ARC News Service: Reports on the YDNPA (Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority) planning committee meeting on Tuesday December 11 2018 regarding the following: reference back refusals concerning Shoemaker Barn at Grinton; Mike Barn near Appersett; and Pike Hill Barn near Hawes; as well as holiday yurts at Low Abbotside; a proposed barn conversion at Threshfield; and a building for a biomass boiler at Stirton Tithe Barn. Cllrs Allen Kirkbride, Yvonne Peacock and John Blackie were very critical of the way the reference back decisions were dealt with:
Businesses involving young families are not appreciated by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, Askrigg parish councillor Allen Kirkbride told the committee.
“I am not pleased with the way today has gone and how the Authority appears to be reacting,” he told other members of the committee.
Richmondshire District councillor Yvonne Peacock agreed with him. She warned that the Authority was going back to being as divided as it was 20 years ago.
And North Yorkshire County councillor John Blackie stated: “We want to attract young families. We want to retain young families. We want to attract new businesses. [But] we have been kicked in the teeth by a planning system that is there to shape our future not ruin it.”
They spoke out about the way three barn conversion applications had just been dealt with when discussing an application for seven seasonal yurts at West Shaw Cote Farm, Low Abbotside in Upper Wensleydale.
The head of development management, Richard Graham, told the committee that the barn conversions should be refused as the landscape would be harmed if they became dwellings. For each application Cllr Blackie and Cllr Peacock asked the committee to consider the needs of local young families.
Cllr Peacock pointed out that it was young farmers like the one who wanted to convert Shoemaker Barn at Grinton into a home for his family who maintained the walls and barns. “You cannot expect to sustain our communities and to look after our landscape if we don’t actually have people wanting to live and work in the dales,” she said.
It was very unusual that no committee members spoke against the three barn conversions. Yet when the vote was called seven lifted their hands in support of the officer’s recommendation for refusal while seven supported the applications. The counting was almost inaudible and it wasn’t clear that the chairman, Richmondshire District councillor Caroline Thornton-Berry had also voted against approving the applications. Nor did she clearly state after each vote what the results were.
It was also unusual for the Authority’s Chief Executive Officer, David Butterworth, to attend a planning meeting. Mr Graham told members that if they did grant permission the decision might be unlawful.
For the voting about the yurts at West Shaw Cote Farm no announcement was needed as every member approved the application – even though the officer had recommended refusal.
Cllr Kirkbride had questioned the way a “long-range” photograph had been used to support the officer’s argument. “That must been at least two and a half miles away at least… to make it look worse than it actually is,” he commented.
He pointed out that the yurts would be there during the summer when the trees were in leaf and so there would be more screening. The nights were also shorter – and so there would be far less impact upon the National Park’s dark skies status.
Mr Graham agreed that this decision would not be referred back but the applicants will be asked to plant more screening. “Bushes not trees,” said Cllr Thornton-Berry.
After a long afternoon she asked the committee to make a quick decision about an application for a children’s playhouse at Hudswell which the planning officer had recommended for approval. The voting was so fast it was lost among the scraping of chairs and chatter. And there was no announcement about the result. (It was approved)
North Yorkshire County councillor Richard Welch commented afterwards: “As someone who sits on other Authoritys’ planning committees this is the only one which has a reference back procedure.”
He recalled that at the October meeting of the YDNPA planning committee the majority of members voted to approve an application for a house in a haulage yard at Hebden for a local family. This was against officers’ advice. He continued: “I wonder what happened in the following month when, at the November meeting under reference back, it was refused by nine to eight. What happened to make five members change their minds?”
The YDNPA press release following the meeting: Landscape conserved with barn decisions
Decisions made by Planning Committee today have helped to conserve the open, farmed landscape of the Yorkshire Dales, the Park Authority Chairman Carl Lis has said.
Members voted to refuse applications to convert three barns near Appersett, Hawes and Grinton because of the harm such conversions would do to the landscape. Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority Chairman and Planning Committee member, Carl Lis, said: “I need to stress that we are permitting lots of barn conversions – 99 of them since 2015, against eight refusals – but they do need to be in the right locations.
“Approvals for the three applications today would have led to landscape harm, in part because such developments would bring with them new tracks, car parking, lighting, overhead lines and the other facilities necessary for residential use.
“Some Members made the argument that we should have approved the applications in order to help the applicants find an affordable home. I think it is not a case of deciding between looking after the landscape and looking after local people. The two must be taken together, as it is the fantastic landscape of the Park that provides the engine for the local economy.”
