An ARC News Service report on the meeting of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s (YDNPA) planning committee on May 14 2019 when decisions were made concerning: a temporary site for Gypsies and Travellers at Sedbergh; barn conversions at Sedbergh and in Garsdale; alterations to Yarnbury House near Grassington; a cabin on a small holding in Gaisgill; and an unauthorised dwelling house in Langcliffe.
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.
North Yorkshire County councillor Richard Welch thanked Caroline Thornton-Berry for chairing the committee and the other members applauded her. She has now stepped down from being a Richmondshire District councillor and so will no longer be one of its representatives on the Authority.
Sedbergh – Gypsy and Travellers’ site
The 21-day site for Gypsies and Travellers at Scrogg Bank Field, Cautley Road, Sedbergh, has been a complete “godsend” Sedbergh Parish councillor Ian McPherson told the committee.
Cllr McPherson, who has been a member of the Travelling and Settled Community Respect Group for ten years, proposed that only a five-year temporary permission should be granted for the site and this was unanimously approved. The application was for permanent permission which Sedbergh Parish Council objected to because, it said, this would enshrine the use of the site by Gypsies and Travellers for the long-term.
The provision of the site covers the period when Gypsies and Travellers are going to and returning from the Appleby Fair. Cllr McPherson told the committee: “This field over the last five years has been a complete godsend.
“It means that instead of Travellers being here, there and everywhere and putting their horses to graze on the school playing fields and using ditches [as latrines] has largely ceased. Without this field it is felt that matters would return to the bad old days.”
The committee was told that when in use the site for no more than 100 caravans at one time will be supervised at least twice a day by South Lakeland District Council (SLDC) officers and the Police. An enclosed skip and bin bags will be provided and the SLDC will clear away litter and waste afterwards. Portable toilets will be provided.
John Bucknall, a trustee of Pendragon Estates which owns the two farms adjoining the site, told the committee: “The Gypsies have their own codes of cleanliness. Some, in preference to using the sanitary facilities provided on site, use the hedgerows, adjacent fields and our farm entrance as latrines.”
He recounted how last year one of the tenant farmers found teenagers had driven a ewe into a gill and appeared to be attempting to steal two lambs. Some horses had also been put to graze on a farmer’s field. “Grass is gold. These are our best meadows,” Mr Bucknall said.
“We live in a state of virtual siege in the house and on the farm while the Gypsies are encamped. We cannot leave house or farm unmanned at any time and we feel at constant risk of intimidation and trespass. Our tenants are in constant fear of stock being injured or stolen,” he added.
He understood the need to provide such a site and appreciated the achievements of the public meetings. He said he had been able to discuss their difficulties with Billy Welch, the Gypsy leader [Shera Rom] at one of those meetings.
“As the conditions of the fair constantly change, I support the five-year temporary permission,” he said.
Richmondshire District councillor Yvonne Peacock commented that Sedbergh was fortunate to have such a site. She explained that Bainbridge village green was now a managed site for the Gypsies and Travellers over the period of the Appleby Fair when there was no charge to use the public toilets. Residents did often feel intimidated she said and found it difficult when generators were being run until midnight.
Eden District councillor Ian Mitchell did not take part in the discussion and did not vote as he is a member of the Appleby Fair Multi-Agency Coordinating Group. This year Appleby Fair begins on Thursday June 6 and ends on Wednesday June 12.
Unanimous approval was given for the conversion of a barn in Joss Lane, Sedbergh, into two dwellings for either holiday lets or local occupancy even though a degree of rebuilding may be necessary.
A planning officer told the committee that some of the single storey walls and the upper part of a gable wall were unstable. “The majority of the walling and the most important features of the barn would be retained. The degree of rebuilding is therefore justified on heritage grounds,” he said.
But David Parratt, on behalf of his mother-in-law who lives in The Old House adjacent to the barn, stated: “We consider that the building appears unsafe and would require rebuilding.” He added that major intervention would probably be required.
Sedbergh Parish Council had initially objected to the application because, it stated, the barns exhibited apparent defects, including leaning walls, displaced masonry, open joints and cracked lintels. After seeing amended plans it no longer had any objections.
Mr Parratt was also concerned about the impact upon the amenity of those living in The Old House especially if the new dwellings became holiday lets, and that a package sewage plant had not been included in the plans. The committee agreed that the latter should be included.
The agent for the applicant, Ian Swain, said that The Old House would not be overlooked by the new dwellings as the barn was at an angle to it.
Ian McPherson, who is a Sedbergh parish councillor, commented that he regularly walked past The Old House and the barn. “The barn has been crying out for renovation for a long time. In my view it would make an excellent holiday let or local occupancy dwelling.”
Despite a plea from a farmer for more time the committee refused planning permission for a wooden cabin at Gaisgill to continue to be used as a temporary dwelling for a further three years.
Neil Plant of Rayne Holdings said that the smallholding at 3 Rayne Cottage, Gaisgill, was being developed and the wooden cabin was still needed. “Just give us a chance. Three years is going to make a difference,” he said.
Eden District councillor William Patterson supported him and stated: “I can’t see the problem with giving the chap a chance to build up a small holding.” And North Yorkshire County councillor John Blackie added that many Dales farmers had started their farms that way.
But the head of development management, Richard Graham, reminded the committee that in December 2017 it had approved enforcement action to be taken for the removal of the cabin as the three-year temporary permission given in 2013 had expired.
