An ARC News Service report on the meeting of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s ( YDNPA ) planning committee on February 12 2019 when decisions were made concerning buildings in or near the following villages or dales: Arkengarthdale and Langthwaite, Barden, Storiths and Thorpe, Gayle, Askrigg, Carlton in Coverdale, and Hawes. The ARC News Service is the local democracy reporting service of the Association of Rural Communities.
This was an unusual planning meeting for several reasons: the number of applications to be decided (see Conversion of barns and traditional buildings); the large number of people in the “public gallery” – about 35; and that the YDNPA chief executive officer, David Butterworth, was there throughout the meeting. In addition, Ruth Annison said the Authority might be reported to the Secretary of State – see Halfway House, Hawes.
The split in the committee so evident at the December meeting was less apparent this time – but was clearly visible in the voting concerning the proposed new agricultural building at Throstle Nest Farm, Thornton Rust. There again the decision depended upon the chairman of the planning committee, Richmondshire District councillor Caroline Thornton-Berry, voting with seven others in line with the officer’s recommendation to refuse the application. Most of the elected representatives voted to approve it. But this time, at least, there was a more open debate compared to the meeting in December.
Two decisions were deferred so that site meetings could be held. The applications were for the redevelopment of the Angel Inn at Hetton and the conversion of the former Methodist church in Hawes to three apartments and two cottages for holiday let accommodation. In both cases the parish councils have strongly objected because of the likelihood of increased street car parking.
Conversion of barns and traditional buildings
After tensions ran high in December about barn conversions the planning committee found that even the most straight forward of applications were on the agenda at the February meeting.
When asked about this by Richmondshire District councillor Yvonne Peacock the Authority’s head of development management, Richard Graham, replied: “I am concerned that officers’ interpretation of policy is somewhat determined by members’ interpretation of policy. So, in the interests of consistency in decision making… it is for the best interests of the Authority that these are brought to the committee.”
All five of the applications for converting traditional roadside buildings were quickly approved: three from Wharfedale and two from Arkengarthdale – for the Old Butcher’s Shop at Langthwaite, and Neddy’s Barn, East of Eastfield on the Arkengarthdale Road.
Dan Gracey, the agent for the owner of the Old Butcher’s Shop, described it as an interesting little building in the centre of Langthwaite. The back of the building facing the beck is lower than the front and that will contain two bedrooms and a bathroom. The kitchen and living room will be in the upper floor which is level with the road at the front. Mr Gracey said the owner had worked closely with the planning officers to achieve an acceptable design.
The planning officer told the committee that the conversion would maintain the character and appearance of the building and would not harm its setting within the village.
North Yorkshire County councillor John Blackie welcomed both this application and that for Neddy’s Barn as Arkengarthdale so needed local occupancy housing.
Richard Coates read a statement by his son, Thomas, about why he wanted to convert Neddy’s Barn into a two-bedroom dwelling. Thomas recalled that when he attended Arkengarthdale School there were 34 pupils and now, he said, there were only three. He explained he had gone on to qualify as a joiner and had the skills to work on the conversion himself, making it affordable to him.
He said: “I would like the chance to preserve this building for the future while also providing a home for myself. This is my one chance to remain in the Dale.” He added that he would maintain the agricultural character of the barn and there would be minimal impact upon the landscape because no external alterations or extensions were needed.
Cllr Blackie commented: “Wasn’t it wonderful to hear somebody of the age of 21 prepared to stay in the Upper Dales for the rest of their life.”
Barden – The application to convert the former Wesleyan chapel at Barden to a local occupancy dwelling or holiday let and the provision of pedestrian access to the existing car parking area was very quickly approved. The planning officer reported that there would be four bedrooms and four bathrooms with the garden, including a hot tub, in the existing enclosed area outside.
