With additional public consultation on Ripon Cathedral’s controversial planning application starting at 3pm today (Monday, February 12), a leading campaigner has criticised the way the issue is being handled.
The cathedral “paused” its planning application to North Yorkshire Council for an £8 million new development on Minster Gardens last month in the wake of opposition from campaigners and local businesses.
It is hosting drop-in events this month and in March to allow people to ask about the plans, which would involve felling trees.
But Kevin Hill who, with his wife Liz, owns and runs a retail business on Kirkgate, fears the cathedral is determined to press ahead. He said:
“It’s looking ominously clear that the cathedral is hell-bent on its attempted annexation of a public open space and it won’t let a few trees stand in its way.
“All this to cram a two-storey annexe which is larger than the Ripon M&S Food store onto land that has been enjoyed by the public for more than 200 years.”
Mr Hill added:
“Many people still haven’t realised that the proposed annexe, with its 80-seat 2,228 sq ft refectory, along with gift shop, song school, toilets and storage areas, is 11,840 square feet, almost 1,000 square feet more than the two-storey M&S food hall at the St Michael’s retail park, which is 11,000 square feet.
“The cathedral continues to say in its publications and display materials that the new building’s footprint will cover the area currently occupied by the existing toilet block, tarmacked footpath and drive, while carefully failing to add that it will also take up a very large slice of the adjacent parkland area.”
Ripon resident Jenni Holman, who has raised a petition signed by more than 2,100, people calling for the trees and green space to be saved from development, said:
“We want the cathedral to thrive and get the 21st century facilities that it urgently needs, but are convinced that they can achieve this, while ensuring that the public green space of Minster Gardens with its mature trees remain here for the enjoyment of the people of Ripon, visitors to the city and future generations.
“It also greatly concerns us that 21 of the 22 consultation events are being held at the cathedral and only three of them are being held outside of normal working and shop hours, meaning that many Ripon residents and business owners will be unable to attend.”
As revealed by the Stray Ferret, prior to last month’s announcement of the planning application pause, Andrew Williams, the leader of Ripon City Council met with the Dean of Ripon the Very Revd John Dobson and the cathedral’s communications manager Michele Gee.
Following that meeting, which took place on January 9, Cllr Williams, said he had “suggested to the Dean that such public consultation would be best undertaken away from the cathedral itself”.
The Stray Ferret raised the concerns of campaigners with the cathedral but had not received a response by the time of publication.
Consultation events calendar
Apart from an event between 9am and 12 noon at Ripon Town Hall on Thursday March 7, the other 21 events will be held at the cathedral. at the dates and times set out below.
- Monday 12, 3-5pm
- Thursday 15, 10am-12pm
- Saturday 17, 1-2.30pm
- Tuesday 20, 5-7pm
- Thursday 22, 2-4pm
- Friday 23, 10.30am-12.30pm
- Monday 26, 10am-12pm
- Wednesday 28, 10am-12pm
- Saturday 2, 2-4pm
- Tuesday 5, 5-7pm
- Thursday 7, 2-4pm
- Friday 8, 10.30am-12.30pm
- Monday 11, 3-5pm
- Wednesday 13, 10am-12pm
- Friday 15, 10.30am-12.30pm
- Monday 18, 5-7pm
- Tuesday 19, 3-5pm
- Sunday 24, 1-3pm
- Monday 25, 3-5pm
- Wednesday 27, 12-2pm
- Thursday 28, 1-3pm
Main picture: Campaigner Kevin Hill is seen on part of the Minster Gardens that, along with the toilet block and tarmacked area will be cleared for the proposed annexe
- Ripon Cathedral announces next steps in annexe plan
- Trees still stand in the way of annexe plan
- Cathedral pauses controversial planning application