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Controversial development plans given green light

[Friday 24 February 2006]

They may have lost the latest round of the ongoing dispute, but residents in Richmond are promising to fight on in their bid to stop a housing development going ahead on one of the towns car parks.

In a knife edge vote, Richmond District Councillors voted six - five in favour of the controversial plans that will see part of the town's Yorke Square car park sold off and developed for housing.

The Council has now given itself permission to sell part of the site, currently a thirty space public pay and display car park, with planning permission for fourteen homes, whilst retaining twenty-three public car parking places.

Richmond residents vow to take development plans to judicial review
Richmond residents vow to take development
plans to judicial review

The Authority plans to use the income generated by the sale to help fund another controversial move - its proposed office relocation from Richmond to Colburn.

Critics of the plans have voiced concerns over a reduction in parking provision in the busy Yorkshire Dales market town, as well as the impact that they believe new building will have in what is an historic area.

Furious local residents say the view of Culloden Tower will be ruined, and the reduction in Car Parking provision will push shoppers away.

Opponents of the scheme, including the Richmond and District Civic Society say that councillors were given poor advice by their planning officers and are insisting that the development proposals are not in line with the Authority's published local plan.

Every local authority in England is legally required to publish a local plan that sets out the framework for future planning and development in their area.

Critics of the Yorke Square development insist it is contrary to section 46 of Richmondshire District Council's local plan, which relates to development that may have an impact on historic or listed buildings.

"The decision was obvious from the beginning", said John Clarke, Chairman of the Civic Society's Planning Committee.

Adding that at a site visit last week, District Councillors were "disinterested" in listening to the views of local people and that they were "taking no notice at all when people were giving their opinions".

The accusation that councillors ignored the views of local people is rejected by Councillor Pat Middlemiss, Chair of the Environment and Planning Committee, saying: "That's absolutely not true as we listened to everything last night, I've been to all the site visits and I'm probably the best person to make a decision on it because I attended all the site visits, listened to all the information and discussed it with all the officers".

She added: "We made the decision last night based on what we saw and heard and all the facts we've heard before".

Prior to last nights meeting, Council Leader, Councillor Bill Glover took a swipe at the critics of the Authority's plans, saying: "I sometimes wonder, if the original building was still there and the Council was proposing to demolish it for use as a car park, what the public reaction would be.

"It is actually a grossly under-used car park.

"Parking revenue figures show that an average of just six parking tickets are sold per day there, so the retention of twenty-three spaces more than satisfies the need for public parking in that area.

"The style, design and size of the buildings proposed closely mirror the stable block complex which stood on the site until the late 1950's, and is totally in keeping with the current surroundings".

Opponents of the scheme will now push for the decision to go to judicial review.

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