Storiths – the Chatsworth Settlement Trustees had applied to convert Harry’s Barn at Storiths into a single bedroom dwelling for local occupancy or holiday let. This again had a small enclosed area outside sufficient to accommodate a hot tub. The planning officer pointed out that the piggery attached to the barn looked to be in poor structural condition but was still an undesignated heritage asset as was the rest of the barn.
Cllr Blackie asked how such buildings were defined as undesignated heritage assets. Mr Graham said this term had come into use about six years ago. “Many of these buildings are over 100 years old. With the materials and traditional construction methods they often have a history. They may look somewhat dilapidated but you can describe them as a heritage asset because of their contribution to the landscape.
Eden District councillor William Patterson then jokingly asked if all the heritage assets had asbestos roofs.
Thorpe – The application to convert Pogles Wood Barn into a two bedroom dwelling was the only one that was just for short term holiday lets. The planning officer recommended approval because, she said, there would be minimal alterations to this barn in Bolland Lane outside Thorpe and so its simple character and appearance would be retained.
It was agreed that a large roadside barn “in the wilderness” along Beggarmans Lane near Gayle can be converted and extended to create a “horse assisted learning” business.
The planning officer told the committee: “The applicant’s therapy is geared towards people who have experienced post traumatic stress disorder as well as people with stress and other mental health issues. As well as horse-assisted learning the applicant [Caroline Penman] would use the building as a base for Paleo eating, Craniosacral therapy and mindfulness. The location has been chosen by the applicant for its tranquility and wild nature which is considered to aid the therapy.”
The two-storey Dodds Hall Barn is around two miles south of Gayle and has a stone walled enclosure which will be used for car parking. The planning officer reported:
“What is proposed in this location is a very high intensity employment use requiring the erection of a large first floor extension to the building and the erection of stables, [two] shepherds huts and an outdoor interaction area in the surrounding land. The whole field would also be used for equestrian purposes.”
He added that the addition of a large extension, the fact that the barn was not adjacent to or within an existing settlement and that the business was not land-based, meant that the application was not in accordance with policy and so any approval would require a departure from the Local Plan.
Although it was reported that Ms Penman had run a similar, successful business in Cyprus the planning officer warned that there was a degree of risk should this venture fail once Dodds Hall Barn had been converted.
The senior listed building officer had reported: “The external stairs and floating FF extension with balcony and covered GF terrace underneath has a harmful impact on the heritage significance of the barn’s and Dales vernacular architecture in general, and would be visible from the road.”
The committee, however, accepted the planning officer’s argument that the proposal had been relatively well-designed to work with the site itself to minimise its landscape impact and impact on the building. He said: “Whilst the extension to the building is significant, it is relatively lightweight and would only provide internal living space to one floor with the ground floor forming a sheltered area [for horses].”
He added: “This is a relatively unique site and a unique proposal that would result in economic and social benefits in the locality and has support from the parish council.”
Hawes and High Abbotside Parish Council had told the committee: “It offers a completely new dimension to the all-important tourist sector in the Upper Dales – horse assisted learning. The site and the surrounding landscape entirely fits the description of a wilderness, although the town of Hawes is just seven minutes’ drive away.”
The planning committee approved the application for the conversion and extension of the barn to provide visitor accommodation and manager’s dwelling, a change of use of land for equestrian purposes, provision of all weather riding surface, car parking and erection of stable building.
Three representatives of the Askrigg Foundation charity had to wait several hours before the planning committee considered – and unanimously approved – an application to create three affordable dwellings for rent in perpetuity at the foundation’s buildings in Askrigg.
“It’s great isn’t it? So pleased with the decision and all the support we had. Now the hard work starts in earnest,” commented Betsy Everett.
This approval means that the charity can not only renovate the retail unit and relocate the office to the ground floor, but also convert the upper two storeys into residential flats and the rear building into a cottage. This is the third community-led housing scheme in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, the others being the three-home scheme completed in Hudswell last year, and a four-home scheme at Arkengarthdale for which planning permission has been granted.
