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New vicar for Penhill Benefice

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Above left to right: The Rev Tom Ringland, Bishop Nick, and the Rev Penny Yeadon

There was a party atmosphere at St Andrew’s Church, Aysgarth, on Monday (November 4) as members of the Penhill Benefice churches welcomed their new vicar, the Rev Tom Ringland.

His institution by the Rt Rev Nick Baines, Bishop of Leeds, was witnessed by the Diocesan Registrar Peter Foskett, the Dean of Ripon Cathedral the Rev Canon John Dobson, Area Dean the Rev Canon Penny Yeadon, several local clergy, and the Readers and Churchwardens of Penhill Benefice.

The Rev Yeadon also deputised for the Archdeacon of Richmond and Craven, the Ven Jonathan Gough, as he was too ill to attend. It was she, therefore, who placed the Rev Ringland’s hand upon the handle of the entrance door  (pictured below) and officially inducted him into ‘the real and actual possession of this church and benefice with all its rights, responsibilities and opportunities for ministry.”

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He was then presented with the keys by the Churchwardens who, with the captain of the bell ringers Stuart Huntington, went with him to the tower where he rang one of the bells nine times to signify that he was taking up his pastoral charge.

The Rev Ringland had been welcomed not only by church members but also by representatives of the local communities served by Penhill Benefice. These included North Yorkshire County councillor Karin Sedgwick and parish council chairmen.

When the Churchwarden of St Martin’s at Desford in Leicestershire, Nev Hammonds, commended the new vicar to the benefice he pointed out that the Rev Ringland did face one particular challenge: “He is a keen cyclist and the hills here are a little larger…”

Quite a few from the Rev Ringland’s previous parishes at St Bartholomew at Kirby Muxloe and that at Desford attended the service although one group was left stranded in Leicestershire when the minibus it had hired did not appear.

During the service the Bishop told the large congregation that the teachings of Jesus, especially in the Beatitudes, showed that Christians don’t have to conform to the world. Instead they should have a prophetic witness.

“There’s only one measure of the faithfulness or the integrity of the Christian church and that is when people look at us, when they touch us, when they hear us, … they see some representation of Jesus. The church does not exist to save the church. The church exists to save the world out there,” he said.

He added that this might mean sacrificing the culture and ways of worship of the church so as to meet people where they were. And part of the job of a vicar was to enable that to happen.

After the service most of the congregation stayed to enjoy the homemade canapes and to chat with friends.

In his first letter to his new benefice Mr Ringland said he grew up near Canterbury. It was after he graduated in Geology from Durham University that he felt drawn to the Christian ministry.He volunteered in a church in the East End of London for a while and then spent a year in Sudan and Kenya in Christian relief work before beginning ordination training at Trinity College Bristol.

He met his wife, Bev, in Bristol and they were married during his first curacy in Crawley, West Sussex. The youngest of their four children is 19. During his ministry they have lived in Coalville and then, for the past 13 years, at Kirby Muxloe.

He wrote: “Bev grew up in Wharfedale, and it’s thanks to her that I’ve come to enjoy wide open spaces and long walks! We’ve also done a bit of cycling together, but the terrain in Wensleydale looks a little tougher than we’re used to.”One of their sons and their two Labradors, Islay and Skye, have moved with them to the Vicarage at Carperby.

Remembrance stories

Pte William Thomas ‘Tot’ Dinsdale;  Pte Thomas Spence;  Major Donald Herbert Rose MC and Sgt Ernest Moore; Col John William Lodge; and Pte John Percival. Plus Aysgarth Parish and WWI

Pte William Thomas ‘Tot’ Dinsdale

‘Granddad was never the same man again. He was gassed [mustard gas] towards the end of the war. When the Armistice came he was in a hospital somewhere in the Midlands. He was there for a long time. He just got out before the hospital was decimated by Spanish Flue,’ said John Dinsdale of Hawthorn Farm, Thornton Rust. (John is the chairman of Aysgarth and District Parish Council). He continued:

‘Granddad went back to farming at Sedbusk but he was never a fit man. He was always short of breath. If he did anything strenuous he was jiggered. When the lads [his sons] got to be 12 or 13 they did most of the work.

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Above: Tot and Charlotte Anne Dinsdale with their children l-r Thomas (John’s father and also known as ‘Tot’), Alice, Jim, Dorothy, Jack and Margaret.

Below: The kettle presented to Tot Dinsdale by High Abbotside Parish Council in recognition of his service during WW1

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Pte Dinsdale fought with the 1/4th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment throughout most of the war apart from when he was recovering from being wounded, John said.

‘He joined up at Hawes when they first started recruiting – I think there were 15 or 16 of them from the Upper Dale and then they all marched to Leyburn with the rest from the Dale. He thought it was the right thing to do. He was 19 or 20.’

The 4th Yorkshires first experience of trench warfare was during the Battle of Ypres from April to June 1915. The front line battles the battalion was involved with included Armentieres from August to December 1915, the Somme from August to November 1916, Ypres October 1917 (Tot returned to the battalion in time for Passchendaele) to February 1918, and Aisne in May 1918.

At Aisne on May 27 1918 the battalion and others fighting alongside it was decimated by a massive German attack. That was the end of the 4th Yorkshires as a fighting unit during WW1. (from 4thYorkshires.com).

Like many others who returned home after the war Tot found it difficult to talk to anyone about it other than those who had also fought in the trenches. The two he turned to were Anthony and Jack Fawcett, his brothers-in-law, from High Abbotside.

John said: ‘They would go into the far room and shut the door. I’m pretty certain they were talking about the war but as soon as anyone went in they shu7t up. They never talked to us about it. But granddad did talk to my Uncle Ernie – his son-in-law.’ (Ernest Metcalfe)

Anthony ‘Ant’ Fawcett was given a small book of Common Prayer and Hymns Ancient and Modern by his sister Annie (later Mrs Pratt) in February 1914 and he carried that with him throughout the war. From the state of the pages it is obvious that he read some of the hymns a lot such as No230. (See Penny Barker’s address in Remembrance Service at Aysgarth Church)

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Family photo courtesy John Dinsdale. Other photos by Pip Pointon.

Pte Thomas Spence

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Pte Thomas Spence of Walden and West Burton was one of those who did come home from WW1 but then died during the flu epidemic. ‘He was gassed and later got the flu. He died at home,’ said his grand-daughter, Frances Sledge of Leyburn.

For his wife, Fanny, and daughter, Grace Kathleen, his death meant that they had to leave their home in West Burton. Fanny took her daughter back to her family in Wharfedale. They either lived with Fanny’s parents (William and  Deborah Gill) at the post office in Buckden or they stayed with her aunt and uncle at Fold House Farm in Kettlewell.

It was to those addresses that his medals (the British War Medal, the Victory Medal and the 1914-1915 Star) were sent and the family carefully stored them in the boxes and envelopes in which they came.

Tom was born at Hargill Haw Farm in Walden where his father, John farmed. He had four siblings: Margaret, Grace, Sarah and John. In the 1911 census he was described as a 15-years-old draper’s apprentice.  By 1915 he had enlisted with the 4th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment (Green Howards).

On April 1 1915 he wrote to his mother, Margaret Spence,  from Newcastle-on-Tyne: “Dear Ma, I arrived safe and sound, but I got a very pleasant surprise, we are of (sic) across before the 18th of this month. Dont fret or worry I shall be alright…. Tell uncle Kit I am of but dont forget I shall come safely back again. I had a very enjoyable time at Northallerton…. Tell Mr Roulden I shall write to him soon now, to let the School children know how we get on. … I am in the Pink of health. I am  your loving son Tom. Remembrance to all at Burton.”

His battalion had moved from its home base at Northallerton and, just as Tom said, was sent to France on April 18, and straight into battle in the Ypres sector. The regiment saw action at the Battle of the Somme in 1916 which was probably  when he was gassed. He received his honourable discharge certificate and silver badge after being in hospital in August 1916.

He married Fanny Gill at Skipton registry office in August 1918 but died on April 18 1819 aged 23. He was buried in Aysgarth churchyard four months before his daughter was born.  In the 1911 census her grandmother, Deborah, then 57-years-old, was described as being in charge of the post office at Buckden.  Deborah’s husband was then 71-years-old.

“He was a shoemaker. He had a long beard and lived until he was in his nineties,” said Mrs Sledge. Below: William Gill with his daughter, Fanny Spence, and grand daughter.

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Major Donald Herbert Rose MC and Sgt Ernest Moore

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The Festival of Remembrance at St Andrew’s Church, Aysgarth, in November 2018 provided an opportunity for Hugh Rose of Leyburn and Catrina Cloughton of Thornton Rust to remember their father: Major Donald Herbert Rose MC (above).

Major Rose was born in 1885 in Lincolnshire, went to what was then Ceylon in 1910 and became a tea and rubber planter. He joined the Ceylon Planters Rifle Corps (CPRC) in 1911. Lance Corporal (Rifleman) Rose was among the 237 from the Corps who were sent to Egypt in October 1914. They initially helped to defend the Suez Canal against Ottoman Turkish attack.

In December that year they joined the Wellington Battalion of the newly formed Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (Anzac). They made such a good impression that many were sent for officer training. Rose did his in Egypt with the 1/6 Essex Regiment. In August 1915 the regiment was sent to Suvla Bay, Gallipoli. Those who survived were evacuated in December 1915, first to guard the Suez Canal and then to fight the Turkish Army through Egypt into Gaza.

Major Rose commanded the company which was the first to enter Gaza City. From there they went to Damascus where he and his company marched into the city 200 yards behind General Allenby and Lawrence of Arabia. He finished in Baghdad and returned to Ceylon in 1919.

He remained there until the early 1950s by which time he was married. On returning to England they finally settled in Thornton Rust when his wife Joan became the assistant matron at what was then a sanatorium at Thornton Lodge.  He died in 1963.

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“Trina” Cloughton also shared the sad love story of her maternal great uncle Sgt Ernest Moore.

He grew up in Tudhoe Colliery in Co Durham, the only son of John and Alice Moore. John was from a mining family but attended evening classes after he left school when he was 14. He worked his way up to becoming a mine’s inspector.  His job included making sure there was no gas in the mines said Trina.

When Ernest joined the Durham Pals (18th Battalion Durham Light Infantry) at Craken Hall on 29 December 1914 he was 20 years and 10 months old and listed his occupation as “shop assistant”.

After training the Durham Pals were sent to Egypt late in 1915 to defend the Suez Canal. They were then moved to France in March 1916 for the “Big Push”. Sgt Moore survived the Battle of the Somme but was killed in action on 19 May 1918. He was buried at Caestre Military Cemetery in France.

He had hoped to return and marry his girlfriend and had given her a bracelet as an “engagement” present before he went overseas.

Mrs Cloughton said: “He was ‘engaged’ to one of my grandma’s sisters, Emma Musgrave. He and Aunty Emma loved poetry. He sent her a book of poems each Christmas. They are suede covered and wouldn’t have been cheap.”

Emma cut out the “In Memoriam” notice in the local newspaper and stuck it on a page in one of those books. The notice read: “Roll of Honour. MOORE. – In cherished memory of Sgt. E. Moore (Durham Pals), beloved son of Mr. and Mrs. J. G. Moore, Tudhoe Colliery, who fell in France May 19th, 1918. Safe in our Father’s home until the day breaks and the shadows flee away.”

And the poem on that page was God’s Acre:

I like that ancient Saxon phrase, which calls

  The burial-ground God’s Acre….

God’s-Acre! Yes, that blessed name imparts

  Comfort to those who in the grave have sown

The seed that they had garnered in their hearts,

  Their bread of life, alas! no more their own….

Below: It is likely that Sgt Moore is the man with a cigarette standing at the back with his arm resting on a friend’s back. He does look older and battle weary compared to that above which was probably taken before he left England for the Western Front.

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Aysgarth Parish and WWI

In December 1918 the vicar of Aysgarth, the Rev William K Wyley wrote in the parish letter: “I wonder if, in the years to come, November 11 will overshadow the 5th as a day greatly to be remembered.”

He was, however, very aware that dalesfolk were in the midst of the great Spanish Flu epidemic and that the WW1 peace agreement had not yet been signed.

Two soldiers, L/Cpl John Wood of Carperby and Driver William Metcalfe of Aysgarth, were given compassionate leave when their wives became ill with the flu. Both women died, Eleanor Metcalfe (22) before her husband got home.

