Nearly 400 homes at former Ripon race track set for final approval

The plans are from the government's housing agency Homes England and housing developer Taylor Wimpey.The plans are from the government's housing agency Homes England and housing developer Taylor Wimpey.
The plans are from the government's housing agency Homes England and housing developer Taylor Wimpey.
Plans for 390 homes at a former race track in Ripon are set for final approval after a long saga of refusals, appeals and a developer pulling out of the scheme.

The proposals for land off West Lane have been recommended for approval by Harrogate Borough Council which initially rejected the scheme in 2017 over the impact on the countryside and nearby Fountains Abbey World Heritage Site.

This decision was later overturned by the government's planning inspectorate which said the impacts would be "extremely limited".

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Two years later, the plans hit another hurdle when developers Barratt Homes pulled out before the government's housing agency Homes England and developers Taylor Wimpey struck a £89.5m deal to get the scheme back on track.

Marie Kiddell, head of planning and enabling north at Homes England, recently said the body wanted to intervene in the "stalled" site because it would play a "vital" part in meeting the growing need for housing.

A reserved matters application has now been recommended for approval at a council meeting next Tuesday when a final decision will be made.

The plans include 155 affordable homes, 42 bungalows, cycling and walking links, a new bus route and children's play areas.

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Four objections have been lodged with the council, including one from Littlethorpe Parish Council which flagged concerns over how the area's roads, schools and health services will cope with another population increase.

Ripon City Council did not make any comments on the latest plans.

Recommending the plans for approval, a Harrogate Borough Council officer said in a report: "The reserved matters submission including the remaining access details, appearance, layout, scale, and landscaping has been assessed.

"Having assessed the proposal against relevant development plan policies, the application can be supported."

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If approved, the plans will also include a £455,000 contribution from the developers towards local bus services, £91,000 towards upgrades for nearby traffic signals and £50,000 towards cycling improvements.

Taylor Wimpey recently said it hoped to start construction of the homes this spring if approval is granted.

The company's regional land director Sarah Armstrong said: "We’re delighted to have been selected as preferred developer to deliver this site in partnership with Homes England.

“We’ve taken a landscape-led design approach to develop a residential masterplan that will enhance the character and identity of the site.

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“The development will include locally-equipped play facilities and attractive biodiverse landscape features, and we are providing significant areas of open space to allow new residents and visitors to enjoy a high-quality living environment with an attractive outlook.”

By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter