YDNPA – planning committee March 2019

An ARC News Service report on the meeting of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s (YDNPA) planning committee meeting on March 12 2019 when decisions were made concerning buildings in and near the following towns and villages: Askrigg, Fremington, Hawes, Barbon, Garsdale, Barbon, Killington, Austwick, Embsay, and Stainforth (hot tub) . It was agreed to hold a site meeting at Waitby in Smardale concerning proposed changes at the residential institution there.

The application for alterations at The Angel Inn at Hetton was approved, but the majority of members voted against giving approval for changes at the nearby Wine Bar which is also owned by Wellock Property Ltd. As that decision was against officer recommendation it was referred back to the April meeting. There will be full reports concerning both of those applications posted on this website following the planning committee meeting on April 9.

The decision concerning the conversion of Hawes Methodist Chapel was also referred back to the April meeting for the same reason, as was that for the rebuilding of a barn as a dwelling at Aikrigg near Killington in Cumbria.

Before the application regarding Hawes Methodist Chapel was discussed North Yorkshire County councillor John Blackie explained why he would speak and vote on that even though the agent for the applicants had made a complaint against him and stated that he should not be involved in the decision making. See the report below.

Pip Pointon reports on the YDNPA meetings on a voluntary basis as part of the Association of Rural Communities commitment to local democracy in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

Askrigg

A large field barn at Long Shaw near Bainbridge may be beautiful and large enough for a family home but converting it would be against policy the planning committee decided by an eight to seven vote.

Edward Scarr told the meeting that it would make a suitable family home given its location on the family farm. “It would be ideal for my work. We have four young children under the age of six and want to convert the barn into a family home.”

He said that he and his wife, Gwen, had always lived and worked in Wensleydale and converting the barn would enable them to raise their family on the farm. Mrs Scarr attended the meeting with their daughter Faye who was born in late February.

They heard several committee members speak in support of the planning officer who had stated that the YDNPA’s policy required that to be suitable for conversion a barn had to be in an existing settlement or building group, or be close to or adjoining a road.

He reported that the barn at Long Shaw was 110 metres from a road and would require a long track to be created and a significant length of walling to be moved to provide access to a road.

He added: “Although the proposed works to the barn are relatively well designed, it is in a very prominent and exposed position in the landscape. Its conversion to a permanently occupied dwelling would have a negative effect on the landscape that arises from the replacement of a simple, unadorned traditional farm building with a dwelling that has car parking, lighting, curtilage development, new access road and significant alterations to the existing roadside walls and the character of the road itself.”

Julie Martin agreed that this would be an intensive use of the barn which would have an impact upon the landscape. “It has been demonstrated there is a need but not at that location. The applicant has been asked to explore an alternative option,” she said.

Mr and Mrs Scarr had been told that, as it was accepted there wasn’t sufficient housing at the farm for the required number of agricultural workers, it was possible that an application for a new build dwelling at Yorescott Steading , where the ewes were lambed, would be acceptable. To this North Yorkshire County councillor John Blackie remarked that a new build might have more impact upon the landscape than a sympathetically converted barn.

Another North Yorkshire County councillor, Richard Welch, pointed out that many farmhouses were far from a road. “In ten years time you wouldn’t know it was a barn conversion,” he said.

Eden District councillor William Patterson agreed and asked if the YDNPA was going to pay for the upkeep of such buildings in the future – or would the owners be expected to keep them up as a national asset? He and others were concerned that if it was no longer needed for agricultural purposes and was not converted into the dwelling it would fall into disrepair and disappear.

“Is it true that we would rather see a non-designated heritage asset [disappear] when there is a family who wish to make use of it?” asked Lancashire County councillor Cosima Towneley. “I can not think of a better way of using an agricultural heritage that will otherwise go to waste,” she added.

Fremington

The committee unanimously approved the application by Mr and Mrs Peter Catchpole to convert Little Barn at High Fremington in Swaledale into a one-bedroom local occupancy dwelling.

Mrs Catchpole explained that they were living in rented accommodation and wanted a Dales home of their own.

