YDNPA – Planning reports February to December 2017

ARC News service reports on YDNPA planning meetings in 2017. Issues discussed: Consulting parish councils; holiday lets or local occupancy; barn conversions and objections to these  by The Friends of the Dales (Yorkshire Dales Society).

There are reports on the decisions made on applications from the following towns and villages: Angram,  Appersett, Arkengarthdale,  Arncliffe, Askrigg, Bainbridge, Barbon, Barden, Bishopdale, Bolton Abbey, Buckden, Conistone, Cotterdale, Coverdale ( Forbidden Corner ),  Crosby Garret, Embsay, Tim’s Barn, Gayle, Grassington, Hudswell, Hawes, Kettlewell, Litton, Linton, Long Preston, Newbiggin in Bishopdale, Rylstone, Sedbergh, Stackhouse, Starbotton, Thoralby, Threshfield, and West Burton. And there was the apology made by Lancaster City Council concerning a barn conversion at Leck.

The villages and towns are listed in alphabetical order. (Above: Semerwater – see Countersett)

Pip Land attends the YDNPA meetings on a voluntary basis for the ARC News Service to ensure that reports are available to the public. No newspaper reporters attend these meetings and so the ARC News Service is the only independent source of information concerning those meetings. In doing so this service also provides an archive of more detailed reports than can be found in the minutes available from the YDNPA.  If you would like to support this service do join the Association of Rural Communities.

Consulting parish councils – February

Parish councils in the Yorkshire Dales National Park must give substantial reasons for either supporting or objecting to a planning application even when they don’t know what the planning officers will recommend.This was emphasised both at the YDNPA’s planning committee in February and  at Aysgarth and District Parish Council ’s meeting a week later.

At the latter meeting Pip Land of the Association of Rural Communities  reported that if a parish council did not give detailed reasons a planning officer could make a decision under delegated authority that was contrary to its recommendation. An application will only be dealt with by the planning committee if either a parish council has given substantial reasons for taking a different stance to a planning officer or if a member calls it in.

The chairman of the YDNPA’s planning committee, Richmondshire District Councillor Caroline Thornton-Berry, commented at the meeting of Aysgarth and District Parish Council that the problem was that a parish council did not know what a planning officer would recommend when asked for its opinion.

At the YDNPA planning committee members had called in three applications on the behalf of parish councils: the dormer extension at Wharfeside Avenue in Threshfield; Mystified Bungalow in Bishopdale; and for a new house in Barbon.

North Yorkshire County Councillor John Blackie had called in the Barbon application and explained: “It will demonstrate to the communities in the newly extended areas, unfamiliar with how planning application are decided at the YDNPA, the process of member call-in, and the importance of encouraging their parish councils to provide robust planning reasons to underline their replies to statutory consultations by the YDNPA.”

Holiday lets versus local occupancy – August

Richmondshire District councillor Yvonne Peacock pointed out during the meeting that two parish councils (Buckden and Bainbridge) had objected to converting traditional buildings for both local occupancy and holiday lets instead of for just local occupancy.

Bainbridge Parish Council was concerned about the proposed barn conversion at Countersett, and  Buckden Parish Council had objected to the conversion of the Village Tea Rooms.

She asked the members of the Authority to take note that parish councils in the north and the south of the National Park were very concerned as they knew how much the converted buildings were needed for local occupancy housing. She told them that there were now 34 holiday cottages and second homes in Bainbridge.

Buckden parish councillor Chris Clark  said that the parish councillors were not against converting the Village Tea Rooms into a dwelling but could only register their concern about holiday lets by lodging a strong objection.

Senior planning officer, Michele Clowes, explained that if traditional buildings like those at Buckden and Countersett were considered to be suitable for intensive residential use then it automatically followed that an applicant could apply for holiday let or local occupancy, or for both. If, however, the building was in an isolated  or sensitive location then the planning officers would recommend less intensive use – that is holiday lets.

NB: in Thornton Rust in Wensleydale 25 of the 50 dwellings are now holiday lets or second homes. And in Kettlewell in Wharfedale 19 of the properties which have been sold recently are now holiday lets or second homes.

“Our villages are dying,” commented a member of the Association of Rural Communities. But what can we do about it?

Debate about Barn Conversions (Appersett and Hawes) – November

Two decisions were deferred until bat surveys could be carried out in the spring because the wildlife conservation officer had recommended refusal as there was insufficient information that bats would not be harmed.  Both applications had been made by Myles Metcalfe for: Pike Hill Barn, Ashes, Hawes, to form a holiday cottage; and Mike Barn, Lanacar Lane, Appersett, for a local occupancy dwelling.

The only other objections were from the Friends of the Dales (formerly the Yorkshire Dales Society). It recommended refusal regarding Pike Hill Barn because of its location and adverse impact on the character of the local  landscape. And about Mike Barn its statement included: “There would be an unacceptable reduction in the special qualities of the National Park which would also adversely impact on its value to tourists.” The meeting was informed that the objection from the Friends of the Dales (FOTD) concerning Pike Hill Barn had been sent by its chairman, Mark Corner.

Hawes and High Abbotside Parish Council strongly supported that application but wanted to see the converted barn made available for long term lets for local occupancy.It also strongly supported the conversion of Mike Barn and stated: “This attractive barn will make an excellent home for a local family.” The planning officer recommended refusing both applications.

The objections from the FOTD were  in line with a letter Mr Corner recently sent to David Butterworth, the YDNPA chief executive officer. In this he said there had been a spate of applications since the introduction of the Authority’s new Local Plan which allows for roadside barns and those within groups of buildings to be converted.

Mr Corner stated: “The definition of ‘roadside’ seems to permit development along very minor roads or tracks into ‘open country’. In some cases this will have an adverse effect on the Dales landscape…We are concerned at the potential cumulative impact of barn conversions on the landscape and the attractiveness of villages. A case in point is the village of Thorpe. Five conversion applications have been made in the last year or so and we fear that such development will change the fine character of this location…

“We are aware that the Authority plans at some stage to review the impact of this policy and we would request, given the high number of applications coming forward and our concern regarding some of them, that this review takes place now.”

At the annual general meeting of the Association of Rural Communities it was pointed out that most of the applications for barn conversions in Thorpe were intended for local families who wanted to stay in that area.

Since August last year the Authority has approved the following conversions in Thorpe all with legal agreements: two barns and a coach house for local occupancy; one barn for either local occupancy or  holiday lets; and an agricultural workshop to become a holiday let. In addition permission was granted for a cottage to be re-occupied as an open market dwelling.

Angram – December

There was a very close vote when it was decided that an agricultural building should not be extended to under a metre from a neighbouring house. At present the agricultural building is 7.5m from Spion Kop in the hamlet of Angram in Swaledale.

By extending it to the east the building would be just 0.9m from that house and so very close to the ground-floor kitchen. The planning officer said this could mean the level of noise and smell associated with a building where there was livestock could go beyond what would reasonably be expected by residents even when living next to a farm.

The committee was divided between those who felt that a farming enterprise should be supported and those who felt that the close proximity to Spion Kop could not be ignored. Cllr Peacock argued that the area depended upon its farms and the agricultural building could already be clearly seen from Spion Kop. And Cllr Blackie pointed out that Muker Parish Council had unanimously supported the application.

But Jim Munday agreed with the planning officer and said: “We should support our farmers but in this instance there are alternative solutions.”

Six members voted to approve the application and seven were against it.

Arkengarthdale

It is often said that a picture is worth a thousand words – and that might be true about the photograph (above) taken by John Watkins of the barn off Bouldershaw Lane in Arkengarthdale. The slides shown by the planning officer did not include the view from the road, over the field gate, to the barn.

These days applicants are not allowed to distribute their own photographs to members at a meeting. This often means that members only see the views that the planning officers use to emphasise their own recommendations. At the meeting on March 14 Cllr Blackie asked if he could show Mr Watkin’s photo to members and the chairman, Cllr Thornton-Berry did give permission.

The planning officer recommended refusal because he considered that the work required to convert the barn for continuous occupation, including the new vehicular access with wide visibility splays, would have a harmful impact on the character and appearance of the Upper Swaledale and Arkengarthdale Barns and Walls Conservation Area and on the character of the building. He said it could, however, be converted for  holiday use.

In his speech the chairman of Arkengarthdale Parish Council, Stephen Stubbs, said: “Please don’t put another nail in the coffin of the sustainable future of Arkengarthdale as a thriving community.”

His plea was heard as the majority of the committee members voted to approve the application to convert the barn into a local occupancy home for Jack Stones.

As this was against the recommendation of the planning officer it will be discussed again at next month’s planning committee meeting. Some of the members emphasised that they wanted assurance that the supply lines to the barn would be undergrounded.

Cllr Blackie stated: “There is no way the Stones family would do anything to harm the Dale. Everything will be undergrounded to the property.”

He described this as a test case of the National Park’s new policy of allowing roadside barns to be converted into local occupancy homes. He, like several other members, felt that the barn was just close enough to a road and that, as only modest alterations would be carried out, there would be very little harm to the landscape.

Allen Kirkbride, the parish council representative for Wensleydale, Swaledale and Arkengarthdale, commented that the access to the barn was  similar to that at Burtersett which was approved in September 2016.

Cllr Stubbs told the committee:“Arkengarthdale is not just a community in the village as the restrictive, tightly drawn boundary suggests. The prescriptive boundary makes it virtually impossible for any developments in the Dale. Our community is actually widespread.

“I respect the Yorkshire Dales National Park and support them in most of their work and policies, although they do need to better represent and support sustainable local communities.”

He listed the facilities which had been lost such as the post office and the shops as it was so difficult for local young people and families to buy properties there.

One of those young people was Jack Stones whose grandfather (Clark) and father have undertaken the gritting and snow ploughing in Arkengarthdale since the 1970s, he said. But Clark Stones was no longer able to do that job anymore and Jack wanted to take over. If the gritting was not undertaken by a local contractor the roads during icy weather would not be treated until after 8.30am which was too late for the school bus.

“This has caused unnecessary risks to the children’s lives,” he added. He continued:

“Jack is fortunate to have employment in the Dale but he,  like other young people who have been priced out of the Dale, is struggling to find suitable, affordable accommodation. For example, last year, a three-bedroom semi-detached house near the barn sold for over £350,000. Rental opportunities are rare and a property not far from the barn costs £800 a month.

“Without young people and new families the Dale will not survive as a living, working Dale. It will become a museum for the privileged,” he argued.

“We have to start protecting and developing the Dale now and we have to find affordable accommodation for tomorrow’s generations. Part of the remit of the Yorkshire Dales National Park has to be to assist us in resolving this difficult dilemma.

“By proposing that this barn is suitable for a temporary tourist accommodation but has no viability as a permanent residence with a regulated local occupancy clause is deeply wrong ,” Mr Stubbs said.

