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Councillors approve staff accommodation plan above Chinese restaurant in Ripon

Councillors have approved plans to create living accommodation for staff above a Chinese restaurant in Ripon.

Councillors approve staff accommodation plan above Chinese restaurant in Ripon Councillors have approved plans to create living accommodation for staff above a Chinese restaurant in Ripon. North Yorkshire Council’s Skipton & Ripon planning committee met this afternoon at Ripon Town Hall to consider an application from Mr Wang who took over The Dragon Inn on the market square in 2021. The restaurant is part of a five-storey Grade II listed building and according to planning documents, the first, second and attic levels are bedrooms for staff with a communal kitchen and bathrooms. However, planning permission was never obtained to use the building as a house in multiple occupation (HMO) so the application was part-retrospective. It’s the second time plans have come before councillors following a deferral at a previous meeting in September. At the time, councillors raised concerns about access to the rear of the building and fire safety. Since then, the plans have been amended to remove the rear access and create a second internal staircase. Architect Jonathan Green told councillors that the applicant had addressed issues raised by councillors. He said:

“The Dragon Inn was dilapidated but has been much-improved. “If approved, Ripon would benefit as the whole building would be in use. It would be a small step towards a market place full of occupied properties.”
Despite being recommended for refusal by a council officer, councillors unanimously voted to approve the plans saying it would create much-needed affordable housing in the city centre. Councillors visited the site before the meeting with Andy Brown (Green Party, Aire Valley) describing it as a building that “had not been loved in a very long time.” Cllr Barbara Brodigan (Liberal Democrat, Ripon Ure Bank & Spa) said:
“There are so many buildings where the ground floor is occupied and upstairs is a storing room or dumping ground. "We’re told there’s a housing shortage in the city, certainly for people on lower incomes. This is accommodation for their workers. It’s bringing people back into the city and will preserve this building.”
Cllr Robert Heseltine (Conservative and Independents Group, Skipton South) said he could find “no sound reason” to refuse the plans. He added:
“We have to put ourselves in the applicant’s shoes. They will invest a substantial sum of money to bring it back into use.”
By Thomas Barrett, Local Democracy Reporter Read more local stories from Your Harrogate here.

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