ARC News Service reports on the meeting of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s ( YDNPA ) planning committee on Tuesday September 13 when the following items were on the agenda: a new barn and slurry store at Saxelby Farm, Hebden; the conversion of what was once a gym into holiday lets at Sedbergh; a possible housing development at Grassington; and alterations to the access, garden and curtilage of Old Hall, Conistone.
These reports are by Pip Pointon who monitors, on a voluntary basis, the YDNPA planning meetings as part of the commitment of the Association of Rural Communities to local democracy.
Calls to secure the future of the last dairy farm at Hebden won the day at the meeting.
North Yorkshire County councillor Robert Heseltine was among those who told committee members that they must secure the future of the family dairy farm. The majority of members agreed and did not accept the planning officer’s recommendation to refuse the application by Gavin and Helen Herd to erect an agricultural building for 70 cows with a slurry store underneath in a field near their farmhouse at Saxelby Farm.
Mrs Herd told the committee they wanted to pass on the farm to the next generation. She said ‘We are a farming family passionate about milking our cows in a traditional way. But we are afraid that without these slurry facilities and associated livestock housing we will have no alternative but to cease farming.’
She explained that they believed that by incorporating the shed and slurry store it would be less intrusive on the village than two separate structures. She said they had considered all possible sites and added: ‘We believe our planned site is the least intrusive on our village or the National Park landscape. We discussed all the possible sites with the parish council and residents.’
Craven District councillor Richard Foster said he knew the area well and also believed there wasn’t another suitable site. He told the committee: ‘If we turn this down we won’t have a dairy farm at Hebden.’
Several members agreed with Cllr Heseltine that the small dairy farms had played an important part in the development of the landscape in the Yorkshire Dales and needed to be supported through the planning process when they had to modernise their facilities in line with government legislation.
Members Mark Corner and Neil Heseltine (chairman of the Authority), however, agreed with the planning officer that the application should be refused. The planning officer said: ‘The proposed development would result in a large wide spanned building that would introduce intrusive modern development beyond the distinct and clearly defined boundary of Hebden and extend the village out to the west. The proposed development would be seen in the landscape as a stand-alone building not visually linked with the existing farm buildings and so would have a harmful effect on the visual quality of this part of the National Park.’
Mr Corner reminded the committee that the primary purpose of the National Park was to conserve the landscape and its members should not consciously allow developments which would damage it. Both he and Neil Heseltine were concerned about the siting of the building.
The planning officer stated that the proposed site was unacceptably close to nearby dwellings and would prove harmful to the residential amenity of neighbours, and potentially their health, by reason of noise and odours arising from the housing of animals and associated farming activity.
She also reported that the Environmental Health Officer had dropped their original concerns after the slight re-siting of the proposed building. She stated:’It should be noted that environmental health responses are based on whether a Statutory Nuisance is likely to be caused and not on the basis of how a proposal would affect ones “amenity” or enjoyment of ones property, which is more subjective but a much lower threshold.’
Member Allen Kirkbride (a parish council representative) said that for over 30 years he had had a barn with a slurry store within similar close proximity to six residential dwellings and there had been no complaints about smell or noise. He asked why the planning officer had not sent the farm conservation advisor’s report to members. (Nor was it specifically mentioned in the planning officer’s report). The planning officer replied: ‘This was an omission on my part.’
The farm conservation advisor had stated: ‘I believe [the application] would safeguard the future business of a well-established small family farm which are so important to the landscape, culture and communities of the Dales. Currently these farms are in a very precarious position and we risk losing these working assets as financial and environmental pressures are significantly increasing in the near future.
‘All dairy farms need to provide at least four months storage of slurry and ideally six months. Over the next few months new grants are being offered to help dairy farmers with financial assistance to provide this. There are issues with the location and siting of the new building but it seems that these have been largely overcome with the amended plans.’ (from YDNPA Citizen’s Portal).
Hebden Parish Council strongly supported the application stating that it wished to encourage the only remaining dairy farm in the village. It added: ‘After a site meeting the councillors are satisfied the barn is located a reasonable distance from residential properties and it was explained that the up-to-date design and structure of the building minimises noise and odour. Hebden is a working village and the council hopes that it remains as such.’
After the majority of members had voted to approve the application contrary to the officer’s recommendation, the head of development management Richard Graham told the meeting that, as sound reasons had been given, that decision would not be deferred to the next meeting. The reasons were: to protect the viability of a local dairy farming enterprise in accordance with modern farming requirements; to ensure adequate safeguards for those living nearby; and that the visual impact would be reduced with a landscaping scheme.
The committee decided that the gym on the Cautley Road once used by Baliol School can be converted into three holiday cottages.
Sedbergh Parish Council had objected because it was part of the only site allocated for business development within the parish and approval, it said, could set a precedent.
South Lakeland District councillor Ian Mitchell pointed out that the building had not been used for business purposes for 11 years and now looked appalling. He agreed with the planning officer that it was unlikely any business use could be found for it.
The officer said: ‘The gym building forms a complex with two dwellings, being in close proximity to them and sharing the same access, turning and parking area. This arrangement would compromise the type of business use that the building could be put to.’
Two members emphasised that it was already part of a residential site and that converting it to holiday lets would be a planning gain given the deteriorating condition of the building. The committee accepted the planning officer’s assurance that changing the use of the traditional building would not prevent developing the rest of the site for business uses.
Approval was given, without any discussion, about the retrospective planning application for alterations to the access, garden and curtilage at the Old Hall at Conistone.
The applicant had applied for permission to rebuild a collapsed wall and pier, to widen the driveway, the installation of an underground LPG gas tank, and the erection of a greenhouse, chicken shed and a log shelter.
Conistone with Kilnsey Parish Meeting had objected because, it said, the greenhouse was highly visible; there were safety concerns about the siting of the gas tank and its proximity to neighbouring properties and a public right of way; and as the application did not include the development of the garage.
The planning officer told the committee that the siting of the LPG gas tank was not a planning issue. About the garage, she said the applicant had been advised that ‘proving that there are no external alterations to the building, the first floor of the garage can be used for residential accommodation’.
She concluded: ‘The retention of the greenhouse and other structures, the widening of the entrance and the change of use the land from a field to domestic curtilage would have a negligible impact on the wider landscape and would cause less than significant harm to the setting of the listed building [Old Hall].
A decision on the application by Endless Developments (Grassington) Ltd to build 23 houses and flats in Moody Sty Lane, Grassington, was deferred.
Grassington Parish Council’s objections included: building 23 instead of 20 dwellings, with only 30 per cent affordable housing when there should be 50 per cent; and the likelihood of access and drainage problems.
The planning officer had recommended refusing the application. Her reasons included that the seven proposed affordable housing units would not fulfil the Authority’s primary aim for allocating the site for housing which was to support the social and economic well-being of the local community. Like the parish council she was concerned about the segregation of the proposed affordable housing from other dwellings on the site.
She said that the proposed design and layout would lead to over development and inadequate off-street parking. She added that insufficient information had been provided to assess impact from drainage and surface water runoff.
She told the committee that the developer had now asked to discuss all these issues and so she asked for a deferral.