A petition signed by more than 800 people that protests against the felling of trees in Ripon Cathedral’s £6m expansion drive has been delivered to North Yorkshire Council.
The cathedral submitted plans in December for a two-storey structure on part of the public open space known as Minster Gardens.
It says the building is much-needed and will provide a new song school for its choir, a cafe, toilet facilities and disabled access.
But the plans also include the loss of a veteran beech tree as well as ten other trees on the gardens which has proved controversial.
The cathedral says that 14 trees would be planted round the development as well as a further 300 at Studley Royal.
However Jenni Holman, who set up the petition, says this fails to compensate for the loss of the mature trees as well as part of the green space that would be built on.
The petition is still available to be signed in Karma on Kirkgate and Ms Holman hopes more than 1,000 people will have put their names to it soon.
Together with supporters, she organised the petition “because I fundamentally disagree with the plans to build an annexe for the cathedral’s use on Minster Gardens,” Jenni said.
“Firstly and most importantly because it would mean felling eleven mature trees, one of which is a beech tree which has been awarded ‘veteran’ status. I shouldn’t need to explain the importance of trees now.
“Secondly, the area in question, Minster Gardens is a beautiful green space in a built up area. Again, climatically it is not good to create more hard surface areas.
“This park is used by people to sit and quietly enjoy, it contains a beautiful memorial garden too. It has been used for entertainment, for example when the theatre festival was on and many enjoyed the recent musical entertainment which rounded off St Wilfrid’s Day.”
Visitors ‘to increase by a third’
Ripon Cathedral’s plans have been backed by the public body Historic England as well as the Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England.
The cathedral currently welcomes 100,000 visitors a year, which it argues could increase by 33% if the expansion went ahead.
The Dean of Ripon the Very Rev John Dobson said the tree campaigners were risking undermining a development which he believes will “hugely enhance” both the city and its cathedral.
He said: “We are really disappointed with how this petition has been positioned as we feel that it is not representative of the plans submitted.
“It’s disingenuous to suggest that this development would take away green space from the city. In fact it is adding to the usable green space in the area and landscaping will flow into the memorial garden.
“No one takes a decision to cut down a tree lightly but we believe this new development will bring a wide range of benefits to the city.
“We are planting 14 trees around the development and a further 300 on land which has been made available to us at Studley, as well as increasing the biodiversity of the green space created.”
Councillors on North Yorkshire Council’s Skipton & Ripon planning committee are expected to consider the application later this year.
You can read and comment on Ripon Cathedral’s plans here.
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