An ARC News Service report on the meeting of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority ‘s (YDNPA) planning committee on August 13 2019. Items on the agenda were: 6 Finkle Street and a potting shed at Greenbank in Sedbergh; alterations to a home in Langcliffe; alterations to a planning permission for a new house in Maulds Maeburn; the division of a house at Threshfield; the colour of a mast at Mallerstang; facilities at a campsite at Ingleton; conversion of a barn at West End, Lunds, and a workshop at Low Abbotside; and the conversion of buildings at Snaizeholme.
The discussion about 6 Finkle Street (see below) was described as a battle between common sense and the rules. For the result see the report on the YDNPA planning committee meeting in September.
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.
At the beginning of the meeting the chairman, Julie Martin, asked everyone to stand for a minute’s silence in memory of John Blackie. She said: “He has made an enormous contribution to this committee over the years and an enormous contribution to his own community.”
At the end of the meeting Allen Kirkbride (parish council representative for Wensleydale and Swaledale) asked about the situation at Yore Mill, Aysgarth because, he said, it was a mess. Richard Graham, the head of development management, replied: “We have had proposals to convert the building but the problem with [it] has been the lack of car parking. The applicants have been in negotiation with a landowner for additional car parking.” He hoped an application would be made which could be brought to the committee.
Sedbergh – Finkle Street
The only time members disagreed with an officer’s recommendation at the meeting concerned the application for change of use of the two upper floors the premises at 6 Finkle Street, Sedbergh, to a two bedroom flat with a new external door to provide access to the ground floor of the flat, plus change of use of the remaining ground floor and the basement from retail and storage to A1 retail.
The majority of the members decided that turning the upper floors back to residential use did not constitute “new build” and so the owner should not have to sign a local occupancy legal agreement as requested by the planning officer.
Cllr Kirkbride said that, in this instance, the Authority’s Local Plan was wrong and several agreed with him that the economic well-being of Sedbergh had to be considered.
The planning officer, Mr Graham and the Authority’s legal officer, however, all argued that changing the use of part of the first floor from commercial to residential meant that the two-storey flat did now require a local occupancy restriction in accordance with Local Plan policy.
Planning permission was granted in September 2016 for part of the first floor to be used as a café and the rear courtyard to be an al fresco dining area.
Jacky Baines told the committee that she had created a café in part of the first floor with the hope that it would attract more business to her ground floor shop. But the business had still became unviable and the ground floor is now rented to someone running a flower and gift shop.
She said that as she had bought the building in 2014 as an open market property (shop and flat) she would now make a considerable loss if she signed a local occupancy S106 legal agreement for the flat.
The planning officer reported that the proposed re-instatement of a separate ground-floor entrance to the flat was acceptable but he had recommended refusal of the application because Ms Baines had declined to sign a local occupancy legal agreement.
Simon Arnold, chairman of Sedbergh Parish Council’s planning committee, told the committee: “[The flat’s] use as a café was a tiny snapshot in the building’s life. It involved no structural change and only occupied part of the first floor and added: “When we heard that an S106 was being insisted upon we felt this was being unnecessarily incorrectly applied. “
It would, he said, deter new business activity in the town and so increase the risk of ground floor commercial properties being left empty. “We as a parish are keen to preserve Finkle Street. It sits in the traditional centre of our town. Anything that provokes empty properties [works] against the viability of the other businesses and creates a damaging first impression for people visiting the town. We feel that Sedbergh needs a mixture of housing. Small properties like this provide a valuable foothold on the open market.”
Sedbergh Parish councillor Ian McPherson, who is a parish council member of the Authority, said he had asked for the late submission from Mrs Baines’s agent to be circulated. He told the committee he had not participated in any discussion about the application beforehand.
The agent, Barbara Hartley of Garsdale Design Ltd, stated that when they were first advised by telephone by the planning officer that a local occupancy legal agreement was required for the flat they had asked that the parish council should be informed. This request was refused and so Garsdale Design had done so.
She quoted the Local Plan policy which stated: “that new housing within settlement boundaries on sites of up to five dwellings will be restricted to local occupancy.” She said: “The flat at 6 Finkle Street is not new. The top two floors have been used as residential for the major part of the building’s life. We do not think that the intent of [the] policy was ever to re-designate the occupancy of existing dwellings when, for a relatively short period in their lives, they have been used for an expansion of a ground floor business.