Soldiers began to be demobbed in early 1919 and this led to Mr Wyley publishing an interesting ‘advert’ in the parish magazine: “The Employment Exchange at Northallerton has asked me to state that it has on its Registers women discharged from War Service and suitable for several classes of employment.”

It was acknowledged that women had an important part to play in reconstruction. The role that women had played during the Great War was recognised when limited suffrage was granted to them in 1918.

In October 1918 Mr Wyley commented: “We are approaching the time when, as a nation, we shall realize more fully what a tremendous change the war has made in the social, industrial and religious life of England.”

In that letter he reminded everyone about the great need of economy in the use of oil and especially coal. “I know that very many of us are reducing our fires to a very low minimum, and where wood fuel is available I am sure we shall be careful to ‘do our bit’ in this respect for our country.” He had regularly emphasised the need for food economy and, in June 1917, explained why (below).

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WW1 had a massive impact upon the lives of everyone and not just because of the ravenous war machine in France and Belgium. The parish magazines not only listed those who had enlisted – but also those who were killed.

When war first broke out local people didn’t know how to respond. Initially events were cancelled but it didn’t take long for people to realise that they could use the church’s flower festivals and other celebrations to raise money for the War Working Parties or to be sent direct to hospitals caring for the war wounded. Concerts, jumble sales and tea parties were also held.

In May 1915 there was a bold headline: “200,000 Eggs wanted weekly for the wounded.” The National Egg Collection had been launched with the request that each household should send one each week to help the recovery of wounded soldiers. The West Burton and District Scout Troop took on the job in the parish and by late November had collected 6,144 eggs. These were sent to military hospitals in France and Malta and some to wounded soldiers at Leeds Infirmary.

HomeFront2SRight: published in the Aysgarth section of The Upper Dales Parish Magazine in December 1917

Children helped with collecting sphagnum moss for dressing wounds, made items of clothing and, in November 1917, were encouraged to collect horse chestnuts for munitions and also waste paper. Mr Wyley reported that within two months he received half hundredweight of horse chestnuts and four hundredweight of waste paper.

The times of services had to be adjusted when lighting restrictions were introduced in February 1916 following air raids by Zeppelins. And the shortage of manpower was beginning to have an effect. In July 1918 Mr Wyley wrote: “May haytime be favourable and health and strength sufficient to tide over the shortage of labour.”

Conscription was introduced in January 1916 and in July 1917 he wrote: “I am glad to say that the local Tribunal has granted exemption to our Sexton on condition that he is released as far as possible for agricultural and other work of National importance.

The signing of the Peace Treaty in July 1919 led to celebrations throughout the country and the Empire. But in Wensleydale the hay harvest had to come first. Mr Wyley commented: “I hope that when all the hay has been led each village… will do something to mark our rejoicing over the Peace and our gratitude to the men who won the possibility of it.”

This has been edited from the Aysgarth sections of the  Upper Wensleydale Parish Magazines 1914-1918. Aysgarth parish consists of Aysgarth, Carperby, Bishopdale, Thoralby, Thornton Rust and West Burton.

Below: The peace celebrations in 1919 at The Rookery in Bishopdale  (courtesy DCM)  The Rookery no longer exists.

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For more stories see the WWI section of the Thoralby Through Time website.

Col John William Lodge

JWLodgeSThe biggest military funeral at Aysgarth church during WW1 was that for Col John William Lodge with the band of his regiment and the detachments of two battalions being present. The firing party fired volleys over his grave and buglers sounded the Last Post. He was 60-years-old when, on leave at his home at The Rookery in Bishopdale, he died on 23 August 1917, after a short illness.

He had served in the Boer War and from 1906-1912 had commanded the 3rd Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment. At the outbreak of the 1st World War he had immediately returned to the battalion as a major and in May 1916 was appointed to the command of a Garrison Battalion. (Information and photo courtesy Wensleydale Remembered)

Pte John Percival

There wasn’t a military funeral for Pte John Percival but there is a military gravestone. He was 21-years-old when he died and was buried on 12 April 1918.

This obituary was published about him:

“He enlisted when he was 19, and after being trained at Rugeley Camp, went to France in April 1916, and was through the battle of the Somme, being badly wounded in the hand in September 1916. He was sent back to England for treatment, and made a sufficient recovery to enable him to return to service.

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“As he was a competent motor driver he was transferred by the authorities from the Yorkshire Regiment to the Motor Transport, Army Service Corps, in June 1917. In this work he did good service until October last, when he was badly gassed, and was seriously ill. He returned to England, and was in the 1st London General Hospital, Camberwell, until November 27th, when he was officially discharged from the Army as physically unfit for further service.

“A relative went to London to bring him home. He was very weak, and while crossing London an air raid was proceeding, and the journey was several times interrupted. Arrived at Aysgarth he was very happy to see his home and family, and seemed to revive for a while, but the gas had seriously damaged his lungs and recovery was seen to be impossible.

“Though relatives and friends nursed him tenderly day and night there was no progress towards health. The funeral was largely attended by sympathising friends, and some beautiful wreaths and affectionate messages were sent.”

Waterfall of Poppies at Aysgarth church

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A waterfall of poppies is once again cascading over the reredos at Aysgarth church ready for the Remembrance service on Sunday.

The waterfall and a large exhibition were created last year as part of the church’s celebration of the centenary of the signing of the Armistice in 1918.

The part of the exhibition which remembers the local men killed during World War 1 is still in place. All the other information gathered about men and women from the church parish (Aysgarth, Bishopdale, Carperby, Thoralby, Thornton Rust, Walden and West Burton) who also served during that conflict is in two books beside it.

A lot of the information was collected by Penny Ellis and she has continued her research this year. This has enabled her to update the Roll of Honour and some other pages on her website, Thoralby Through Time. She has added five names to the Roll of Honour with the total now standing at 198.

Those she has added are: Elizabeth Ewbank of Swinithwaite and Aysgarth, VAD nurse; James William Fryer of Bishopdale, Driver 52nd Liverpool; Thomas Fryer of Bishopdale, Gunner Royal Garrison Artillery; Joseph Powell Hammond of Thornton Rust, Private Northumberland Fusiliers; and Mark Hammond of Aysgarth, Gunner Royal Garrison Artillery.Mrs Ellis has also found more names of women shown on some photos in her “Home Front” section and added photos of the commemorative cup and saucer produced for the peace celebrations at the Rookery in Bishopdale in 1919. Her research continues.

On Sunday November 10 the Remembrance services at Penhill Benefice churches are: at Castle Bolton at 9.30am; at Preston under Scar at 10.45am; and at Aysgarth at 11am.

Pen-y-ghent cafe

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It was sad to hear  that Pen-y-ghent cafe in Horton in Ribblesdale has been closed this year (see  John Lester’s comment).  Peter and Joyce Bayes not only ran the cafe for many years before  handing over to their children but also founded the Three Peaks of Yorkshire Club.  I first posted the following article in 2009:

Left: Peter Bayes (centre) watches as Iain Main enjoys one of the cafe’s trademark pint mugs of tea, while a walker clocks in after completing the Three Peaks challenge. About his walk along the Three Peaks route  in the  summer of 2009  Iain commented: “I have been coming for many years. I come to be quiet, for solitude and to commune with nature. But at stiles and gates it was like queuing to get into the Marks and Spencers January sales. Sometimes there were 50 people waiting to get through. I don’t begrudge the charities but over a thousand people in a space of 12 to 14 hours is going to take a toll on the undeveloped parts of the path. It’s a great service to the charities but there needs to be a debate with the National Park  Authority about the wear and tear on the landscape and the amount of litter.”

On Saturdays throughout the summer Horton in Ribblesdale is overflowing with walkers taking part in the Three Peaks challenge to raise funds for charities. It has been Heart Research UK’s biggest annual fund raising event for 15 years and, like many other charities, it provides its own support and safety systems.

But for many undertaking the Three Peaks challenge there is still nothing like clocking out and in at the world-famous Pen-y-ghent cafe and enjoying its trademark pint mugs of tea and home-made cakes. Since 1965, when Peter and Joyce Bayes moved to the village, they and their children have turned the cafe into an institution among the walking fraternity. And many are proud to wear the shirts or badges that go with completing the trek over Ingleborough, Whernside and Pen-y-ghent within 12 hours. This entitled them to join the Three Peaks of Yorkshire club instituted and run by the Bayes.

The ping of them clocking back in is a constant background noise throughout summer afternoons except when the cafe is closed on Tuesdays. The family bought an old clocking-in clock from a Lancashire mill many years ago to keep up with the number of walkers who wanted to use their free safety service. For after a long day the Bayes don’t close at 5.30pm and put their feet up. Instead they remain on duty waiting for the last tired walkers to sign back in.

The Bayes family are concerned about the impact of big charity events upon residents, landowners, other walkers and local businesses. In a letter to the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority in 2008 the Bayes stated: “Our business adheres to a guiding set of principles and ethics which are informed by a sense of responsibility for the impact that our customers have on both the immediate locality and the wider landscape.” They have helped large groups to find alternative routes by collaborating with the department of physical education at Leeds University.

Footnote: Joyce died in 2012.

YDNPA – Planning Committee October 2019

An ARC News Service report on the meeting of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority ‘s (YDNPA) planning committee on October 8 2019. Items discussed were: the new garden at The Burgoyne Hotel, Reeth; extensions and a bathroom window on a barn conversion at Keld; a barn conversion at Halfway House, Hawes; a new shed at Threshfield ; and three new houses at Maulds Meaburn. 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.

This week the impact of tourism upon residents was on the agenda of the planning committee, Hawes and High Abbotside Parish Council, and Aysgarth and District Parish Council.

At least members of the planning committee did discuss how the new garden behind the Burgoyne Hotel in Reeth will affect neighbours and steps were taken to alleviate the problem. But some residents in Aysgarth are having considerable problems convincing the YDNPA that their amenity is being severely affected by a ten-bed holiday let in the middle of the village. In Hawes some residents reported that their privacy had disappeared due to being completely surrounded by second homes and holiday lets (see below). Surely it is time that the YDNPA re-evaluated its policy of increasing the number of overnight stays by tourists.

It was very difficult to report on this month’s planning meeting because the sound amplification system wasn’t working most of the time. My digital recorder did just about pick up most of the debates but it was  hard work transcribing the recordings – just to find out what happened!

Reeth – Burgoyne Hotel

Two committee members put forward a very common sense solution to how to protect the amenity of neighbours once a new garden has been developed behind the Burgoyne Hotel: create a deep cultivated bed along  the boundary wall.

Some residents of Hill Close had objected to the development of the garden because it would be so easy for hotel guests to look down on them over a wall which is only 1.3m high. The planning officer told the committee that the material consideration was the severity of the impact on the amenity of neighbours. He had, therefore, suggested imposing conditions to mitigate the impact.

One of these was that a screen wall or fence should be erected two metres from the boundary. The hotel owner, Ian Hewitt, explained that this and a condition excluding the public from the chef’s garden were overly onerous. He wanted the chef’s garden to be part of the hotel experience for their guests.

Lancashire County councillor Cosima Towneley was the first to suggest a flower bed and then Jim Munday said: “The simple thing is to have a cultivated bed along the wall of an appropriate depth to prevent anybody from looking over the wall.”

The committee agreed and also felt that there wasn’t a good reason to exclude the public from the chef’s vegetable garden. They were told by the planning officer that the vegetable plots would enable the hotel to grow its own food which would assist in the viability of the business.

Residents were also concerned about the possibility of large events being held in the garden accompanied by loud amplified music. Mr Hewitt told the committee  that the grass area of the new garden would not be suitable for  marquees  and added: “We don’t intend to have events there.”

The conditions, however,  included that there should be no formal functions or events  in the new garden; no tents, marquees or other temporary shelters;  no playing or broadcasting of amplified music or speech; and guests not being allowed to be in it after 10pm.

Once the amendments to the conditions had been agreed the majority of the members voted to approve the application for change of use of the land.

Permission was also granted for the demolition of a single storey detached outbuilding at the rear of the hotel. The planning officer explained This narrow brick building with rusty corrugated metal roof was built as a shower block during World War II when the hotel had been requisitioned by the Ministry of Defence. The space created by its demolition would be used for guest car parking Mr Hewitt said. As it is one of the few structures built for military purposes in the National Park during that war there must be a full archaeological recording of it before it is demolished.

