150 homes plan for Ripon hangs in the balance

An artist's impression of how the proposed development near Bellman Walk - named Laver Riverside - will look.

An artist's impression of how the proposed development near Bellman Walk - named Laver Riverside - will look.

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A decision on whether 150 new homes will be permitted by the River Laver near Bellman Walk in Ripon has still not been made after councillors on the planning committee rejected the application – going against the recommendation of their own planning officers.

Amid legal concerns, the impasse has prompted Harrogate Borough Council’s principal legal officer, Steve Pilling, to send the application to the local authority’s Planning Referral Committee for its members to decide on the application.

Before yesterday’s (Thursday, May 28) planning committee meeting, a campaign group made up of local residents opposing the plans said they had been left “horrified” after planning officials recommended the application be approved.

But the developer – Lands Improvement – says if approved the development near Bellman Walk in the city will deliver “long lasting social, environmental and economic benefits for Ripon”.

In the planning document which went before councillors for their consideration yesterday, despite receiving almost 350 objections from residents, case officer Mike Parkes concluded that the benefits of the application “outweigh the adverse impacts”.

Concerns over the development’s impact on drainage, flooding, highways and schools were raised by residents and the city council, yet no objections were raised by the various technical statutory consultees.

Aoife Conacur, of Lands Improvement, said: “We believe in creating places for people to live that respond to local needs and benefit the community.

“The new development at Laver Riverside does this. We are delighted that officers at Harrogate Borough Council and North Yorkshire County Council support our development proposals.”

As well as the 150 new homes, the development proposal includes a package of financial contributions totalling over £2m and the provision of acres of “new, publicly accessible green space”.

The financial contributions include funding for additional teaching accommodation at Holy Trinity Infants and Junior school, the CS1 bus service and the Skellgate junction.

The planning officers’ recommendation for approval of the development came as a disappointment for Ripon resident Ian Kendall and the other campaign group members opposing the application.

After months of raising various issues with the plans, Mr Kendall said he doesn’t believe planners have given consideration to their arguments.

“We have been keeping a very close eye on the application and the other members and I were horrified when we saw the document and how it was in favour of the developers,” he said.

“There’s very little weight given to the amount of objections we put forward but the vast majority of the residents in the wider area of Ripon are not in favour of this.

“We have just been trying to protect Ripon from this application because, despite the developers saying there is a chronic housing shortage, we have never seen any evidence to support this.”

No date has been set yet for the Planning Referral Committee to consider the application.