She continued: “A negative planning decision on this application will have major implications for Sedbergh. It will set an undesirable precedent for the business community. There will be a reluctance to expand any business knowing that if that expansion fails and they wish to reinstate the residential use this will have huge financial repercussions for them. It has much wider implications for Sedbergh and its effort at attracting new business to the town.
“One of the main remits of the Authority is to support sustainable communities. We agree that housing type and occupancy is one of the remits. But in the service towns such as Sedbergh the economy and the viability of business has equal importance.”
This point was picked up by several members of the committee and led to Lancashire County councillor Cosima Towneley‘s proposal to approve the application without a legal agreement as there were, she said, material considerations. These were that the flat had been designated as residential not long ago and that a legal agreement would restrict local economic growth and create commercial disbenefits.
Neither the legal officer, Claire Bevan, nor Mr Graham were convinced. And the chairman, Julie Martin, commented: “We need to be clear on the reasons.”
Cllr McPherson stated: “I am normally a sticker for absolutely sticking to policy, but I am not certain that this is new housing as required by [policy]. There was certainly a new use but there has been a very rapid… request to revert back to the original use. I am not really convinced, and I don’t think others are convinced either, that this is the kind of new housing that was envisaged when this policy was made.”
He added that to apply the policy would create a situation that would seem quite ridiculous to third parties. It could be interpreted, he said, as being against local people who find themselves in a situation where they could suffer financial loss.
Cllr Kirkbride said: “We should be there helping communities. I am a great believer in local housing but the policy we have is totally wrong. We need to do something when the time comes [to preparing the new Local Plan] to alter this.”
North Yorks County councillor David Ireton also queried the policy as he, like several other members, felt this was clearly an example of a shop with accommodation above it.
Jim Munday, however, argued that anyone who bought the property and ran the shop on the ground floor would qualify for local occupancy. And Mr Graham commented that the policy was part of the Local Plan which was only adopted in 2016. “It is not the purpose of this committee to make up policy on the hoof. We are taking the first steps to create a new Local Plan but this is the policy at the moment.”
He added that the policy was part of the Local Plan which was only adopted in 2016. “It is not the purpose of this committee to make up policy on the hoof. We are taking the first steps to create a new Local Plan but this is the policy at the moment.”
To this Cllr Towneley said: “Officers recommend but it is this committee to decide and we can do that in any way shape or form that we wish.”
Ms Bevan countered this with: “But [members] still have to decide in accordance with what the law says, which is in accordance with the Local Plan unless they identify material considerations.”
Eight members voted to approve the application without a legal agreement. The four who voted against this included the chairman.
Mr Graham said that as this was against officer recommendation the decision would be referred back to the September meeting.
Sedbergh – Greenbank
The conversion of a potting shed into holiday letting accommodation was described by the chairman, Mrs Martin, as a novel application.
Cllr McPherson pointed out that this would be invisible to the public but set within the beautiful gardens at Greenbank. He described the latter as an interesting house with extensive gardens which were open to the public several times a year.
The application for one-bedroom accommodation and including a small extension was unanimously approved by the committee.
Langcliffe Parish Council disagreed with the Authority’s planning department about how contemporary design can be introduced to traditional buildings.
It objected to the application to the plans for re-instating a cart entrance with timber and glass at The Barn in Low Fold, Langcliffe, because, it said, “glazing on the front elevation would introduce a negative modern feature to the traditional neighbouring building design, and would impose a visual impact on the historic village.”
The planning officer, however, quoted the Authority’s Design Guide which states: “alterations to dwellings present an excellent opportunity to introduce contemporary designs and materials even on traditional buildings.”
The applicant, Kevin van Green, said he and his wife had carefully studied the Design Guide, employed an architect with decades of experience of traditional stone properties, and liaised with the planning officer when working on a high quality design which reflected the setting of the village. They plan to use it as their family home.
The planning officer noted that the proposed design would mean that previous unsympathetic alterations which had affected the barn’s original agricultural character and appearance would be removed including replacing a flat roof on a single storey extension at the rear with a more traditional catslide roof.
