City Plan team backs project’s importance

City Development Manager Alan Weston.  (130128M1b)
City Development Manager Alan Weston. (130128M1b)

Ripon’s City Development Manager has defended the importance and price of the City Plan after questions were raised about its cost to residents.

As reported last week, at a council meeting on January 12, Coun Andrew Williams (Ind) questioned why £40,000 had been set aside from next year’s budget for the implementation of the City Plan.

However, Ripon City Development Manager Alan Weston said this week the £40,000 is not for the development of the plan but rather to invest in the “subsequent implementation of projects”.

He said: “It is important to recognise that to date, the development of the Ripon City Plan has been funded from the £20,000 Neighbourhood Planning Frontrunner Funding awarded to the city in April 2012.

“Some of this money still remains and will be used for the next phases of work but the team believes that more money will be needed to enable the completion and submission of an appropriate and rigorous plan for independent examination.

“The City Plan team believes that a small amount of money allocated for City Plan delivery could yield a significant return for the city by attracting additional investment from other organisations and delivering some of the identified improvements.”

Mr Weston said the money will help the group bring together a number of projects, including the pedestrianisation, regeneration and circulation for East of Market Place and Kirkgate.

The money would also “attract a significant amount of money from other public and private sector organisations” but Mr Weston confirmed the team would be seeking further resources from the Government as well.

Further concerns had been raised by Independent councillors that the Harrogate Borough Local Plan would take precedence over the City Plan once it is launched.

But Mr Weston argued that Harrogate Borough Council would be required to “formally include the policies within its Local Plan” as long as Ripon residents vote for it at referendum stage.

He said: “These policies have the same weight as the district-wide policies in the Local Plan. They are not of lower priority or lesser importance.

“They are more important than supplementary planning documents and other planning guidance approved by Harrogate Borough Council.”

However, Mr Weston admitted that over time it would be possible that Harrogate Borough may “adopt more up-to-date planning policies that supersede Ripon City Plan policies”.

He said: “This is normal as the evidence on which these policies have been based may become out of date or revised.”