An ARC News Service report on the meeting of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s (YDNPA )planning committee on November 17 2020 at which the following were discussed: barn conversions at Cracoe, Countersett and Reeth; a new garage at Newhouses, Horton-in-Ribblesdale, and a proposed new agricultural building near Askrigg.
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.
There was a disagreement at the beginning of of the discussion concerning the barn on Silver Street near Reeth as to when the chairman should share her opinion about a planning application.
The chairman, Julie Martin, began the committee’s debate by stating: ‘I want, as cultural heritage champion, just to make a few remarks about this application myself.’
At which Richmondshire District Councillor (RDC) John Amsden broke in: ‘You are supposed to be just chairing the meeting… the chair should speak at the end of the debate… not at the beginning.’
The Authority’s legal officer, however, Claire Bevan, stated: ‘She is perfectly entitled to speak at the start of the debate.’
And Mrs Martin continued and during her statement she said: ‘I do feel that there are strong reasons for refusal of this application…’
Another RDC councillor, Richard Good commented: ‘I am surprised that you are allowed to speak because at other authority’s that I sit on, you would not be allowed to speak until the end.’
Cllr Foster has questioned how permission could be granted for a barn at Cracoe to be converted when the applicant did not own the track which leads to it.
He also raised the issue of consistency as, at the meeting, officers had recommended approving the conversion of the barn at Cracoe but said that one near Reeth in Swaledale should be refused. That near Reeth is on the roadside but has problems with the access onto Silver Street, whereas the Shed Barn at Cracoe is accessed via a private track.
Cllr Foster pointed out that one of the owners of the the track in Cracoe had not given permission for its use and had objected to the application.
Neil Heseltine, who is the chairman of the Authority, also asked about access to Shed Barn and wondered if there was a maximum distance for a track to a ‘roadside’ barn.
The head of development management, Richard Graham, replied that there was no restriction on the length and added: ‘It just has to be a sealed metal private road that connects to the county highway.’
‘It’s not a metalled road – it’s a farm track for agricultural machinery,’ responded Cllr Foster. And, like Cracoe Parish Meeting, he pointed out that it was too narrow for waste bin lorries to reach the barn.
In its detailed strong objection to the application the parish meeting stated that the lane was an unsurfaced public bridleway with no passing places. It added: ‘The lane is totally unsuitable for heavy or regular traffic, being used currently to access the farmland. The sign at the top states that there is no right of access for vehicles.’ It therefore feared that those staying at the Shed Barn would cause more highway obstructions by parking on the narrow Hetton Road.
Mr Graham, however, stated: ‘If there is an access and the access is suitable as far as the highway authority is concerned then there should be no objection in planning terms to that. The legal issues [about use of the track] are outside of the planning process. It’s for the various parties concerned to work that out amongst themselves.
‘I think the difference between the two applications is that [Shed Barn] has a track to it whereas the one in Swaledale requires the construction of a track of considerable distance [61m] and the creation of an embankment to support it.’ This, he said, would have an impact upon the landscape.
Others on the committee described the planned conversion of Shed Barn as well-considered and well-designed. The agent for the applicant told the committee that the application had been discussed with planning officers for over two years and added: ‘It is quite probable this could be one of the most sustainable conversions for former agricultural buildings in the dales.’ During those discussions it was agreed to remove three bedrooms from the proposal.
The majority of the committee agreed with the planning officer’s recommendation to approve the application
Referring to the approval given for the Shed Barn application Cllr Foster commented: ‘If we are going to be consistent we have got to pass this one.’
The application for the conversion of the roadside barn on Silver Street near Reeth with the laying of a new access was refused in line with the statement made by the chairman at the beginning of the debate.
Julie Martin said: ‘I want to make a few comments and pass on information as cultural heritage champion. I do feel – I am not making a proposal on this – but I do feel that there are strong reasons for refusal of this application. The lynchets … are [a] medieval cultivation terrace feature in this case and our heritage officer … does consider them to be of special importance. He says that they are arguably worthy of formal protection – that this is one of the more impressive lynchet groups within the whole of the National Park.