Carlton in Coverdale
Cllr Peacock told committee members that they should go and see the high standard of workmanship Andrew Dent had carried out when converting the former Church of England School and Good Shepherd Church in Carlton in Coverdale before making a decision about some of the uPVC windows he had installed.
But the majority of the members refused his retrospective planning application as they agreed with the planning officer that by replacing the late 19th century windows at the front and the side of the building with uPVC ones he had harmed the character of what was described as an un-listed heritage asset.
Planning permission was given in 2011 to create an extension and two local needs dwellings side by side facing the highway. Mr Dent explained that he bought the building in 2013 and decided to have one dwelling in the front and one at the back so that he did not need to break through external and internal walls to create doors. He also installed uPVC windows rather than wooden ones which, he told the planning officer, would have cost about £50,000.
“The south facing windows did not have any frames. The glass was just set into the stone. It would be impossible to create the original look. New windows were, therefore, essential,” he said. He added that only by installing the uPVC windows could he meet the fire escape regulations. He described the uPVC frames as being a neutral, earthy colour rather than yellow.
Cllr Blackie told the meeting that the windows were installed four years ago but only came to the notice of the Authority when Mr Dent wanted to bring the planning permission in line with the latest policy which allows converted buildings to be used for short term holiday lets as well as local occupancy even though he plans that the dwellings will later be for two of his three sons.
Mr Dent not only offered to sign a legal agreement but also asked for the same planning condition as had been approved some years ago on the uPVC windows installed in a Grade II listed building in Carlton. This required any future reglazing to be agreed with the Authority.
The planning officer reported that the internal conversion of the building carried out by Mr Dent was considered acceptable in principle and there was no longer any need for an extension. It had been agreed he could retain the uPVC windows at the back. She maintained, however, that the windows to the front and side of the building could have been upgraded far more appropriately and showed members pictures of alternative solutions.
Mr Dent said about his work on the church and his former school: “It was so important to me to get the details correct and in keeping.”
A Wensleydale farmer was refused permission to construct a new agricultural building even though the committee was told by a parish council chairman that there was no chance of finding a site nearby that didn’t flood.
The planning officer stated that as the farmer,Nigel Thornborrow, did not want to reduce the size of the proposed building at Throstle Nest Farm on the A684 near Worton, he should locate it further away from the road.
Cllr John Dinsdale, chairman of Aysgarth and District Parish Council, Mr Thornborrow, Cllr Peacock, and Cllr Blackie, all tried to explain to the committee that the farmhouse and buildings were on a hill surrounded by fields that flood regularly, as does the road. Mr Thornborrow had applied to demolish two old farm buildings and replace them with one large one. This, Mr Thornborrow said, would house his farm machinery and also his livestock when a barn nearby flooded.
When shown a diagram of how much larger the building would be compared with those to be demolished many members agreed that it would be too close to the road and have a harmful impact upon the landscape.
North Yorkshire County councillor Richard Welsh commented: “I think it would stick out like a sore thumb”.
The parish council, however, had told the committee: “The current agricultural buildings [are] in an unattractive derelict and potentially dangerous state and need replacing urgently. The proposed replacement building is in line with the existing building and should cause no concern.
“The Council consider the proposed development to be a planning gain as it will improve the landscape visually and will assist with the development of a local family business.”
Halfway House, Hawes
The committee was told that four cars being parked on the former track bed at Halfway House near Hawes might prejudice the re-opening of the railway between that market town and Garsdale.
Ruth Annison, who convened the meeting at Hawes last summer to discuss the re-opening of that six miles of railway, told the committee: “Halfway House is one of the very few critical sites for railway reinstatement. The possibility of access and parking for four cars encroaching on the track way is a serious matter so that I have already given formal notice that, if necessary, we will report this application to the Secretary of State.”
A professional engineer, Tony Smare, said that it looked as if establishing a new train service on the former branch of the Settle-Carlisle railway was achievable, and asked if alternative parking at Halfway House could be investigated before the application was approved. Richmondshire District councillor Yvonne Peacock agreed with him.