Keld

A young farmer, Chris Rukin, explained to the committee the problems he and his family would have with condensation if  the bathroom window in the converted barn they were living in was removed and blocked  up.

The planning officer stated that the modern window, which was installed without permission,  was at odds with the traditional agricultural character of the building. When this was  combined with the proposed extension [on that gable end],  the result would be a complicated and unbalanced appearance detrimental to the significance of the Barns and Walls Conservation Area,” he said.

He told the meeting that officers had worked with the Rukins to create an acceptable proposal for the single-storey extensions and removal of the bathroom window. That proposal was approved in July this year – but then the  Rukins applied to keep the bathroom window.

Mr Rukin explained that the problems with condensation had become severe once he and his wife were living there permanently. As he was working on the farm there was a lot of washing. “The condensation was getting into the walls and starting to smell. When it was used as a holiday cottage there wasn’t the same level of showers and baths. Since the window has been installed we have had no problems. We don’t want to go back to that situation.”

Allen Kirkbride, North Yorkshire County councillor Robert Heseltine and Richmondshire District councillor John Amsden agreed that such a young farming family deserved their support.

And Jocelyn Manners-Armstrong said: “In my opinion this would be seen as unreasonable and disproportionate to refuse permission for this very specific reason when there is a legitimate basis for requiring it [the window].”

The chairman of the committee, Julie Martin disagreed and stated: “As the cultural heritage champion I believe we should take a strong line and refuse it.” She said that she appreciated the damp issues but the officers had been exceptionally helpful and accommodating.  Part of the deal struck earlier in the year, she explained, had included the removal of the unauthorised window. “Its a bit like reneging on the deal to come back to retain the window,” she added.

The deal was for a single-storey extension on the east elevation to provide additional ground floor living accommodation, and a single storey lean-to extension on the south elevation to provide toilet and wash facilities for the campsite on the farm.

Eleven out of 16 of the members voted to grant permission for the extensions and retaining the bathroom window. The reasons they gave were that the window didn’t materially harm the appearance of the building and that it was necessary .

As this was against officer recommendation the decision was referred back to the November meeting.

Hawes

Hawes and High Abbotside Parish Council asked the committee to hold a site meeting at Halfway House so that the members could see for themselves how dangerous the access was.

In February the committee had approved an application to convert the barn next to Halfway House into a local occupancy dwelling. The owner then applied for it to be used for short stay holiday lets as well.

Allen Kirkbride  agreed with the parish council that, as the access was by a corner on the A684, it would be far more dangerous for short stay visitors who didn’t know the area well than for anyone living there permanently. It was also pointed out that the Highways Authority had objected each time to the application because of the access.

Like the parish council Mr Kirkbride also wanted to see the barn converted solely for local occupancy.  “This was specifically for local occupancy. [The owner] could have said in February that it would be dual purpose. Now he comes along and changes his mind. “

The majority of the committee, however, disagreed with him and the new application was approved.

Threshfield

Permission was granted for a shed to be replaced in a garden at Park Grange Cottage.

Threshfield Parish Council had objected to the application because, it said, the new shed would be bigger than the existing one and so too big for the area. It would also be higher than the existing shed.

The planning officer told the meeting that the footprint of the new shed was smaller than the existing one and the ridge height would be 20cm higher. He stated that the new one would fit in the same space which was bounded by three walls. “The proposed development will result in an improvement to the appearance of the site,” he said.

Maulds Meaburn

A large number of the issues raised by Crosby Ravensworth Parish Council about the application to build three terraced houses  on land adjacent to the village institute in Maulds Meaburn had been dealt with before the meeting said the chairman, Mrs Martin.

The planning officer reported that outline permission had been granted by Eden District Council in September 2016.  He said that in accordance with some of the points made by the parish council the present application stated that the window and door frames must  be made of timber and not white UPVC; porous surfacing material should be used on the access road and car parking area so that surface water will be retained on the site and not contribute to any flooding along the road; and the front gardens should be enclosed by a traditional dry stone wall.

The parish council had argued that six parking spaces was inadequate and that could lead to parking congestion by the village institute. The planning officer’s report stated that one more parking space has been added and that the houses should be built to a high quality design that reflected the  local character.

The planning office reported that some of the other issues raised by the parish council had already been dealt with by the District Council when outline planning permission was given.

The planning committee approved the application.

From Hawes and High Abbotside Parish Council report:

Methodist chapel. – The councillors and others at the meeting agreed that strong representation should be made to the planning appeal hearing concerning the former Methodist chapel.  The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) refused an application to convert the chapel and hall into five holiday lets.

It was agreed that the key issues were the lack of parking, severe congestion caused by bad parking,  and the increase in the number of holiday lets rather than affordable housing.

One man who lives near the chapel stated: “We are completely surrounded by holiday lets. We have lost all our privacy.”

He and the parish council also emphasised that the lane behind the chapel was a public highway.

Affordable homes. –  The meeting was told that three out of ten dwellings in Hawes were now holiday homes or second homes.  Andrew Fagg said: “In four years’ time it is conceivable that there will be fewer than 50 pupils at [Hawes Primary] School.

Aysgarth Church Harvest Festival 2019

by Juliet Barker

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The harvest was well and truly celebrated at St Andrew’s! We gave thanks to God for the beauty of our natural world and for the social ties that bring us together as friends and neighbours in a fantastic Flower Festival.

Our flower arrangers are renowned for their creativity, skill and imagination but they excelled themselves in their displays celebrating some of the local organisations in our parish. Who knew there was so much going on in  our villages? (To see more pictures click on the photo)

A children’s session of fun and games attracted a low turnout but, led by a roller-skating scarecrow (Steve Hamilton), we all had huge fun rescuing the animals in Noah’s ark, passing round the potatoes and finding the harvest mice hidden in church.

In the evening we had a full house at the Falls Café for our hog-roast and ceilidh, with music provided by the inimitable Roosters Band. It was a great joy to see so many young people, including children, join in the dancing with great enthusiasm – and then come to church the next morning to round off our celebrations with a Harvest Thanksgiving Service, led by Rev Kathy Couchman. Her moving and memorable sermon struck a chord with many of us and was much discussed afterwards.

Thank you everyone who gave their time, energy, skills and money to make our Harvest Celebrations such a success. We raised over £800 and renewed our fellowship with members of the parish – and beyond!

We will continue to collect tinned and dried food for Caring For Life until the end of October: a list of suggested items and a box for offerings can be found at the back of the church.

Photo: one mouse escaped and almost came to a sticky end on part of the Jervaulx Screen! or was an adult just playing after all the children  had gone?

YDNPA and farming in the Dales

Farmers could be facing a huge adverse economic shock, members of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority were told on Tuesday September 24.

The risk is so great that they agreed unanimously that the Authority’s working group on the Future of Farming and Land Management in the Yorkshire Dales National Park should continue.

Ian McPherson, the Authority’s member champion for the Natural Environment who has chaired the working group since its inception in June 2017, told the meeting: “We began to realise that the future of farming was probably the single most important issue facing the Authority at this time.”

He pointed out that the Authority’s head of conservation and community, Gary Smith, had warned that farmers were  entering an even deeper state of turmoil during this period of political uncertainty. “The situation is changing from day to day,” commented Mr McPherson. He said the working group, which includes farmers, should have the widest possible remit so that it could keep abreast of changing circumstances

Mr Smith had asked how the Authority wanted to influence the design of the new Environmental Land Management scheme. “We really want to build on the fine work that is going on in Wensleydale,” he told members.

Recently retired farmer, Richmondshire District councillor John Amsden, reminded the members that it was the farmers in the National Park who managed the land not the Authority. “Its hard work and a lot of them are tenant farmers. They are working seven days a week, long hours and are often lonely as in a lot of cases the farms are one-man bands.”

He therefore suggested that Dales farmers should be paid £25,000 to £30,000 a year to manage the countryside.

North Yorkshire County councillor Robert Heseltine commented that one in six of all jobs in the Yorkshire Dales were connected with farming.  He added: “That’s a lot of families who rely on farming.”

Dales farmer and the Authority’s member champion for sustainable development, Chris Clark told the meeting: “The adverse economic shock is a huge reality for this Authority.” He warned that the economic viability of farms must be kept in mind when considering policies that have nature and climate change at their heart and added: “There’s no point in having  ‘pay by results’ unless this includes the viability of the farms.”

The members had already  voted unanimously to declare a ‘”Climate Emergency”.

Mr Smith reported that the Authority had reduced its own greenhouse gas emissions by 62 per cent and had directly funded projects in the National Park that were removing around 500,000kg of carbon dioxide emissions each year through planting trees and peat restoration. He said the Authority  has effectively been ‘net zero carbon’ since 2013.

“By next year it is likely that we will be sequestering twice the amount of greenhouse gas emissions than we will be emitting,” he said.

Julie Martin commented: “I think this is an absolutely fantastic and really important opportunity for us to lead what is a very, very crucial area for all of us, but perhaps particularly for our young people. I know from my own children how important it is. And we are in a key position to inform and motivate others.”

Cumbria County councillor Nick Cotton said: “I think we should be really proud of what we have done. Let’s see how we can concentrate our efforts on those two things – peat restoration and tree planting, which have already proved to be so successful.”

The importance of planting trees was also emphasised by the Authority’s head of Ranger services Alan Hulme during his report on the impact of the flash floods which hit Langthwaite and Lower Swaledale on July 30. This event was a warning that flooding could occur at any time of the year and not just in winter, he said.

He showed slides of the devastation caused by the rocks and debris which had been swept down the valleys by the flood water. “The debris on the fields is mostly contaminated as there is lead in the area,” he said. This, he added, would take years to rectify.

About three and a half kilometres of rights of way had been either washed away or covered by landslides and debris, he reported. In addition, 16 bridges had been lost 11 of which were on rights of way as well as several footbridges. He  emphasised that the tourist trade in the area depended a great deal on rights of way being open.

He told members: “The bridges are our big loss. It will probably take about two years [to repair them]. The cost to us, we think, will be about £600,000 to restore rights of way. We are making some headway already by utilising some of the local community’s equipment, contractors and volunteers.”

He and several members praised the community’s response and resilience and the way groups of volunteers had come from other areas to help. They were grateful for the funding being made available and for the way Richmondshire District Council had responded.

Richmondshire District councillor Stuart Parsons hoped that money would continue to be available for several years through some form of long-term sustainability fund.  “It will take years to repair the damage,” he said.

……….

For over 20 years the Association of Rural Communities has urged the YDNPA to recognise the importance of farmers in managing the beautiful landscape of the Dales. This has again been emphasised by the association’s present chairman, Alastair Dinsdale, who farms at Carperby. See: YDNPA and the importance of farmers.

YDNPA and John Blackie

An ARC News Service report about the beginning of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s (YDNPA) meeting on September 24 2019. There were tributes to John Blackie by the chairman of the Authority and by the Association of Rural Communities (ARC) ; a call by Hawes and High Abbotside Parish Council for the Authority to be called to account over disparaging remarks about John Blackie; and a question from the Association of Rural Communities about a possible conflict of interest.

Carl Lis’s tribute as chairman of the Authority to John Blackie

He said he and John Blackie were members of the Shadow Authority which was set up on April 1st 1996, the year before the new Authority was created. Prior to that, he explained,  it was a committee of North Yorkshire County Council. He continued:

“Over the years John was always a massive advocate for his local community and the evidence of his personal achievements are there for everyone to see. That was evident at our conference last week when one of the tours centred on Hawes and highlighted some of the community issues that John’s input had been so [effective]. Everyone here I am sure will remember the tenacity John exhibited in supporting many, many local issues. The threatened closure of the Friarage Hospital was one of the notable ones but there were many others.

“I am sure all of us here today would have received emails on a whole range of issues over the years, many of them extremely detailed but always passionate. Some of them sent in the very early hours of the morning. That was John. I’m convinced that there will never be anyone quite like him. It would be wrong for me to suggest we always agreed but entirely appropriate for us to respect his memory and his achievements. With that in mind could I ask that we all stand to observe a minute’s silence in memory of John Blackie.”

…….

