ARC News Service reports on the meeting of the planning committee of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority ( YDNPA ) on Tuesday February 22 when the following were discussed: conversion of the Railway Station at Horton in Ribblesdale; a live/work unit and dog breeding kennels at Langcliffe near Settle; a new farmstead near Appersett; enforcement action against owner of Bainbridge Ings Caravan site near Hawes; and an enforcement notice regarding a container at Stirton.
Pip Pointon reports on the YDNPA planning meetings on a voluntary basis as part of the commitment of the Association of Rural Communities to local democracy.
Horton in Ribblesdale
Some community use of the Railway Station at Horton in Ribblesdale should be retained several committee members insisted when the application to convert it into a one-bedroom holiday let and a cafe cum bar was discussed.
The committee did give permission as long as there was a condition, proposed by member Mark Corner, to retain reasonable community use. The chairman, Neil Swain, said this condition would be drafted and if there were any problems it would be brought back to the committee.
Horton in Ribblesdale Parish Council had told the committee that the community had seen a gradual reduction in facilities over the years and so it was felt some sort of community use should be retained at the railway station. It said the station was used by community groups and that the parish council and Horton Local History Group had filing cabinets there. It did not consider that alternative community facilities in the area were suitable.
Those who objected to the application included North Craven Heritage Trust, The Friends of the Dales and Horton Local History Group.
Craven District councillor David Ireton commented: ‘The community needs that protection that they have a facility to meet for business.’
The planning officer, however, stated: ’The minor impact upon the community must be balanced against the positive re-use of this significant building enhancing the railway company’s offering.’
The application to convert the former Midlands Railway building (opened in 1876) was made by Settle and Carlisle Railway Properties (Trusts). A condition of the permission will be that the waiting room will be retained for railway users. The number of car parking spaces will be increased from five to six to provide for those using the holiday let.
The Trust stated that although it planned to open the cafe from 8am to 6pm every day, it was keen to provide a more permanent arrangement for community groups.
Jim Munday, the member champion for development management, described the application as sound as it would give a worthwhile purpose to the building for many years to come.
‘This application will focus more attention on the station and benefit rail travel. Trains are more environmentally friendly, someone else does the driving. They don’t park on the pavement and they don’t obstruct people’s drives.
But he also described Horton in Ribblesdale as being a village under siege due to 200,000 people a year undertaking the Three Peaks Walk. Many of them, he said, took the train to Horton in Ribblesdale station.
For those living in the private road leading to the railway station this can cause many problems as there was, according to one resident, an unwelcome element of drivers who did not heed the No Parking signs and could be very abusive when challenged.
‘We are senior citizens and find it increasingly stressful and upsetting having to cope with abuse. If this application is passed I would ask what happened to the ethos of the national park being jointly for the locals and the visitors alike?’ she said.
She explained that the station was a convenient place for many to either drop off walkers or to collect them. She added that she and her neighbours were often picking up litter and that was likely to get worse if there was a cafe at the station.
During the debate parish council representative Cllr Allen Kirkbride asked if members of the Friends of the Dales should have declared their membership. Mr Corner said he was a member but thought it had been sufficient to say he had been lobbied. North Yorkshire County councillor Robert Heseltine stated he had let his membership lapse.
A registered Kennel Club dog breeder can create a live/work unit in a timber shed at Cowside near Langcliffe so that he can care for the dogs without affecting any neighbours.
The committee accepted the planning officer’s recommendation that Ian McKenna could convert the Old Diary into live/work accommodation and another shed (the shippon) for breeding kennels. He explained that such a dog breeding business was ideally sited in a more isolated location so that neighbours would not be affected by the noise, and that Mr McKenna needed to be on the site full time.
Even though a dog breeding business would not usually be classed as an ‘essential rural-based enterprise’ for which an exception to policy could be made he believed Mr McKenna’s application could, therefore, be approved.
The agent, Mike Harris, said Mr McKenna’s present accommodation wasn’t sustainable and that the pragmatic solution was to allow him to live on site where he could care for the dogs 24/7, and continue living in the area near his children.