The application was also supported by Reeth Parish Council because of the great need for local occupancy housing in the area and that this would be an appropriate use of such a barn.

The Highways Authority objected as it felt the access was unsatisfactory. And the Yorkshire Dales Society stated: “The Society is concerned about the precedent that would be set if this proposal for development of a field barn in open countryside, with the associated curtilage and access tracks, is permitted, and thus refusal is recommended. The small size of the proposed dwelling could lead to a future proposal to extend, and its possible use in connection with gritting operations could be disruptive to nearby properties.”

One resident also asked that the barn should remain undeveloped and stated: “If all the barns are slowly converted it will result in urban sprawl.”

(Another resident commented on Facebook that that would be difficult in Arkengarthdale.)

Arkengarthdale – April

The committee confirmed that a barn at Bouldershaw Lane in Arkengarthdale can be converted and extended to form a local occupancy dwelling.

The planning officer had recommended refusal because, she said, the application was not in accordance with the new policy which allows roadside barns to be converted into local dwellings.

The majority of the committee, however, agreed with Cllr Blackie that the barn was close enough to the road to be described as “in close proximity”. He also stated that, with the extension, the dwelling would be sufficient for a single person or a couple.

The head of development management, Richard Graham, warned about setting a precedent. “There will be a lot of barns in very similar situations to this one,” he said.

For this reason it was agreed that it should be made clear that approval was given on the basis that the barn was accepted as in close proximity to the road and converting it would not be detrimental to the landscape especially as the owner had agreed to underground all power lines and any other services to it.

The planning officer did argue that converting the barn would have a detrimental impact especially as it was in a conservation area. But several committee members believed this would be marginal in a dale where most of the dwellings were scattered and many had been converted from barns.

The decision was referred back to the committee for ratification as last month the majority had not accepted the planning officer’s recommendation.

Arncliffe –  February

As it was highly unlikely that a small domestic office at the bottom of  long garden at Rose Cottage in Arncliffe would become a separate dwelling the committee agreed that it could be converted into a holiday let.

The planning officer explained that it would be accessed through the garden of Rose Cottage and there was no realistic prospect of it becoming a separate permanently occupied residence. This material consideration made it possible to approve the application even though it was contrary to the Authority’s planning policy.

North Yorkshire County Councillor Robert Heseltine warned that the situation might change in the future. The chairman of the committee, Cllr Thornton-Berry, said that was why there would be a legal agreement tying the outbuilding to Rose Cottage and restricting its use to short-term holiday accommodation.

When converted the building will become a self-catering holiday let with a single living space with a bed, kitchenette and seating area, plus an en-suite and WC.

Askrigg – August

Cllr Peacock and Askrigg parish councillor Allen Kirkbride supported David Scarr’s application to convert part of his building at Beck Bitts near Askrigg into a three-bedroom dwelling which would allow a local plumber to live next door to the workshop. But the majority of the members accepted the recommendation of the planning officer that it would not be in accordance with policy.

Cllr Peacock agreed that it would be an exception to policy to approve the application but pointed out that the business employed local people who served local people. “To us it is essential that we keep these people.”

The danger was, she said, that they would give up and move to Leyburn to have more secure premises as there had been so many thefts from the workshop at Askrigg.

As a member of the local FarmWatch Cllr Kirkbride told members that the workshop had suffered the most break-ins of any premises in mid Wensleydale. The Police had stated that one way to reduce the problem was to have someone living at the site.

The majority, however, agreed with the planning officer that there was no justification for an exception to the “no dwellings in  the open countryside” rule unless they were required for workers in agriculture, forestry or other rural-based enterprise who had to live in a rural location.

“What is a necessary rural enterprise?” asked Eden District councillor Valerie Kendal. She argued that for rural communities plumbers were essential.

The planning officer had also stated that approval would be against the policies aimed at retaining the few commercial workshops in the National Park. He added that the creation of a dwelling would harm the character and appearance of the open countryside in a tranquil and visually attractive area.

Askrigg Parish Council had told the Authority that it was fully supportive of the application because it should improve the area and reduce possible crime.

Bainbridge – December

A decision concerning the application for five new affordable homes on land belonging to the Rose and Crown in Bainbridge was deferred because of the threat of legal action.

Mr Graham explained: “Officers have been working with the developer to produce a proposal which is considered acceptable and would deliver much needed affordable housing for local people. In assessing affordable housing proposals we rely upon the housing authority, the district council, to tell us whether they consider what’s being proposed is genuinely affordable. In this case what is proposed is housing for sale to local people at a price 30 per cent below the market value of the properties.

“The district council has confirmed that the discounted price … is similar to that for affordable houses just down the road. The district council had also confirmed that the discounted price may not be affordable to all people in housing in need but it would be to a proportion who cannot access the private market,” he said.

The Holmbrae 2016 Group of Bainbridge Residents had, however, disagreed. They had complained that residents had not had access to financial information relating to the discount to be applied to the sale price of the dwellings to ensure that these would be affordable. In their letter to the Authority they threatened that if the information was not released and the residents re-consulted on the proposal they would seek to quash any decision to approve by way of judicial review.

Mr Graham therefore recommended that members should defer the application to allow time for officers to consult further with the district council and to allow for a further period of consultation with residents. The members accepted his advice.

Barbon – February

The committee refused an application to construct a dwelling adjacent to Studds Hall in Barbon partly because it could lead to further housing development in a field.

Barbondale became part of the Yorkshire Dales National Park in August 2016 but the South Lakeland District Core Strategy still applies. This does allow for infill or the rounding off of an incomplete cluster of houses. The YDNPA planning committee, however, was not convinced that the application fitted either of those categories.

A former chairman of the Authority, Kevin Lancaster (a South Lakeland District Councillor who attended as a private citizen) explained to the committee that Barbondale was characterised by small clusters of dwellings. North Yorkshire County Councillor John Blackie compared this to the situation in Arkengarthdale.

Cllr Lancaster and the applicant’s agent, Anthea Jones, argued that the house would not disrupt this pattern of settlement. Ms Jones said that the application was different to that refused by South Lakeland District Council in June 2015 because the house would be built further back in the field to make it less visible.

She expressed surprise at the objections put forward by the Highways Authority concerning the access onto the main road as it  had not objected to the plans submitted in 2015. The house, she said, would make it possible for someone who has lived in the village all his life to continue living there.

It was pointed out that, in the past, permission had been granted for a small part of the field to be used for car parking.  Members Ian McPherson and Richmondshire District Councillor Stuart Parsons argued, however, that this had not disrupted the integrity of the field whereas the new house would.

The planning officer stated the green gaps between clusters of buildings was an important feature of Barbon and added: “To permit development of a section of an otherwise open field would result in a distorted building line opening up further land adjacent to pressure for future development, particularly between the proposed site and the highway.”

Barden – August

For the sake of animal welfare and to protect a farmer’s livelihood the committee voted to approve the erection of an agricultural building at Broad Park, Barden, beside Lower Barden Reservoir.

As that was against the officer’s recommendation the decision will have to be ratified at another planning committee meeting. The members were told it would not be referred back until the Authority had the information necessary for a Habitats Regulation s Assessment. The chairman of the committee, Cllr Thornton-Berry, told the applicant’s agent, Peter Williams, that it was up to him and the applicant (Gordon Banks) to provide that information very soon if the application was to be discussed at the September meeting.

Mr Williams had told the meeting: “The applicant did not feel able to attend in person today because of the magnitude of the occasion and the inevitable pressure he feels.

“I cannot stress enough the importance of the proposed facility to the applicant’s livelihood. This Authority has historically always been supportive of agriculture. In this case, despite strong agricultural need, the planning officer has refused from the outset to show any support to the applicant’s farming enterprise.” He asked the committee to support the development in its compromised form.

When the committee discussed the application in June this year it suggested that the proposed building should be smaller and built closer to other buildings at Broad Park. The applicant had new plans drawn up in accordance with this advice but had pointed out to the planning officer that the smaller building would accommodate only 30 per cent of his livestock at any one time and to reduce its size further would undermine his ability to provide the level of care required. The latest plans included an outdoor handling facility as the proposed building was smaller.

The planning officer, however, again recommended refusal. He explained that the land was owned by the Chatsworth Estate with most of Mr Banks’ tenancy being within a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). The buildings at Broad Park were not but were within the SSSI impact zone. The previous tenant, Mr Banks’ father, had had use of two traditional barns but these were no longer available to Mr Banks. It was stated that he lives about two miles from the farm and does need a building for his equipment and to care for the sheep during the lambing season.

The planning officer said: “The National Park policies would not generally support a new venture including a substantial new building in such an exposed location within the open allotment. It flies in the face of the landscape requirement and the purposes of the National Park and its Local Plan.

“Together with the lack of accommodation there has to be a concern as to the sustainability of the enterprise, but also the precedent of allowing such development in these particular circumstances.”

He had suggested an alternative site which, he said, had been dismissed out of hand on the basis that Chatsworth Estate might not agree to it as it was within the SSSI. “Without the Estate considering options they are dictating to us where development should be directed,” he added.

North Yorkshire County councillor Robert Heseltine said there was an absolute need for the building due to animal welfare and to support the farming enterprise. And Cllr Kendal argued that it was not a new enterprise as the applicant was already providing a service to other farmers as a sheep sheerer and shepherd.

Julie Martin told the committee that although she was not happy with the application for a variety of reasons which included the impact upon the landscape and the environment, she would not vote for refusal because a farming livelihood was at risk and that the new plans were a bit better than the previous ones.

“I don’t see that there is a realistic chance of a different location and a better proposal coming forward,” she said.

At the meeting in September the majority of the committee confirmed its approval of this application.

Bishopdale – April

An £850,000 redevelopment of Howe Syke farm in Bishopdale was given the green light by a large majority.

But that has to be confirmed at next month’s meeting because that decision was against the Authority’s policies stated the head of development management, Richard Graham.

One of the committee members, Chris Clark, warned that there might be problems with the agricultural element of the scheme proposed by Rob and Helen Brown due to Brexit.

“I admire hugely the entrepreneurial approach to this,” he said but explained: “Post Brexit there’s going to be a significant reduction of support …between ten to 40 per cent. No farm in the dales can manage without support. Our hill farmers are going to be in real trouble.”

Mrs Brown, however, told the committee: “Our goal is to build a viable dales farm that can survive the pressures of the post Brexit world using a combination of farming, shooting and tourism.”

Their planning application is for: the erection of an extension to the existing farmhouse which would incorporate the adjoining barn into the domestic accommodation; the erection of two semi-detached rural workers cottages; the conversion of a modern barn into five short-term holiday lets with associated garages; the extension of the existing site office to provide kitchen facilities; and the erection of two agricultural barns.