There were two speakers during the Public Question Time

Jill McMullon, chair of Hawes and High Abbotside Parish Council:

She said that the comments that had been made about John Blackie at the July meeting of the Authority’s planning committee when he was absent had been described as  ‘nothing short of disgraceful.’ She added that at the meeting in July it was suggested that Hawes and High Abbotside Parish Council should hold Cllr Blackie to account. She continued with the following as agreed at the parish council meeting on August 12:

‘The Parish Council would like to make the following statement “disparaging comments made about Cllr Blackie are rejected as inappropriate and entirely untrue. The Parish Council and several members of the public in attendance wish it known that any comments made by Cllr Blackie in regard to the planning applications in question, are wholly supported.  Furthermore, the Parish Council feels that it is the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority that should be held to account on this matter”.’

Pip Pointon on behalf of the Association of Rural  Communities (ARC):

In August the Association of Rural Communities requested the advice of the Authority’s Monitoring Officer on the possibility of there being a conflict of interest arising from the chairman of the planning committee being a trustee of the Friends of the Dales. The Friends of the Dales states that it is a campaigning group and has often lobbied the Authority especially concerning barn conversion applications.

The Association was told that it would receive a written response from the Monitoring Officer – but as yet it has not received one.

The Association was also very concerned at how three Authority members made non-agenda statements at the beginning of the July planning committee meeting in which they criticised John Blackie. Allen Kirkbride reminded the committee that Mr Blackie was not there to defend himself.

When the Association queried this later Cllr Carl Lis stated : “At this difficult time for the Authority with Mr Blackie’s demise, I would suggest that if ARC wants to have a serious discussion about how we – and the local district councils – might tackle the difficult and complex challenges around the availability and affordability of housing, then I would genuinely welcome that.”

So why not honour Mr Blackie by remembering how he fought consistently for over 20 years for affordable housing for local people?

He had often begged the planning committee to be flexible enough to find a way to allow young families to create homes out of redundant barns. Because Mr Blackie did that again at the June planning meeting one member in July asked Hawes and High Abbotside parish council to call him to account.

This Association knows of no parish council in the Upper Dales which would call Mr Blackie to account for the way he tirelessly championed the cause of individuals and local communities – even from his hospital bed. If ever someone should have been honoured nationally for championing local communities it was Mr Blackie.

The chairman of the Friends of the Dales has called for a review of the Authority’s barn conversion policy because it was concerned about ‘aspects of the working of the policy which permits the conversion for residential purposes of barns regarded as being “roadside”’.

The Association of Rural Communities has been told that the Authority will instead begin the process of updating its Local Plan. When doing so, this Association hopes that the Authority will keep in mind the number of times parish councils have asked that local occupancy should be the priority when barn conversions applications are considered – especially as in the past few years the majority of barn conversions have been for business use, mainly for holiday lets.

Cllr Carl Lis’s  Response

Thank you both for your statements

In relation to your comments about Mr Blackie, as I referred to earlier, I worked with John from Day 1 of this Authority in 1996. We both came to understand and accept that there would be some fairly robust discussions at times. It was his nature. He could take as good as he gave, and I think we would best honour his legacy now by looking forward.

Before we can do that, though, I have to deal with ARC’s allegations about Mrs Martin.

All Members of the Authority are aware of the rules regarding declaring interests at meetings when relevant to an item of business and participating when the item of business is debated and voted upon. Mrs Martin’s involvement with the Friends of the Dales is a matter of long-standing public record. Like all other Authority Members, she has completed a register of interests, which can be viewed by the public on the Authority’s website.

Many District Councillors, County Councillors and Members of National Park Authorities are also members of other organisations that campaign on particular issues or express views on individual planning applications. Your statement appears to suggest that none of these Councillors should be able to sit on the Planning Committee. That just can’t be right. I’d suggest that the issue here is simply that you don’t like the Friends of the Dales.

Looking to the future, I wrote to you some months ago offering to meet representatives of ARC to see if we could find a more helpful and constructive way of working. I haven’t given up on that possibility, so I shall write to you again after this meeting to make the same offer. In doing so, can I ask you please to provide some basic information about ARC. For example, do you have any objectives, a constitution, or elected officials? How many members are there and, if those members are public bodies such as parish councils, can you say who they are?

I’m sure you’ll agree that it is important that our Members and the public can understand what ARC is, and what its members’ interests are.

Press release by ARC immediately afterwards:

ARC didn’t make allegations against Julie Martin. It questioned the Authority on an issue of conflict of interest.

One of ARC’s founder members was the late Stephen Butcher. When he became a Craven  District Councillor and represented that council on the YDNPA he stood down as a member of ARC so that there would be no question or possibility of a conflict of interest.

We have chosen to be independent – to provide a local democracy service and to monitor the YDNPA – something which many in the National Park appreciate and support.

For more about ARC see Association of Rural Communities and that information has been available on this website for years.

Also see: John Blackie, the Rural Summit and that complaint.

Hard Banks Barn Ice Cream Parlour

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Left to right: Andy Singleton and Gillian and Adrian Harrison outside Hard Banks Barn

A beautifully restored barn in lovely countryside with an ice cream parlour hidden inside has proved to be a magnate for locals and visitors alike in Wensleydale since Saturday September 21.

On the approach along the A684 from Aysgarth Hard Banks Barn looks like a well-renovated traditional building that fits so well into the undulating countryside around it.

“You cannot tell from the outside what is within – which sort of makes it a nice surprise,” said Gillian Harrison who manages the ice cream parlour in a joint venture with her husband, Adrian. And it is a wonderful surprise to walk inside and find a light and airy ice cream parlour where the atmosphere is enhanced by the late 18th century beams.

The designer, Andy Singleton, commented that it was not where such a traditional barn was situated but rather the way It was restored. He had assured the National Park planning officers that the barn conversion wouldn’t have a detrimental impact upon the landscape and was delighted with the result.

Part of the airy atmosphere inside is due to his creative use of the original ventilation apertures. He had had the splayed reveals inside widened and small glass “windows” inserted without changing the outside appearance of the barn.

“I think those appealed to everybody. It’s a bit higgledy piggledy but that adds to the character,” Gillian commented.

Their Wensleydale Ice Cream comes from their own Jersey cows and is manufactured at their farm at Thornton Rust. There are now three generations of Harrisons at the farm: grandparents Maurice and Anne; Gillian and Adrian and their two children.

Gillian and Adrian explained that they hope the ice cream parlour will enable the family to support themselves without turning to intensive farming methods. “You’ve got to have additional revenue. There are so many variables in farming and it’s a big risk [business] with small margins,” Gillian said.

Hard Banks Barn, they believe, will show just how much everything in the Dales is intertwined in what is very much a man-made landscape. Even the colour of the grass depended, they pointed out, on the fertiliser used and the animals which graze on it.

They plan to have cows grazing near the barn and to display pictures to show how the milk is processed into ice cream. And their customers agreed that the ice cream is superb.

There are tables and chairs downstairs and more in the ‘Minstrels Gallery’ above. Alongside the ice cream there are also coffee, cakes and waffles. Adrian and Gillian are employing five local part-time staff to help Gillian with another making the ice cream. And they are very grateful for the support of Maurice and Anne Harrison.

The parlour is attracting a wide age range of people and Gillian was delighted to see children larking about outside and rolling down the grassy bank.

One Monday they hosted children from the BAWB federation of schools who were taken there by their parents as an after-school treat. “The parents said it was so nice because there aren’t many places they can take the children for a treat,” said Gillian.

She and Adrian were also very happy to see people going to the parlour for their sweet course after their Sunday dinner. “I always wanted it to be like a ‘pudding’ barn,’ she commented.

They believe the ice cream parlour fills a niche market in Wensleydale and helps to attract tourists. And they and their staff can – and do – tell tourists about other local attractions. They are looking forward to continuing to work with the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority to make the ice cream parlour a success, especially its tourist department and the Dairy Days project.

The Harrisons are very grateful to all those who helped to make their dream come true and for a grant from The Yorkshire Dales LEADER programme. They plan to hold an official opening in a few months’ time in memory of John Blackie for all the work he put into the project.

During the winter the ice cream parlour is open from 10am to 5pm Thursday to Sunday each week.

In November 2014 I posted a report on the obstacle race the Harrisons were facing as part of my coverage of the Rural Summit in Leyburn that was organised by John Blackie. 

Below: Hard Banks Barn. The brown patches will disappear once the grass has grown. 

YDNPA – Planning committee September 2019

An ARC News Service report on the meeting of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority ‘s (YDNPA) planning committee on September 10 2019. Items discussed were: conversion of former Methodist chapel at Bainbridge; 6 Finkle Street at Sedbergh; conversion of upper storeys of a shop at Grassington;  and extensions to a house at Cracoe.

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.

Bainbridge

The conversion of the former chapel  at Bainbridge into two two-bedroom affordable rented dwellings for perpetuity was described by Julie Greenslade, the circuit administrator for the North Yorkshire Dales Methodist Circuit as being a pilot scheme for their churches throughout the country.

“We have learnt a lot from this application,” she said following the unanimous decision at the planning committee to approve it.

Richmondshire District councillor John Amsden commented: “I think it is a very good proposal because all round this area Methodist chapels are being sold off for holiday cottages or second homes. This is being kept for locals.”

The planning officer reported that residents and Bainbridge Parish Council were very concerned about the acute shortage of parking especially as the former chapel does not have any designated parking spaces.

“When the primary school is opening and closing it is chaotic down the back Syke – you can’t park anywhere. But what are you going to do with [the building]?”

Some residents had suggested that the railings and a stone staircase should be removed to provide a parking area. The planning officer, however, stated: “The external staircase is considered to be a key architectural feature of the building and historically provided the public route into the chapel. Its loss would have a detrimental effect on the character of this heritage asset and the resulting car parking space would be… deficient.”

She described the proposed conversion as being sympathetic and that it had been amended to ensure that neighbouring properties were not overlooked. She added that it went beyond the policy requirement for local occupancy dwelling. This is because the Methodist Circuit will continue to own the building and will allocate accommodation to those in affordable housing need in conjunction with Richmondshire District Council.

At the beginning of the debate the chairman, Julie Martin, stated: “I would like to declare an interest. There has been a comment in support of the application, I believe, by the Friends of the Dales, the charity of which I am a trustee. However, I don’t think that inhibits me from participating in this debate and the vote on it, the reason being that while I am a trustee… I take no part whatsoever in their consultation process on planning applications [and] I am not a member of their policy committee, deliberately so because I feel that is inconsistent with being on [this] planning committee.”

Sedbergh

The majority of the committee again voted in favour of allowing the two upper floors of 6 Finkle Street in Sedbergh to become a residential flat again without the imposition of a legal agreement that it must be for local occupancy. (Such agreements can include holiday lets.)

The head of development management, Richard Graham, reminded members that at the August meeting a planning officer had recommended refusing the application because the owner had refused to sign a legal agreement.

The majority of the members, however, agreed that turning the upper floors back to residential use did not constitute “new build” and so did not require any legal agreement. They were also concerned that the imposition of such a legal agreement would have a negative impact upon businesses in the centre of Sedbergh.

As that was contrary to the officer’s recommendation the issue was referred back to the September meeting.  Mr Graham said that the housing policy was aimed at delivering more affordable housing for local people. He did not accept the possible “material considerations” put forward last month but rather suggested others which could be used to support a decision that was not in accordance with policy.

He said: “Changing the use of the upper floors to residential in the circumstances in this case would not have a material effect upon the delivery of affordable housing for local people. The proposal would create a two-bedroom flat which, in this location, would be a relatively affordable form of accommodation and is less likely to become a second home or a holiday let than a house would be. But, of course, that cannot be guaranteed.

“There is a wider consideration here that [such a legal restriction] would hamper flexibility of businesses to use their premises and that may frustrate some of the economic objectives of the Local Plan.”

Jim Munday argued that imposing a legal restriction was in accordance with the Authority’s Local Plan especially as it wanted to attract more young people to the National Park.

But seven of the 13 members disagreed and confirmed the decision to approve the change of use of the two storeys without a local occupancy legal restriction.

Grassington

The first and second floors of a former butcher’s shop in Grassington can be converted into a two-bedroom dwelling the committee agreed.

An internal passageway will be created to provide access to the apartment, the planning officer said. She added that the external alterations would be minimal being the insertion of three roof lights, the re-opening of a blocked-up window and the re-use of an existing door.

She commented: “The proposed development would see the loss of the upper floors from a potential business use, but there is still a large ground floor shop remaining together with two quite substantial store room areas.” The applicant had pointed out that the upper floors had not been used for 20 years.

