An ARC News Service report on the meeting of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s (YDNPA) planning committee on March 10 2020. Items discussed were: Shoemaker Barn at Grinton, Hazel Brown Farm Visitor Centre at Melbecks, an extension to the School House in Arncliffe, and the proposal for enforcement action concerning caravan hard standings at the Falls Country Park, Beezley Farm, Ingleton.
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.
Grinton – Shoemaker Barn
It has taken several hearings at planning committee meetings and almost certainly a high cost financially and emotionally to a young farming couple before they finally gained permission to convert Shoemaker Barn at Grinton (above) into their home.
In October 2018 an application to convert the barn was approved – but against officer recommendation. So it was referred back to the meeting in December 2018 when the majority accepted the officers’ recommendation to refuse it (see Barns and Yurts). Chris Porter applied again in 2019 once he was working full-time in the family business of JW Porter & Sons which farms lands from Oxnop and Summer Lodge to Grinton in Swaledale. This meant he could apply for permission to convert the barn into an agricultural worker’s dwelling.
Member Allen Kirkbride told the committee at the meeting in November 2019: “This will turn an eyesore into a home for a young family which is going to live in the Dales and farm in the Dales.”
And Mr Porter’s agent, John Akrigg, stated: “This Authority is aware of the fragility of hill farming and is committed to work with stakeholders to safeguard its future. If members support this application … they will do something positive and send a message to other young people that they have a place here.”
But the planning officer had recommended refusal arguing that there wasn’t evidence that the farm business’s land at Grinton did require a full-time worker even though the proposal included a new agricultural building to house rams over winter and lamb sheep in the spring. So when the majority of the members voted in favour of approval the application was once more referred back.
At the meeting in December 2019 the members again accepted there was a functional need for an additional agricultural worker’s dwelling to serve the JW Porter & Sons business. But the majority agreed with the planning officers that if the barn conversion could be approved only if tied by a legal agreement to the farm business as a whole. They did not want the converted barn to be sold later and the family then arguing there was a need for an additional dwelling at Oxnop where most of the business is located.
At the March meeting the planning officer informed the committee that he had been told by the agent that a legal agreement could not be completed as the land ownership was complex and the business did not own any of the land. The agency stated that various family members and some non-members made land available to the business by virtue of a combination of gratuitous licences, tenancy agreements and grazing licences. This meant the applicants could not compel the various owners to enter into such a legal agreement.
The planning officer had, therefore, recommended that the application should be refused. But after negotiations with the couple it was proposed to tie the barn legally to a person employed in full time agriculture on the land at Oxnop, Summer Lodge and Crackpot.
This was agreed unanimously. As he left the meeting Chris Porter thanked the members and staff for making it possible for him and his wife to achieve their dream of being able to continue to live and work in the National Park.
Melbecks – Hazel Brow Farm Visitor Centre
The planning committee unanimously approved a much reduced extension to Hazel Brown Farm Visitor Centre.
Cath Calvert, who created the visitor centre in 1996 to supplement the income of their farm in Swaledale, told the committee: “At this stage I would like to hand over to the next generation. I am very fortunate that my daughters, Ruth and Beth, are keen to step up to the challenge.
“I feel this is a great opportunity not only for the farm but the tourism offer in the Dales.” She added that they had worked with the planning officers to try and adapt the application. “We appreciate your support,” she said.
The original application included a first-floor extension to the centre that would have five hotel-style rooms but the Highways Authority and local residents objected because of the increase of traffic using the access lane from the B6270.
At its meeting in February the planning committee deferred making a decision to see if a solution could be found. The Highways Authority recommended refusing the next application, again because of the limited visibility at the junction with the B6270 even though the five hotel-style rooms had been removed. It stated: “The intensification of use which would result from the proposed development is unacceptable in terms of highway safety.”
This led to further discussions between the applicant, Ruth Calvert, and planning officers. The planning officer told the committee at the March meeting that the visitor centre would continue to operate in accordance with the opening times agreed when permission was granted for the visitor centre with opening times restricted to 9am to 6pm and limited operation to the months March to September.
