Ground stability concerns for Ripon site

The entrance to the former auction mart site in Ripon.  110506M2.
The entrance to the former auction mart site in Ripon. 110506M2.
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Developers seeking to demolish Ripon’s former auction mart and build homes on the site might have to address concerns over ground stability at an appeal.

A series of concerns have been raised about plans to demolish the vacant auction mart, sheep pens and the former Station inn and build 75 homes on the site.

Members of Harrogate District Council’s planning committee will be told the outline application from Ripon Property Developments Ltd is now set to be decided at an appeal when they meet on Tuesday but they are being urged to notify the Government that it planned to refuse the application as concerns about ground stability have not been addressed.

Council officers believe issues of ground stability have not been dealt with and conclude in a report: “The recommendation is that had an appeal not been lodged the Local Planning Authority would have refused planning permission on this ground.”

Historically parts of Ripon have suffered from unstable ground and the application lies in a zone that has been declared an area of the “highest potential hazard.”

Members will be told that developers wishing to build in this zone need to demonstrate that the development can go ahead safely.

The developers have submitted a report looking at the issue, however the council has sought independent advice which says the developer has not fully addressed concerns that the work could lead to the further erosion of underground gypsum, a highly soluble rock, and increase the risk of subsidence.

Coun Mick Stanley, the Mayor of Ripon, said: “Around Ripon a significant subsidence occurs every few years and the times of these events show that some zones are more active than others.

“The auction mart site has been an area without domestic or industrial development for many, many years and the main reason for this is the unsuitability of the site for development due to the presence of gypsum at depth that could catastrophically fail and peat at surface with its inherent ability to swell when wet and contract when dry.”

“Instability is not the foundation for a housing development,” he added.