Mrs Brown explained that the holiday lets would be used by shooting parties during the shooting season and would then be available to other visitors. They not only needed good family accommodation for a gamekeeper, an apprentice gamekeeper and a farm manager, but also to improve the accommodation for themselves and their children, she said.

“It has taken three years of consultation with the Park’s officers and three pre-planning applications to put in this proposal,” she added.

But the planning officer recommended refusal. Two members of the committee agreed with him that it would set a bad precedent if the Authority did not adhere to the long-standing national policy not to approve any new housing development in the open countryside unless it met an essential need.

A consultant had reported that there was a need for just one gamekeeper to live on site. As there were so few sheep at present a farm manager could be accommodated in a caravan for a three-year period while the number was being increased to 1,000.

The planning officer said that the proposed conversion of the modern agricultural building would perpetuate the visual harm caused by it, and the new barns would cause further harm. He added that the proposed extension to the farmhouse and adjoining traditional barn would dominate and detract from the appearance, character and heritage of those buildings.

Several members, including Cllr Blackie, disagreed with all the reasons put forward for refusal. Cllr Blackie mentioned the declining population in Middle and Upper Wensleydale and pointed out that there were now only about 35 people living in Bishopdale compared to hundreds at the beginning of the 20th century.

The Browns, he said, were willing to put their time and effort and investment into regenerating the dale and already had a seven-year record of doing that through various green initiatives such as planting trees and installing hydro-electric power.

Ian McPherson was among those who agreed with him. He stated that the policies could be interpreted in various ways. “We could look at the detail and fail to take advantage of what could be a major source of employment. I think this is an adventurous project,” he said.

And Steve Macaré stated: “I think we should be bold and support this enterprise as the potential damage to the landscape [will be] minimal.”

Cllr Harrison-Topham in his final speech to the committee (he will not stand for election again) believed there was a functional need already for three workers and shooting parties would not want to stay there if there were caravans on the site.

Aysgarth and District Parish Council was praised by Allen Kirkbride for giving substantial reasons for supporting the application. “Without them this would not have been brought to this meeting,” he said.

Bishopdale – May

The majority of the committee again voted in favour of approving the application for the development at Howe Syke Farm in Bishopdale even though they were warned it could set a dangerous precedent.

Cllr Blackie told the committee that according to a business assessment the development had to be taken as a whole otherwise it wouldn’t work. “We need to be bold but not act blindly. It is an exceptional application because of the size of the investment proposed, the track record of the applicants [Rob and Helen Brown] who are willing to make that investment, and their past history which is very favourable.”

He argued that it was in accordance with the government’s National Planning Policy Framework because it would encourage economic growth and so help to sustain communities. This would regenerate a dale that has been dying, he said.

Richard Graham, the head of development management, warned that the application failed to comply with some of the fundamental principles in the Local Plan such as justifying the need for new agricultural buildings and staff accommodation. A consultant’s report had, he said, shown that only one dwelling for a staff member was needed at Howe Syke Farm.

He told the committee: “If members are still minded to grant permission I would be grateful if you could give clear reasons why this proposal is exceptional so that officers can explain to other applicants why this application has been dealt with differently.”

Julie Martin and Jim Munday warned that a dangerous precedent could be set. Mrs Martin agreed with Mr Graham that, if the application was refused, the Browns could still apply for permission to go ahead with the less contentious parts of the development.

But Brenda Gray commented: “I think we should be very careful before we turn down an opportunity like this.” And Cllr Heseltine added: “For future generations I will support this without reservation.”

Cllr Harrison-Topham believed that a consultant had not taken all the factors into consideration regarding the shooting business when assessing the need for staff accommodation.”He is wrong I am afraid,” he said.

This was his last planning committee meeting and the chairman, Cllr  Thornton-Berry thanked him for his long service on it. “He will be badly missed,” she stated.

The committee did accept Mr Graham’s recommendation that the development must be subject to a legal agreement to ensure that the buildings and holiday lets remained as a single interdependent enterprise by tying the land holding and farmhouse to the holiday lets, to control their occupancy for holiday purposes only, and to prevent any part of the development being sold off separately.

There must also be legal agreements regarding the conditions which include biodiversity enhancement, landscaping schemes, the specific use of the agricultural buildings and staff dwellings and the archaeological recording of the farmhouse and its adjoining barn. (It took about six months for these agreement to be prepared.)

Bolton Abbey – April

Approval was given for the unusual step of holding a site meeting before an application was discussed by the committee.

Mr Graham explained that the application was for converting the Tithe Barn at Bolton Abbey into a wedding venue. He stated: “It is a very important building in the Park. Hopefully we can find a suitable new use for the building.” The Tithe Barn is a Grade II* listed building and is within the Bolton Abbey Priory Scheduled Ancient Monument.

But before work can begin on the barn a new bat roost had to be constructed and that needed to be built during the summer, he said. As this was such a tight timetable he asked if the site meeting could be held at the end of April. The application will then come to the planning committee on May 9.

Bolton Abbey – May

Bolton Abbey could become one of the first places in Britain to have a bespoke bat house. When proposing that the committee should approve an application to convert the early 16th century Tithe Barn on the southern edge of Bolton Abbey village Ian McPherson, the Authority’s member champion for the natural environment commented:“I have not heard of a bespoke bat house being created before. It may not be the first time in this country but it’s an indication of the way the applicants seem to have approached this whole project.”

Will Kemp said the Trustees of the Chatsworth Settlement had worked with the Authority, Historic England and others, for five years to develop the plan for converting the Tithe Barn into a wedding venue.“The Tithe Barn is a very special building. It is 500-years-old and it has suffered during that time from weathering and, to a lesser degree, under  use. We want to conserve it for another 500 years.

“However, finding a use for the building which is very suitable to it and pays for its restoration has been a major problem for us over the last 20 years. We are absolutely sure that the wedding barn use is the way forward.

“It is a Grade II star listed building on a scheduled monument in a conservation park, in a National Park with a colony of bats, with residents nearby.” They had sought to ensure that no harm would take place to human health and the environment – and to protect those bats.

Bat surveys have shown that the Tithe Barn has conservation significance for roosting bats as 50 to 60 Natterer’s Bats use it in the summer. Five Common Pipistrelle Bats roost and hibernate there.The development scheme, therefore, includes the construction of a five metres by 10 metres stone and slate bat house linked to known foraging grounds.

The planning officer stated that once usage  has been proven, bats will be excluded from the Tithe Barn before hibernation starts. She added: “It is considered that a wedding venue would be a positive use of the building. [This] would require only minor internal division and would retain the open timber structure. The interior of the building is  highly significant with the original 16th century oak timber frame intact and visible.”

The renovation work will leave the timber frame fully exposed for the entire length of the Tithe Barn. “It is one of the best preserved medieval barns in northern England and a rare example nationally of a medieval tithe barn of this scale,” she said.

For this reason, all the work will be recorded under archaeological supervision. Historic England also  hopes that there will be greater public access once the work is complete.The application, which was unanimously approved, includes the creation of a wedding terrace with a gazebo; a car park for 67 cars;  a new access road and a service yard.

NB: This application was later withdrawn.

Buckden – August

The Village Tea Rooms can be converted for local occupancy or holiday let in accordance with the new Local Plan because they can be regarded as a “traditional building”.

A planning officer explained that although it had a modern appearance there was evidence that a building with a very similar footprint existed on the site in the late 19th century.

She stated that an earlier application to convert the tea rooms had been approved but the sale fell through before a legal document could be signed.  She said that no harm would result to community vitality or employment as the tea rooms were no longer commercially viable, and there were several other restaurants and pubs nearby. The new owners will have to sign a legal undertaking to ensure that the new dwelling would not be sold  on the open market.

The application was discussed by the committee because Buckden Parish  Council had strongly objected to the possibility of the tea rooms becoming a holiday let (see above).

Conistone – February

Altering a legal agreement made in May 2006 would allow the Trekking Centre at Conistone to make more flexible use of a converted barn, it was agreed.

A planning officer explained that the original legal agreement allowed the one-bedroom converted barn to be used only for local occupancy.  “Allowing  a choice between local occupancy or holiday let gives the applicant flexibility to use the building in a way which best supports their businesses. A holiday letting use tied to the trekking business would deliver …tourism and visitor benefits,” the committee was told.

Countersett – July

Concern about retaining the special qualities of the landscape around Semerwater  was one reason why the members did not accept the planning officer’s recommendation to approve converting a barn at East Hill Top, Countersett, into a one-bedroom dwelling for local occupancy or short-term holiday lets.

The officer argued that the barn was redundant and was within a loose group of buildings as it was near a smaller outbuilding and a barn which was being used as a residential workshop. She stated that it was almost unnoticeable from Semerwater and converting it would secure its future as a heritage asset.

She explained that the whole of the north-eastern wall of the two-storey barn would need to be re-built along with the corner of the south-eastern elevation, and the roof would be replaced. This, however, did not constitute replacing the building, she added.

Some members queried how the application fitted with the Authority’s new policy of allowing roadside barns to be converted and pointed out that the barn was still in agricultural use. The head of development management, Richard Graham, said that the policy included barns that were in groups of buildings and did not require a barn to be redundant.

Cllr Peacock was one of the members who maintained that the barn could be seen from Semerwater and, as a local parish councillor, said that residents in Countersett often raised concerns about light pollution.

One of those residents, Merrie Ashton, told the committee: “Semerwater is such an extraordinary national asset which should be protected and promoted. The location is dramatic and unspoilt. It needs very, very careful management. The light from this building would be a problem for wildlife.

“There is a species of bat – the long-eared bat – which is roosting in the barn, which is highly susceptible to light. Light pollution is detrimental to their feeding and breeding. Conversion from an agricultural building to a domestic building would most likely result in the roost being abandoned.”

She added that even if the height of the dry stone walls around the site were raised, it was likely that any cars parked by the barn would be visible from Semerwater. Besides its concerns about the height of the walls and the groundworks required, the parish council also noted that the barn was quite a distance from Countersett.

The majority of the committee voted to refuse the application but, as that was against the recommendation of the planning officer, the decision was referred back to the August meeting.  Mr Graham said this was because the issues were fundamental to the Authority’s local plan.

Countersett – August

The majority of the committee did a complete U-turn and voted to approve the conversion of a barn at East Hill Top.

Jim Munday told the committee: “After careful consideration I believe I was distracted by the actual or perceived shortcomings of the applicant rather than on the merits of the application itself. In my opinion the application is sound. It relates to a barn rightly described as an undesignated heritage asset. If left undeveloped it will become just another pile of stones. It’s well worth restoring and put to beneficial use.  The site is well concealed by the lie of the land and accessed by an existing two-wheel track which already has planning permission.

