Homes England urged to ‘listen to people of Ripon’ over Clotherholme
Last updated Feb 3, 2024

Homes England — the government housing agency behind the 1,300-home Clotherholme development — has been urged to listen to Ripon people’s concerns and protect the city’s rich military heritage,

Last year Ripon City Council unanimously supported Ripon Military Heritage Trust, which is fighting to protect, preserve and ultimately display priceless items of historic and cultural significance.

These structures and buildings, some of which date back 110 years, are located at the barracks site, which has been home to the Royal Engineers for decades.

But concerns were expressed at Monday’s full city council meeting about whether the housing scheme will respect this.

Councillor Barbara Brodigan’s report to fellow members on her work as the Liberal-Democrat councillor for the Spa and Ure Bank division of North Yorkshire Council sparked a debate.

Cllr Brodigan, who along with fellow city and North Yorkshire council colleague Andrew Williams has attended meetings with Homes England and the trust, told the members:

“The future of these extremely rare items still remains in doubt and we need to keep the pressure on Homes England to deliver what the people of Ripon want.”

The Royal Engineers who have had Freedom of the City since 1949, are scheduled to leave Ripon in 2026, but how will their heritage be maintained?

Ripon’s soldiers have earned a worldwide reputation for military invention and development, from bomb disposal to training troops on the installation of Bailey Bridges, which were used in many wars and proved crucial to the liberation of Europe.

Besides bridges, Ripon’s contribution to two world wars included a concrete weir constructed on the River Laver to drive wheels for a power station that gave electric light for soldiers during the First World War. The Clotherholme site includes some of the last accommodation huts still in existence.

Councillor Pauline McHardy told the meeting:

“The Royal Engineers are due to vacate the site in 2026 and all we have received from Homes England at every meeting we’ve ever had with them, are vague promises.

“It’s time for them to take the cotton wool out of their ears and start to actually listen to what the people of Ripon are saying – many of them are former Royal Engineers who married local woman and made their homes here.

“The heritage of that site belongs to our citizens and must be safeguarded so it can be seen by future generations, while attracting new visitors to our historic city.”

Response from Homes England

A Homes England spokesperson said:

“We remain committed to delivering a military heritage strategy as part of our wider proposals for the site and continue to discuss options with the local planning authority and the Ripon Military Heritage Trust.”

The government agency pointed out:

  • Details for the heritage strategy, its funding, and potential use of the existing military structures continue to be fine-tuned as part of the planning application process.
  • As part of ongoing discussions with North Yorkshire Council, Homes England and The Defence Infrastructure Organisation have committed to spending £100.000 towards the progression of the submitted heritage strategy. The council has asked Homes England / the DIO to continue engagement with Ripon Military Heritage Trust over the submitted heritage strategy and a number of options are now being explored as part of those discussions.

Main image: Are these extremely rare Second World War huts at the Ripon barracks site, going to remain or be removed? Picture: Ripon Military Heritage Trust

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