With less than a week to go until Ripon’s neighbourhood plan referendum, the ‘Gazette is taking a final look at some of the policies and themes explored in the plan.
Over the course of a number of weeks, the ‘Gazette has been writing a series of features about what the City Plan’s main policies are when it comes to issues such as housing, boosting the city centre, and improving community facilities.
This week, the ‘Gazette is focusing on what the City Plan says about improving Ripon’s retail offer, reinstating the city’s railway, and the protection and replacement of recreational open space.
When it comes to retail, the plan supports the development of new shops suitable for comparison shopping in the city centre - that is, for goods like fashion, furniture, electronics and white goods; where shoppers can go to see what’s available and compare quality and price.
It explains that proposals should demonstrate accessibility from Finkle Street and the Arcade, and should ‘respect the amenity’ of occupiers of nearby dwellings on Victoria Grove and Finkle Close.
The plan also explores the potential of forming a ‘second market place’ that could become a hotspot for independent shops.
It states: “There is a smaller scale opportunity to develop new shops by restoring and extending vacant buildings fronting onto the Marshall Way retail development and public car park, so removing eyesores and forming a ‘second market place.’ This development could be of greater interest to independent traders.
“The site is bounded by one of the two ginnels between North Street/Fishergate and the Marshall Way car park, and includes the potential to incorporate an additional ginnel to improve permeability. Over time, several mature trees have grown within the site. These trees are important features partly defining the amenity of the Marshall Way car park, and their retention is an important consideration for the development.”
It adds: “Recent development has provided the city centre with a good range of convenience shopping. Additional comparison shopping has been recommended in the 2014 Harrogate District Retail Study, and it is important to show where such modern shops may be provided in order to meet this need.”
The City Plan supports the development of new shops at Moss Arcade and Victoria Grove, stating that these spaces offer the scale of development opportunity that meets the requirements of mainstream high street retailers.
Meeting the needs of visitors is another strong theme that underpins the City Plan. One of its main objectives is to strengthen the city centre as the meeting place of choice for residents and visitors - in this vein, one of the topics explored is hotel provision.
The plan states: “Proposals involving the change of use of a hotel with 20 or more lettable bedrooms will be supported only where clear evidence is provided to demonstrate that they are no longer viable.
“Ripon is a visitor destination and needs to facilitate longer stays by visitors. There is a shortage of hotel rooms in some categories, as well as hotels of sufficient size to accommodate coach parties.
“The protection of hotel rooms from redevelopment proposals is important to maintain Ripon’s role as a visitor destination.”
As well as advocating the creation of a Ripon sports village on the site of the city’s army barracks, bringing together multiple sports disciplines, the plan contains a number of policies which seek to protect existing sports facilities.
It states: “Owing to the shortfalls in sporting provision and oversubscription in Ripon, development proposals that involve the loss of existing outdoor public and private sport and recreational facilities will not be supported unless the applicant can demonstrate that there is a surplus of similar facilities in the area and that its loss would not adversely affect the existing; or unless a satisfactory replacement facility is provided in a suitable location, accessible to current users, and at least equivalent in terms of size, usefulness, attractiveness and quality.”
The City Plan supports the reinstatement a Ripon railway, stating: “The City Council will encourage the opening of a railway through Ripon in order to improve accessibility for passengers and to provide an alternative to private transport.
“Owing to development of parts of the original track-bed, this support recognises that an alternative route would need to be defined. This should provide for a passenger station with interchange to local bus services and car parking to facilitate accessibility for the city and its hinterland.
“Concern has been expressed for the resilience of the East Coast Main Line, owing to the lack of a diversionary route between Northallerton and York. The reinstatement of the Northallerton – Ripon – Harrogate - Wetherby railway would provide an alternative route for East Coast rail freight and diverted traffic, as well as reinstatement of passenger services calling at Ripon.”