Tree campaigners to hold protest against Ripon Cathedral’s £6m annex plans
Last updated Nov 22, 2023
The trees at risk of felling.

Campaigners fighting the proposed felling of a veteran beech and 10 other mature trees to make way for Ripon Cathedral’s planned £6m annex will hold a peaceful protest at Minster Gardens on Saturday.

The proposed development would include a song school, community space, toilets, a refectory and shop, which it says will attract more visitors to the city.

But the potential loss of trees has attracted opposition, and protestors will make their feelings known between 12 noon and 1pm on Saturday.

Ripon resident Jenni Holman, who has raised a petition containing almost 1,800 names, which has been submitted to planners at North Yorkshire Council, told the Stray Ferret:

“Over the past eight months we have been raising awareness of the cathedral’s plans, which involve the loss of the trees on what is currently public green open space in the ownership of North Yorkshire Council.

“We do not object to the cathedral having the additional facilities that it needs to prosper, but there are more suitable and less sensitive locations, including land and buildings owned by the church,  which could be developed to meet its needs.”

She added:

“North Yorkshire Police have been informed that we will be holding our peaceful protest on Minster Gardens from 12 noon and we will be happy to speak to anybody, whether for or against the annex development , to explain why we have raised the petition.”

Jenni Holman (front, centre) pictured at the May protest on Minster Gardens

A previous protest was held at the gardens in May, when the number of people who signed the petition was approaching 500.

At that time, the Stray Ferret asked the cathedral for comment about the objection being made and received this response:

“The planning application is going through its due process, as such we don’t respond to individual comments or objections during this process.

“What I can say is that we have investigated all available options within the cathedral estate, and none of the sites were suitable for the new building. This was the opinion of a range of external experts who specialise in heritage buildings and conservation as well as architects and project management experts. The needs of all internal and external users of the proposed new building cannot be met by using any other existing chapter property and all cathedral property is currently being used to its maximum capacity.

“As we’ve previously said, the building will be an asset to the people of the city, providing much needed facilities, including a safe space for our choristers to rehearse that is fully accessible, along with public toilet facilities (including a new Changing Places toilet, suitable for those who struggle to use standard accessible toilets).

“While we understand that some people may see the loss of 11 trees as too heavy a price to pay, the development will tidy up an unloved part of the city, increase the amount of public open space and enhance the existing much-valued memorial garden. The plans we’ve submitted also include the planting of 14 new trees around the cathedral, along with a further 300 trees on land made available by a supporter of the project and will see an overall increase in biodiversity across the area.”

Main picture: Campaigners are fighting to save this veteran beech and ten other mature trees

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