“The existing site is a redundant, former agricultural field barn. It is a building of architectural and historical importance which needs a new use to ensure its longevity.”

Mrs Martin agreed and said: “Like Mr Munday, having seen the update from the officer on this, I have changed my mind. I don’t especially like the proposal … but we don’t have a valid reason for refusing it.”

The new Local Plan allows for traditional barns to be converted if they are by the roadside, or within an existing settlement or a group of buildings.

The two members who live in mid Wensleydale, Cllrs Peacock and Kirkbride, disagreed. Allen Kirkbride commented: “I probably know this site better than anybody else. To my mind it is out of the way. It is not close enough to form part of an enclosed group. I think it is out of place.

Both he and Cllr Peacock maintained that there was likely to be a negative impact upon the landscape and particularly the area around the River Bain and Semerwater if the barn was converted and there were cars parked outside it.

Bainbridge Parish Council’s had objected and had stated that it would only support such buildings being converted for local occupancy. (See above)

Cotterdale – December

Permission was granted for a barn in Cotterdale to be converted into a two-bedroom local occupancy dwelling or for short-term holiday lets.

The applicants had originally intended to have the living area on the first floor of the building with the bedrooms below. They had also wanted to create an additional parking area in a field next to the barn. There had been objections to this because the first floor living area would impact upon the amenity of the neighbouring cottage and the parking area in the field would also cause access problems for the neighbours.

Following a site visit in November it had already been accepted that permission would not be given for a parking space in a field. The applicants had also agreed to have the living area on the ground floor.

Helen Shovlar, whose cottage is attached to the barn, explained to the committee that she was still concerned about the impact upon her access and amenity. She asked if the two doors and two windows overlooking the narrow alleyway to her back door could be blocked off.

The agent for the applicants, Peter Foskett, explained that they wanted to retain as many features of the original barn as possible and that had to include all the openings.

Cllr Blackie recommended that one of the doors should be solid wood but disagreed with Mrs Shovlar about the other openings. He added that Hawes and Lower Abbotside Parish Council would have preferred the barn to be converted just for local occupancy. “There are only six residents in Cotterdale and 14 properties so there are more cottages as second homes than there are as residencies,” he said.

Like the parish council Cllr Heseltine questioned the policy of allowing dual use of barn conversions (local occupancy and holiday lets).“If it’s a holiday cottage or whether it’s a second home it’s denying a family a permanent residence,” he commented. For that reason he would prefer that such dual consent was only given in exceptional circumstances.

Coverdale – August

The enforcement officer requested that enforcement action should be taken against the owner of Forbidden Corner in Coverdale. The 6.8 m “mock medieval castle” which has been erected there was not, he stated, screened by trees and could easily be seen.

“It is considered that the ‘castle folly’ causes harm to the significance of the historic  landscape and undermines the public understanding of the Special Qualities of the National Park,” he  said.

Mr Munday retorted: “It should stay in Disneyland” – and all but Cllrs Peacock and Kirkbride agreed with him.

“It reminds me of an abbey,” commented Cllr Kirkbride, and Cllr Peacock felt that the viewing platform at the top with its magnificent views across Coverdale would attract even more tourists to that dale.

The majority agreed, however, that an enforcement notice should be issued with a compliance notice of three months, requiring the demolition and removal of the “castle folly” and the restoration of the site to its previous condition with no structures  higher than three metres.

Crosby Garrett – July

The residents of Crosby Garrett near Kirkby Stephen did not want to fall out with the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority but they did want to see a home provided for the postmistress who has served the village for 34 years Dr Carl Hallam, the chairman of the parish meeting, told the committee.

He explained that Richard Harper, a local respected builder, wanted to build a two-bedroom dwelling  next to his own for his sister, Helen, and his elderly mother. “Helen was born, went to school and has worked in Crosby Garrett all her life. She is far more than our postmistress – she runs a small shop, she delivers our papers, is a friend to everyone, and the first to help when anyone is ill or in need. We are concerned that when she retires she and her elderly mother, with whom she lives and for whom she cares, may not be able to remain in the village,” he said.

He, like the rest of the community, disagreed with the planning officer’s statement that the proposed site was outside the village boundary. He argued that the site had been within the village for centuries – long before the railway viaduct. The planning officer reported that this formed the southern limit of the settlement.

“We will accept any conditions you may wish to impose on this site. We do not, under any circumstances, wish to fall out with the Yorkshire Dales National Park. We voted to be in your Park and all we ask is your advice – to guide us through this application to a successful conclusion,” Dr Hallam added.

Like Dr Hallam, Mr Harper’s agent, Rachel Lightfoot, said that neither the railway viaduct nor the cattle grid near the proposed site defined the edges of the village. The siting of the new house would, therefore, be in accordance with Eden District Council’s emerging plan which allowed local need dwellings to be built in villages like Crosby Garrett. Eden District Council’s planning policies still apply following the inclusion of the area into the National Park last August.

Ms Lightfoot also quoted the Authority’s policy on the social, economic and environmental aspects of the National Park’s sustainable development policy. She said: “This proposal is considered to meet these requirements. It will enable a long-standing member of the community who has lived in Crosby Garrett throughout her life and worked for the community to remain in the place where she was born.”

This was emphasised by Mr Harper who added that he would be happy to discuss the design, siting and other conditions with the Authority.

Eden District Councillor Valerie Kendal agreed with them that the site was within the village but she was surprised that the application was for an open market dwelling rather than for local occupancy. Like some other members of the committee, she felt there should be an archaeological survey of the site.

The planning officer reported that there was evidence of surviving earthworks south west of the railway viaduct including large banks and garths which would imply the medieval shrinkage of the village. The proposed site, she said, would intrude into the remnants of such earthworks. For that reason the Authority’s senior historic environment officer had advised an archaeological survey which would comprise of a small number of trial trenches covering the area of the proposed building work.

It was, therefore, decided that a decision should be deferred so that an archaeological survey could be carried out, plus the inclusion of a legal agreement covering local occupancy and possible amendments to the design of the house. The planning officer had described the design as poor and stated  it would have more of the appearance of a bungalow than a traditional barn.

Crosby Garrett – November

Even though 12 out of the 15 committee members voted to approve the application for a home for Crosby Garrett’s elderly postmistress so that she can continue living in her own village it is far from certain that decision will be confirmed at the December meeting.

After the vote – when one member voted against and two abstained – the head of development management, Richard Graham, said: “This application will have to be referred back. The main reason for doing that is that in granting permission for this  you are, in my mind, making a decision contrary  to Local Plan policy for a number of reasons. I would like to make sure you have proper advice to ensure that it is a lawful decision.”

The committee was told that the application should be assessed in accordance with the policies of Eden District Council. The planning officer argued that the new house would not be within the village boundary and, if it did, it would not fit the criteria of being either filling a modest gap between existing buildings (infill) or rounding off the village. If it did it should not have more than 150sqm of internal floor space compared to the 178sqm shown on the plans. Nor did the officer accept that a convincing case for housing need had been made.

Cllr Welch reminded the committee that a decision was deferred in July this year for three reasons: for an archaeological survey to be carried out; for the design to be improved; and to ask if the applicant would consider a local occupancy legal agreement. “As far as I can see, all the three reasons for deferral have been overcome,” he said and added that the Authority was 25 per cent below its target of seeing 150 houses a year built in the National Park. (The interior floor space was not mentioned at the July meeting.)

Several members agreed with Allen Kirkbride  that the new house would not have any detrimental effect upon the village. He added that within the areas which were added to the National Park in August 2016 the villages do not have boundary lines around them and said: “With the parish council having such a strong view I feel it is my job to support them.”

Cllr Gray agreed: “The government says we need more housing for local people. Sometimes it just needs common sense to say ‘Yes – we go ahead’”.

At the beginning of his report the planning officer stated that the application was for an open market house. When Cllr Kendal queried this he repeated that. When she asked again Mr Graham told the meeting that the applicant, Richard Harper, had offered to sign a local occupancy legal agreement.

Mrs Kendal did not accept the planning officer’s statement that the railway line defined the boundary of the village. She explained that two houses had been demolished when the railway line was constructed in Victorian times and to the residents the village still extended beyond it.  She added that there was a wide range of housing styles and of the 60 houses in Crosby Garrett ten per cent were beyond the railway line.

She told the committee: “The applicant has said he wanted it as a retirement home for his sister who was born in one of the adjacent cottages and wanted to retire as the postmistress.”

“The important point is that we actually get a house for local occupancy,” said Cllr Blackie. “The fact of the matter is that the policy is in a complete and utter tangle – and that is no fault of our own. If there is a way we can actually ensure that this is a local occupancy house then, to me, untangling the tangle isn’t necessary.”

Crosby Garrett – December

The committee unanimously supported a proposal which would allow Crosby Garrett’s postmistress to remain in that village when she retires.

The planning officer had explained that the reasons put forward by the committee in November for approving the application for a new house were not supported by either Eden District Council’s current or emerging Local Plans. He said that according to the emerging Local Plan the house would not fit the definition of being either infill within a modest gap between existing buildings or rounding off the settlement within a logical and defensible boundary.

The applicant had offered to sign a local occupancy legal agreement but the proposed house would have a floor area of 178 square metres in size as compared to the 150 square metres allowed under the Eden District Council’s emerging Local Plan for such dwellings.

Cllr Blackie, therefore, proposed that the application should be approved because of exceptional circumstances and the officers be given delegated powers to seek an amendment to the design so that the house had a floor area of 150 square metres.

The exceptional circumstances he said were due to parts of Eden District having been included within the Yorkshire Dales National Park last year. “There is a time warp between policies within that part of the Park which is new to us, and they [Eden District Council] are also moving forward with policies for the areas beyond the Park, and us incorporating their policies within ours. So these are very unusual circumstances,” he explained.

This decision will be advertised as a departure from Local Plan policy and so subject to no new issues being raised.

Embsay – February

Embsay with Eastby Parish Council was extremely disappointed that a planning officer had recommended approval of a dormer window contrary to the new Local Plan.

Parish councillor Vince Smith reminded the planning committee that according to that Local Plan dormer windows should not encroach on the wider street scene.

The planning officer accepted that the proposed dormer on a chalet bungalow in Rockville Drive, Embsay, would be conspicuous from Millholme Rise but argued it would appear as a subservient feature due to its size and siting. She added: “Although the dormer would be a prominent feature in the street scene, it would not be out of place in this context.”

Even though Cllr Smith warned this could lead to a proliferation of such applications the committee accepted the recommendation of the planning officer.

He told members: “The danger for the Park in allowing its own policies to be overridden… is that the fabric of the Park will be eroded from the edges inwards as the pressure on housing increases.”

He added that just because Embsay was on the edge of the National Park did not mean that its residents should be treated as second-class citizens and not be afforded the same protection against he wrong kind of development.”