He said that given that there would be no extension of the building and no change of use, it was reasonable to assume that the number of vehicles using the sub-standard access would remain at a similar level as now. The Highways Authority had now raised no objections but the planning officer added that a management plan, secured with a legal agreement, was necessary to ensure that only groups which had booked in advance to visit the centre could use the cafe and play space. Many schools book educational visits to Hazel Brow.
The reconfiguration of the ground floor of the visitor centre was, therefore, approved so that it will become a multi-purpose area with a cafe, reception and play area, and that glazed doors could be inserted so as to provide more light.
Permission was also granted for converting the Joiner’s Shop into two holiday lets or for local occupancy (with legal agreement). The access to the Joiner’s Shop is different to that to the visitor centre.
In his report the planning officer stated: “It is proposed that courses and workshops based around traditional farming techniques such as butter making, spinning and weaving, as well as yoga and photography, would be provided at the visitor centre.”
Member Allen Kirkbride commented: “I am pleased that in the month since we deferred this that the planning officer and the applicant have been able to get together and come up with a good solution.” He added that for years the visitor centre had been very popular tourist attraction with many people going there to experience farming.
Despite the full support of Arncliffe Parish Meeting to see an “eyesore” in their conservation area replaced with an extension which it believed would improve the visual appearance of the School House the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s planning committee has rejected the planning application by the owners.
The agent, Robert Groves, told the committee on March 10: “This [flat roof] is quite an eyesore and it is the most dilapidated part of the building. The proposed extension is modest…and it will bring about a huge improvement. It completely respects the original Gothic architecture of that part of the school house.”
He said the Parish Meeting had held a special meeting to discuss the application and had written to the YDNPA three times in full support of the proposals and revisions.
The majority of the committee members, however, agreed with the planning officer who started: “The School House is an important and distinctive building in the Arncliffe Conservation Area [which] contributes positively to the character and appearance of the Conservation Area because of its Gothic character and appearance. The proposed extension would undermine and harm the overall character and appearance of the building by adding a large extension of unsympathetic proportions and architecture.”
She said that two flat-roof extensions had been built in the 1970s to provide additional facilities for the school. The application was for replacing one of these with a two-storey extension with a hipped roof to provide a garage and a home office with shower room above.
Committee member Jocelyn Manners-Armstrong said: “Due to the scale of the proposed extension it would dominate the building. A smaller extension would get a more positive response.”
A decision to begin enforcement action against the owners of the Falls Country Park at Beezley Farm, Oddies Lane, Ingleton, was deferred by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s planning committee on March 10 because “real willingness” had been shown by the owners to reduce the visual impact of the recently installed hard surfacing for caravan pitches.
The head of development management, Richard Graham, told the committee: “There is a real willingness to resolve the situation. They have offered to do work to reduce the visual impact of the site with a range of measures including tree planting.” He explained that some of the suggested work would require planning approval and the applications would take time to prepare.
Craven District councillor David Ireton pointed out that the caravan site was near Ingleton Quarry and a large car park. He added that tourism was a key part of the area’s economy.
Member Jocelyn Manners-Armstrong, however, believed that approval should have been given for enforcement action but with a longer time for compliance because of the history of the situation.
The enforcement officer had reported that an enforcement case had been opened in June 2017 when she had seen that land had been excavated to level the field. On a later visit she saw that aggregate had been laid forming a formal circular track and hard standings for siting caravans. Tarmac had been laid on the newly created gateway.
The agent had maintained that the 1992 planning permission was not clear and the works carried out were permitted as a requirement of the site licence. The enforcement officer, however, stated: “It is clear that the conditions and reasons within the planning decision notice support the conclusion that short stay caravans refers to touring caravans. The planning permission does not authorise the siting of any static caravans.”
She added that Craven District Council Environmental Health Team had confirmed that there were no provisions for levelling the land, the laying of hard standings and for the installation of tracks under the terms of site licences for touring sites.
She reported that the field was located in a highly visible location and the engineering operations had resulted in a fairly naturalised grassed field being materially altered. It would be possible to see the hard surfacing even when the site was closed between January 14 and March 1 each year. “The extent of the engineering operations carried out to date are wholly inappropriate for a touring site having a harmful impact on the natural beauty of the National Park landscape,” she said. (The hard standings are very apparent on a Google Satellite map.)
Richmondshire District councillor John Amsden suggested that the aggregate should be replaced with grasscrete because that would blend in better.