Some residents had queried  the siting of wheelie bins behind the premises but the planning officer said that the land did belong to the applicant. “Whilst the storage of wheelie bins in this location is not ideal, they would not have such a harmful impact on the amenity of neighbours to warrant the refusal of planning permission,” she stated.

Grassington Parish Council objected to the  application because there was of the lack of parking in that area. The planning officer reported that the occupier of the dwelling could obtain a parking permit for the National Park Authority car park nearby.

Committee member Craven District councillor Richard Foster, commented that even though there was a lack of parking spaces in Grassington the conversion of the upper stories of the shop would be a great use of that space.

Approval was given on the basis that the applicant would sign a legal agreement restricting use of the flat  to the local occupancy criteria set out in the Authority’s Local Plan or to short term holiday let.

Cracoe

The majority of the committee agreed that two extensions can be added to No Name House in Cracoe despite the objections of the parish meeting.

North Yorkshire County councillors Robert Heseltine recognised that Cracoe Parish Meeting seemed to be very much against the application but added: “Every concern that the parish meeting has brought has been overcome by the applicant in negotiation with the planning officer.”

The parish meeting’s objections included: the proposed extensions would overcrowd an already narrow lane; the proposed number of two parking spaces would be disproportionate when the number of bedrooms was increased from four to five; there were no extra parking spaces nearby; and the positioning of a flue for a new wood-burning stove. It stated it would not object to the replacement of the rear conservatory with just one of the extensions if its  height, size and roof pitch were the same.

The planning officer reported that the garden room which will replace the conservatory was not significantly greater in size, would be largely screened by a tall fence, and would not overshadow the neighbouring property.  The applicant, Richard Johnson, had agreed to place the wood-burner flue higher up so that smoke from it could not affect the neighbours.

The two-storey cat-slide extension on the other side of the house followed local precedent and would not, the planning officer said. have a negative impact upon neighbouring properties. He added: “Overall, it is considered that the proposal will have a sympathetic appearance within the site and the setting of the neighbouring listed building.”

As some residents were concerned about the future use of the garage the conditions included that this could not be converted into living accommodation without the written approval of the Authority.

YDNPA – Planning Committee August 2019

An ARC News Service report on the meeting of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority ‘s (YDNPA) planning committee on August 13 2019. Items on the agenda were: 6 Finkle Street  and a potting shed at Greenbank in Sedbergh; alterations to a home in Langcliffe; alterations to a planning permission for a new house in Maulds Maeburn; the division of a house at Threshfield;  the colour of a mast at Mallerstang; facilities at a campsite at Ingleton; conversion of a barn at West End, Lunds, and a workshop at Low Abbotside; and the conversion of buildings at Snaizeholme.

The discussion about 6 Finkle Street (see below) was described as a battle between common sense and the rules. For the result see the report on the YDNPA planning committee meeting in September.

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.

At the beginning of the meeting the chairman, Julie Martin, asked everyone to stand for a minute’s silence in memory of John Blackie. She said: “He has made an enormous contribution to this committee over the years and an enormous contribution to his own community.”

At the end of the meeting Allen Kirkbride  (parish council representative for Wensleydale and Swaledale) asked about the situation at Yore Mill, Aysgarth because, he said, it was a mess. Richard Graham, the head of development management, replied: “We have had proposals to convert the building but the problem with [it] has been the lack of car parking. The applicants have been in negotiation with a landowner for additional car parking.” He hoped an application would be made which could be brought to the committee.

Sedbergh – Finkle Street

The only time  members disagreed with an officer’s recommendation at the meeting concerned  the application for change of use of the two upper floors the premises at 6 Finkle Street, Sedbergh, to a two bedroom flat with a new external door to provide access to the ground floor of the flat, plus change of use of the remaining ground floor and the basement from retail and storage to A1 retail.

The majority of the members decided that turning the upper floors back to residential use did not constitute “new build” and so the owner should not have to sign a local occupancy legal agreement as requested by the planning officer.

Cllr Kirkbride said that, in this instance, the Authority’s Local Plan was wrong and several agreed with him that the economic well-being of Sedbergh had to be considered.

The planning officer, Mr Graham and the Authority’s legal officer, however, all argued that changing the use of part of the first floor from commercial to residential meant that the two-storey flat did now require a local occupancy restriction in accordance with Local Plan policy.

Planning permission was granted in September 2016 for part of the first floor to be used as a café and the rear courtyard to be an al fresco dining area.

Jacky Baines told the committee that she had created a café in part of the first floor with the hope that it would attract more business to her ground floor shop. But the business had still became unviable and the ground floor is now rented to someone running a flower and gift shop.

She said that as she had bought the building in 2014 as an open market property (shop and flat) she would now make a considerable loss if she signed a local occupancy S106 legal agreement for the flat.

The planning officer reported that the proposed re-instatement of a separate ground-floor entrance to the flat was acceptable but he had recommended refusal of the application because Ms Baines had declined to sign a local occupancy legal agreement.

Simon Arnold, chairman of Sedbergh Parish Council’s planning committee, told the committee: “[The flat’s] use as a café was a tiny snapshot in the building’s life. It involved no structural change and only occupied part of the first floor and added: “When we heard that an S106 was being insisted upon we felt this was being unnecessarily incorrectly applied. “

It would, he said, deter new business activity in the town and so increase the risk of ground floor commercial properties being left empty. “We as a parish are keen to preserve Finkle Street. It sits in the traditional centre of our town. Anything that provokes empty properties [works] against the viability of the other businesses and creates a damaging first impression for people visiting the town. We feel that Sedbergh needs a mixture of housing. Small properties like this provide a valuable foothold on the open market.”

Sedbergh Parish councillor Ian McPherson, who is a parish council member of the Authority, said he had asked for the late submission from Mrs Baines’s agent to be circulated. He told the committee he had not participated in any discussion about the application beforehand.

The agent, Barbara Hartley of Garsdale Design Ltd, stated that when they were first advised by telephone by the planning officer that a local occupancy legal agreement was required for the flat they had asked that the parish council should be informed. This request was refused and so Garsdale Design had done so.

She quoted the Local Plan policy which stated: “that new housing within settlement boundaries on sites of up to five dwellings will be restricted to local occupancy.” She said: “The flat at 6 Finkle Street is not new. The top two floors have been used as residential for the major part of the building’s life. We do not think that the intent of [the] policy was ever to re-designate the occupancy of existing dwellings when, for a relatively short period in their lives, they have been used for an expansion of a ground floor business.

She continued: “A negative planning decision on this application will have major implications for Sedbergh. It will set an undesirable precedent for the business community. There will be a reluctance to expand any business knowing that if that expansion fails and they wish to reinstate the residential use this will have huge financial repercussions for them. It has much wider implications for Sedbergh and its effort at attracting new business to the town.

“One of the main remits of the Authority is to support sustainable communities. We agree that housing type and occupancy is one of the remits. But in the service towns such as Sedbergh the economy and the viability of business has equal importance.”

This point was picked up by several members of the committee and led to Lancashire County councillor Cosima Towneley‘s proposal to approve the application without a legal agreement as there were, she said, material considerations. These were that the flat had been designated as residential not long ago and that a legal agreement would restrict local economic growth and create commercial disbenefits.

Neither the legal officer, Claire Bevan, nor Mr Graham were convinced. And the chairman, Julie Martin, commented: “We need to be clear on the reasons.”

Cllr McPherson stated: “I am normally a sticker for absolutely sticking to policy, but I am not certain that this is new housing as required by [policy]. There was certainly a new use but there has been a very rapid… request to revert back to the original use. I am not really convinced, and I don’t think others are convinced either, that this is the kind of new housing that was envisaged when this policy was made.”

He added that to apply the policy would create a situation that would seem quite ridiculous to third parties. It could be interpreted, he said, as being against local people who find themselves in a situation where they could suffer financial loss.

Cllr Kirkbride said: “We should be there helping communities. I am a great believer in local housing but the policy we have is totally wrong. We need to do something when the time comes [to preparing the new Local Plan] to alter this.”

North Yorks County councillor David Ireton also queried the policy as he, like several other members, felt this was clearly an example of a shop with accommodation above it.

Jim Munday, however, argued that anyone who bought the property and ran the shop on the ground floor would qualify for local occupancy. And Mr Graham commented that the policy was part of the Local Plan which was only adopted in 2016. “It is not the purpose of this committee to make up policy on the hoof. We are taking the first steps to create a new Local Plan but this is the policy at the moment.”

He added that the policy was part of the Local Plan which was only adopted in 2016. “It is not the purpose of this committee to make up policy on the hoof. We are taking the first steps to create a new Local Plan but this is the policy at the moment.”

To this Cllr Towneley said: “Officers recommend but it is this committee to decide and we can do that in any way shape or form that we wish.”

Ms Bevan countered this with: “But [members] still have to decide in accordance with what the law says, which is in accordance with the Local Plan unless they identify material considerations.”

Eight members voted to approve the application without a legal agreement. The four who voted against this included the chairman.

Mr Graham said that as this was against officer recommendation the decision would be referred back to the September meeting.

Sedbergh – Greenbank

The conversion of a potting shed into holiday letting accommodation was described by the chairman, Mrs Martin, as a novel application.

Cllr McPherson pointed out that this would be invisible to the public but set within the beautiful gardens at Greenbank. He described the latter as an interesting house with extensive gardens which were open to the public several times a year.

The application for one-bedroom accommodation and including a small extension was unanimously approved by the committee.

Langcliffe

Langcliffe Parish Council disagreed with the Authority’s planning department about how contemporary design can be introduced to traditional buildings.

It objected to the application to the plans for re-instating a cart entrance with timber and glass at The Barn in Low Fold, Langcliffe, because, it said, “glazing on the front elevation would introduce a negative modern feature to the traditional neighbouring building design, and would impose a visual impact on the historic village.”

The planning officer, however, quoted the Authority’s Design Guide which states: “alterations to dwellings present an excellent opportunity to introduce contemporary designs and materials even on traditional buildings.”

The applicant, Kevin van Green, said he and his wife had carefully studied the Design Guide, employed an architect with decades of experience of traditional stone properties,  and  liaised with the planning officer when working on a high quality design which reflected the setting of the village.  They plan to use it as their family home.

The planning officer noted that the proposed design would mean that previous unsympathetic alterations which had affected the barn’s original agricultural character and appearance would be removed including replacing a flat roof on a single storey extension at the rear with a more traditional catslide roof.

Mr van Green said that the proposed alterations would reduce the amount of glazing by 20 per cent. In addition, it had been agreed, following the parish council’s objection, to reduce the amount of glazing on the cart entrance.

He told the committee: “We believe that the barn presents an opportunity to show how contemporary design can fit comfortably into the surroundings. Our design will greatly improve the functionality of the interior spaces allowing light in. It is in keeping with the area given that  glazed cart entrances are not a new concept to the Yorkshire Dales National Park.”

With just one abstention  the members voted to approve the application. This included the demolition of the existing porch and chimney; installation of metal balustrade to balcony and four new rooflights and a flue to the roof; and the replacement of windows, doors, guttering and downpipes.

Maulds Maeburn

It was unanimously agreed that a causeway will not have to be constructed to the rear of a new house beside the River Lyvennet at  Maulds Maeburn.

This had been one of the conditions included when Eden District Council approved the plans in July 2016 for the construction of a house in the garden of 1 Stepping Stones. The objective was to provide  a safe escape route if there was serious flooding.

The site is within the Environment Agency’s flood zones two and three and the original application required the provision of a Flood Risk Assessment. It was for that assessment  that the causeway was included – but it would have been over the village green and Crosby Ravensworth Parish Council would not give permission for it.

Mike Archer told the committee that after he applied to have the condition removed there were 15 letters of objection. These included the request that the application for the house should be reconsidered now that Maulds Maeburn was within the Yorkshire Dales National Park; that no new houses should be built in flood areas; and that the proposed house would harm the character of the village and the Conservation Area and create parking and access difficulties.

Mr Archer said that many of the objections had been made as a result of an anonymous email being widely circulated. That email, he said, had shown an image which misrepresented the design of the house. He added that the house would fit in with traditional buildings in the village and would be built in accordance with the requirements of the Flood Risk Assessment.

The planning officer reported that Authority could only agree to lift a condition but not revoke the approval given by Eden District Council.

