Historic road is saved at eleventh hour

Relieved: Residents Richard Martin, David and Ruth Hamby with Couns Stuart Martin and Bernard Bateman. (1302267AM2)
Relieved: Residents Richard Martin, David and Ruth Hamby with Couns Stuart Martin and Bernard Bateman. (1302267AM2)
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A quick-thinking Ripon homeowner has secured an eleventh hour reprieve to stop council contractors tearing up a historic road outside his house.

A quick-thinking Ripon homeowner has secured an eleventh hour reprieve to stop council contractors tearing up a historic road outside his house.

An angry Richard Martin, 50, alerted councillors about the plans to replace granite setts with concrete outside his Grade II listed home on Allhallowgate as soon as contractors arrived at short notice early on Tuesday morning to carry out resurfacing works.

“They turned up first thing to rip up the gulleys. For people who live up and down this street it’s part of the history of their homes. If you lose the granite setts, before you know it the whole character of the area will be gone,” Mr Martin told the Gazette.

Following the uproar, North Yorkshire Councty Council (NYCC) performed a U-turn and ordered its contractors to stop the planned work.

“This was imposed on us by NYCC and they are employed to work for us,” said Mr Martin, who works in landscaping and conservation.

He said the blue granite setts outside his home – which he shares with his wife Karen – are part of a conservation area and have “been there forever”.

“We are not allowed to do anything to our houses that will affect their appearance, but this street is part of a conservation area and their work would require a change in material use. The granite setts are part of the character of the street,” he said.

As soon as he saw the contractors arrive on Tuesday at 8am, Mr Martin quickly contacted his brother and city Coun Stuart Martin, and also Coun Bernard Bateman – who sits on the county area committee responsible for highways at NYCC.

Both councillors visited the site immediately and demanded that the contractors stopped what they were doing, whilst also telephoning highways bosses at the council to alert them to the significance of the setts.

Coun Bateman said: “They were doing it without consultation. There is no way they should be taking up the road like that. This is a conservation area with a medieval wall that is of historical importance.”

The quick halting of the work has left other residents on the road relieved too.

Mr Martin’s neighbour, Alison Jones, said: “They are just right for the area and form part of the landscape. It would be awful for them to be destroyed just like that.”

Homeowners along Allhallowgate were only informed of the planned work the day before contractors arrived after a letter dated February 13 was posted through letterboxes without an envelope on Monday, February 25.

A NYCC spokesman said: “The original proposed plan for Allhallowgate in Ripon was to install new concrete drainage channels as it was the best engineering solution, but in light of the concerns raised by residents about the removal of the old granite setts drainage channel we have revised this.”

Contractors returned to the site yesterday (Wednesday) to continue with ground works before they complete revised resurfacing works without removing the old granite setts.

The spokesman said NYCC “endeavour to ensure that existing features are preserved wherever possible”.