Megastore plans submitted

A computer generated image showing how the proposed megastore might look. (S)
A computer generated image showing how the proposed megastore might look. (S)

Supermarket giant Morrisons has submitted a planning application for its controversial scheme on the Ripon bypass.

The company has applied to Harrogate Borough Council for planning permission on a new 37,000 sq ft mega-store, 60-bed hotel, DIY home and garden centre, plus industrial and office units on the southern edge of the city.

Plans, which see the existing store converted into a DIY and home store, were first unveiled in March this year, as reported in the Ripon Gazette. They also include a new roundabout and alterations to road access to the site .

An exhibition of the plans at Greyfriars Primary School, which borders the proposed site, saw 420 visits and 200 local residents take the opportunity to comment on the proposals.

The supermarket claims the development will create hundreds of new jobs in Ripon – 100 jobs in the bigger store and up to 880 overall – and draw tourists and visitors from surrounding villages.

Development executive Andrew Cooper said: “Ripon urgently needs to improve its overall offer to keep its local residents shopping in Ripon, in the face of ever increasing competition as well as attracting shoppers from the extensive rural catchment area, and at the same time appealing to tourists.

“Whilst it is too early to say who the occupants of the DIY, home store, garden centre and hotel will be, we hope the scheme will attract high quality brands and independents, adding important variety and facilities to the overall scheme.”

Opposition to the original plans was fierce, with residents telling the Gazette they feared the scheme could be “the kiss of death” to the city centre, would force independent shops out of business, and would not create the promised full-time jobs.

Controversy also arose over planning gain which could be payable to the city council, with Coun Andrew Williams calling on the company to pay between £1m and £1.5m to the city.

A Facebook campaign has also been set up asking the supermarket to provide a new swimming pool for the city.

Organisers wrote: “Morrisons want to develop a new site in Ripon and we think they should help provide a new swimming pool for the people of Ripon who have supported them for the past 30 years.”

However, Ripon’s Chamber of Trade supported the original proposals. Chairman Stephen Craggs told the Gazette that businesses and retailers should “embrace it and make it work to develop ‘Ripon Plc’.”

The plans are due to go before the borough council’s planning committee on Wednesday, August 17.