Two members, North Yorkshire County Councillor Robert Heseltine and parish council representative Alan Kirkbridge agreed with him.

The approved application was for the enlargement of the garage to provide a kitchen, utility and store; the enlargement of the porch and alteration to access; and the insertion of roof lights as well as the new dormer.

Embsay – December

The chairman’s casting vote was needed to ensure that an application for an extension to a bungalow in the Rockville Estate of Embsay was approved even though that extension was described by North Yorkshire County Councillor Robert Heseltine as an unfortunate carbuncle.

The first proposal was for the application to be refused in line with the request made by Embsay with Eastby Parish Council. With a four-four split (there weren’t many members there that day) the chairman, Cllr Thornton-Berry, again cast her vote against refusal. Then a majority voted to approve the extension even though Parish Councillor Vince Smith had carefully explained that this would be against the Authority’s own Design Guide.

The Design Guide, he told them, stated that the extension should not be more than half the length of the original bungalow – but it would be. “Effectively it becomes a super bungalow with another front door facing the street, and incorporating bathrooms, twin bedrooms, a living room, a dining room, a kitchen, a study and a snug,” he said.

An extension, he pointed out, should be set back from and not dominate the original house. He added: “This extension is not set back. In fact it projects forward. It [will not be] subservient to the house.”

The fact that the extension roof would not be lower than the original was a blatant disregard of the rules, he said, and the proposed gable ends would dominate the street scene and overlook gardens. “The planning officer appears to be persuaded that the removal of a Juliette balcony rail would answer the parish council’s concerns about the impact upon residents’ amenity – it does not.”

Both he and Parish Councillor Judith Benjamin told the committee that it would be possible to look down from a room in the extension into a bedroom window of a nearby house. Mrs Benjamin said that local residents had no overall objection to the renovation of older properties, but were concerned that by increasing their size reduced the amount of smaller homes in the area and so made it difficult for local people to downsize.

The planning officer reported that the applicant had made amendments to the plans. These had included reducing the size of a sun room at the rear of the bungalow. She believed that the extension would not have such a harmful or overbearing impact for her to recommend refusal.

Gayle – March

As there are no permitted development rights within National Parks for cladding a wall to make it waterproof Michael Webster of Gayle had to apply for planning permission to add about four inches to the gable end of his house in Gayle.

Hawes and High Abbotside Parish Council informed the  planning committee  that it doubted that a planning application was required, but recognised Mr Webster was keen to demonstrate, as a sign of good faith, his wish to engage with the planning process.

Last year Mr Webster  was told to remove the insulation material he had begun to install or an enforcement notice would be issued.

His planning application was for an extension which included the solid wall insulation and water proofing system with a render finish, plus extending the stone work on the front and rear walls, as his objective was to ensure the house looked exactly the same as before.  This was approved by the planning committee.

Tim’s Barn, Gayle – June

Tim’s Barn at Gayle is unauthorised development and the subject of an enforcement investigation the committee was told.

This was in response to this statement made by the Association of Rural Communities:

“The Association is very concerned by what appears to be considerable inconsistency surrounding barn conversions at present. At the May meeting of the planning committee the application to convert Tup Gill Laithe near Kettlewell into a local occupancy dwelling was refused on the grounds that such a dwelling would have a negative impact upon the landscape. Compare that with the situation regarding Tim’s Barn near Gayle.

“Planning permission was granted in 2011 for conversion of what was a traditional barn into something similar to a bunk barn with very rudimentary facilities inside.  The conditions stated there should be no vehicular access track and no external lighting.  Earlier this year there were on-line adverts for ‘Tim’s Barn’ stating that it was fully equipped and beautifully furnished with en-suite shower cubicle, underfloor heating, a super king-size bed,  electric cooker, washing machine, a private car parking space for one car and much more.

“The planning department was informed about this in January following a very angry debate among Dales’ residents on Facebook. Some even suggested organising a protest march.

“Many feel that the way Tim’s Barn has been converted, contrary to planning permission, sets a very clear precedent. If it is allowed to remain as it is, it will completely undermine your policies concerning which barns can be converted. “How can you then, as a committee, argue that any barn conversion should be refused because it would have a negative impact upon the countryside?”

To this Richard Graham, the head of development management, made the following response:

“The statement from the Association of Rural Communities refers to ‘considerable inconsistency surrounding barn conversions at present’ comparing the refusal of planning permission for the conversion of Tug Gill Laithe at Kettlewell with the conversion of Tim’s Barn at Gayle.

“In reply, there is no inconsistency in decision making in relation to these two cases. Tug Gill Laithe was a planning application that Members considered against Local Plan policy L2 and decided to refuse permission.

“The conversion of Tim’s Barn on the other hand is unauthorised development and is the subject of a current, ongoing enforcement investigation. The Authority has not made a decision but will need to consider whether it is expedient to take enforcement action and in doing so will need to consider whether the unauthorised development complies with or conflicts with Policy L2.”

Policy L2 allows for the conversion of traditional agricultural buildings within existing settlements and building groups, or other suitable roadside locations.

Tim’s Barn, Gayle – October

Late last year some residents in Upper Wensleydale used Facebook to call for a march to the YDNPA office in Bainbridge to protest at the way Tim’s Barn at Gayle had been converted into a luxury  holiday cottage when its owners had only been granted approval in 2011 for a “stone tent”.

As Cllr Blackie told the committee at the October meeting: “It was the talk of the town in the Upper Dales – here was a stone tent, the most basic of accommodations, that  had been advertised on the internet as a five-star holiday cottage.

“I brought this matter in front of this committee on three occasions since January, since it was raised at the parish council of Hawes and High  Abbotside. It really undermines the credibility of this planning authority to have people simply run rings round it in this way.”

Residents were very concerned, he said, that the owners of the barn could get away with that while everybody else had to play by the rules.

He added that there were now no “sour grapes” about this as the parish council wanted to support Mr and Mrs Tim Crick’s retrospective application for a camping barn. He added:

“I think it is really important for the reputation of this planning authority and its integrity and credibility that we add a condition that there is no occupation of the barn as a stone tent until the internal fittings, which are of a luxurious class, are removed.”

The agent, Andrew Cunningham, told the committee that his clients were keen to work with the Authority and to remove the internal fixtures and fittings and the external hard landscaping at the barn. The barn would , he said, be returned to very basic overnight accommodation and access to it would be by foot.

The planning officer noted that the barn, which is in a field in the open countryside, was an appropriate location for a camping barn as it was easily accessible by foot from Gayle, is close to two public footpaths, and was within a half a mile of the Pennine Way.

He said that, following a complaint, it had been found that the barn  had been converted into a fully furnished holiday cottage.

The committee unanimously voted to approve the application for a camping barn.

Grassington – April

Permission was granted for an extension to a large steel portal framed agricultural building at Town Head Farm.

The committee was told that this would make an efficient use of the site and would mean that livestock would no longer be kept in a smaller, older building. The planning officer noted that the extension would also substantially reduce run-off from the current dirty yard.

Several members commented that the farm yard looked a mess and hoped the new structure would lead to an improvement.

Grassington Parish Council had been concerned that the extension was described as the first of three phases but no information had originally been provided about the next two phases.

The planning officer said further details had now been received. The second phase application was for the removal of the old timber barn and replacing it with a larger building which, as with the extension, would also cover part of the yard. The third phase will involve the covering of the yard between the two new buildings.

Grassington – October

John Webber told the committee that he had been in discussion with planning officers for 14 months concerning his application to make more use of the former farmstead at Halfway House for his tree and forestry business.

The problem was that his original application did  not fit with the Authority’s Local Plan. The committee did approve his amended plans which include converting a barn into a local occupancy dwelling and erecting a building to house his  business machinery.

The planning officer explained that whilst the Local Plan did support the provision of new buildings for business use it also sought to protect the open countryside from development. As Halfway House was in a prominent location in the open countryside it was, therefore,  difficult to support the construction of the new building or the creation of a new yard area there.

“It is considered that if part of the business were incorporated within one of the traditional barns within the site as is now proposed, there would be a good justification for locating the business on this site,” she said.

Mr Webber has also agreed to locate the proposed new building nearer to the existing buildings and to plant trees to the west of it for screening.

In addition he will demolish a modern lean-to extension that had been added to the barn which will become a dwelling and to remove an unauthorised static caravan from the site.

He said his proposal would enable him to keep all the business equipment in one place and also provide accommodation for his elderly parents.

He explained: “Most of our work is based in the National Park – the work of the Authority being fencing and tree planting, tree work and footpath work. We also work for the National Trust. We are looking to start work … on the Settle to Carlisle [railway] line. Because of this we need more staff but I need the security [of this] development to do this.”

The committee heard that Webber Forestry currently employs nine members of staff and three trainees and has plans for expansion.

North Yorkshire county councillor Gillian Quinn noted that Mr Webber had taken on board the advice of the planning officers. “We really do need to support the long term viability of this business,” she said.

Grassington Parish Council had withdrawn its previous objections to the application especially after being reassured by Mr Webber that the new building would not be  used for manufacturing purposes.

Hudswell – March

It was agreed that a unilateral legal undertaking must be made by the owner of Underbanks on the Reeth Road near Hudswell to carry out remedial work.

Retrospective planning permission to retain alterations and extensions to the Grade II listed building and the conversion of agricultural buildings to form additional living accommodation will be subject to the legal obligation to ensure that some heritage features are  re-instated within six months.

When driving from Richmond towards Reeth Underbanks makes a bold statement just inside the National Park (above), the members heard. This was because an appeal inspector gave conditional approval for a wrap-around extension with large windows to be added to a barn.

But a planning officer reported: “Following a number of site visits and a visit by the Listed Buildings Officer, it was determined that the development was so fundamentally in breach of the May 2015 consents, which were dependent on pre-commencement conditions, as to invalidate the previous permission. Since the submission of the current application, there have been extensive negotiations with the applicant despite the seriousness of the offence involved.”

The committee was told that Mr Davies was now proposing to take down the ashlar stonework on the wrap around extension and rebuild the north and east elevations with random rubble stonework to match the existing building.

The planning officer  stated: “The sawmill appears to have been demolished and rebuilt and the horizontal and vertical stepped stonework has been lost during the reconstruction.

“The sawmill was a very unusual building and the stepping of the wall seems to be a rare feature. The current plans show that the horizontal step would be partially re-instated with the windows being reduced in height.

“As the heritage significance has been lost through demolition of the former sawmill, it is considered that the re-instatement of part of the step would be acceptable.”

He added: “The stair tower into the courtyard is an important feature of the building, of 17th century origin, and consequently it is important that this is preserved in its original form.” The height, however, has been increased and it is proposed to reduce this. The Authority also wants to see a stone staircase and the courtyard cobbles replaced.

