‘David and Goliath’ building battle

Ash Bank Road resident Barbara Dean, 91, with Di Hall, Val Stride and fellow Doublegates and Ash Bank residents protest against plans for homes to be built on the Doublegates Quarry site. (Picture ' Adrian Murray)
Ash Bank Road resident Barbara Dean, 91, with Di Hall, Val Stride and fellow Doublegates and Ash Bank residents protest against plans for homes to be built on the Doublegates Quarry site. (Picture ' Adrian Murray)
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A campaign group has been formed by Ripon residents in a “David and Goliath” fight to stop the building of 150 houses on the former Doublegates Quarry site.

The group was formed after residents from Ash Bank Road, Bellman Walk and Doublegates joined a Facebook group opposing plans for the site near their homes submitted by Lands Improvement.

Issues over an increase in traffic, availability of access roads, the possibility of flooding and the lack of infrastructure to cope with the extra houses have all been raised by the campaigners.

But Lands Improvement, which submitted the plans last month, has said the proposals will not have a negative effect on local roads and it is “very conscious of the sensitivity of the setting of the development”.

Ash Bank Road resident Nicola Reader, a mother of three who started the original Facebook group opposing the plans, said: “School places is a big issue because there are such limited spaces that teachers are already having to use none teaching areas as their classrooms.

“It’s such a ridiculous idea to build the houses here. I don’t object to the construction of houses because there is a need for affordable houses for people who want to get on the property ladder.

“However, the location is massively impractical. I think you would have the same issues cropping up if it was fewer houses or if you covered it with houses.”

Alternative plans to build houses on the land at the Laver riverside were fought off in 1999 and to battle the latest proposals, the campaigners have been busy handing out leaflets, researching the proposals and lobbying neighbours to object to the plans before the planning authority’s deadline for representations on January 23.

Di Hall, of Ash Bank Road – a member of the original campaign group – said she is “not surprised” developers have returned.

“When we won last time I said that at some point it would be sold on to another developer but things have moved on and it’s a totally different ball game,” she said.

“This time we’ve split responsibilities in the group with each person researching a specific aspect in more detail. We have found so much more information that we can take to Harrogate Borough Council.

“Another 150 houses here and you are going to get a huge increase of traffic that is going to affect us but Ripon just can’t cope because we haven’t got the infrastructure.”

Residents are in no doubt they face a “heck of a fight” if they are to oppose plans on the site for a second time.

Bellman Walk resident Ian Kendall said: “Harrogate Borough Council has left our area with no Local Plan and that has presented an opportunity of open season for all developers,” he said.

“We are just residents and this a David and Goliath fight. We are just the small guys and Lands Improvement has the upper hand.”

A spokeman for Lands Improvement said: “The current application takes into consideration the traffic effect arising from the additional dwellings and, following a full and thorough scoping exercise with the council’s highway officers, has demonstrated that there will not be a negative effect on the local roads.

“Indeed there is likely to be a positive effect through the introduction of sustainable transport initiatives amounting to more than £500,000 of private investment from the developer.

“Land Improvements is very conscious of the sensitivity of the setting of the development and is proposing 3.5 hectares of new high quality public open space (39 per cent of the total site) to provide a landscape-led development which is sensitive to its surroundings.

“This is a landscape-led development that will deliver much needed new family housing in an attractive setting and will make a positive contribution to the future of Ripon.”

– What do you think about the proposed development? Email your views to news@ripongazette.co.uk or write to us by post.