Threshfield

An application to sub-divide Sunnybank at Threshfield into two dwellings was unanimously approved.

Threshfield Parish Council had informed the committee that it did not support the application because, when approval was given for the single-storey extension in 2009, it was meant to be maintained as a single dwelling with single ownership. It was also concerned about the access from the B6265.

The application was for creating a home for the disabled applicant in that extension. He has agreed to sign a  local occupancy legal agreement.

The planning officer stated: “The proposed development will increase the housing stock in Threshfield and provides a single store residential unit which is ideal of a disabled resident.”

When Craven District councillor Richard Foster proposed approval he pointed out that there were very few bungalows in the National Park.

Mallerstang

The telecommunications mast at Hazel Gill Farm, Mallerstang can remain an Iron Grey colour.

When Eden District Council gave approval for the construction of the telecommunications base station in October 2016 one of the conditions was that all of it should be Olive Green in colour. EE UK Ltd, however, had erected a mast which is Iron Grey.

The members shown a photo of this and unanimously agreed that it blended into the landscape as well as an Olive Green one would. The planning officer noted that it would be even better if the white antennas were also painted grey.

Mallerstang Parish Meeting had agreed with the two objectors who were concerned that varying the conditions on the mast at Hazel Gill Farm would have an impact upon that further up the dale at Castlethwaite.

The planning officer stated that the landscape context of the Castlethwaite site was different and added: “Any proposal to vary the condition controlling the colour of that tower would have to be considered on its own merits.”

…………

The committee unanimously approved the following applications with little or no discussion:

Permission for the erection of a toilet and shower block, the creation of a parking area and installation of waste disposal tank at the Falls Park, Oddies Lane, Ingleton.

Permission for the conversion of  a barn between two modern farm sheds at West End, Lunds,  into a one-bedroom local occupancy dwelling or a holiday let, and the installation of a package treatment plant.

Permission to convert a domestic workshop adjacent to Park House, Low Abbotside, into a one-bedroom holiday cottage.

Permission to alter an existing dwelling and convert adjacent outbuildings to additional living space; change of use of land to rear to form flagged area with new boundary wall and erection of rear utility room for dwelling, and change of use of another outbuilding into a holiday cottage at Greens Farm, Snaizeholme.

Conditions for any conversion to a dwelling or holiday let include local occupancy legal agreements.

For more information see: https://www.yorkshiredales.org.uk/living-and-working/planning/planning-committee/2019/planning-august-2019

 

YDNPA – Planning Committee July 2019

An ARC News Service report on the meeting of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority ‘s (YDNPA) planning committee on July 9 2019. The items discussed included: Natural England’s plans for  Swarth Moor, and a project at Aysgarth Station.

The Association of Rural Communities had planned to ask the YDNPA if there was a conflict of interest created by electing Julie Martin as the chairman of its planning committee. When Mrs Martin explained to the committee at the July meeting why she would make a good chairman she didn’t mention that she was a trustee of the Friends of the Dales. Nor did any of the members question her about that.

The Friends of the Dales is a campaigning and lobby group which regularly objects to applications for barn conversions in the Yorkshire Dales. The Association was told that its question will be given to the Authority’s monitoring officer – and it can present it to the Full Authority meeting on September 24 if it wishes to do so. (See the Richmondshire Today article.)

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.

Aysgarth Station, Carperby

Approval was given for new track to be laid at the former railway station, across the road bridge and along 200m of the former track bed which overlooks the National Park’s car park.

The owner of Aysgarth station, David Smith of West Coast Railways, will lease the former track bed from the Authority now that planning permission has been given. The approval was also for him to make private use of the railway for storing and moving locomotives, carriages and goods vehicles.

His agent, Steve Davies, who is also a director of the Wensleydale Railway, told the committee that Mr Smith’s plans for the old station would provide the best opportunity to reconnect Aysgarth station with Redmire.

This was queried by Richmondshire District councillor John Amsden who said the latter would only be possible if someone was willing to invest £1 million pounds per mile.

Like other members he did not feel that there would be much noise from the site especially as the approval only allowed for 12 locomotive movements a day, 36 days of the year. A planning officer stated that steam operations would be limited to one to two days a year.

It was  pointed out that there was already a lot of noise and pollution due to the National Park car park and the number of people who visited Freeholders Wood, the SSSI which almost surrounds the station site.

The planning officer said  that 35 trees will be removed many from along the sides of the raised track bed by the car park. She explained that area had been colonised by trees as the track had not been used for so long.  One of the conditions will be a landscaping plan to show where replacement planting would take place, she told the committee.

Ian McPherson, the Authority’s member champion for the environment, said he would support the application but asked that the progress of the project should be carefully  monitored. He added that the landscaping plan was important to ensure that wildlife corridors were protected. He noted that in certain areas of Britain Network Rail was destroying vast tracts of trees against the wishes of the Department of Transport.

North Yorkshire County councillor Richard Welch pointed out that Mr Smith’s company owned the carriages at Hellifield which were now covered in graffiti. “Are you confident that this is not going to end up the same?” he asked.

Mr  Davies assured the committee that he was.

He said: “Two years ago we sold Aysgarth Station to what turned out to be the best possible buyer [Mr Smith].

“The Wensleydale Railway was in a significantly difficult financial situation. Aysgarth was a major millstone around our necks. We were servicing a £200,000 outstanding mortgage. The station building was falling down and there was actually no way the station could be realistically retained as part of the commercial portfolio of the railway.

“The sale of the station allowed the railway to pay off significant debts and it is an absolute fact that since that sale we have not looked back.

“We, as a board of directors, agreed that because Mr Smith had such ambitious plans for the site that we would support him in delivering this planning application. So I am effectively on secondment, if you like, from the board of the Wensleydale railway. And our vice chairman, Carl Les, has formally endorsed our support for this project.

“The second element of this project and with the mechanics of this application is that we believe that this provides the best possible opportunity to reconnect Aysgarth with Redmire. Mr Smith has the resources and personal ambition to start taking the track back towards Redmire.

“If you grant this application what you will not find is this is will become moribund and yet another undelivered major project. So your faith in the project will be met by a full investment to make this a reality.

“The sale of Aysgarth station …. caused a rift within our membership [and to]  those who were absolutely convinced that Aysgarth [station] represented the jewel on the way to Hawes and Garsdale the sale was unthinkable and there was significant resistance.  The successful delivery of this project will, I think, go a huge way towards healing some of the wounds. It will show that Mr Smith and the Wensleydale Railway did not make a bad decisions and that we are going to be in a position to optimise the chances of re-connecting Redmire with this station.

“I think we have gone a long way in satisfying the statutory requirements, particularly in terms of ecology, but the key issue is that although this is fundamentally a private venture it undoubtedly has major public benefits.”

Swarth Moor,

The farmers who have grazing rights on Swarth Moor near Helwith Bridge in Ribblesdale were not  consulted before Natural England applied to the Authority for permission for a restoration project which which will include the creation of water-filled ditches.

The planning committee heard that Natural England’s project would involve the  construction of peat bunds for rewetting raised mire and the excavation of three mitigation ponds for great crested newts, as well as a viewing platform and a boardwalk.

Stainforth and Horton-in-Ribblesdale  Parish Councils had objected to the application because: the grazier’s hadn’t been consulted; the ponds could be extremely hazardous to the livestock being grazed on the common land and  the impact of an increase in the number of visitors on the wildlife on the moor especially the roe deer. These concerns were also raised by Austwick Parish Council.

Colin Newland of Natural England told the planning meeting that since submitting the application the agency had met with Swarth Moor commons rights holders. He said he had been told that they were concerned about the long term management of the moor and the impact on graziers’ livelihoods.  “One of the outcomes of that is that we will take forward a Countryside Stewardship Scheme for the common,” he said.

Committee member Allen Kirkbride, who is chairman of Askrigg Parish Council, commented: “It seems that the farming community who graze this area have been just an after thought for Natural England who should know better.”

He agreed with North Yorkshire County councillor Robert Heseltine that a few decades ago landowners were given tens of thousands of pounds to grip and drain the peat moors. “Now they are being given tens and thousands to fill it in,” he said.

Another parish council appointee, Chris Clark, spoke from his own personal experience: “We’ve blocked 125 hectares and the results of that have been an increase in biodiversity, improved irrigation, and carbon sequestration. On top of that we have had absolutely no problems with the stock getting stuck or drowned.”

The committee was informed that, as common land was involved, Natural England would have to obtain the consent for its plans from the Secretary of State. It was, therefore, expected that the graziers would make representations to the Secretary of State.

A planning officer told the meeting that the project was aimed at halting and reversing the long-term decline of a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)  by enhancing the lowland raised bog. “This is a national priority habitat which is very rare in the National Park and uncommon elsewhere,”  he said. The project also aimed at protecting the home of a population of great crested newts. He added that roe deer were not legally protected. He maintained that the project would have a positive impact on the condition of the SSSI.

The majority of the committee voted to approve the application.

 

YDNPA Planning Committee, John Blackie and “cherry picking”decisions

July 9 – July 16: What a week! On Tuesday July 9 I attended the YDNPA planning committee meeting – which began with statements which were not listed on the agenda (see below). Finally Askrigg parish councillor Allen Kirkbride reminded the committee that John Blackie was not there to defend himself. John had been admitted to The Friarage Hospital in Northallerton the day before.

That week I didn’t write any reports after that meeting because there was a lot to do in preparation for my husband’s Memorial Meeting on the Saturday.

And it was on that Saturday morning I heard the sad news that John Blackie had died.  John could be acerbic – but he was a formidable and relentless champion for all those living and working in the Dales. The last time I spoke to him – about 10 days before he died – he recounted with considerable joy that he had helped someone get transport to hospital.

It was so typical of him that he would put aside his own health problems to help others. But sadly it was also typical that he was criticised for his determined championing of local people, especially young families, at a National Park meeting. I’m glad I could support him when, in 2014, there was an unsuccessful complaint against him. That complaint was supported by Cllr Carl Lis, who is now chairman of the YDNPA.

I do know that dozens of people supported attempts to have him honoured for his work. Maybe the file is stuck somewhere on a dusty shelf…

…………..

“John Blackie isn’t here to defend himself.. and he has been attacked by several members,”  Allen Kirkbride firmly interjected at the beginning of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s  ( YDNPA ) planning committee meeting on Tuesday July 9.

When the planning meeting started Gary Smith, YDNPA director of conservation and community, was in the chair as the first items on the agenda were membership of the committee and then the election of the chairman. But before he could get  on with that  Craven District councillor Carl Lis, who is the chairman of the Authority, asked for a statement to be read out as Cllr Blackie and others had raised questions about who had been allowed to attend and vote at the meeting in June.

Mr Smith read the following: “In June Mrs Pattison was perfectly entitled to be at that meeting. National legislation related to the membership of National Park Authorities under the Environment Act makes it clear that where a member is appointed by one of the local authorities to serve on the National Park Authority they remain a member up to the point where that Authority appoints somebody else to replace them. If that goes on for more than three months then the authority ceases at that point.”

Cllr Lis than said how disappointed he was that Mrs Pattison was not at the July meeting because she was so upset at the way her attendance in June had been questioned. He said that Cllr Blackie had phoned her.

Member Jim Munday then read a long statement he had sent to the press the day before much of which had been published by Richmondshire Today along with the suggestion by Hawes and High Abbotside Parish Council that it should hold a vote of no confidence in the National Park. Mr Munday stated:“I hope that the people attending the Hawes and High Abbotside Parish Council meeting next week will hold their chairman John Blackie to account.”

At the meeting he ended with: “And finally I do hope that Mr Blackie will not be tempted to bully the staff. The staff  here are doing a job with a policy that he and the rest of us devised and agreed.”

North Yorkshire County councillor Robert Heseltine said he agreed with everything Mr Munday had said.

Mr Smith tried to carry on with the agenda  (none of what had been said by Cllrs Les and Heseltine and Mr Munday having been listed on the  agenda).  But not before Cllr Kirkbride  pointed out that Cllr Blackie was not there to defend himself. (Cllr Blackie had been admitted to the Friarage Hospital, Northallerton,  on Monday July 8 and died there on Sunday July 13.)

Once Julie Martin was elected as chairman, and Neil Swain as deputy chairman (both being  Secretary of State appointees), and the minutes of the last meeting were approved, Mrs Martin said there would be a five minute adjournment while she was briefed on the next item on the agenda. And that was this statement by the Association of Rural Communities:

“This Authority states that its code of practice ‘is to ensure that in the planning process there are no grounds for suggesting that a decision has been biased, partial or not well founded in any way.’