Several residents had, however, objected and they were represented by Chris Whittaker. He disagreed with the planning officer that there was sufficient visibility splay from the proposed access as it was near to a blind bend and crossroads. Nor was it always a quiet road for, he said, during a cycling event 4,000 riders had raced up it.

He did not accept that the proposed extension was not significant as it would increase the size of the barn by 42 per cent and added that the amenity of those living in the house close to the barn would be affected.

The planning officer reported that the neighbouring house was 3.9m away on the other side of the narrow road. The plans had been amended so that the windows overlooking that house were smaller and glazed, he said.

He stated: “It is recognised that the proposal would introduce a degree of domestication into a site that currently exhibits a largely agricultural and undeveloped character. However, the proposal is relatively small in scale and, further to amendments to the scheme, is not considered to adversely affect the immediate setting of the barn. It should be noted that the wider landscape impact of the proposal is negligible given the lack of public views from longer distances.”

He also believed that the package treatment plant would not affect the two properties to the south of the barn.

The conditions include creating a photographic record of the barn before conversion and a written scheme of investigation regarding excavation and archaeology as the external work would be close to Fremington Dyke. This was one of the linear dykes in Swaledale which formed part of the boundary of an early, post-Roman, British political area or kingdom (Out of Oblivion).

Hawes

There was applause when the majority of the committee voted to refuse an application to convert the Methodist Chapel and Sunday School into five holiday lets. This, however, was contrary to the planning officer’s recommendation and so has been referred back to the meeting in April.

The planning officer stated: “The willingness of the parish council to set aside the problematic elements of this proposal illustrates the dilemma at the heart of this application. The buildings are part of the town’s heritage and as such are worthy of retention and a viable economic use that would ensure their future. However, it is difficult to envisage a new use that will not have the same parking and access problems as this proposal.”

Hawes and High Abbotside Parish councillor Sheila Alderson told the meeting: “There is absolutely no parking outside the chapel.” Both she and Jack Sutton, who lives near the chapel, said that the small area of parking at Town Foot, opposite the doctors’ surgery, was used by residents who had nowhere else to park their vehicles. When that space became full vehicles were parked on the pavement.

“You take your life in your hands when you try to access Hawes,” commented Mr Sutton.

The meeting was informed that the developers, Matthew and Sally  Faulkes with Ian Morton and Heritage Apartments Ltd,  had proposed that five annual parking permits at the Dales Countryside Museum (DCM) car park could be purchased for those staying at the holiday lets.

The agent, Rachel Ford, explained that the conversion of the building would cost over £500,000 so local occupancy was not viable. The application was, she said, compliant with the Authority’s policy and the provision of more  holiday lets would bring more visitors to Hawes and so be good for  local businesses. She maintained that the holiday lets would not have an impact upon residents and  that there would be a reduction in traffic compared with when the building was used as a church.

Cllr John Blackie disagreed stating that it had mainly been used on Sundays and many people had walked to it. Both he and Mr Sutton questioned that those using the holiday lets would want to walk 300m with luggage from the DCM car park especially when it was raining.

Cllr Alderson said the parish council was very concerned about Chapel Lane, which it described as an important access road for local residents, being blocked when people were unloading or loading luggage at the proposed  holiday lets. The parish council could not understand why the Highway Authority had not objected to the application.

The planning officer explained that according to the National Planning Policy Framework a development should only be prevented or refused on highways grounds if there would be an unacceptable impact on highway safety, or the residual cumulative impacts on the road network would be severe. He added: “The Highway Authority has no objections but requires a Construction Management Plan to be provided to include parking for operatives, the loading, unloading and storage of plant and materials.”

He said that the developers had shown that the building was no longer needed by the community and could be sensitively converted.

North Yorkshire County councillor Richard Welch commented: “I couldn’t think of a more insensitive conversion for the local residents and  how it will affect their  lives. We are creating a nightmare for local residents.”

Another North Yorkshire County councillor, Robert Heseltine, compared the development with trying to pour a pint into a quart pot.  And Allen Kirkbride added: “A large use [of this building] with lots of holiday cottages is going to make life in Hawes quite unbearable at times.”

