An ARC News Service report on the virtual meeting of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority‘s (YDNPA) planning committee on July 14 2020 at which the following were discussed: a development of eight houses at Millthrop; the conversion of a barn into a refreshments kiosk at Malham; a lambing shed at Stainforth; and two extensions to a cottage at Feetham, Low Row.
At the Full Authority meeting on June 30 it was agreed that planning committee meetings will be held once every six weeks.
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.
Land available for housing in the Yorkshire Dales was so precious it should not be wasted a planning officer told the committee.
A planning officer stated this at the end of her lengthy analysis of the application for permission to erect eight new houses on land opposite Derry Cottages in Millthrop, Sedbergh. The committee voted unanimously to accept her recommendation that the proposal should be refused.
She reported that 15 dwellings could be built on the site rather than eight, and that was a wasteful use of land. She said: ‘On the face of it, it would appear that the proposed layout has been contrived to avoid the provision of on-site affordable housing contribution particularly through the provision of large executive-style homes on the majority of the site. Fifteen units would go much further to delivering the Authority’s housing objectives as well as delivering more community benefit.’
She stated that half of the proposed houses with their gardens would take up two thirds of the site and that the design and layout of the proposed development was contrary to the prevalent character of Millthrop which, in a good proportion of the hamlet, has a very high density.
The proposal was for a terrace of four properties, semi-detached houses and two large detached ones. The planning officer did not feel that any of the houses were in keeping with the Authority’s design guide and said: ‘The larger semi-detached dwellings are neither a bespoke modern dwelling nor a good barn conversion style. It is considered that they are a poor hybrid that cherry picks architectural features from each building type and mixes them together in an unsuccessful manner.’
Committee member Ian McPherson, who is a Sedbergh parish councillor, commented: ‘Millthrop is arguably one of the most attractive hamlets in the Park. It is far too attractive to be spoiled by the proposed development.
‘This application offends in almost every particular. It is seriously flawed.
‘First of all there is the failure to meet the density required which, if it had been done, would have required on-site affordable housing. Second, we have heard the design, siting and layout are inadequate and would be detrimental to the character of Millthrop.
‘Thirdly, we have many, many instances where the applicants have failed to provide adequate information requested by the planning officers regarding, amongst other things, the impact of the development on neighbouring amenity: surface water run-off, the problems regarding foul sewerage and highway safety.
‘On top of which the applicants have been particularly unwilling to engage in constructive discussion with the planning officers on alternative ways forward.’
Sedbergh Parish Council had told the Authority that although some new open market housing would help to balance the market locally it was concerned about highway safety issues and the concept of the developer paying a commutable sum towards affordable housing instead of building some. It stated: ‘As the application represents a significant development for the Parish it was unanimously felt it would be better if the developer could be encouraged towards other options that would actually benefit the community.’
Three members of the committee (Julie Martin, Ian McPherson and Cllr Robert Heseltine) had declared an interest as they were members of the Friends of the Dales, which had objected to the application. Martin, who was re-elected as chair of the planning committee, declared that she was a trustee of the Friends of the Dales and stated: ‘I haven’t been party to any discussions on this issue.’
All three said they believed they could participate in the planning committee discussion and vote – and did.
It was agreed that a small barn adjacent to the village green at Finkle Street in Malham can be converted into a takeaway refreshment kiosk.
Kirkby Malhamdale Parish Council reported that there had been a high level of concern in Malham about the application for several reasons. These included wanting to protect the village green and any increase in car parking.
It stated: ‘We have extreme problems with parking already in Malham and are working with Area 5 Highways and NYCC to implement further traffic management initiatives in Malham village, some of which will be established and finally implemented during 2020 after many years of effort on our part.’
Rachael Caton, who had made the application with her husband Ashley, told the committee during its virtual meeting: ‘Our family have lived and worked in Malhamdale for over 100 years and we are very respectful of the surrounding village green and the need to protect its unique status.
‘The concerns of local residents have been very carefully considered in the management plan submitted as part of this application and these are reflected in the proposed conditions relating to opening hours, lighting, signage, bin storage and the lack of parking for customers.’
She said there would be no seating for customers outside the kiosk which would be accessed from a new door onto their own land. ‘The barn benefits from the footfall of walkers [going] to Gordale Scar via a permitted footpath which runs across our farmland.’
This farm-diversification project would not only provide walkers and cyclists with locally-sourced refreshments but also employment as both she and her husband were busy farming, she added.
The planning officer told the committee that staff and deliveries could use the existing track to the barn. There would be limited seating available inside for those waiting to be served with takeaway food.
He explained that the barn was substantially rebuilt around 2009 and so was not considered to be a traditional agricultural building. Some of the features introduced previously will be removed, such as replacing the ornate arch over the cart opening with a simple flat lintel, and blocking up one of the new windows on the upper floor.
He added: ‘Malham is a key visitor centre in the National Park. The proposal makes use of an underused building within a prominent location. [It] would contribute to the attractiveness of Malham as a visitor location of more than local importance. This is an important factor in consideration of the potential impact of the Covid-19 global pandemic on the economy of the National Park.’
Local councillors including Craven District councillor Richard Foster were happy that the concerns of the parish council had been met.
Stainforth Parish Council objected to the application for a lambing shed on land west of Sherwood Brow because the building had already been erected and as it was close to the roadside.
Craven District councillor David Ireton commented that it was a shame that the farmer, Mr Newhouse, had not applied first but all the committee members agreed with the planning officer that the retrospective application should be approved.
The planning officer explained that the building was set down from the road and its eaves were roughly at road level. He showed pictures to support his argument that the timber-clad shed was not too visible and would not have a negative impact upon the landscape.
He said the lambing shed would serve the needs of a small farming enterprise and that no alterative sites within the owner’s ownership had been identified that were still easily accessible.
Feetham, Low Row
Members again quickly agreed with a planning officer that a two extensions could be added to 1 Lilac Cottages at Feetham, Low Row.
The application by Stephen Muchmore was for a two storey extension to the west and a single storey extension to the rear of the end terrace cottage, as well as excavating part of the garden to form a level patio.
Melbecks Parish Council had objected for the following reasons: that lowering the ground at the rear would increase the potential for flooding to Lilac Cottages; the existing sewerage tank was insufficient if the cottage was upgraded and a package treatment plant should be installed; parking problems; and that increasing the number of bedrooms from two to three would reduce the opportunity for local young people to get on the housing ladder and stay in the dale. The parish council added that by extending the property it was likely it would become a second home or a holiday let.
Ed Jagger, the agent for Mr Muchmore, however, assured the committee that the owners planned to move their family to Fleetham on a permanent basis and that the cottage would not become a second home.
He pointed out that the proposed extensions were similar but on a smaller scale to those at the other two properties in the terrace and the rear gardens had already been excavated at them. He said: ‘The rear of the existing building [1 Lilac Cottage] is constructed into the hillside using traditional stone walling with no cavity. Consequently the back wall suffers from significant damp. The excavation of the rear garden will allow the walls to dry out and any surface water be dealt with in a controlled manner rather than running against the rear wall.’
He added that there would not be any increase in the bathroom or kitchen provision. The proposal was for the existing bathroom to become an en-suite to an existing bedroom and for the downstairs shower room to be replaced with a new first floor bathroom.
The planning officer stated that although the availability of affordable housing was important to the Authority and was included in the Local Plan the issue was not addressed by placing restrictions on homeowners who wanted to extend or improve their properties.
Richmondshire District councillor John Amsden commented that it was only right to question whether the sewerage provision was up to date. ‘We have to keep in mind the environmental issues,’ he said.