The following were accepted by the planning officer:

  • That the metal framed dark grey window frames in the wrap-around extension, the rebuilt sawmill and the north and east elevations of the outbuildings could remain. The planning officer commented: “Whilst this material is not usually considered acceptable for windows in either a barn conversion or a listed building, the style and colour of the windows are considered to work reasonably well.”
  • Although one of the conditions was that the original buildings on the site should be finished with natural stone slates it was considered that the Bradstone “Old Quarried” slates which had been used instead were not significantly harmful to the listed building.
  • A gable had replaced the proposed hipped roof on the southern tip of the wrap-around extension.The officer reported: “It is considered that whilst the Inspector approved a hipped roof, the simpler treatment of a gable is considered more appropriate…”

Committee member Julie Martin asked how they could ensure such a situation would not occur again and was told that the issue of compliance and monitoring was under review.

Kettlewell – March

The committee again approved the application to convert and extend Crookadyke Barn in Kettlewell into a local occupancy dwelling even though North Yorkshire County Council’s Highways Authority had again objected on the basis of highway safety.

The applicant had amended his application, which was conditionally approved in November 2016, by proposing to lower the dry stone wall on either side of the access, but the Highways Authority stated that this would not be sufficient.

The planning officer, however, told the committee: “The character of the road side boundary walls on the approach into Kettlewell from the north are an important wider landscape feature. The revised proposal would preserve the character of the traditional building and wider site.

“Overall the alterations to the access amount to an improvement in the existing situation, whilst not to the standards recommended by the Highways Authority they are, on balance, considered adequate for highways safety purposes.”

Kettlewell – and barn conversions – May

Tug Gill Lathe between Kettlewell and Starbotton was the centre of a debate about where to draw the line on roadside barn conversions.

The YDNPA’s new Local Plan allows for roadside barns to be converted “subject to the proposal’s impact on the landscape.”  The majority of the members accepted the planning officer’s assessment that the creation of a dwelling at Tug Gill Lathe would have a significantly harmful effect on the highly distinctive landscape of Upper Wharfedale due to its residential curtilage, car parking, external and internal lighting and other domestic usage.

The applicant, Margaret Rhodes, however, informed the committee: “I am working four full days 52 weeks a year improving the grassland at Tug Gill. I am really passionate about protecting the Yorkshire Dales for future generations. I continue to preserve the land to enhance the variety of native plants and wildlife.

“I’m battling to improve and secure the land, and by allowing this barn to be converted as my home would allow me to achieve more and keep the standard maintained.”

Her agent, Robert Groves, stated: “Allowing the barn to be converted to a dwelling will ensure that the asset is conserved in the appropriate form proposed which is almost unchanged externally from the character and form of the original barn.

“A small respectful conversion as this one, occupied by the applicant who has a high respect for the landscape, can protect the environment and landscape better rather than, say, the barn reverting back to some other use or being derelict and the land slipping from being within the controlled schemes of Natural England to more unrestrained farming practices.”

The chairman of the YDNPA, Cllr Carl Lis, commented that if permission was granted for Tug Gill Lathe then others could seek approval to convert barns in Wharfedale which were not as well hidden. “This is a step too far,” he said.

Another committee member, Ian McPherson, stated: “Once we set the precedent of allowing roadside barns in that kind of landscape [to be converted] then, in my view, we might just as well go home because we are not then fulfilling the first statutory purpose that the National Park is basically all about.”

Allen Kirkbride, a parish council representative from Askrigg, reminded the committee that Kettlewell-cum-Starbotton Parish Council was in favour of this barn conversion. “They are the people on the ground. They would not allow this sort of development to go ahead if it didn’t fit in with the surrounding area.

“I believe they are quite right. This one is set back in the hillside a little bit. I think it is the sort of barn that could be developed.”

Cllr Blackie maintained that, if converted, Tug Gill Lathe would still assimilate well into the landscape, and such conversions were needed to retain young families in the Dales.

“This is exactly what was in mind when members brought forward the roadside barn policy. We would do a great disservice to the community in Upper Wharfedale if we refuse it,” he said.

Cllr Heseltine told the committee: “Either we are serious about implementing our roadside barn conversion policy or we are not serious about it. Do we accept in our policy that these sporadic roadside barns close to the road can be approved or not approved? This is an important watershed in interpreting our barns policy.”

He, however, voted against giving approval.

Lancaster City Council and Leck

The September meeting was remarkable and memorable because: Lancaster County Council humbly apologised for its errors; the National Park Authority’s head of development management reported that there was a disagreement between officers; and the way an application had been dealt with was described as a “massive maladministration”.

The committee unanimously approved Andrew Redmayne’s application for the erection of a dwelling at Leck which incorporated the remaining walls of Fell Side Barn.

Lancaster City Council had humbly apologised to the YDNPA for the errors it had made when it gave Prior Approval to Andrew Redmayne in June 2016 to convert the barn. That Approval included a car parking and turning area which would be outside of the curtilage of the new dwelling. Mr Redmayne also assumed that the approval covered the proposed cellar as that was shown on the submitted plans.

Work did not begin on the barn until after Leck became part of the Yorkshire Dales National Park in August 2016. As Mr Redmayne was advised by a structural engineer that the western gable should be rebuilt both that and a section of the northern wall were demolished in early 2017, the latter to facilitate the construction of the cellar. Work also began on an underground garage for which no planning approval had been obtained.

In February Mr Redmayne was informed by YDNPA enforcement officers that, according to their estimate, about 37 per cent of the barn had been demolished and so it was no longer a conversion but a rebuild. He was also told that the cellar and the garage were not included in permitted development rights.

Richard Graham, the YDNPA’s head of development management, told the planning committee: “This is a contentious application. I will be open about this, there has been a disagreement between officers on the recommendations and the weight given to material considerations over against Local Plan policy.”

“The background to the case is quite important. Crucial to it are the national permitted development rights to barn conversions, barns and dwellings subject to a prior approval procedure. These don’t apply in National Parks.”

He explained that discussions were held with Mr Redmayne about how to apply for planning permission and added: “It was felt that such a solution was worth exploring as the alternative would be enforcement action that, at best, would leave the barn as a semi-derelict ruin on the landscape.”  This led to Mr Redmayne applying for permission for a “new build” even though both he and the City Council believed that it would still be a conversion.

Mr Graham said that this proposal was in accordance with the City Council’s Local Plan as it would “contribute positively to the identity and character of the area through good design, having regard to local distinctiveness.” The amended proposal represented a significant improvement on that originally submitted to the City Council, he added.

Mr Redmayne told the committee: “I would like to apologise unreservedly for the unauthorised work. The intention was to try and hide the residentialisation impact of this building. I have worked long and hard with the Yorkshire Dales [Authority] to improve the proposal. We have retained all the stones – everything that has come out of the barn is going back into it.”

Lancaster City Councillor Margaret Pattison commented: “I think once it’s done it will be beautiful.”

Other members of the committee accepted that the circumstances were exceptional and unlikely to occur again.

Sedbergh parish councillor Ian McPherson stated: “We can’t refuse it. Lancaster City has apologised for the mess. We either end up with a semi-derelict barn … or a dwelling house which is actually an improvement and clearly well designed.”

To that Jocelyn Manners-Armstrong added: “To me to even think about refusing it would just be compounding a massive maladministration.” She couldn’t see how the applicant should suffer because of the procedural irregularities and the complete failure of some people to do their jobs properly.

“I think we should actually commend the applicant for having the perseverance of trying to do a proper job.” And she recorded an apology to Mr Redmayne.

Ireby with Leck Parish Council had told the Authority: “The Council is not able to support this application but would support a revised scheme that is more in keeping with the original structure. The proposal involves too much disturbance of the natural landscape.

“The application goes significantly beyond what was granted originally in the permitted development and is now proposed as a new build.

“Whilst the Council is sympathetic to the difficulties the applicant has experienced with the proposals, the Council views the present application as setting a precedent and circumventing the rules of permitted development.”

Mr Redmayne will not be required to sign a local occupancy legal agreement as Lancaster City Council’s Local Plan still applies.

Litton – October

The Authority’s Local Plan policy that any traditional barn to be converted must be large enough to accommodate the new use without the addition of any significant extensions or alterations led to an application concerning Dubb Croft Barn in Litton being refused.

The planning officer stated that this policy applied to any additions after a barn had been converted. Since the conversion of Dubb Croft Barn it has become a family home with a holiday cottage letting business. The office for that business, the planning officer said, was in part of the master bedroom. “This is considered as being far from ideal as it requires access through the bedroom and requires the keeping of files, a desk, computer, telephone etc which cramps the bedroom space,” he explained and added that clients also had to enter that room to obtain keys and other information.

The application was for the erection of a single storey extension to provide a new bedroom so that the office could be separate. The planning officer stated that the extension would not be subservient to the present dwelling and would result in significant harm to the character and appearance of that building which is in a conservation area.

The agent, Robert Groves, disagreed.  “As the architect for this proposal I disagree as the [extension] has been designed to be very simple in its form. It [would be] essentially agricultural in appearance and provide no disharmony to the original. It is to a scale that is clearly subservient to the original and does not obscure any of the important features.”

He told the committee that the proposal was very important for the future of the business.

Litton Parish Meeting supported the application and stated: “Mr and Mrs Cowan are valuable members of our small community and their expanding business is a valuable asset bringing in much needed business and employment.”

Linton – February

Even though a resident told the planning committee that the proposed extension at The Minns in Linton would severely impact upon his residential amenity the majority of the members accepted the planning officer’s recommendation to approve the application.

Linton Parish Council agreed with John Ford that the extension would have a negative impact on his home. It stated: “The council still considers that the planning application does not adhere to the ethos of Linton as being a conservation village.”

The planning officer, however, argued that the applicant’s amended application was for a more modest, single storey side extension which would be subordinate to the main property. It had been designed to limit the impact upon neighbouring properties, he said. He added that the extension would not be a prominent addition to the street scene and would not detract from the appearance of The Minns.

Long Preston – February

The committee agreed that the planning application for 13 houses to be built of Greengate Lane in Long Preston should be approved as that granted in 2014 will expire on February 26.

One of the two sites was previously used for wagon storage and maintenance. The industrial building there has been demolished and removed.

The original planning permission, granted in February 2014, included a condition that a housing association would ensure that  six dwellings on the site would remain affordable homes for perpetuity. The applicant had confirmed this year that a housing association was no longer involved and he wanted to sell the site.

The new planning permission, therefore, requires that there will be a legal agreement to ensure that  two shared ownership units and four affordable rented units will remain so for perpetuity and be transferred to a Registered Provider prior to the occupation of any of the seven open market dwellings.