A planning officer had told the committee that when Mr Plant had requested pre-planning advice in October 2018 he had been told that he had not shown there was a functional need for a full-time worker to live at the site and that the business could just as well be run from one of the nearby converted barns owned by Rayne Holdings. The officer added that the current and previous owners had had two and a half years to remove the cabin from the site.
Authority Member Julie Martin commented: “We don’t have any clear evidence that this is needed for a agricultural worker and we don’t have evidence at this present time that this is a viable business. We do have evidence that there is alternative accommodation. I think we have to follow through otherwise we undermine our own decision [in December 2017].”
Eden District Council granted permission in May 2019 for the change of use of one of the two barns from a holiday cottage to an unrestricted residential dwelling.
The committee voted by ten votes to seven to refuse the application.
Cllrs Blackie and Peacock questioned the length of track required to provide a barn conversion in Garsdale with safe access to the A684 at Aye Gill Farm.
They compared the length required (about 160m) with that proposed for a barn conversion at Long Shaw near Bainbridge which was refused in March this year. The track for that would have been 110m long.
The head of development management, Richard Graham, emphasised that the barn near The Hill in Garsdale was a roadside barn in accordance with the Authority’s policy. That at Long Shaw was not a roadside barn and a length of walling would needed to be moved back from the road to provide sufficient visibility at the access, he said.
The planning officer reported that there would be no loss of walling at the access onto the A684 at Aye Gill Farm
Remarking on the photographs shown of the proposed track to the barn in Garsdale, Cllr Peacock said: “This looks to me like a farm track.” She noted that drivers in some small cars would have difficulty negotiating it and that the officer had not included any recommendation about improving it.
The planning officer described the building in Garsdale as being a substantial early 19th century bank barn standing beside the A684 some 7k to the east of Sedbergh. “It stands in an isolated and locally prominent position on top of a bluff. The barn structure is basically sound and no rebuilding of walls is necessary,” he said.
The owner has agreed to demolish the additions to the barn which were added in the 20th century.
The committee unanimously approved the application to convert the two-storey stone barn into a three bedroom dwelling for local occupancy or short term holiday letting.
The committee very quickly approved a planning application for alterations to Yarnbury House in Moor Lane, Grassington, even though the parish council had asked the Authority to investigate the true intentions of the applicant.
The committee heard that Grassington Parish Council strongly suspected that this was an attempt to change the use of the property to another shooting lodge without having to make a formal application for change of use – something it would oppose.
The parish council said that the application gave the appearance of wanting to enhance and increase the living accommodation and added: “How can this be done when the bedrooms will be reduced from four to three, but more features such as a boot room and a drying room are added, together with the conversion of the double garage?”
The application included altering the outbuildings and garage to become ancillary living space to Yarnbury House.
The planning officer reported that there had been lengthy discussions with the applicant and that the proposed scheme had been significantly amended so as not to cause substantial harm to the listed building.
She added: “Neighbours have raised the issue that the house may become a shooting lodge or used for some kind of shooting enterprise and that the applicant is a sporting company not a private resident. The agent has confirmed that the site will be used as a private domestic dwelling.”
The agent, Maria Ferguson, emphasised this at the meeting. She said that her client had bought Yarnbury House so that he and his family and friends could enjoy the countryside and sporting activities.
There were gasps when an enforcement officer showed the committee a photograph of the fully fitted modern kitchen inside “The Old Dairy” beside Cowside Barn at Langcliffe.
She said that when she visited the building in June 2017 she was told it was mainly being used as a kennel facility even though there were some kitchen units, a sink, a cooker, a bed and a sleeping bag alongside the designated area for dogs. She was told that the only time it was occupied was when additional care was needed for the dogs and new litters.
When she went there in November 2018, however, she found that the building had been converted into a three -bedroom dwelling house. Two of the bedrooms are en-suite and there is a bathroom and living area. All the windows and doors had been replaced with uPVC double glazed units. Outside there are hanging baskets, decking, a BBQ, washing line and garden furniture.
The enforcement officer showed photographs of how the interior of the cabin looked in 2017 – and then those taken in November 2018 which so surprised the committee members, especially the black and white kitchen with large extractor fan.
She reported that the owner intended to apply for a Lawful Development Certificate to prove the lawful use of “The Old Dairy” as a dwelling house from March 2013 to December 2018.
She stated: “Despite the owner’s assurances that the outbuilding has been occupied as a self-contained dwelling house since March 2013, no supporting evidence to prove the lawful use of the building has been forthcoming. The fact that there was a bed and basic kitchen facilities within the building does not demonstrate that the building has been occupied as a self-contained unit of accommodation .
“At the time of visiting in 2017, the building did not appear to be in use as habitable living accommodation. It appears that, prior to the works being carried out to convert the building in late 2017, it was used as an ancillary out building and as kennelling facilities in connection with Cowside Barn.”
The enforcement officer added that a smaller building had been constructed without planning permission next to “The Old Dairy”. She said that when she visited in April 2019 there were seven dogs and three litters (24 puppies) in that building.
Richmondshire District councillor Yvonne Peacock commented: “So many people in the Yorkshire Dales never do anything without asking for planning [advice or] permission. To me it is only right that we respect that.”
For that reason, she said, the Authority should take enforcement action when something had been done without planning permission.
The committee agreed that the Authority’s solicitor should serve an Enforcement Notice to secure the cessation of the use of “The Old Dairy” as a dwelling house; the removal of internal fixtures and fittings including the kitchen units and appliances; and the removal of the decking and fence.
The original recommendation was for a three-month compliance period but the committee agreed this should be extended to six months to provide time for those living there to find alternative accommodation.