Village Society Quiz with fish and chip supper. These are always very well supported and often tickets are sold out well in advance. The Society arranged for tours round the Dunlopillo factory and submitted the Village into the Best Kept Village Competition with the judges thinking that we did well for a first entry. Other activities have included arranging for a Village Diary to be available so that organisations fixing dates for meetings could consult the diary to avoid clashes although this was not very well supported. The Society has also arranged walks both around the village and further afield.
The Society, now with more than 600 members, continues to go from strength to strength.