Fears over bid to build home near crater site

A BID to build a new detached home near a huge crater that appeared at Ripon ten years ago has brought strong objections from council officers and local residents.

When the hole appeared at Ure Bank Terrace in April 1997 it forced some residents to flee their homes, swallowing up part of a garage and a section of roadway which remained closed for one and a half years.

The crater was eventually filled in by North Yorkshire County Council following pressure from people living nearby.

Now, residents have written objecting to the proposed development, fearing further problems if a new three-storey property is built there.

The planning application has been tabled by Jason Drummond who wants to build the property on the site of the former Ure Lodge in Ure Bank Terrace, which was demolished because it was considered unsafe.

Harrogate councillors are due to discuss the application at a meeting of the planning committee on Tuesday.

Planning officer Robin Forrester says the applicant has submitted a geophysical report giving details of sub soil three to five metres below the surface.

North Yorkshire highway chiefs are recommending refusal, but the Environment Agency raises no objection.

Objections from residents include concerns that any development could make the site potentially unstable. No-one wants to return to the situation of road closure, legal action, heartache, misery and blight, they say.

They point out that the development site is next to a known gypsum fault, which is still showing signs of opening up.

Mr Forrester agrees in his report that the site is very close to the gypsum crater.

He says: "The instability that resulted caused two garages to be demolished, Ure Lodge on the application site had to be part demolished and the highway was unsafe and closed off. Two dwellings adjoining the site remain empty, being unsafe to occupy due to inherent risk.

"What is possibily a new crater has appeared in the corner of the application site."

County highway chiefs say no noticeable change has been recorded within highway limits, however they are "extremely concerned" about the impact development might have on the crater.

Because of obvious life risk implication of development, the council's building control surveyor advises a further ground investigation. Until the council was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the site can be safely developed planning permission should not be granted.

Mr Forrester recommends refusal because he says the applicant has failed to demonstrate that the site can be safely developed without risk to property or worsening existing unstable ground conditions.

He also said the development was an inappropriate design detracting from the conservation area's character.