“Last month it was emphasised once again that the members of the planning committee should make decisions according to policy. But do you?

“At the meeting in February a planning officer made it very clear that a decision to approve the conversion of Dodds Hall Barn near Gayle would not be in accordance with policy. The committee accepted his recommendation to approve the conversion of the barn to provide visitor accommodation and a manager’s dwelling for a ‘horse assisted healing business’.

“This included a stable block and a large two-storey extension with a balcony. How does that compare with the tight restrictions which have been placed on other barn conversions or the reasons that have been given to refused an application?

“How then can you say to a local young couple seeking to convert a barn into a family home that you consistently adhere to policy? It looks instead as if you are cherry picking.

“For many years it was accepted by the planning committee that decisions should be deferred until newly elected district and county councillors could be there to represent their constituents. At the June meeting a request to defer a decision until the new Richmondshire District Council members were in attendance was refused. And yet Margaret Pattison was allowed to attend and vote even though she is no longer a Lancaster City Councillor.

“This is not a personal comment regarding Mrs Pattison. Nor is this about just the rules…

“How can this be seen by the public to be acting with integrity and fairness?”

Mrs Martin stated: “We don’t normally respond directly to public statements but given the seriousness with which we treat this particular issue we will provide a full written response to all the points you have raised.”

For the statement from Hawes and High Abbotside Parish Council and Jim Munday’s response see post on Richmondshire Today.

DoddsHallBarn1s

Above: Dodds Hall Barn on Beggarmans Lane, Gayle

Below: the barn at Hawes which was described by a planning officer as being in the open countryside.

This is the response from Cllr Carl Lis, chairman of  the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority to the statement and questions made by the Association of Rural Communities:

Thank you for your public statement at the National Park Authority (NPA) Planning Committee on Tuesday 9 July. It raises a number of allegations that are of concern to the whole Authority rather than simply the Planning Committee, so I have decided the response should come from me as Chairman. Please accept my apologies for the delay in responding but I took the judgement that the sad news of Mr Blackie’s death should not be overshadowed by this issue.

I will turn first to the issue of determining planning applications. As you know, all planning applications must be determined in accordance with the Development Plan unless material considerations indicate otherwise. That is a matter of law. This is because planning policies – which have been adopted after wide public consultation and formal examination by a Planning Inspector – should not be set aside without sound planning reasons for doing so.

The application for development at Dodds Hall Barn (essentially for visitor and manager accommodation and equine business) was considered to be contrary to the Development Plan. Whilst it me the locational requirements of policy L2 (being a roadside barn because of its curtilage and pre-existing track), the policy concerns centred on the intensity of the use and the impact on the landscape. However, on the particular facts of that application, the Committee concluded that there were material planning considerations, in the form of social and economic benefits for the local area, which justified approval.

The application for the development at the Shearlings, Hawes (conversion of barn to dwelling for local occupancy/holiday let) did not meet the locational criteria under L2, and there were no material considerations identified to justify approval. Again, the Planning Committee considered all the points that were made at the meeting and resolved to refuse the application.

When making decisions, the Authority always tries to apply some flexibility where material (i.e. lawful) considerations allow, something I understand ARC would want us to do. But with the best will in the world, that flexibility cannot lawfully extend to allowing any development anywhere simply because the applicant is ‘local’.

It is telling to note that in the case of Dodds Hall Barn the applicant sought pre-application advice from the Authority , and amended the proposal to bring it more in line with policy. Unfortunately, in the case of the Barn at the Shearlings (and the 3 other barns that have been refused in Upper Wensleydale), the applicants did not seek pre-application advice from planning officers. If they had, they would have been advised of the clear policy conflict at the outset. There is clearly an issue here when nearly half of all the refusals under L2 have occurred in one small part of the National Park – and we will be taking steps to try to encourage people to get proper advice before risking their money and time.

On your second point, the terms of membership of the National Park Authority are set out in national legislation. The law provides that if a member is waiting to be replaced on an NPA following an election, that individual continues to be an NPA member until a new appointment is made by the appointing authority (subject to an upper time limit of three months). We are still awaiting notice of a replacement appointment from Lancaster City Council following the elections in May. Accordingly Ms Pattison was fully entitled to take part at the June meeting as a Lancaster City Council appointee. That has been the law for over 12 years.

I was surprised that you chose to raise this issue in relation to Ms Pattison. At the May Planning Committee, Mrs Caroline Thornton-Berry not only attended the meeting but she actually chaired it, even though she was no longer a member of Richmondshire District Council at the time. I do not recall you raising any concern in relation to that instance.

Finally, at this difficult time for the Authority with Mr Blackie’s demise I would suggest that if ARC wants to have a serious discussion ab out how we – and the local district councils – might tackle the difficult and complex challengers around the availability and affordability of housing, then I would genuinely welcome that.

 

Remembering David

crocs_roses

Above: White roses for Yorkshire and a pair of David’s crocs on the table in the Meeting House for David’s Memorial Meeting. This display was created by Liz Burrage who also led the Memorial Meeting. Many thanks to those who donated a total of £530 to Yorkshire Air Ambulance in David’s memory. 

David certainly did live up to the advice in the Quaker Advices and Queries which states: Live adventurously. When choices arise, do you take the way that offer the fullest opportunity for the use of your gifts in the service of God and the community? Let your life speak.”

Becoming a Quaker in 2004 made a significant and very positive impact upon him  -but he had lived up to that advice for most of his life.

He was born in Sheffield  in October 1941 where his father worked as a  policeman. While David was at grammar school he represented the North of England at the Scout jamboree in North America in 1958.

At Alsager Teacher Training College he specialised in Design, Technology, Arts and Crafts and then took a job at the Sheffield School for Blind Children.

He and his young family moved to Norfolk  to the East Anglian School for Blind and Deaf Children in 1974. While there he also trained as a teacher of the deaf, gained an Open University degree and served for four years as a councillor on Yarmouth Borough Council.

When that school closed in 1985 he became deputy head of the Norfolk Sensory Support Service with responsibility for integrating  visually impaired  children into mainstream schools. He later became head of that Service.

One of his former work colleagues commented: “David was a larger than life character, loyal to his friends and co-workers – and knew the best places to stop for coffee! He gave us freedom to work with the families and came with me to visit homes if they thought there could be a problem – or something interesting such as the view of prostitutes on Rouen Road!

“He was a lecturer on my Cambridge course and had a wealth of knowledge of the VI (Visually Imparied) world.”

In 1989 David answered an appeal by Phil Feller to help blind and visually impaired children in The Gambia. This led to him becoming a founder trustee of what is now the Friends of Visually Impaired Children in The Gambia after going with Mr Feller to that country to assess the need.

His list included setting up a purpose-built school;  proper training not only for the few teachers at that school but also mainstream teachers as the majority of visually impaired children were living in distant villages; and the provision of Braille machines and paper, as well as computers with specialist programmes.

Phil said: “David – with great enthusiasm – set to work with myself and my wife, Joan, to start meeting those needs. A charity was set up (now the Friends of Visually Impaired Children in the Gambia) and funds were successful raised for building a special school.”

The school was opened in 2002 and whenever David visited he helped to teach the pupils and teachers there.  He worked closely with the Gambian Education Department and the Integrated Education Programme and by early 2019 over 200 mainstream teachers had been taught to help visually impaired students.

Phil added:  “A highlight for David was the purchase of a minibus in 2003 and, together with Malcolm Garner, drove to The Gambia with urgently needed equipment. Subsequently he organised and led several other overland deliveries.”

David met Malcolm when they were both members of the Special Educational Needs National Advisory Council. Of the overland journey in 2003 Malcolm said: “This experience had a life-changing impact for me as I was later to return to The Gambia on a regular basis to try and develop health and education services for deaf children and adults, something which continues to this day.

“David has left a very significant legacy of change for good among many pupils disadvantaged by limited or no sight, both in the UK and also in Africa, and also among professionals such as myself who have benefitted from his energy, initiative and enthusiasm.” (See his Gambian adventures )

David and Pip Land (his partner whom he married in July 2018) introduced Heather Ritchie of Rug Aid to The Gambia and she has subsequently set up one of the most successful programmes for visually impaired children and adults in that country.

After he retired David moved to Thornton Rust in Wensleydale in 2001. He became a volunteer at the Dales Countryside Museum in Hawes; enjoyed creative work as a member of the Yoredale Art Group; was an official of the North East Mercedes Benz Club for many years;  a president of the Rotary Club of Wensleydale, and was a trustee of the Kennel Field Trust at Thornton Rust.

Two weeks after he died villagers at Thornton Rust raised their glasses to him for all he had done for the Kennel Field Trust and as a local parishioner. (A special celebration at Thornton Rust)

He became a parish councillor for Thornton Rust in 2015 and one of his parishioners commented: “He was a very conscientious parish councillor and always available to the villagers, just to chat or to get jobs done.”

In the last few years of his life his main projects were turning round the Northallerton branch of the Institute of Advanced Motorists to make it one of the most effective in the country (he was its chairman and one of its observers), and working with the West Burton School Representative Group to safeguard its future as part of a local three-school federation. (See West Burton – a school set to thrive and his view as an independent education consultant. )

To the latter he brought a wealth of experience of governing schools since he retired. He had served as a Quaker trustee on the board of Reeth Primary School, and as a governor of the Breckenbrough Quaker Foundation School.  He had also been a Local Education Authority governor on the board of Leeming and Londonderry  Primary School and Risedale Secondary School.

He was an active member of the Wensleydale and Swaledale Area Quaker Meeting and served for a few years as an elder.

In 2014 David decided to create two large poppies, Peace and Remembrance,  to mark the beginning of World War I. These were fixed to the railings at Bainbridge Meeting House in November each year, and then throughout 2018 up until the centenary of the end of that war. They became a significant landmark in Bainbridge.

Another important part of his life since 2007 was his 30ft cruiser, Edna May. Its moorings at Thurne opposite the white mill and various journeys on the Norfolk Broads were a source of constant delight to him as were the friends he met there.

His links with Thurne went back to the early 1970s and nothing pleased him more than being able to return there. In the last few years there was always the question of how much longer he could walk along the dyke to Edna May  as the effects of an old spinal injury took their toll.

On May 19 (2019)he again savoured that walk, stopping half the way down to do his “360” – turning slowly to enjoy every detail of the scenery. Then he walked on and managed to reach his boat and settle into his favourite seat before he died. He wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

………..

My tribute to my husband, David Pointon,  at the Memorial Meeting at Bainbridge Quaker Meeting House on Saturday, July 13, 2019:

David passionately believed that anyone with a disability should be able to live life to the full and adventurously.

His former work colleagues recount with delight how he encouraged his blind and visually impaired students to climb trees – something that probably wouldn’t be allowed now du e to health and safety rules. But those kids learnt a lot about what they could achieve.

When his dog, Raq, became blind David gave him mobility lessons too. And I was taught how to be a good guide person.

David approached his own increasing mobility problems in the same way. An old severe spinal injury led to him being unable to put his own shoes and socks on. And then he found…Crocs! Out went the shoes and socks and in marched Crocs – and  joyful independence.

They meant he could still walk down the dyke at Thurne to his beloved Norfolk cruiser Edna May – his glorified shed on water, spiders and all. That meant he could fettle to his heart’s content – either in his garage cum workshop at Thornton Rust or when on the boat.

He could still participate in overseas adventures – either the overland drives to the Gambia or later with his mate Ken to Morocco and France. And David and I could enjoy our journeys exploring Britain.

Many have commented on how much they enjoyed David’s sense of humour.

Our relationship began 14 years ago with a good laugh – and continued with lots more. For me ours was a special relationship. We accepted each other warts and all – two odd people thoroughly enjoying life together and supporting each other in our various interests and activities. He was my soul mate and my best friend.

I have many wonderful and very happy memories. Thank you David.

…………

David became a  close friend of John Warren through attending the Quaker meetings at Bainbridge and Countersett. Pip chose the following poem by John for David’s funeral. It was read by Allan Sharland who had been a friend of David and his brother Mike since they were teenagers.