The parish council had pointed out that the government through its Homes England Agency was now actively promoting community-led developments  of affordable housing with very substantial grants. This made an affordable housing scheme  for the Methodist chapel far more viable. “We would be prepared to accept some of the drawbacks if we saw clear benefits for the community,” Cllr Alderson said.

Cllr Blackie told the meeting: “The parish council has no doubt that no change is not an option but it questioned what is proposed is the best use. The word that comes to mind is over-development. Simply – there is no room for what is proposed. Something on a lesser scale would have been more acceptable.

“But they want to squeeze every square inch out of the former Methodist chapel. The trouble is with doing that – they will spill over their requirements to compromise the amenity of local residents who live in that very densely constrained area just near Town Foot. There are 14 houses – some are holiday lets and some are used by local residents. They have a right to enjoy their amenity.  Something less ambitious, something less profit-making would actually be more acceptable.”

Before the application was discussed by the committee Cllr Blackie said there had been a complaint from the applicants concerning whether or not he should be involved in speaking or voting. “There is a clear threat that if I do, the applicants may well wish to take legal action against the Authority. I want to say that I have never ever in 21 years of sitting on this planning committee – or at Richmondshire District Council –  had a complaint made in this way.

“I have never been accused of bias in the way that the applicant has accused me of bias. The bias comes from the fact that I had and I still run holiday cottages.”

He said he had taken legal advice many times and been told that he could take part in deciding holiday cottage applications so long as he had no financial interest. He explained that he had made it clear that he had expressed a preliminary view on the application in writing and verbally previous to the meeting, but had come to the meeting with an open mind as he was legally obliged to do.

“This seems to be an attempt to fix the jury but I have done absolutely nothing wrong. Threatening both me and the National Park is undermining the planning process.”

When she addressed the committee Ms Ford stated concerning that complaint that it had never been their intention not to have Cllr Blackie involved or to speak but to make the Authority aware  of some issues.

Ms Ford, who is the head of planning for the Leeds-based agents Bowcliffe, had written to the Authority previous to the meeting  that Cllr Blackie was biased against the application because he ran a holiday cottage company in the Dales. She had also complained about his behaviour at a site visit where, she said, he broke the code of conduct by using that as an opportunity to lobby against the plans.

She stated: “If Councillor Blackie proceeds to vote on the application …., to vote against the proposal and if his vote turns out to be decisive, then my clients will have no option but to explore potential legal claims against the council. I strongly suggest that Councillor Blackie plays no further role in the decision making process for my client’s application.”

Barbon

“This is  our first conflict with the Yorkshire Dales National Park,” Cllr Robert Groves, the chairman of Barbon Parish  Council told the meeting. Barbon in Cumbria became part of the National Park in August 2016.

The parish council had objected to an outline application for a single storey dwelling on some land in Moorthwaite Lane, Barbon.

Cllr Groves explained that the site had serious drainage problems and  added  that previously the refusal of planning permission for any residential development there had been upheld at appeal because any building would fill in one of the open spaces in the village which were an important part of the character and appearance of Barbon.

The planning officer explained that as Barbon was in one of the new areas of the National Park  the application had to be considered in accordance with the South Lakeland District Council’s Core Strategy. He said this had changed since the last application regarding that site and the new policy allowed for “infilling” development between residential properties.

He told the meeting that the applicant’s plans included flood alleviation measures,  and that the low profile of a bungalow would not be harmful to the distinctive characteristics of Barbon.

Lancashire County councillor Cosima Towneley said she hoped the Authority would be quite strict about the design when that was submitted for approval.

She abstained from voting but all the rest of the members voted to approve the application.

Killington

When an 18th century barn at Aikrigg partially collapsed during a severe storm the owners were heartbroken, Ian Dawson, the chairman of Killington Parish Meeting told the planning committee.

He explained that the owners had been given permission to convert the barn into a home for themselves and a base for their business. “We would welcome this new couple,” he said.

They had applied for permission to reconstruct the partially collapsed barn to form a dwelling but the planning officer pointed out that this would now amount to a new open market home which did not comply with the South Lakeland Core Strategy.

South Lakeside District Council had given permission in 2014 for the two other barns on either side of that which collapsed to be converted into open market dwellings. They are in a remote location near Killington.

