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MEETING HEARS ABOUT ‘VISION FOR RIPON’

29th October 2010
Almost 100 people attended a public meeting organised by Ripon Civic Society to hear Ripon resident Stanley Mackintosh put forward his ‘Ripon Vision 2015’, which would see parts of the city centre pedestrianised and new parking and shopping areas constructed.
Among those attending was Skipton and Ripon MP Julian Smith, as well as county, district and city councillors. They heard Mr Mackintosh outline a three-stage plan which would progressively ensure that traffic was diverted away from the Market Square and other historic streets, including Kirkgate, Duck Hill, Minster Road, Low Skellgate, High Skellgate and Westgate. Using the similar market town of Newark upon Trent as an example, he showed how it is possible to create safe, car-free retail and leisure precincts that help enhance and regenerate a heritage-rich historic town centre and assure the prosperity of its community.
Mr Mackintosh’s proposals include two new link roads. One runs down from the roundabout by the bus station to St Marygate, relieving Alhallowgate of through traffic, including buses. The other is between Low Skellgate and Somerset Row, removing traffic from Low Skellgate, High Skellgate and Westgate, with Firby Lane being widened and made two-way.
He also proposes a shopping centre with integrated multi-storey car parking and extensive landscaped parkland to replace the present car parking areas behind Sainsbury’s, suggesting that such development would stimulate new vibrancy and prosperity for Ripon. He suggests a similar development of the hospital car park and adjacent ‘brownfield’ site at Firby Lane.
A key element of the Ripon Vision 2015 proposals is substantial private investment, including the purchase of land by developers from Harrogate Borough Council and North Yorkshire County Council; the income from this would help to fund public works. Some of the developments that improve the significance and enjoyment of ‘heritage assets’ like Ripon Cathedral may also attract substantial Heritage-related grant funding.
There was a lively discussion after the presentation, with members of the public raising points of detail about the scheme. Some doubt was expressed about the financial viability of the public works schemes at this time, though Mr Mackintosh pointed out that the first stage of his scheme, removing traffic from the Square, Kirkgate, and Duck Hill and closing Minster Road to through traffic, could be prototyped with almost no capital expenditure then made permanent at relatively minor expense.
In an informal vote at the end of the meeting, three quarters of the audience indicated that they were in favour of pedestrianisation of the Square and surrounding streets.

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