‘I am very much in favour of small rural businesses,’ said Cllr Kirkbride. And North Yorkshire County councillor Yvonne Peacock agreed.
Cllr Ireton asked what would happen if the dog breeding business closed down.
The head of development management, Richard Graham, replied that there would be a legal agreement that the Old Diary could only be occupied by someone working in the dog-breeding business, and that it, the shippon and the grassed area used for exercising the dogs should remain in the same ownership. He assured the committee that this would be enforced.
The majority voted to approve the application even though Cllr Heseltine said that the past planning history did not sit well with many of them.
This included an enforcement notice in May 2019 to stop the use of the Old Dairy as a self-contained dwelling house, and an application to convert the shippon into a dog breeding unit being refused in April 2020. The planning officer said that a case had now been made to support the siting of the business and accommodation in a more remote location.
A barn and a farmhouse can be constructed on a new farm – The Crag and Carr – near Appersett, even though 29 trees along the A684 will be felled.
A planning officer reported to the committee that the 360 acre farm did not have a suitable barn for housing cattle in winter or a farmhouse. He explained that the applicants were previously long-standing tenants of the nearby East Birkrigg farm. But possession of the farmhouse and associated farm buildings was taken back by the owner (Myles Metcalfe) in 2017 before subsequent sale.
The new barn and farmhouse will be close to another farmstead and in the only field that has direct access to the A684. The planning officer stated. however, that to obtain sufficient visibility splay 29 deciduous trees will be felled. These trees, he reported, contributed towards the somewhat unusual ‘green tunnelling’ enclosure of the highway.
This special feature was one of the reasons why Mr Metcalfe and David Braybrook objected to the application.
Besides questioning the proposed location of the new buildings, Mr Metcalfe said: ‘This section of the road is truly one of the most scenic in the whole of the Yorkshire Dales and it is now under threat.’
David Braybrook, who lives in Rigg House West opposite the proposed access, was also concerned about the felling of healthy trees that, he said, could well survive for another 20 to 40 years. He also pointed out that the access would be onto a dangerous and narrow stretch of road.
Like Mr Braybrook, Hawes and High Abbotside Parish Council pointed out that the traffic survey quoted was carried out in 2020 during the height of the lockdown when there were less visitors. ‘In more recent months this has increased 10 fold and it is, therefore, not a true reflection of daily life here now,’ the parish council stated.
It added: ‘We are more than dismayed at the proposal to remove trees… and we strongly object. One of the YDNP policies is to protect the landscape and support wildlife and the environment and the proposal seems in direct contravention of that.’
The planning officer reported that the Highways Authority had asked for the access to have a 4.5m set back from the road but this had been reduced to 2.4m to limit the number of trees to be felled.
The farmer, Nick Prince, said there had been a full assessment of the new farm and all other possible sites for the buildings had been discounted for reasons such as no potential for secure access or environmental sensitivity, or impact on the landscape.
He told the committee: ‘Our cattle need to be housed over winter to protect the land. Continuing to manage the farm [without] is stressful, impractical and unsustainable.’ The barn he said was also needed for calving and lambing, the storage of produce and machinery and gaining accreditation as a farm.
Regarding the application for outline permission for a farmhouse he said: ‘We currently live in two bedrooms in my mother’s house in Hawes which is impractical for the family and unsustainable.’
He explained that it was difficult to reach the farm when the road between Hawes and Appersett was flooded; nor could they protect livestock from being stolen or take proper care of the animals if they weren’t living there. ‘Living on site would reduce personal stress and anxiety – the worry for the welfare of the stock. Their security and their safety cannot be constantly monitored from off-site.’
The planning officer stated: ‘The proposal, including the formation of a new means of access, strikes a necessary balance between avoiding unacceptable visual and landscape impacts and safeguarding highway safety, whilst it is also acceptable in ecological terms.’ Trees will be planted to compensate for those felled, he said.
Cllr Richard Good commented: ‘I can’t see how you can run a farm if you don’t live on it.’