Ian McPherson argued that the impact of the barn on that group of buildings, the beneficial impact on the visual quality of the surrounding landscape, the reason why it collapsed and that South Lakeland District Council has approved similar applications were valid material considerations for approving the application even if it was not in accordance with policy.

Cllr Towneley agreed and added that there would be considerable loss in the archaeological heritage of the hamlet if the barn was not reconstructed.

Twelve out of 15 of the members voted to approve the application. As this was against the officer’s recommendation it was referred back to the April meeting.

Embsay

Permission was granted for four bedroom dormer bungalow for  local occupancy to be built in Millholme Rise, Embsay.

Cllr Vince Smith attended the meeting on behalf of Embsay with Eastby Parish Council which had objected to the application. He explained that the parish council believed the height of the proposed building would set a precedent for higher builds in that area.

The parish council also wanted an area of hard standing to be created on the site before construction began so that vehicles were not parked on the road especially as it was close to a junction and a bend. But the planning officer said it was not possible to do that as any hard standing would hamper the developer’s ability to construct the building.

She told the meeting that the applicant, who lives next door to the site, had asked for a  higher ridge height so as to have space for two bedrooms in the roof space. She said the overall ridge height would be the same as for the original approved scheme with a negligible difference in the height of the eaves.

Stainforth

Residents asked the committee to refuse an application for a hot tub in the garden of a holiday cottage beside Stainforth’s 18th century Grade II listed bridge because the noise made by those using it detracted from the enjoyment of the natural environment and tranquillity of the area.

Cllr Richard Welch supported them and stated: “This should be refused as it is beside a historic bridge and a footpath and so did affect the quality of life and the tranquillity of the village.”

But the majority of the other members accepted the planning officer’s argument that there would not be a detrimental impact on the visual amenity of the area, nor would the heritage significance of the bridge be affected. One of the conditions, however, is that it should only be in use between 9am and 9.30pm.

The application by the owner of Bridge End holiday cottage for the replacement of two existing sheds and the siting of an electric hot tub was, therefore, approved.

Frank Underwood, on behalf of Stainforth Parish Meeting, explained that the electric hot tub would replace one which was heated by a  wood burner.  On occasions those using that hot tub had created a lot of noise he said. He added that the National Park was also responsible for the social and well being of residents.

“How a hot tub is fostering the social and well being of the local community escapes me,” he commented.

A resident, Viv Mills, told the committee that 19 residents – almost one fifth of the community – had sent in letters of objection and added: “It is clear from the number of objections that it doesn’t fit in with the historic nature of the area.”

She said that Bridge End was unique in the village because it was the only holiday cottage causing problems and the daily time limit on the hot tub would not solve these as it could be in use all day.

The owner, Lianne Butler, said a higher fence would be installed to screen the garden. The hot tub was, she added, near the pub’s beer garden, brought in business for the pub, and attracted families to stay at Bridge End.

Garsdale

Permission for an outbuilding beside Rose Cottage in Garsdale to be converted into one-bedroom short term holiday accommodation was granted very quickly as the application was not considered by the committee until after 6pm. (The meeting began at 1pm.) The planning officer quickly explained that it was a 19th century former garage alongside Rose Cottage within a roadside group of stone build cottages on the A684.

He said that the proposal represented a reasonably sensitive conversion and would not have a detrimental impact upon the landscape, residential amenity or highway safety.

Austwick

Permission was granted almost as quickly for the conversion of a detached stone building at Fleet House in Wharfe, near Austwick, into a one-bedroom dwelling either for holiday let or local occupancy.

Austwick Parish Council supported the conversion because it would reinstate some traditional features and secure the future of the redundant small barn by creating a viable use.

It did, however, ask that there should be conditions regarding external lighting and for the removal of all permitted development rights. These were included by the planning officer.

Cllr Towneley asked about parking especially as the parish council had requested that there should be clear, workable, enforceable and permanent provision for at least one car parking space. Richard Graham, the head of development management, said that the Authority could not regulate that.

The planning officer had told the meeting that the barn was adjacent to a non-metalled road within the hamlet of Wharfe and the design of the proposed conversion was considered to be high quality.

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