Business tycoon Paul Sykes joins fight against 450 homes development

PAGE 7 (SECOND PIC)'FILE PIC: Paul Sykes in his Beech Villa offices, Harrogate.
PAGE 7 (SECOND PIC)'FILE PIC: Paul Sykes in his Beech Villa offices, Harrogate.

Business tycoon and Ripon resident Paul Sykes has lent his weight to the fight against plans to build 450 homes on the edge of the city.

Cheshire-based Gladman Developments have submitted a planning application for a 23-hectare site west of West Lane and south of Whitcliffe Lane.

However, Mr Sykes has raised concerns that the proposal would be built adjacent to Studley Royal Park and Fountains Abbey - a World Heritage Site. The 72-year-old Yorkshireman has now vowed to fight the plans in order to protect the ‘nature, peace and beauty’ of the 300-acre surroundings from becoming a building site.

He said: “This development is not going to be built just anywhere, it’s adjacent to a World Heritage Site and there’s very few of them in the UK.

“We desperately need to protect this area and the message I’m sending out is this building work could go on for four to eight years depending on the houses.

“This is basically extending Ripon on a very sensitive site.

“Why are they using such beautiful land when there are brown field sites available and the army camp coming up soon?

“It’s incredible this application has got this far but it makes you wonder how far it will go. I don’t believe it’s getting the attention it deserves.”

Gladman’s application is proposing a residential development of up to 450 houses, informal public open space, children’s play areas and two vehicular access points from West Lane and an associated ancillary development.

However, concerns have already been raised by members of the public on the planning website about the application, with residents objecting to the damaging impact it could have.

These concerns have all been echoed by Mr Sykes who claims that, should the application go ahead, he would be left in doubt where his future lay.

He said: “If this application gets passed I will be moving on from the area. People could say that I am only fighting this because I live Studley Royal.

“But we have created this 300 acres of wildlife and if we let this slip under the door then, and only then, people will realise the magnitude of what’s been approved.

“What it means is they are going to urbanise this area and it’s going to become a building site for many years to come. I want to raise awareness of that.

“This is a national asset and it belongs to the nation, not just Ripon. It’s a World Heritage Site and we have no right to let it slip by and be subject to planning permission.”

Mr Sykes says he will now be writing to organisations such as the National Trust, the World Heritage Centre, as well as Prince Charles, objecting and raising awareness of the plans.

Another meeting has been arranged at Greystones School today, October 8, to discuss plans to build 98 houses at the former Ripon Choir School.

Coun Peter Horton raised concerns that if both applications were approved, it would mean almost 550 houses to be built on Whitcliffe Lane.