The application was for full permission to convert the barn attached to Halfway House into a separate local occupancy dwelling. The planning officer said that as the Authority’s policy was to support the reinstatement of the railway line the application had been advertised as a Departure to the Local Plan for a period expiring on February 22.
He reported that the conversion of the barn would have a neutral impact upon the landscape and that a dry stone wall would be built to divide the present garden between the two dwellings.
He told the committee that although the existing car parking area on the former track bed would be increased to accommodate two more cars the track bed would remain unaltered and would be reversible should the railway be reinstated.
The head of development management, Richard Graham, reported that the owners of Halfway House also own the track bed there, using some as curtilage and some for parking. Neither he nor the Authority’s chief executive officer, David Butterworth, felt the issue was big enough to be considered by the Secretary of State.
Mr Butterworth commented: “In the 21 years that this Authority has been in existence I don’t think there has been a single application that a Secretary of State would even consider calling in. I don’t think this one will be either. So it’s up to members to make a decision.”
Cllr Blackie asked, however, that the representations made at the meeting should be carefully considered and if there any issues that couldn’t be resolved the application should be brought back to the committee.
The majority of the committee, however, accepted Mr Butterworth’s advice and voted in favour of the officer’s recommendation. This means that it is very likely that the application will be approved by officers on February 22.
An enforcement notice will be served on the owner of Bainbridge Ings Caravan Site at Hawes for the removal of camping pods which were described by Cllr Blackie as grey-painted abominations and by a planning officer as “wholly alien features within the landscape”.
The planning officer read the following letter from Hawes and High Abbotside Parish Council:
“Councillors were appalled at the ‘Pembroke’ pods that have been installed which look completely out of keeping on the site at Bainbridge Ings. The bright orange fencing around the stone chipping base adds to their unacceptable appearance.
“It was pointed out they have been installed close to Old Gayle Lane, along which many local people and visitors enjoy a circular walk on mainly flat ground, often with young children in push chairs, starting and finishing at either Hawes Town Centre or Gayle. At this time there are few leaves on the trees by the edge of the site so they are in full view.”
The parish council had objected to the loss of almost all the camping pitches on the site and pointed out that many regular visitors had said they could no longer afford to stay there. (A glamping pod on the site is advertised at £249 per week.)
At the planning meeting Cllr Blackie said that in the past the site had been covered with tents during the summer and that campers were the best supporters of the local economy.
He described how the parish council had been heavily involved in seeking modifications to a previous application by David Khan of The Lodge Company North.
The planning officer reported that the four Lune Valley pods included in that application had been considered acceptable due to their dark stained timber, curved shape and being arranged in an informal circle.
She said that the four Pembroke pods, however, were larger and have an unusual shape – “akin to a portacabin with a triangular insert bisecting the body and protruding above the flat roof. The structure is clad in a dark battleship grey material with orange wood panels. Each pod has a horizontally boarded timber enclosure around it and the pods are laid out in a line.
“The structures have an uncompromising and unsightly appearance, lacking any aesthetic or architectural merit,” she added.
Mr Khan told the committee that the Pembroke pods were lower in height than those originally planned and so would be easier to screen. He said that a comprehensive planting scheme had been agreed with the Authority. He had been assured by the supplier that the orange fences would weather to a cedar colour. He explained that he had invested heavily in the site and needed a variety of accommodation to attract people.
The committee, however, unanimously agreed with the planning officer that the Pembroke pods did harm the natural beauty and visual quality of the National Park landscape as they were highly visible and incongruous, and represented poor design. Mr Khan was given three months to comply with the enforcement notice to remove them along with the fences and the hard standings, and to reseed the affected area with grass.
Pip Pointon reports on the YDNPA meetings on a voluntary basis as part of the Association of Rural Communities objective to encourage democracy in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.