A £10m retail park for Ripon has been approved today by Harrogate Borough Council’s planning committee.
In line with the planning officer’s recommendations, the application and plans from Rothstone Estates to bring a Marks and Spencer food hall, a Pets at Home store, and two other retailers to the city, have been deferred to the chief planning officer to approve the development proposed for the north side of Rotary Way.
The names of the retailers filling the remaining units is set to be finalised within the next four to six weeks, but plans include a clothing store and a furniture outlet, the Director of Rothstone Estates, Mark Rothery said as he addressed the committee and members of the public in the council chamber.
The plans will see a Marks and Spencer return to Ripon eight years after its original store in The Arcade closed, and will create 80 jobs.
Ripon residents have voiced mixed views on the impact that the supermarket giant, Pets at Home and the other outlets would have on the vitality of the city’s independent shops and businesses.
A Ripon resident, who requested to remain anonymous after the decision, said: “We have a very fragile retail infrastructure in Ripon - restaurants and shops come and go, and independent stores really do suffer.
“I have lived in Ripon for 27 years and I have seen so many disappear. We don’t need another supermarket when we already have so many convenience stores.
“Independent shops make Ripon special, and it would be such a shame to lose them.”
There was also debate among members of the planning committee – although 11 members voted in favour of the development, two councillors voted against and one abstained.
Coun Stuart Martin said those who are loyal to Ripon’s independent businesses will stay loyal.
Coun Martin said: “I have lived in Ripon all my life, and I like to support individual traders whenever possible, including The Pet Shop.
“I don’t have any intentions to change that, and I will continue to support them. I like the experience I get from a trader that I like.
“And I think a lot of people in Ripon and the catchment area will continue to do the same thing.
“It is a market place, and we can’t turn this down on the grounds that it would overfill the market with supermarkets.”
Coun Alan Skidmore said: “We don’t live in a protectionist society, if a developer brings 80 jobs to Ripon, it is a hugely important development for the city. If retailers are in competition, they need to up their game.”
Coun Pat Marsh objected to the development and agreed with the concerns raised by the resident.
Coun Marsh said: “I do think there will be an impact on Ripon city centre.
“It is a competitive market, but this is a big boy hitting out at the smaller retailers.”
The Director of Rothstone Estates, Mark Rothery, said: “I believe this new development will have a positive economic impact on Ripon and the surrounding area. It would create 80 new jobs in retail, which would be jobs taken by local people.
“It would attract new people to shop in Ripon, and add to the city’s retail offer.”