Refurb works on ‘worn out’ Ripon flats could get under way this summer
Works to improve "worn out" flats next to the site of a sinkhole risk in Ripon could get underway this summer, a senior councillor has said.
Councillor Mike Chambers, cabinet member for housing and safer communities at Harrogate Borough Council, said the refurbishment of Allhallowgate flats had been delayed due to Covid but would get underway at the "end of summer or beginning of autumn".
The project was first agreed in 2014 and the latest update follows complaints from residents and councillors that the ageing building has become an eyesore.
Speaking at a meeting on Wednesday, councillor Sid Hawke, who represents the Ripon Ure Bank ward, described the flats as "shobby" and "looking a bit tired and worn out".
The building sits next to a cordoned off site where separate plans for 17 new flats were abandoned two years ago due to problems with ground stability.
Councillor Chambers told Wednesday's meeting that ground levelling works to tidy up the site were now underway ahead of landscaping.
"We are now moving forward," he said. "We have started work on the site - we are levelling that off and it is going to be landscaped."
And on the Allhallowgate flats refurbishments, councillor Chambers added: "It has taken rather longer than we hoped because of Covid and I don't offer that as an excuse. We did use those properties to house people that we brought in off the streets to ensure they were protected.
"The work on those is set to begin in earnest at the end of summer or beginning of autumn and hopefully we will be well on the way to getting them refurbished and made much better than they are.
"They are going to be bigger allround and hopefully back in use by the early part of next year."
Ripon is one of the UK's most sinkhole-prone cities as it sits above a layer of gypsum - a water-soluble rock that leads to the formation of large underground caves that can collapse.
In 2018, a sinkhole was discovered at the city's leisure centre before works on a new swimming pool and refurbishment project were given a go-ahead to start a year later.
Two years earlier, another sinkhole saw 12 properties on Magdalens Road evacuated in 2016.
More recently, construction crews working on the new swimming pool discovered an underground void at the site last year and an investigation into how to fix the issue is currently underway.
By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter