TRAFFIC issues facing the UK’s fifth smallest city over the coming decades need to be tackled before a long-standing plan to build a huge housing estate on a former Army base is pushed forward, it has been claimed.

Former RAF senior air traffic control officer and squadron leader Councillor Mike Chambers said comprehensive proposals are needed to deal with the rise in traffic in Ripon associated with building 1,300 homes, shops, a school, a 60-unit extra care facility and community facilities at the former Claro and Deverell Barracks site.

The North Yorkshire County councillor for the Ripon North division was speaking after Harrogate Borough Council requested the views of the county council’s highways department on Home England’s proposals.

Homes England has said to help overcome traffic concerns it is committed to improving pedestrian, cycle and public transport options, but Cllr Chambers said the housing agency’s plan - to mitigate a rise in traffic by upgrading city centre junctions - needed to provide a long-term solution for the city.

The former squadron leader said calls for a relief road to add the junction upgrades was “not meeting with a lot of favour from the various authorities”, despite other housing developments in the area.

He said those behind the development needed to remember those already living in the area were facing years of building works-related disruption, so it would be important to limit the amount residents were inconvenienced.

Cllr Chambers said Homes England had taken on board many concerns and had altered their plans accordingly, but it hadn’t sufficiently addressed traffic concerns.

He said: “Ripon is an old city with very narrow streets, so it’s very easy for congestion to build up. There is an opportunity to get this right.

“We should be at the stage of having a forward-looking plan that’s future proofed so we don’t need to go back and look at this again in ten years.”

Cllr Chambers said Homes England also still had time to revisit the sporting provision after dropping an ambitious sports village proposal.

He said: “Clearly it is going to be a generational development for the city and one which in many respects is welcome. However, there is an opportunity to do more and it is a shame they have taken that opportunity.”