Derelict building tidy-up demanded

Owners of four derelict buildings in the centre of Ripon could be forced to clean up their properties.

The four buildings are all on Low Skellgate beside a busy route into the city centre.

The Turk’s Head pub; 37 Low Skellgate, home to Sigma Antiques; and buildings at 34 and 36 Low Skellgate have all fallen into disrepair over recent years.

Now Harrogate Borough Council (HBC) has written to owners asking for a guarantee they will overhaul their properties.

Officials have said if they are not happy with the replies they may use legal powers to force the owners to repair the dilapidated properties.

Ripon City Council’s planning committee has been urging the borough council to take action on the state of the properties for several months.

They committee has written to HBC’s chief executive and planning officials asking them to serve 215 notices, the legal documents that would force owners to repair their properties.

With traders struggling to increase business and footfall in the city centre the “dilapidated” appearance of the buildings is putting people off spending time in Ripon, they said.

Coun Andrew Williams, chairman of the city council’s planning committee, has welcomed the letters, but wants to see more forceful action.

“I am pleased to see the Borough Council has eventually done something, but I wish they would take some proper enforcement action.”

But two owners have said there are valid reasons for the current disrepair.

David Thomson, owner of both Sigma Antiques and 36 Low Skellgate, said renovations had been delayed by planning problems left by a previous owner.

“When I bought number 36 the previous owner had pulled out a lot of original features which the conservation team were not happy about.

“Once the work inside number 36 is completed I will do the work on the front of both buildings together. It depends on the planners’ decisions and on costs, but I hope to have it all done next year.”

In the last two months the neighbouring Turk’s Head has seen a change in fortune.

It has been bought by Ripon publican Patricia Doyle, who plans to restore the building and re-open the pub under a new name.

Ms Doyle, who has run the Ship Inn on Bondgate for 18 years, said:

“It’s been a long hard slog to purchase it, but I wanted brickd and mortar and that’s why it’s in such a bad state. It’s been empty for two and half years with no work done apart from a new roof, but the front is still scruffy.

City councillors have also raised concerns about two other buildings close by, the boarded-up branch library building and 18 Skellgarths, but borough council officials have refused to act, saying the condition of the buildings does not warrant it.

Both buildings are currently the subject of a planning application which would see the library demolished to make way for three cottages and 18 Skellgarths converted into flats.