Secretary of State to have final say over plans for hundreds of homes in Ripon

The Secretary of State will have the final say over the plans.
The Secretary of State will have the final say over the plans.

The Secretary of State will now have the final say over plans for hundreds of homes in Ripon that have been strongly objected to by Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal.

Sajid Javid, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, is intervening on the same grounds put forward by The National Trust and city residents - that the appeal for up to 430 homes on the land south west of West Lane includes proposals which could “have an adverse impact” on the World Heritage Site.

Gladman Developments 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 appeal would previously have been determined by the Planning Inspectorate, but Mr Javid’s concerns haven driven him to take charge, stating that the impact on “the outstanding universal value, integrity, authenticity and significance” of the World Heritage Site must be considered.

At a packed Harrogate Borough Council planning committee meeting on Tuesday, another application from Gladmans independent of the appeal, for up to 390 homes on West Lane, was refused by members.

A spokesperson for The National Trust told the ‘Gazette that this is an important step towards defeating a threat to the World Heritage Site.

The spokesperson said: “The Trust maintains its position that there is harm arising from development within the setting of the World Heritage Site of Studley Royal Park including the ruins of Fountains Abbey, particularly from Gillett Hill and also some harm to the setting of the Grade II How Hill Tower.”

Standing with The National Trust and city residents, the planning committee refused the application on the same grounds. Coun Stuart Martin said: “The development would be a harmful intrusion on the World Heritage Site.”

A representative for Gladman Developments maintained that there is “an adequate buffer” between the site for the homes and the World Heritage Site.

Reacting to the decision to refuse the plans, the Chair of the Ripon Residents Planning Group, Pat Wilson, said: “We are all thrilled at this decision, but there is also a lot more hard work ahead in raising money to put forward expert submissions for the public inquiry. This isn’t over yet, but it is a step forward.”