A DEBATE is under way about the potential expansion of Ripon.

The city's population is 15,922, but responses to the new Local Development Framework shows there is already some support for an expansion to 20,000.

The framework has been published by Harrogate Borough Council and will eventually replace the district's Local Plan.

Asked what would improve Ripon, the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) called for more shops, better parking, more hotels, and restaurants to attract more visitors who would stay overnight.

Ripon Area Business Association wants a higher quality retail environment, increased and better managed parking, development of more community and cultural assets (cinema, arts theatre, hall), increased high-quality office accommodation and enhanced education facilities.

In its response, Ripon City Council said it wanted to see more and better shops, improved sport and leisure facilities and increased and improved parking.

Friends of the Earth wants more independent shops and want to discourage car use by enhancing shops in residential areas.

Re-opened rail links to Leeds, Harrogate and Northallerton are called for by Ripon Civic Society.

Ripon City Partnership believes more business units are needed, wider access to broadband in rural areas, a broader higher education presence and a culture and leisure area.

The CPRE is opposed to Ripon's expansion into greenfield sites, a concern echoed by Friends of the Earth.

Persimmon Homes (Yorkshire) Ltd does not favour expansion, saying development should be directed to Harrogate.