Campaigners fighting plans to build hundreds of homes on the edge of Ripon, have made an impassioned plea urging developers to consider the impact of the development on the city’s heritage sites.
Cheshire-based Gladman Developments first submitted their plans for 450 homes to be built to the south west of West Lane in 2014, before reducing this to 430 homes in April 2015. Gladman appealed against the council’s non-determination of the original application in December last year.
The appeal will go to a public inquiry, scheduled to start on October 24, and a final decision on the application will be made by the Planning Inspectorate - in the meantime, action groups, city residents and organisations including the National Trust, are putting forward their objections and submissions to halt the development.
A second revised application has been submitted by Gladman for 390 homes, independent of the appeal process.
At a well-attended meeting of Ripon City Council on Monday, Ripon Residents Planning Group and concerned members of the public urged councillors to vote in favour of appointing a planning specialist to write an appeal on the council’s behalf opposing the development.
Councillors voted unanimously to appoint the specialist for a cost of £500 after discussing their grounds for objection, and agreed to work together with residents to defeat the application.
Coun Mike Chambers said: “This would undoubtedly cause real harm to our World Heritage Site, the only one in Yorkshire, and we must protect it at all costs. It is important that we back up the opposition to this development in the best way possible with a professional submission.”
Coun Richard Willis said: “One of the main things is the threat to our World Heritage Site and we have to take great regard of that.”
Coun Andrew Williams said: “I believe it is important that this sets a precedent for us to stand up and fight developers, standing shoulder to shoulder with local residents and working to protect and enhance the local community. I believe a professional is needed if we are going to do this properly. We need to make this submission as professional and watertight as possible.”
Coun Stuart Martin added: “It is going to damage air quality. We need to stand together and get this letter written so that we can defeat Gladmans.”
Ripon City Council, the Ripon Residents Planning Group, and the National Trust all have rule six status, which means that they can take a more active role in the inquiry.
A spokesperson for the National Trust said: “The impact of the proposal on the setting of Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal, which is a World Heritage Site, has been recognised as a reason for refusal in the Officer recommendation to members of the planning committee.
"The National Trust has been granted formal rule six status at the forthcoming public inquiry in October and look forward to putting our evidence to the Planning Inspector who will make the final decision on the application. We are closely monitoring progress of the revised planning application for 390 dwellings on the same site to which we have lodged or objections to Harrogate Borough Council.”
Whitcliffe Lane to the north of the development, forms the boundary of the World Heritage Site buffer zone, and Quarry Moor Local Nature Reserve lies to the south-east of the site.
Chair of Ripon Residents Planning Group, David Ingham, said: “We accept that Ripon and the wider area needs to grow, but this has got to be in a sustainable way to help the community - without choking it with traffic.
“We have to make sure it works for everybody. This development is in the wrong place, it is too near Fountains Abbey and Quarry Moor, which has sites of special scientific interest. We are also concerned about the risk of flooding and the extra water going into the river Skell."
John Edmonstone, Chair of Littlethorpe Parish Council said: “We are concerned about the impact on air quality, the dangers of flooding, and from our point of view it would more than double our existing population of the parish and completely skew it. We only have one village hall and one church. That’s it. An increase in population would present all sorts of challenges.”