Mr van Green said that the proposed alterations would reduce the amount of glazing by 20 per cent. In addition, it had been agreed, following the parish council’s objection, to reduce the amount of glazing on the cart entrance.
He told the committee: “We believe that the barn presents an opportunity to show how contemporary design can fit comfortably into the surroundings. Our design will greatly improve the functionality of the interior spaces allowing light in. It is in keeping with the area given that glazed cart entrances are not a new concept to the Yorkshire Dales National Park.”
With just one abstention the members voted to approve the application. This included the demolition of the existing porch and chimney; installation of metal balustrade to balcony and four new rooflights and a flue to the roof; and the replacement of windows, doors, guttering and downpipes.
It was unanimously agreed that a causeway will not have to be constructed to the rear of a new house beside the River Lyvennet at Maulds Maeburn.
This had been one of the conditions included when Eden District Council approved the plans in July 2016 for the construction of a house in the garden of 1 Stepping Stones. The objective was to provide a safe escape route if there was serious flooding.
The site is within the Environment Agency’s flood zones two and three and the original application required the provision of a Flood Risk Assessment. It was for that assessment that the causeway was included – but it would have been over the village green and Crosby Ravensworth Parish Council would not give permission for it.
Mike Archer told the committee that after he applied to have the condition removed there were 15 letters of objection. These included the request that the application for the house should be reconsidered now that Maulds Maeburn was within the Yorkshire Dales National Park; that no new houses should be built in flood areas; and that the proposed house would harm the character of the village and the Conservation Area and create parking and access difficulties.
Mr Archer said that many of the objections had been made as a result of an anonymous email being widely circulated. That email, he said, had shown an image which misrepresented the design of the house. He added that the house would fit in with traditional buildings in the village and would be built in accordance with the requirements of the Flood Risk Assessment.
The planning officer reported that Authority could only agree to lift a condition but not revoke the approval given by Eden District Council.
An application to sub-divide Sunnybank at Threshfield into two dwellings was unanimously approved.
Threshfield Parish Council had informed the committee that it did not support the application because, when approval was given for the single-storey extension in 2009, it was meant to be maintained as a single dwelling with single ownership. It was also concerned about the access from the B6265.
The application was for creating a home for the disabled applicant in that extension. He has agreed to sign a local occupancy legal agreement.
The planning officer stated: “The proposed development will increase the housing stock in Threshfield and provides a single store residential unit which is ideal of a disabled resident.”
When Craven District councillor Richard Foster proposed approval he pointed out that there were very few bungalows in the National Park.
The telecommunications mast at Hazel Gill Farm, Mallerstang can remain an Iron Grey colour.
When Eden District Council gave approval for the construction of the telecommunications base station in October 2016 one of the conditions was that all of it should be Olive Green in colour. EE UK Ltd, however, had erected a mast which is Iron Grey.
The members shown a photo of this and unanimously agreed that it blended into the landscape as well as an Olive Green one would. The planning officer noted that it would be even better if the white antennas were also painted grey.
Mallerstang Parish Meeting had agreed with the two objectors who were concerned that varying the conditions on the mast at Hazel Gill Farm would have an impact upon that further up the dale at Castlethwaite.
The planning officer stated that the landscape context of the Castlethwaite site was different and added: “Any proposal to vary the condition controlling the colour of that tower would have to be considered on its own merits.”
The committee unanimously approved the following applications with little or no discussion:
Permission for the erection of a toilet and shower block, the creation of a parking area and installation of waste disposal tank at the Falls Park, Oddies Lane, Ingleton.
Permission for the conversion of a barn between two modern farm sheds at West End, Lunds, into a one-bedroom local occupancy dwelling or a holiday let, and the installation of a package treatment plant.
Permission to convert a domestic workshop adjacent to Park House, Low Abbotside, into a one-bedroom holiday cottage.
Permission to alter an existing dwelling and convert adjacent outbuildings to additional living space; change of use of land to rear to form flagged area with new boundary wall and erection of rear utility room for dwelling, and change of use of another outbuilding into a holiday cottage at Greens Farm, Snaizeholme.
Conditions for any conversion to a dwelling or holiday let include local occupancy legal agreements.
For more information see: https://www.yorkshiredales.org.uk/living-and-working/planning/planning-committee/2019/planning-august-2019