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Published by the Society in the Ripon Gazette, 15th January 2008
David Winpenny, Co-Chairman of Ripon Civic Society, considers some of Ripon’s open spaces – and the neglect or developments that might threaten them.

In any built-up area, space is important – green space in which to play or relax, or just to enjoy as you pass, doubly so. In Ripon we have many such spaces, but we need to be vigilant in ensuring that they are protected and cared for.

There is currently some anxiety about using part of one of the largest of the open spaces, Camp Close, for a new swimming pool next to the Leisure Centre. It highlights the need to be alive to the needs of all sections of the community; does the value of a new pool outweigh the loss of amenity? The debate will no doubt continue.

Other areas that are of great value to the city include Quarry Moor, with its status as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and the Nature Reserve land alongside the River Skell by Whitcliffe Lane and up to Hell Wath. They – and many others that have their own passionate supporters – merit their protection as Special Landscape Areas. Proposed extensions to that protection are welcome.

Elsewhere in the city, there are concerns over Temple Garden, between Allhallowgate and North Street. Formed on the site of a former chapel, the Garden was promoted and cared for by the Civic Society and others but is now in the care of Harrogate Borough Council. A few years ago the most attractive feature of the Garden, a number of flowering cherry trees, were cut down, apparently because they were diseased. Since then the state of the Garden has deteriorated – a public-spirited local volunteer cuts the grass, but little else is done to make the Garden tidy or to remove the large accumulation of litter.

Another of the Civic Society’s achievements, Allhallows Park off St Marygate by the car park, is faring better; also now cared for by the council, it is tidied and mown regularly, though parts are sometimes left to grow wild. The council also maintains the land at Goose Green by the clock tower on North Street with regular mowing.

Not far away is a large area of land that stretches from the back of Sharow View, the former Workhouse, down to Tower Road. A magical area, full of mature trees and wildlife – including an active owl population – this area also has considerable historic interest. Plans were submitted a few years ago for housing on the site, but were refused. The latest communication on the Harrogate Local Development Framework – the newspaper ‘Plan the future with us’ – includes this, and several other sites, among ‘Other site options’ for housing. While we are pleased that it is not (yet) a preferred option, this site is one – and there are others, too – that we should like protected from development.

So, while we strive to safeguard the built environment, Ripon Civic Society has a brief to safeguard the spaces in between, too. We are on the watch.

• For more information about Ripon Civic Society telephone 01765 607641

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