‘These lynchets are very vulnerable to change and the earthworks [for the access track] that would be required … is going to cause very significant damage. I speak as a retired landscape consultant – it would be visible on the landscape and affect the integrity of that feature – not only the earthworks but also the car parking area which is separate from the barn itself. If we were to refuse this application the refusal would be upheld at appeal.’
During the debate member, Ian McPherson, agreed with her and stated: ‘I do pay a great deal of heed to what she ways with regard to matters of historical interest and impact because she is a member champion [and], as she mentioned, she is a consultant in this area. So I do give that a great deal of credence.’
The planning officer had reported that the Highway Authority did not feel that the new access would provide sufficient visibility splay on a road which had a 60mph speed limit. Cllr Good, however, said motorists found it difficult to reach 35 to 40mph on that stretch of road.
Allen Kirkbride commented: ‘Highways blow hot and cold and we know within the Yorkshire Dales that if we had to get full sighting for any application we would get very very few applications through. The access road will not be seen from the road and it will not be seen from the other side of the valley. The lynchets are very important but there again the majority will not be affected. I can’t see a problem with this [application].
Cllr Amsden added that the access track would be on top of the first lynchet beside Silver Street.
And Cllr Foster said: ‘Just on consistency – we’ve passed a barn without any access whatsoever [at Cracoe]. I know it’s a legal matter but if we are going to be consistent we have got to pass this one, because we passed the other one.’
Cllr Amsden also questioned the National Park’s record concerning barn conversions. He stated: ‘I am just getting a little bit fed up with the attitude of the National Park on roadside barns. We just seem to get into a situation where willy nilly we won’t pass them.’
McPherson and Jim Munday disagreed with him with both stating that the majority of applications for barn conversions were approved, usually by officers using delegated powers.
New Houses, Horton in Ribblesdale
The committee approved the construction of a double garage with store room at a house at New Houses near Horton in Ribblesdale.
Horton in Ribblesdale Parish Council had objected as it felt the garage would be disproportionately too large to serve the existing residential property.
Craven District councillor David Ireton, however, thought it would blend into the backdrop of other buildings and not have any harmful impact upon the landscape.
His request that the conditions should include the removal of a timber shed on the site was agreed.
A traditional barn belonging to Newstead Farm cannot be replaced with a modern, larger, agricultural building the committee decided.
A decision was deferred at the October meeting so that the farmer, Richard Scarr, could produce plans showing how the new building would be dug a metre and a half into the ground to reduce its impact upon the landscape.
The planning officer, however, stated: ‘The siting of a large modern building with an industrial character sitting on top of a prominent mound in the landscape would lead to significant and permanent harm to the scenic beauty of the National Park landscape.’ He added that it would take around 15 years for any trees planted to provide any meaningful screening.
Neil Heseltine commented that as the meadows served by the traditional barn led up to the farmstead it did make sense to have the new building there instead, as suggested by the planning officer.
click here to read the debate at the October meeting.
Permission was once more granted for Hill Top Barn at Countersett to be converted – but this time not just for a holiday let but also for local occupancy.
A local resident, Merrie Ashton, however, told the committee that the barn was within the unique and unspoilt landscape at the very edge of Countersett and would be visible from Semerwater.
She argued that the grassed-over track to Hill Top Barn was not suitable for use either by the builders who would convert the barn or for holiday cottage guests. ‘If the track is to become more robust the field will be scarred,’ she said.
She was also concerned about light pollution and stated: ‘Please, therefore, protect the natural unspoilt beauty of this area in the heart of the National Park and the views in that location.’
Allen Kirkbride, however, agreed with the planning officer that the twin wheeling access track had so bedded in that it was not ‘unduly dominating in views of the site’. The planning officer reported that permitted development rights had been removed and so the track could not be maintained or improved without planning permission.
Bainbridge Parish Council had objected because it believed that the property represented development outside the boundary. It also believed that there wasn’t any further requirement for additional holiday let properties in the area and preferred conversion into homes for local occupancy.