The committee first gave approval for the barn which must be built and brought into use before the farmhouse can be constructed. There will be an agricultural occupancy restriction on the latter.
The owner of Bainbridge Ings caravan site near Hawes has tried to make a mockery of the National Park’s planning system, said North Yorkshire County Cllr Yvonne Peacock, who represents Upper Wensleydale.
She recounted how the site had, until 2017, had a well-run camping site which enabled many to visit the area. ‘It’s a cheaper way to come and enjoy the Dales,’ she commented.
Cllr Kirkbride said: ‘Ever since they [the new owners] have taken this over they have taken us for a ride. I’m surprised it has gone on so long before we [take] action against it.’
Speaking from his experience as a Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme assessor, Richmondshire District councillor Richard Good told the committee: ‘The lack of tent camping in the area is becoming a serious problem. There isn’t a tented site that close to Hawes any more. We definitely do need it.’
The committee unanimously voted for an enforcement notice to be served following what the chairman, Neil Swain, described as an extensive but entirely justified presentation by an enforcement officer.
The officer explained that despite extensive contact with the owner during planning, enforcement and appeal processes significant breaches of planning control had continued at the site. In the field designated to be used only by those with tents there were very visible gravel tracks and hard standings for touring caravans and campervans, a static caravan and a timber cabin which was being used as a guest washroom.
The owner had lost an appeal following the planning decision in June 2018 which required the field to continue to be used for tents only. Showing photos of the gravel track and hard standings now in the field the officer stated: ‘It is clear why the planning inspector was concerned about the use of the field for caravans or caravans. This is exactly what the planning inspector was trying to avoid.
‘The one interesting thing you won’t find in this area are any tents. There is a sign – No tents allowed on site,’ he told the committee.
He said that approval was given in 2020 for an all-weather two-wheelings access track and grass filled grids for the field to be only used by touring caravans. He showed photos of the wide gravel track and the hard standings that are there now, again in breach of planning conditions. ‘You can’t see any grass where the hard standings and parking areas are,’ he added.
Another unauthorised development, he said, was the installation of four cabins in that field. ‘They are permanently sited, they have fresh and waste water plumbing , they have gas installed, they have fencing and they have hot tubs.’
He explained that the planning permission in 2018 had allowed the owner to install eight camping pods on part of the site. But neither the pods nor the layout were in accordance with planning conditions. The owner lost his appeal against the enforcement notice and the officer said the matter was now moving towards prosecution.
He said there was an on-going pattern across Bainbridge Ings of breaches of planning control since the new owners took over in 2017.
In his report he warned: ‘Breaches of planning control impact adversely on the ability of the Authority to maintain public confidence in planning system and, in particular, the Authority’s ability to retain planning control over this site.’
Cllr Good agreed with Cllr Peacock that prosecution should start immediately the six-month compliance order ended. He said: ‘We don’t want a day over six months because these are serious breaches. I hope you enforce very vigorously as soon as you possibly can.’
To a request to start prosecution even sooner Richard Graham, head of development management, explained that was up to the legal officers and that, following the pandemic, the courts were overloaded.
The enforcement notice will be for the following:
In the tents only field: no more touring caravans, static caravans, mobile homes or campervans; the removal of the static caravan and the timber cabin; the removal of the unauthorised tracks and hard standings; and to restore the land to its previous state.
In the touring caravans only field: the complete removal of four unauthorised cabins; the removal of the gravel tracks and hard standings; and to return the land to its original condition.
It was also unanimously agreed that an enforcement notice should be served on the owner of a container in a field near Bog Lane, Stirton.
It was reported that the owner has been told since May 2018 that planning permission was required. An enforcement officer said that the owner had not responded to the latest correspondence sent by letter, email and voicemail, and the container remained in the field.
When Eden District councillor Ian Mitchell asked why it had taken so long to request enforcement action Mr Graham responded that the pandemic had had a severe impact during which the planning department had to deal with planning applications. He said it had been a difficult period and that, with recruitment, they were now getting rid of the backlog.