The developers behind a planning application to demolish Ripon’s Old Lecture Block have strongly denied allegations from residents that they have deliberately damaged the building and left it to deteriorate.
Graycliffe Homes submitted the application after ground investigations revealed “serious gypsum deposits” below the former girls’ high school site on College Road. The firm had originally planned to convert the building into apartments.
Readers have contacted the ‘Gazette to call for the site’s protection, and some have accused Graycliffe of stripping the roof of slates and deliberately letting the building deteriorate in order to submit plans for its demolition.
But Jean Butterfield of Graycliffe Homes said there is still a lot of support in Ripon to redevelop the site, which Graycliffe is still looking into - they have denied the claims from readers.
In a statement, she said: “I can categorically state that Graycliffe Homes has not been instrumental in the deterioration of the building and take great exception to the allegations levelled at us. Not only has slate been stolen but also other items including lead and copper, all of which have some value and according to the police people will, and do, take risk to obtain these materials.
“Only this week the police and fire services were called out again after a local person witnessed youths causing criminal damage and throwing petrol “bombs” into the building. This is not the first time that the police and fire service have attended.
“Security cameras have recorded footage of the incident and police are studying them. These incidents are being carried out in daylight hours.”
Graycliffe maintains that accusations are being made without the full facts.
The statement continues: “Everyone is entitled to have their opinion, but unfortunately it appears that accusations and allegations are being made based purely on opinion, unaware of the ongoing incidents, actualities and fact.
“Not everyone is against redevelopment of the property. We have received calls and correspondence from local residents who are in favour of redevelopment of the site. There are also letters of support on Harrogate planning portal from at least 12 residents who reside in close proximity to the site, but sadly are also directly affected by the almost daily acts of reckless vandalism.”