Markenfield Hall joins battle against plans for hundreds of Ripon homes labelled a threat to Fountains Abbey

Coun Peter Horton with fellow councillors Pauline McHardy, Charlie Powell and Andrew Williams.
Coun Peter Horton with fellow councillors Pauline McHardy, Charlie Powell and Andrew Williams.

Markenfield Hall is standing with Ripon residents to defeat plans for hundreds of homes to be built on the edge of the city.

Ian Curteis told the ‘Gazette that he welcomed the opportunity to host a fundraising event at the hall last week for the Ripon Residents Planning Group, as part of their ongoing battle to stop Cheshire-based Gladman Developments building a minimum of 390 homes to the south west of West Lane.

Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal have objected to the plans and will be playing an active role in an inquiry about the development.

Mr Curteis, alongside residents, the city council, action groups and organisations including the National Trust, fears the impact of the homes on Fountains Abbey as a World Heritage Site and the beauty of the wider area.

The developers first submitted their plans for 450 homes in 2014, before reducing this to 430 homes in April 2015.

Gladman appealed against the council’s non-determination of the original application in December last year, and the appeal is going to a public inquiry, scheduled to start on October 24.

The Ripon Residents Planning Group is among those presenting professional objections and submissions to halt the plans, but a second revised application for 390 homes independent of the appeal process will go to Harrogate Borough Council’s planning committee on Tuesday.

The event at Markenfield Hall raised thousands of pounds to help the group seek professional planning advice and build a case against the homes for the public inquiry, but members and residents are anxiously waiting to hear Tuesday’s verdict, after it was announced by the council earlier this week that planning officers have recommended the application is deferred and approved by the chief planning officer.

Mr Curteis said: “I was very pleased for the group to use the hall for their fundraiser. I said at the start that this is a very worthy cause.

“I support their work in making sure that the development does not ruin our countryside, our environment, and Ripon.

“We have got to have housing, but in the right place - not on a greenfield site. Ripon has great deal to be proud of and so many wonderful vistas - it would be a real shame if they were spoiled by developers.”

Ripon City Councillor Peter Horton attended the fundraiser with Coun Andrew Williams, and told the ‘Gazette that Gladman must be stopped.

Coun Horton said: “The close proximity and impact on Fountains Abbey as a World Heritage Site, and Quarry Moor as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, are objections that the city council has certainly supported.

“In effect, things would be surrounding Quarry Moor on all four sides - on Harrogate Road with the McDonald’s, the Quarry park homes, the big caravan site, and the existing housing estate to the north.

“Quarry Moor is home to some rare plants and wildlife, and we are concerned about the impact of additional footfall.

“I fear that there would be an increase in use that is beyond what it can sustain. The West Lane homes going to the south west would close it in on all sides.

“High Skellgate and Low Skellgate are designated air quality management areas, and that can only get worse as this would increase traffic.

“When the military barracks become available, the site could be put to good use for housing as a brownfield site, not a greenfield site like this one.”

Hoping to help drive what is expected to be a large turnout filling the council chamber on Tuesday, Ripon Residents Planning Group member David Ingham said: “We think this is practically the same application as before, the issues are the same.

“I think Fountains Abbey risks losing its status as a World Heritage Site if this goes through, with building going right up to the edge of it.

“We have also been concerned about the developer letting all the surface water that doesn’t wash away go into the river Skell. Will Ripon’s flood defences stand up to it and take it?

“It is the wrong place to grow Ripon, we all agree that Ripon needs to expand, but there are other places.

“I hope as many people as possible will join us on Tuesday - we are arranging transport for people to get to the meeting in Harrogate.

“We want to put our best defence forward in the inquiry if we get through Tuesday’s meeting. We are looking to raise as much money as possible to fund professional planning advice and heritage reports.”

The planning group is also hosting a public meeting at Greystone Community Primary School on Thursday evening, today, at 7pm.

Gladman Developments declined to comment.