Damage done by this ill-fated venture goes far beyond Ripon

From: Stanley Mackintosh, Kirkgate, Ripon.

UNDER duress, Ripon College have finally submitted a ‘change of use’ planning application in a bid to legitimise their use of 29/30 Kirkgate, Ripon (Ripskys) as an ill-fated correctional facility for school-phobic youths from near and far, presently operating under the guise of being an Internet caf.

This belated retrospective application, for what is now euphemistically described as an ‘education centre’, has been made on the insistence of the Harrogate Planning Enforcement section.

The decisive matter for the council in enforcing planning compliance was that Ripon College’s breach of planning control unacceptably affected the quality of life and the public interest.

In that regard, evidence of the detrimental effects of the unauthorised activities at Ripskys upon the Kirkgate residential and business neighbourhood and upon Ripon shoppers, tourists and restaurant diners had been apparent from the very outset of the ill-fated Ripsky’s venture in May 2004 and is documented in extensive correspondence, minutes, police and court records and press reports.

Ripon’s Kirkgate is an important historic streetscape leading from the Market Place to Ripon Cathedral, upon which a considerable investment of public funds has been lavished as part of the Ripon Regeneration project. Lower Kirkgate has been previously distinguished by having a healthy mixed community of residential, retail and office units that has previously rubbed along well together.

However, after two years of the Ripsky’s blight, lower Kirkgate has become a no-go area for many Ripon people and a disappointment or worse for innocent visitors.

Indeed, the former retail premises facing Ripsky’s (9,10/11,12,13,14/15) are now all closed down. This is in spite of repeated attempts by owners and occupiers to establish or continue retail businesses or to find buyers or tenants for the affected properties.

The damage done by the ill-fated Ripon College venture goes far beyond Kirkgate. It has brought damage to Ripon as a whole, both in terms of the quality of life for residents and shoppers and an ever-growing reputation as a dumping ground for anti-social misfits from elsewhere.

Please don’t leave it to someone else. The planning application shall be available for you to view at Ripon Town Hall and on the Internet. Please write to the planning office at Knapping Mount, Harrogate, HG1 2AE to express your objection to this application.