‘City to move forward united’ as Ripon Cathedral’s £6 million expansion plans postponed to address concerns

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Ripon Cathedral has today announced in a statement that their £6 million expansion plans will be postponed so that concerns can be addressed, and the ‘city can move forward united’.

The multi-million pound plans to build a new much-needed song school, on-site cafe, and toilet facilities with disabled access were announced in January 2023.

Since then, the plans have battled a number of controversies, particularly with surrounding businesses who fear a loss of trade.

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Disagreements spiralled, and several protests were held opposing the plans, whilst Ripon Cathedral continued to stress the importance of the development, and the benefits it will bring to the city’s footfall.

Ripon Cathedral plans have been postponed to address concerns.Ripon Cathedral plans have been postponed to address concerns.
Ripon Cathedral plans have been postponed to address concerns.

Other concerns included the removal of a veteran tree, the city’s issues with gypsum, as well as a knock-on impact on the city’s traders.

The statement from Ripon Cathedral read: “Following continued and constructive collaboration with planners from North Yorkshire Council, Ripon Cathedral has taken the decision to pause the planning application for its proposed north side development for a number of months.

“During this period, there will be opportunities for additional consultation, where we will once again be able to listen to comments and concerns from the people of Ripon and the region in relation to the proposed new building.

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“We will also continue to work constructively with the planners and other key stakeholders.

“We hope that this will allow us to move forward in a way that considers people’s genuine concerns and takes in the opinions of stakeholders, whilst allowing us to deliver the amenities that the cathedral so desperately needs along with the benefits the building will bring to the city and region.

The statement added that Ripon Cathedral has left the project's exhibition open for feedback during the coming months in hope of settling conflicts so that plans can move forward with full consideration of opposing concerns.

Ripon City Coun Andrew Williams said: “I am obligated to keep an open mind on the application as a member of the planning committee.

“I have a dual role to represent both sides of the debate.

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“I suggested it would be sensible to take a step back and look at the core concerns.

“The aim is to encourage parties to talk with planners, stakeholders, and see if it is possible to find a solution that addresses both the concerns of the objectors, but also meets the needs of the Cathedral as well.

“I thought the best way to achieve this was to pause the current process, allow for calm reflection, and try to take some of the heat out of the current debate.

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“It might not be possible, but as a community leader I have that responsibility, to try to bring the community together rather than opposing one another.

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“A productive discussion from both sides so that Ripon can move forward united.

“Ripon needs a viable and successful Cathedral, but also needs one that listens and understands the concerns of residents and businesses that have raised objections to current proposals.

“I hope it’s possible to find a way forward that everybody can subscribe to.”

For full details on the project and to hear from key stakeholders visit Ripon Cathedral Renewed: https://riponcathedral.org.uk/ripon-cathedral-renewed/

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