Mr Lis added “I can understand the disappointment of the applicants, but if they believe we have made the wrong decision they have recourse to appeal to an Independent Planning Inspector.”
Shoemaker Barn, Grinton
At the October meeting of the planning committee the majority of the members voted to approve the application to demolish an agricultural building and convert a stone barn into a dwelling. Grinton Parish Council supported this not just because it would improve the appearance of the site but as it would also provide a home for a young family. The application included a new agricultural building to be constructed nearby.
As that decision was against officer recommendation it had to be referred back for confirmation. At the December meeting Mr Graham stressed that members had to put forward acceptable material considerations to support any decision which was not in accordance with the Local Plan. He stated that two of the considerations put forward by members could be considered: that the improved appearance of the site represented a planning gain; and that it would support sustainable communities and provide an opportunity for a home for a local family.
He argued, however, that as so much of the barn would be rebuilt plus the addition of two porches and a rear extension it would look like a modern building rather than a historic barn. He said: “A large modern farm building and a large modern-looking dwelling in this location would detract from the visual quality of landscape and would not preserve or enhance the historic character of the Conservation Area.” This could not, therefore, be described as a material consideration he added.
“The provision of a house for the applicants specifically can not be a material consideration unless there are exceptional personal circumstances involved. Personal circumstances are rarely sufficient reason to outweigh policy… It has not been demonstrated that this proposal represents the only opportunity for the applicants to live in the locality, or that their current accommodation in Grinton is not suitable, or that there is an essential need for them to live at this location,” he said.
Cllr Blackie commented: “Here is an opportunity to be flexible and to support a local family who will add to the sustainability of the local community.
Mike Barn, Lanacar Lane, Appersett
At the October meeting a decision on this application for the barn to be converted for local occupancy was deferred as the majority of members were in favour of approving it contrary to the officer’s recommendation. The reasons given by members were: the barn fulfilled the “roadside” criterion as in the Local Plan; there were dwellings nearby and the residential use would not have a harmful impact upon the area.
Mr Graham told the December meeting that the barn did not “physically adjoin the boundary” with the road and did not have an “immediate definable curtilage”.
Cllr Blackie pointed out that Mr Graham’s report did not give the distance between the barn and the road.
He asked how this compared to the distance between Tug Gill Lathe and the B6160 in Wharfedale. The application to convert Tug Gill Lathe was approved by an appeal inspector.
Mr Graham accepted that Tug Gill Lathe was further. He added that the appeal inspector had stated that its curtilage did meet the road. “That was a mistake. I think the inspector’s decision was a very cruel one and I don’t think [we] have to stand by it.”
“That’s something I have never heard before in a planning committee in 21 years,” commented Cllr Blackie.
North Yorkshire County councillor Richard Welch compared barn conversions to many of the farmhouses which were often quite a distance along a track from a road. Converting barns could enhance the landscape he said and added:
“It makes it look as though people live there. It is not a museum, not a chocolate box scene to be put on postcards. Providing barns are converted sensibly there is no difference between them and a farm house.”
Pike Hill Barn, Ashes, Hawes
A decision on this application was deferred at the October meeting as, yet again, members had been inclined to disagree with the officers.
At the December meeting Cllr Blackie explained that Pike Hill Barn was within one of the small enclaves that formed part of the community of Hawes and so the application was in accordance with the Local Plan.
He also asked why Mr Graham’s report did not include the fact that the owner of the barn had amended his application to include local occupancy as well as for holiday lets.
Ellis Laithe, Grisedale Gate Farm, Threshfield
One young couple with their baby waited all afternoon for the committee to discuss their application to convert a barn into an agricultural worker’s dwelling.
Frank Kitching told the committee that he needed to live close to the family’s farm as he helped with caring for the livestock. During the two-month long lambing season he said he slept in his pick-up at the farm.
The planning officer reported that there were three holiday lets at the farm and argued that one of these could provide a home for the couple. He said that no financial information had been provided to prove that the holiday lets were essential to the farm business. He accepted that there was a need for permanent on-site accommodation for Mr Kitching.
Jocelyn Armstrong-Manners said the committee did need more financial evidence concerning the holiday lets. And Cllr Kirkbride wondered if the plans could be amended so that the proposed extension would be on the gable end of the barn.
It was agreed, therefore, to defer making a decision.
Stirton Tithe Barn