Ripon Cathedral: Residents invited to rare parish meeting to discuss plans for new £8 million annexe

A rare Ripon parish meeting will take place on Monday evening at Holy Trinity Church where residents will debate the cathedral’s £8m proposed annexe.
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If at the meeting just ten Ripon residents on the electoral roll vote in favour of a referendum, also called a parish poll, it would then take place, likely in April.

Kirkgate resident Stanley Mackintosh is behind the meeting, which starts at 6pm.

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He called the poll a “very powerful democratic device” that he hopes will encourage the cathedral to find a solution to its annexe plans that has the support of the public.

The parish meeting will take place at Holy Trinity ChurchThe parish meeting will take place at Holy Trinity Church
The parish meeting will take place at Holy Trinity Church

It wouldn’t be legally binding but would include around ten yes or no questions on topics including the felling of trees, open space and impact on businesses.

The planning application submitted to North Yorkshire Council has proved divisive and it’s believed TV crews from both the BBC and Channel 4 are planning to film the meeting.

Mr Mackintosh said: “This fine setting can help present Ripon at its best as Ripon residents and surrounding communities work constructively together.

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“All are eligible and welcome to attend and contribute to this meeting, whether Ripon electors or not, but only Ripon electors may vote at this Ripon parish meeting.”

At a full meeting of Ripon City Council earlier this month, councillors voted unanimously to denounce the referendum in a motion that described it as a “waste of money”.

However, it will still have to pay the costs of the poll which could be around £10,000.

At a meeting of Skipton and Ripon councillors on Thursday, Councillor Andrew Williams (Conservative and Independents Group – Ripon Minster and Moorside) raised the cost of the parish poll with Conservative MP for Ripon Julian Smith.

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Councillor Williams said parish polls are intended for smaller, village parish councils whereas Ripon has 7,000 residents.

He added: “Can I ask you to press the minister responsible to bring forward legislation that protects parish councils the size of Ripon from this abuse of process?”

Mr Smith did not comment on the specifics of the annexe referendum but said he would write to ministers on “the general issue” of cost.

Regarding the application, Mr Smith added: “The cathedral is a huge draw to the city and I hope we can get something everybody can support.”

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Ripon Cathedral says the proposed annexe on an area of public space called Minster Gardens is crucial to offer 21st century facilities including a cafe while safeguarding the future of its choir.

But it has paused its planning application to North Yorkshire Council in order to take stock and listen to suggestions from the public following criticism of the new building’s location, the felling of 11 trees and its impact on local businesses.

The meeting will take place at 6pm on Monday, March 18 at Holy Trinity Church in Ripon.

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