The owner of the site will need to check if Long Preston Water Trust will have sufficient supply to serve the development as mains water is not available in that part of the village.

Newbiggin in Bishopdale  – February

A legal agreement would not be sufficient to stop the two-bedroom annex to Mystified Bungalow becoming a separate dwelling Mr Graham told the committee.

The planning officer warned that the continued use of the annex as a self-catering holiday let would set an undesirable precedent for allowing the subdivision and conversion of any modern building anywhere within the National Park.

The majority of the committee accepted this advice and so refused the application, and agreed that an enforcement notice should be issued giving the owner six months to stop using the annex as a holiday let.

Andrew Cunnington, the agent, said the applicant was willing to sign a legal agreement tying the holiday let to the original bungalow and limiting the time it could be used as a holiday accommodation to 10 months each year.  His client, he explained, did require a mixed use for the annex, providing accommodation for tourists during the season and for his family at other times. Mr Cunnington argued that this would generate benefits for the local economy and so fulfilled the criteria for sustainable development as identified both nationally and locally.

He maintained that the new Local Plan set out competing priorities between the need for affordable housing and the provision of more facilities for tourists.  The planning officer, while acknowledging that there were competing priorities in the Local Plan, stated that the use of the large annex as a self-catering holiday let would prejudice the supply of local needs housing in an open countryside location as it had its own parking area, access and garden space. She added: “The annex could provide a viable, independent two-bedroomed dwelling.”

Cllr Blackie said that the Local Plan called for more overnight stays and accepted the provision of all types of accommodation including railway carriages.

He told the committee that a previous enforcement officer  had not told the applicant to remove the kitchen in the annex. This, however, was one of the options now put forward by the planning officer in order to turn the annex into B&B accommodation which would be acceptable. Cllr Blackie also pointed out that the present owner had installed a door between the original bungalow and the annex – something that had not been done when the annex was built.

Mr Graham stated concerning any legal agreement: “It would not be worth the paper it is written on.” When asked later about this in view of the decision made regarding Rose Cottage at Arncliffe he stated:

“The issue raised by the proposals at Mystified Bungalow and Rose Cottage concerns whether a separate ‘planning unit’ (a separate dwelling) would be created or not. With Rose Cottage the porposal was to convert a small domestic office at the bottom of a long garden. The building would not have a separate access or curtilage and, therefore, in the officers’ opinion, is highly unlikely to be sol off or used independently from the host property – in essence it is an annex. With Mystified Bungalow the proposal was for the accommodation to be used as a holiday cottage independent from the main house – with its own separate parking, access into the building and front/back garden space.

“A S106 agreement can be used to restrict how a building is used or occupied or to tie ownership but it must meet legal tests (including that it is ‘reasonable’) and it can be subject to appeal. A planning permission for an annex with a S10-6 agreement tying the annex to the host dwelling would be reasonable. A planning permission creating a separate dwelling with a S106 effectively saying the new dwelling cannot be used as a separate dwelling would not be reasonable and, therefore, likely to be removed on application or appeal. What I was trying to convey to the members [was that] such an agreement would be so weak as not survive a challenge and as such would not guarantee what they were proposing.”

Rylstone – February

An enforcement notice will be served on  the owners of Green Farm at Rylstone as they have not complied with several of the conditions included in the permission granted in 2013 for the construction of several large agricultural buildings.

“We are very disappointed that they have done that,” said Mr Graham. “It is a sad situation particularly as these are some of the largest buildings that we have given planning permission for in the National Park. We have been talking to them for quite a while now to try and resolve the situation. The only avenue we have got is an enforcement notice.”

The enforcement notice covers the removal of a yard to the south of the farm buildings,  the reduction in the number of roof lights and not providing sufficient landscaping

Cllr Blackie asked if it was necessary to “use the big stick” especially when it was so difficult for dairy farmers these days.

Mr Graham replied that when enforcement action was approved further negotiations took place to give the owners the opportunity to comply.

The enforcement officer, Martyn Coy, reported that the large yard which had been constructed without permission to the south of the farm buildings meant that a lot of activity took place close to neighbouring residential properties.

He stated that permission had been granted for four roof lights per bay but this had been increased to six without permission.  This did have an adverse impact upon the landscape and dark skies at night.

Cllr Harrison-Topham compared such farm buildings to large well-lit ocean liners.

Rylstone – November

The Authority should change its attitude towards communication masts, its planning committee was told by one of its own members.

South Lakeland District councillor Brenda Gray said: “We have to have communications, we have to accept man-made masts in the landscape for the people who live here and the people who visit. We must change our attitude.”

The majority of the committee agreed that EE Limited should be allowed to install a 11m high slim telegraph pole and ground base equipment in a farm field at Rylstone which would service voice calls, provide 3G and 4G data and network services for the emergency services.

As this was against the recommendation of the planning officer this decision will have to be confirmed at the committee meeting in December.

James Butcher, who farms at Rylstone, told the committee: “Communications are an essential local service. For an area to remain a living and working community it must have access to what most of the population takes for granted.

“It’s particularly important to the younger generation. We’ve attracted lots of young families and young people. We’ve got 15 children who go to local schools. This is an example of how to maintain a vibrant community. But if they don’t have a mobile signal they will be lost to the area.”

He described how one ambulance crew recently got lost trying to reach a child patient and couldn’t call in for directions because there was no mobile signal.

Cllr  Peacock said that people wouldn’t want to come and live in the National Park if they were concerned about the lack of communications and the ability to call for an ambulance.

Of the proposed site she commented: “It isn’t perfect where it is but you will have no countryside if you haven’t got people living and working here.”

“To make sure we don’t get left behind in the Yorkshire Dales we have to accept some compromises occasionally,” commented Cllr Blackie.

Cllrs Heseltine and Welch added that the wind turbine already in the farm field was not intrusive on the landscape.

The planning officer had argued that the pole and apparatus, equipment cabins and enclosure, viewed together with the existing wind turbine, would cumulatively dominate local views and be extremely prominent as an alien feature in wider views of the site, and so have a very detrimental impact upon a high quality landscape.

Jim Munday was concerned that EE Limited was going for the lowest cost option and felt that there could be alternative sites where a mast would not be so visible, such as beside trees.

The company’s agent, Carolyn Wilson, said that a mast beside trees would have to be much higher and bulkier. The company had to consider whether the cost of any alternative would make the scheme commercially unviable.

Cllr Peacock commented that for 20 to 25 years she had seen big companies walk away from projects in the National Park when the cost became too high. “We have an opportunity here to pass something that we don’t feel is intrusive and which benefits the whole area because it is a message – the message that we, the National Park, are here to help to promote our area and to encourage people to come and live and work here.”

After the vote Mr Graham said: “We have a wind turbine in this location. We also have another company which feels this is a suitable location for telecommunications and put up their mast without bothering to apply for permission. My great concern is that if we granted permission for this application we will be opening the door to further development [there]. For that reason I would say that this application should be referred back to the next meeting.”

He also explained that the Authority was working with Airwave to find suitable locations for 12 telecommunications masts to serve the emergency services. “We have planned suitable locations and designs for those masts that we feel won’t have a significant impact upon the landscape. The Park is being positive about these things,” he said.

Rylstone – December

All but three of the members agreed that a 11 metre high slim telecommunications pole would not make a major difference to the landscape at Fleets Laithe near Rylstone but would considerably improve the mobile phone service in that area.

Cllr Peacock agreed with Cllr  Heseltine that the impact upon the landscape would not be significant. She said: “To me it may not be a perfect site but … I believe we need to go ahead for the benefit of the communities. We have a business that is actually going to provide good mobile coverage in this area. We need good mobile phone coverage. We have got to take care of the future of our dales.”

Cllr Blackie agreed with her that it was not accurate to describe the mast and associated equipment as just a commercial enterprise especially in a deeply rural area. “This commercial mast will be serving both the social necessities of the population and [their] economic needs. We mustn’t put off those who are seeking to invest in essential community infrastructure,” he said.

He told the committee that 20 years ago the planning officers had regularly recommended that applications for telecommunications masts in Wensleydale and Swaledale should be refused. The committee had approved most of them apart from one in Swaledale. “Now, near Low Row [you] lose reception and only gain it again when you get to Gunnerside,” he added.

A planning officer maintained that the mast at Rylstone would have a harmful impact on the landscape as it would be at an exposed and prominent site. She and Mr Graham said they were not convinced that all alternative sites had been considered by EE Limited.

The planning officer stated:  “Areas of the National Park that tend to suffer from poor coverage do so not because of the restrictive planning policies but because commercial telecommunications operators choose not to invest in infrastructure in these areas.”

Three members abstained from voting when the majority approved the application.

Sedbergh – July

An application to build two houses on part of the former Baliol School site in Sedbergh was refused because that area has been designated for business development.

Mark Stott of Farmgate Vets and Edward Waller, who has a stone masonry and funeral parlour business, told the committee that they had bought land at Baliol School but needed to recoup some of the cost of constructing new premises on that site. “Although it is not essential for our financing, we are looking to sell a portion of the site for housing to offset some of the potential losses and to help to secure the business for the future,” Mr Stott said. Like Mr Waller, Farmgate Vets plan to have bespoke premises built on the site.

Sedbergh Parish Council had asked if it was possible to ensure that the business premises were built before the houses. The planning officer, however, told the committee that this was not legally possible.

She added: “As no case has been made that the previously approved scheme of two commercial units is unviable without the houses, it is considered that there is no justification to warrant a departure from a newly adopted planning policy.”

Committee members pointed out that there was a shortage of business sites within the Yorkshire Dales National Park and they did not want to set a precedent for introducing residential houses within them.

Stackhouse – May

The conversion of a Grade II listed coach house at Stackhouse  into two holiday lets was approved even though the county highways department and Giggleswick Parish Council had objected.

North Yorkshire County Councillor Richard Welch told the meeting: “The highways authority is against it, the parish council is against it and the residents are against it.”

The former had objected because, it stated, the access onto Stackhouse Lane was unsatisfactory and there was insufficient visibility splay.The parish council was concerned about that access due to the number of residents already using it.

The planning officer noted that the narrow lane to that access was not adopted by the county council and was not made up to the standards normally required by the highways authority.

She added:“Given that the lane is in a reasonable condition, is reasonably level and straight, and currently services at least ten other properties, it is considered that the road conditions are not so poor they would warrant refusal [of the application].”

The owner, who lives in the adjoining Old Hall, originally applied to convert the coach house into three holiday lets but then amended the plans.

The planning officer described the coach house as a heritage asset of high significance with many features that required protecting. This, she said, was better achieved by converting it  into two holiday lets. This is in line with the YDNPA’s objective to encourage more staying visitors as part of its tourism policy because of the economic benefits they bring.

Cllr Welch queried what economic benefits the holiday lets would bring to such a hamlet and said they would be unsuitable within such a small community.

