Fears over new homes plan

The Station Inn and former auction mart site where a developer wants to build 96 new homes.  (120104M5a)
The Station Inn and former auction mart site where a developer wants to build 96 new homes. (120104M5a)

Residents have spoken out against housing plans which they say will blight an historic Ripon vista.

Householders on Magdalen’s Road have voiced their concerns over the plans to build 96 new houses on the former auction mart site behind their homes and a meeting has been called with developers.

They say they are worried the plans will see too many homes on the six acre site, increasing traffic on surrounding roads and destroying a well-loved and historic view towards the cathedral.

And, if the proposals go ahead, an open meadow will disappear under concrete as new houses are planned on both the disused auction mart site and neighbouring pasture at Magdalen’s Hill.

Sarah Swift has lived in her home on Magdalen’s Road, which backs on to development site, for 25 years. She said she is angry that the open field, which is a haven for wildlife, could be ploughed up for a housing development.

“Magdalen’s Hill has always been under separate ownership, and it is an environmental asset for the people living around it.

“The council officers called the site ‘neglected backland’ which it is not.”

The development plans for the auction mart site were submitted in November last year, three months after Harrogate Borough Council’s Local Development Framework (LDF) named the site as one of several possible locations for new housing in Ripon over the next 12 years – including the Old Goods Yard on Hutton Bank, and the current home of the Cathedral Choir School.

However, under the current proposals the auction mart site could host 96 new homes, almost two-thirds of the 150 the LDF says Ripon needs by 2024, and more than the 79 it proposed for the site.

“I don’t understand why the field [at Magdalen’s Hill] is being used when sites like the old station yard are not,” Ms Swift said.

Both Ms Swift and neighbour Sue Blakemore said they are concerned about the number of houses that could be built close to their homes.

“It seems to be a huge development for the area, and it’s going to increase the traffic on the roads.”

Mrs Blakemore lives in the converted Mary Magdalen’s Chapel on Magdalen’s Road, which is a listed building.

She is worried that under the new plans the 19th century building will be overshadowed by the new development and the views to the cathedral from the area will be lost.

“If they build on the grazing field behind Magdalen’s Road the views will be eroded because that is a raised piece of land.

“It also appears that there will be houses and gardens right up to my property – surrounding a listed building.

“I moved to Ripon knowing it was a place that was developed sensitively, and living in a listed building I don’t think I am just an owner but a custodian of it as well.”

However Nick Moody of developers Newby Management, based at Newby Hall, defended the plans, saying Ripon needs new houses and the auction mart site needs development after laying derelict for 17 years.

“The number of houses is predicated by the type of development. If we were to build executive houses on the site there may be only 50 or 60 units, but with a mix of one, two and three bed houses there will be more on the same site. This is not an overdevelopment of the site.

“The auction mart site and field beside it have been identified by the council as one of their prefered options for development and have been ear-marked for houses for a number of years.

“There will always be some members of the community who live closer to developments who will be more affected than others, but that does not mean we should not try to develop and build up Ripon.

“We are local developers and we believe Ripon is overlooked by Harrogate and want to work against that.”

The borough councillor for the ward, Coun Stuart Martin, and Newby Management are planning a public consultation meeting in coming weeks to allow residents to see the plans and discuss concerns with architects and engineers.

Coun Martin, who also sits on the Harrogate Borough Council planning committee that will decide on the application, encouraged local people to contact the council with their worries.

“The application will have to go through a full and rigorous planning process, so I would encourage anyone who has concerns to get in touch with the council’s planning department, or they can contact me.”

l What do you think of the plans for the auction mart site in Ripon? Email news@ripongazette.co.uk or write to Ripon Gazette, 5A Kirkgate, Ripon, HG4 1PA.