Councillors delay decision on staff accommodation plan for Ripon Chinese restaurant
Sep 6, 2023
The Dragon Inn in Ripon.
The Dragon Inn in Ripon.

Councillors have deferred making a decision on a plan to create living accommodation for staff above a Chinese restaurant in Ripon.

North Yorkshire Council’s Skipton & Ripon planning committee met yesterday afternoon at Ripon Town Hall to consider an application from Mr Wang who took over The Dragon Inn in 2021.

The restaurant is part of a five-storey Grade II listed building that sits on the city’s market square.

According to planning documents, the first, second and attic levels are bedrooms for staff with a communal kitchen and bathrooms.

However, planning permission was never obtained to use the building as a house in multiple occupation (HMO) so the application was part-retrospective.

But councillors raised concerns about access to the building, the fire escape and bin collection with a request for more information before it’s brought back to committee.

Access to the residential upper floors is through the restaurant which led to fears that bins could potentially be dumped in the street.

There is also no public right of way to the rear of the building, which is on council-owned land, and the applicant has not yet received permission from North Yorkshire Council to use it.

HMO’s require a higher level of fire safety than a normal privately rented property and a condition was proposed so that a fire safety risk assessment of the building would take place but this still left councillors uneasy about fire safety in the building.

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Conservative and Independents Group councillor for Ripon Minster & Moorside, Andrew Williams, said he had reservations about the application.

He said: 

“I think as elected members we should ensure applications are water-tight before we give approval. I can’t support the application today as it would not be appropriate when there are clearly significant issues to be addressed.”

However, Liberal Democrat councillor for Ripon Ure Bank & Spa Barbara Brodigan said she was in favour of the plan as it would help to reinvigorate the city.

Cllr Brodigan said:

“Look around Ripon market square and a lot of buildings are underused and we’re short of suitable affordable housing.

“If buildings are not in use they fall into decay. If we bring people into the city centre then it’s a vibrant place, they spend money and it’s a safer environment.”

Councillors voted by four to three to defer the application and asked for more information on access and refuse collection.