Starbotton – June

Starbotton in Wharfedale has changed so much that it is has become far more difficult for a hill farmer to care for his livestock, Colin Lister told the committee.

Mr Lister has applied for permission to erect an agricultural building for the safe handling of sheep 100m above the north side of Starbotton. At present the sheep have to be herded down 395m to reach Bushey Lodge Farm on the south side of the village.

He told the committee: “The physical aspects and challenges of hill farming remain little changed, whereas the community at Starbotton has changed dramatically. En-route to our current sheep handling yard, with our sheep, we pass five holiday homes. These generally contain people who are unaware of what we are trying to achieve. This makes it unlikely that we ever have a clear path to our destination.

“Our second obstacle, and a relatively new one, is the increased number of dogs visiting and living in Starbotton. Sheep will not pass a dog on a single track road. The Starbotton Cam Road into Starbotton is impassable with sheep when meeting dogs being walked in the opposite direction. This is a common occurrence along this popular dog-walking route.

“Another major obstacle is crossing the main road in Starbotton. Traffic numbers and speeds have increased and safely crossing the road requires at least three people who are not always available.

“Even without the fore-mentioned, a considerable amount of effort is put into our farming day trying to ensure the safety of residents and tourists and also minimising disruption to their day. Basically this means early starts and late finishes way beyond the set working hours.

“Current environmental schemes are encouraging us to graze cattle on our higher pastures. We have been doing this for seven years and find it has been a most rewarding part of our current Natural England agreement, both economically and environmentally. However, the handling of the cattle… creates all the same problems previously mentioned but on a much bigger scale.

“I think one of the reasons cattle are not seen on the hills, prior to us being encouraged, was because they are difficult to handle on outlining pastures far away from any handling facilities.”

There would also be far less run-off of dirty water if the tasks of drenching, shearing, parasite treatments, tailing, marking and foot bathing were carried out in a roofed barn, he added.

The YDNPA’s farm conservation advisor, however, stated: “The argument relating to stress is not strong as [the livestock] will be herded/flocked to this point anyway which will undoubtedly cause them stress.

“The location of the site is very visible from below and above and the building will stick out quite considerably in an area that is lacking in field barns at that height.”

The planning officer agreed and recommended that the application should be refused.

Kettlewell-with-Starbotton Parish Council disagreed. It had informed the planning committee: “It is easier to care for sheep in a roofed building. The design and location are such that the building will be largely hidden.”

The committee accepted Cllr  Heseltine’s recommendation that there should be a site visit.

Starbotton – July

Animal welfare and efficient farming were two of the reasons why the majority of the committee decided that Colin Lister should be allowed to erect an agricultural building 100m above Starbotton.

Following the site meeting Cllr Heseltine told the committee: “This application primarily concerns animal welfare.”

He disagreed with the planning officer that the new barn would be situated on the high moors and said it would be on the limestone pasture. Conserving and preserving the landscape of the beautiful Yorkshire Dales was important, but they had to keep in mind that it was also a workplace especially for the farmers. “Without them we would be lost,” he added.

Several others agreed with him including one of the newest members, Lancashire County Councillor Cosima Towneley who said: “The terms of reference for the National Park is the landscape but what is the landscape without people? You can’t live without jobs or employment.”

She also argued that, as each application was considered on its merits, no precedent would be set. Cllr Peacock agreed and stated: “This is a unique situation because, at present, sheep have to brought across a busy road.”

The issue of precedence was underlined by the planning officer and Julie Martin. The latter commented: “I don’t want to make farmers’ lives more difficult but I do generally feel this will set a very bad example in terms of farm buildings at this sort of altitude.” She believed other options could be explored especially as the barn would be visible from high-level footpaths.

The planning officer reported that Mr Lister had submitted amended plans for the siting of the barn which would mean that it would  be hardly visible from the valley floor.

Fourteen out of the sixteen members voted in favour of the application and there was one abstention. Mr Graham announced that this decision would not have to be ratified at the August meeting even though it was against the officer’s recommendation.

Thoralby  – October

It would be wrong to send a negative message to Dales’ dairy farmers at a time when so many were pulling out of that business, Cllr  Blackie told the committee.

Mr Graham had supported the planning officer’s recommendation to refuse permission for a 40.5m diameter concrete slurry store to be constructed in a field above Thoralby. He said the slurry plant would be almost as long as the Authority’s office building in Bainbridge and similar in height.

Cllr Peacock, however, agreed with Cllr Blackie and said: “I know there are problems but to flatly refuse it would be wrong.”

The majority of the committee agreed with Cllrs Blackie and Peacock that it was better to defer a decision and give Michael Lancaster of Town Head Farm, Thoralby, more time to discuss the issue with the planning officers.

Thoralby parish meeting and Aysgarth and District Parish Council had suggested how to better screen the concrete tank but committee member Julie Martin warned that there might be no effective way of doing so.

The planning officer stated: “The construction of a large concrete tank situated by itself on a hillside is an industrial scale development that would have an adverse impact on the landscape.” He added that, if approved, it would set a precedent which could lead to a series of large slurry tanks along dale sides.

Like Thoralby Parish Meeting he was also concerned that the construction of the tank and the measures taken to try and screen it would lead to the loss of archaeological features.

Mr Lancaster, however, believed that the proposed slurry store could be effectively screened with bunds and trees. He told the committee: “As a resident of Bishopdale I am acutely conscious that the development needs to fit in with the wider landscape.”

He said the new store would have the capacity for six months storage compared to just four weeks at the present one within the farm complex at Town Head Farm. This, he explained, would enable him to run a more efficient dairy business, decrease the number of vehicle movements through the village, reduce the amount of chemical fertilisers being used, and increase grass production. “This store will represent the biggest capital investment made by the business in the last ten years and is an essential investment,” he stated.

He told the committee that, since he took over the farm from his father 11 years ago, he had continually invested in improving the condition of the land and the facilities at Town Head Farm, and that he had increased the herd to 300 cows and 300 followers.

The planning officer accepted that the proposed tank would reduce the risk of water pollution and would make the farm compliant with current legislation regarding slurry storage. But he added: “It is considered that these potential environmental benefits are outweighed by the harm caused.”

Threshfield – February

The proposed dormer extension at a house in Wharfeside Avenue, Threshfield, would be on the rear elevation in accordance with the Local Plan guidelines – but a planning officer recommended refusal.

He stated that the dormer would detract from the appearance of the house and could be seen from the B6160 across the fields.  The applicant, Andy Gould, pointed out that the road was half-a-mile away.

Threshfield Parish Council had informed the planning officer that it had no objections and stated: “We support the application as it is in keeping with many other properties in the area. Along this particular section of the avenue every other property has some type of dormer extension. Therefore, the proposed alterations at High Winds would be in line with surrounding properties.”

The planning officer responded: “Whilst it is accepted that there are dormer windows within the vicinity of the site, these relate to properties of varying styles and ages. In assessing this proposal, officers have taken into account the particular visual interest of the semi-detached host property, the appearance and impact of the proposed dormer windows and the fact that there are wider public views of its rear elevation.”

The reason given for bringing the application to the committee was that it was at the request of Cllr  Heseltine.

At the meeting Richmondshire District Councillor Stuart Parsons noted that although the front of the house was architecturally important there was nothing special about the rear because an extension had been added at sometime.

No one seconded the proposal to accept the officer’s recommendation, and the majority voted to approve the application.

West Burton – April

The cost of an application for a barn conversion at Sorrelsykes Farm, West Burton, could amount to £8,194 without any guarantee that it would be approved the  committee was told.

Over £2,000 of that would be the fee for a professional odour, noise and disturbance survey because the barn is five metres from a milking parlour. But the survey would not be necessary if the application was to convert the barn into holiday lets rather than into three local occupancy dwellings.

Adam Spence, the agent, told the committee that Les Bell, who owns the barn, believed that the provision of local occupancy properties should take priority.

Cllr Blackie agreed and said: “He has already clocked up well over £5,000 [in fees]. If we are not careful we will stifle barn conversions coming forward and this was the star policy of our new Local Plan.

“We have local residents who have been living for years on that farmstead [and] there have been no complaints about odour and smell.”

He argued that the main objective of allowing roadside barns to be converted was to provide more local occupancy housing, not more holiday lets.

The planning officer stated that the application should be refused because Mr Bell had not agreed to have a professional odour, noise and disturbance survey as recommended by Richmondshire District Council’s environmental health officer.

The planning officer reported that no information had been provided about the farming enterprise, including how many animals there were, when milking occurred and when slurry was collected. Without this it was not possible to ensure that there would be a good standard of amenity for the future occupants of the converted barn, she stated.

Mr Spence said that information could be provided but not at a cost of £2,160.

Allen Kirkbride pointed out that some years ago permission had been granted for a barn conversion at his dairy farm in Askrigg – and that barn was as close to the milking parlour as that at Sorrelsykes. He wondered if the planning rules had changed.

In response to questions about why an environmental survey wasn’t needed for holiday lets, the planning officer said that visitors would not have to live constantly with any odours or disturbances. This was emphasised by the Authority’s senior legal officer, Clare Bevan, who stated that any future statutory nuisance should be identified at the planning stage.

Jocelyn Manners-Armstrong said that they did need the information about the farming enterprise and her suggestion that a decision should be deferred to allow Mr Bell and Mr Spence to provide that was accepted.

West Burton – June

Permission has been granted for a barn at Sorrelsykes Park Farm near West Burton to be converted into three local occupancy dwellings.

At the June meeting the planning committee was informed that Richmondshire District Council’s Environmental Health Officer (EHO) had not repeated its objection to the planning application.

In April the planning officer told the committee that the EHO had requested that suitable noise and odour assessments should be made before the application was approved as the close proximity of the barn to the cow shed and milking parlour could have a detrimental impact upon those living in it once it was converted.

Cllr  Blackie said that a consultant would have charged at least £1,750, and that would be in addition to the £7,500 the applicant had already paid for surveys and other costs. His suggestion that the agent should carry out the noise and odour survey was accepted and he reported on Tuesday that the cost of that was £200.

Joceyln Manners-Armstrong commented: “I wouldn’t be confident on making a decision based on [the agent’s report] but the Environmental Health Officer has removed his objections so I don’t have a basis for refusing either.

“I can understand the point about surveys being expensive. If you want quality information you have to pay for it.”

The planning officer reported that there had been five letters of support for the application from those living close to the farm, and that the EHO had never received any complaints about odour or noise.

Cllr Blackie emphasised the need for local occupancy housing. He said: “A family or two with two or three children would make all the difference between keeping West Burton school open or the potential of seeing it close.

“If applicants are saying we can’t afford to take forward barn conversion applications then I do think we have a serious matter to address.”

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