The Ripon City Plan column by Alan Weston
Last month we wrote about how the Ripon City Plan could deliver the changes to make Ripon a better place, by putting in place a strategy that identifies, encourages and pro-actively supports private sector investment in the right location.
Our approach to providing more modern retail floor space in the city centre, our approach to identifying sites for new hotels and our approach to regenerating brownfield and under-utilised land and premises to provide mixed use development are all examples of this strategy.
However, as we have said numerous times before, planning policies alone will not be able to deliver the future Ripon that we all want to see and is why we have identified a number of complementary projects.
These are activities which contribute to the overall vision and objectives set out in the Ripon City Plan and need time, work and often money to develop further.
In relation to this, the City Plan is acting as a catalyst for investment by ensuring that there is a comprehensive strategic approach for the development of the city and that links are made between proposals for public and private sector investments. This ensures that each benefits from the other and positive results are maximised.
The production and implementation of a Ripon Sports Development Strategy is an identified complementary project and was included in the City Plan on the basis of addressing the known shortage of playing pitches and a desire to enhance the range of sports on offer in the city.
Work on this project has already begun, led by North Yorkshire Sport, who have been liaising with the various sports clubs in and around the city to understand their growth aspirations and their current issues and limitations.
This is a necessary first step to exploring whether a multi-sport facility is viable on the sports fields at the barracks site and exploring the grant funding opportunities which may support such a development.
Similarly, from our consultations there are a number of people who believe that the city would benefit from a new arts and culture centre.
There is not currently sufficient evidence to justify this and enable the City Plan to propose a location or an appropriate policy at the moment.
The need to carry out a study to identify the demand requirements for performing arts space within the city and potential sustainable locations is recognised.
Grant funding could be necessary to carry out this feasibility study and in all likelihood to develop and operate the facility.
However, funding need not be a barrier to major improvements being delivered.
For good quality projects money is available from a variety of sources.
Another of the complementary projects outlined is the development of a Cathedral Precinct masterplan to identify development aspirations.
The City Plan’s encouragement has been part of the support that has enabled the submission of the multi-million pound Heritage Lottery Fund bid to deliver key elements of the masterplan.
The outcome of this application will become known in the coming weeks and if successful could help to unlock further investment in the area that we are now calling East of Market Place.
Whilst the City Plan seeks to encourage major investments there are also a number of smaller-scale investments that could make Ripon better too.
These could be delivered through planning obligations and agreements, where applicants for planning permission make a financial contribution to mitigate the wider impacts of their development. The City Plan fulfils many roles, primarily it is a Neighbourhood Plan but in many respects it is also an investment prospectus for the city.
A document which encourages public and private sector bodies to invest in the confidence that there is a clear strategic direction and an engaged and supportive community and that is what is needed for the future of Ripon.