Over the hill the grey road climbs

And the wind blusters over the hill

Tumbling the trees

And the grey road winds

Where hedges curve in ragged lines

And cærulean blue the bright sky shines

Where the road climbs over the hill

And I will go where the grey road leads

With the wind in my face at the crest

Where the curling road goes down and on

To the far blue hills in the west

And birds in the wind

Wheel and cry

The great elms bend, and creak

And sign

And the road goes on

And so shall I

To those far blue hills in the west.

YDNPA- Planning committee June 2019

An ARC News Service report on the meeting of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s (YDNPA) planning committee on June 11 2019 when decisions were made concerning: a proposed campsite at Grassington,  and barn conversions at Hellifield, Settle and Sedbergh. The committee refused an application to convert a barn at Hawes.

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.

Grassington

An application for a small campsite at Grassington would probably have got the green light from the planning committee. But the majority of members agreed with the planning officer that the proposal by Jason and Claire Simpkin to use a large field and construct two buildings would have too much of an impact upon the landscape.

The officer commented: “The concerns with the current proposal are a matter of scale rather than a matter of principle.”

She said that a modest campsite and one building for facilities in the northeast section of the field adjacent to the B6265 Hebden Road would be acceptable. The Simpkins planned to use all of a one hectare field on a plateau above the River Wharfe for approximately 25 seasonal pitches. They proposed two buildings, one to provide facilities for the campers, and the other to include the manager’s accommodation. Mr Simpkin told the committee that Grassington did not have a campsite.

He read a letter from the Grassington Chamber of Trade which noted that there had been a dramatic drop in the footfall of tourists in the town in the last couple of years and that the creation of a family friendly campsite would lead to an increase. “I hope this development will enable a greater range of visitors to Grassington, especially young families,” Mr Simpkin said and added that his plans were in line with the National Park’s statutory purposes.

He had informed the Authority that a smaller campsite would not be a viable business. He argued that having a manager on site would help to alleviate some of the concerns raised by residents such as the possible increase in noise and nuisance, and the impact of lighting.

North Yorkshire County councillor John Blackie agreed that having a manager living on the site would be helpful and added: “I am amazed that Grassington hasn’t got a camp site. Campers spend far more in the local economy than any other form of tourist and so keep the shops and services going.”

Other members, however, accepted the officer’s contention that a two-storey stone building to house an office and reception on the ground floor and a self-contained manager’s flat on the first floor was too much. The planning officer did not accept that a seasonal site for 25 tents needed a manager to supervise it, especially as there was a site for 24 tents at Kettlewell which did not provide such accommodation.

She reported that the proposed new buildings would replace a static caravan and the dilapidated remains of a railway carriage. She said there was also concern about the possibility of campers walking along a road to the village where there was no footpath as that would be the shortest route to the pub.

Hellifield

“This is where I would like to retire to in a few years’ time,” Michael Stapleton told the committee concerning the proposed conversion of a barn at the farmstead at Little Newton, Hellifield, near Long Preston.

The planning officer explained that the main problem with that at Little Newton was the relatively poor condition of the barn including the partial collapse at the first-floor level on the front wall. The original plans included taking down and rebuilding the front wall.

The planning officer pointed out that this was in conflict with the Authority’s policy that buildings should be capable of conversion with no more than minor structural work.

She added: “Furthermore, much of the historic significance of the building is due to the evidential value of the windows and doors visible on this frontage, which would be lost if the front wall was rebuilt.”

Part of the barn had once been a farmhouse.After an independent assessment it was agreed that the walls could be retained by using special shoring systems.

Settle

The committee quickly approved the application by Andrew Morrell to convert a Grade II listed barn at Cleatop Park, Settle, partly to be used as a holiday let, and partly to create a private garage and artist’s studio.

Mr Morrell had originally wanted to add a glazed artist’s studio on the east elevation but this did not conform with the Authority’s policy which is based upon conserving traditional barns.

Sedbergh

Approval was given for the 18th century bank barn in  Howgill Lane at Sedbergh to be converted into a local occupancy two bedroom dwelling.

The planning officer told the committee: “The building in question is a characteristic Dale’s barn that is prominent in public views when travelling along Howgill Lane. However, the proposed conversion scheme has been sensitive to the character of the building and amounts to minimal external change to both the structure and its surroundings.”

Sedbergh Parish Council had stated that it considered the development would improve what was currently an eyesore on the outskirts of the residential centre of the town and at the same time retain a heritage asset in a sympathetic manner. It would provide valuable accommodation for a local family subject to the appropriate 106 restrictions.”

YDNPA planning committee refuses Hawes barn conversion

A young couple’s request to convert a barn at Hawes into their family home was turned down by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s planning committee on Tuesday June 11.

Ashley Iveson told the committee: “I ask you to give me and my family an opportunity to live and work on the farm holding that’s been part of my family for generations – and an opportunity to live in a town that we love for the rest of our lives. I would not like to raise my children anywhere else.”

Hawes and High Abbotside Parish Council and North Yorkshire County Councillor John Blackie supported him in the assertion that the barn could not accurately be described as in the “open countryside” as it was close to Brandymires and the caravan park on Hardraw Road, and to the business park, Hawes Fire Station, the water works and the sewage works. It is even closer to Mr Iveson’s father’s lairage agricultural shed.

Mr Iveson said he was particularly disappointed at the way in which the planning officer had criticised this large shed. She had reported: “The shed is in an unfortunate position and is a visual detractor in the area. It is important that this does not set a precedent for further harmful development.”

Mr Iveson commented that the Authority had given planning permission for the shed: “It seems to me that the officer is using her obvious dislike of the shed against my completely separate development,” he said.

The Hawes and High Abbotside Parish representative, Jill McMullon, told the committee that she met many in the community through her work with the Upper Dales Community Partnership. She said she had previously served as a Richmondshire District councillor and had chaired that council twice and been a member of its planning committee for ten years.

She said: “At Richmondshire District Council we always tried to take the local community with us at planning. Now that’s not always possible but our track record was far, far better than yours.”

The Iveson family was, she said, a perfect example of the young family the National Park needed to retain if there was to be a bright future for the local community in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales.“What is the point of the National Park making a priority of retaining and attracting young families to the Upper Dales, shouting this from the roof tops, and then coming forward with a report which seems to go out of its way to scotch the aspirations of a couple and their children to live in our community for the rest of their lives?”

She added that the report completely missed the point that the barn and the lairage shed belonged to the same farming business. “This application is a test of the real intention of the National Park Authority – are you going to walk the walk, or are you just talking the talk?”

Committee member Ian McPherson, however, said that once again there was a conflict on the committee between personal views and policy. He quoted the planning officer’s report which stated: “The barn in question is a field barn surrounded by agricultural land. It is not located within the settlement boundary of Hawes as defined in the Local Plan. It is not within a group of buildings. It is not a roadside location (it is approximately 90m from the Brunt Acre Industrial Estate road) and it is not served by an existing track. For these reasons the development does not comply with policy.

“The dwelling would not provide rural workers accommodation nor be an affordable property.” Mr Iveson had emphasised that, if converted, it would be a local occupancy dwelling, not a holiday let.

In her report the planning officer stated: “The barn in question being located immediately adjacent to the Pennine Way and within walking distance of the amenities and facilities of Hawes town centre would make an ideal camping barn. There is therefore an alternative economic use for the barn that would not require the level of intervention proposed by this development.”

Cllr Blackie commented: “I am bewildered about the suggestion [for] a camping barn. A camping barn, in my view, would create for more upheaval in the landscape than a domestic dwelling. It would also attract cars to be parked indiscriminately in the industrial area.”

He pointed out that in May the committee had approved a barn conversion where a 190m track was required to provide access to a road and reminded the members that there were different interpretations of the Authority’s policies to those of the planning officer. “Today I think she has got it wrong,” he said.

Cllr Blackie, Allen Kirkbride, a parish council member of the committee, and Hawes and High Abbotside Parish Council emphasised that the barn was on a farm holding and that the proposed extension would provide an office for Mr Iveson who works from home as a specialist horse racing reporter as well as helping his father with the lairage business.

Committee member Jim Munday said he had read the parish council’s submission with great interest. “It’s full of character, it’s full of Dales’ interest, it’s got a hero and a heroine, and there’s a lot there which one empathises with.”

But he also felt it perpetuated the myth that the Authority refused many applications for barn conversions. “We’ve approved 110 barn conversions in the last three years and refused only nine. We like to say Yes and we usually do,” he added. He agreed with the planning officer that the committee should refuse Ashley and Katie Iveson’s application.

After seven members voted to refuse the application with four wishing to approve it, Cllr Blackie noted that, following the local elections, two Richmondshire District councillors had not yet been appointed to the Authority’s planning committee. He, therefore, asked for the decision to be deferred to July so that the two new members might have a chance to consider the issue.

The legal officer Clare Bevan said, however, that the committee had already decided not to approve the application.

After the meeting Julie Martin, who chaired the meeting, stated: “I feel very sorry for the applicants in this case. We have a flexible policy, which has already seen more than 150 traditional buildings converted to residential and business uses. “It was very clear that this proposal would not meet the criteria set out in the policy – not least because it has no access to a road. Whoever has been advising them has really let them down. I strongly urge people to please come and talk to our planning service at the earliest opportunity, so as to avoid this sort of disappointment and expense.

“Not all barns are suitable for conversion, particularly those away from the roadside in prominent positions. If there’s a doubt about whether or not a conversion is within policy, pre-application planning advice will clear it up before any expectations or hopes are raised and before any money is spent on professional services.”

Mrs Martin (a trustee of the Friends of the Dales) was deputy chair of the planning committee until Caroline Thornton-Berry stood down as a Richmondshire District councillor.

Proposed barn conversion at Hawes

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Permission to convert a barn close to the business park at Hawes into a home for a local young family has been recommended for refusal by a Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority planning officer because it is, she argues, in the open countryside.

Pictured: l-r the lairage agricultural building, the barn proposed for conversion, a building in the business park and the sewage works.

In her report to the YDNPA planning committee meeting on Tuesday June 11 she describes the barn north of The Shearlings off Hardraw Road as a high quality non-designated heritage asset which makes a positive contribution to the landscape in an area that is readily accessible by visitors walking the Pennine Way.

In this she follows the advice of the Authority’s senior listed building officer who states: “This barn is a key feature in this location, along this very popular public footpath. It is not a roadside barn, but a landmark building set in the middle of a field, with a very fine landscape backdrop.“The proposed domestic conversion of this building would therefore have a negative impact, in particular the creation of a residential curtilage with car parking, extension and new openings.”

Hawes and High Abbotside Parish Council, however, completely disagrees.

It has informed the planning committee:“The applicants, a local couple, Ashley and Katie, who have two young children attending Hawes Primary School … are committed to remaining in Hawes for the rest of their lives and they have set their heart on converting the barn at The Shearlings and making it their family home.

“It is located on Ashley’s father’s farm holding, his father being Neil Iveson, one of the most renowned of sheep dealers in the North of England.” Ashley had told the parish council that he worked from home using the Superfast Broadband service in Hawes, in a highly specialist position within the horse racing industry.

The parish council explained: “This occupation allows him some time to help his father gather sheep for sale at the various Auction Marts in the Yorkshire Dales and beyond, especially Hawes Auction Mart, or to supply them to customers on the firm’s books. Accordingly the converted barn would be very convenient for this dual role. The extension proposed for the barn would be to provide a home office for his work.”

It continued: “Several [parish councillors] commented that this is exactly the type of young local family we need to retain in the Upper Dales, and [that] this is what the YDNPA in its policies and its public messages has been broadcasting in the media for 18 months now.”

The parish council pointed out that the barn was off the road to the Upper Wensleydale Business Park, was opposite the Community Fields and near the 120 unit Brown Moor Caravan site, as well as sitting neatly within the enclave of Brandymires. Hawes Fire Station is 50 yards away.

The parish council stated that the barn had not been used for some 15 years and the access to it would be hidden by the extensive lairage agricultural building used to hold sheep in transit. (Which cannot be said for the nearby sewage works.)

barn_access

Photo: The present access to the barn immediately beside the footpath. The proposed new access will be alongside the lairage barn.

The parish council had supported the YDNPA planning committee when, in February this year, it accepted the recommendation of a planning officer to approve the conversion of a large roadside barn “in the wilderness” along Beggarmans Lane near Gayle to create a “horse assisted learning” business even though he said this was not in accordance with policy.

The application was for the conversion and extension of the barn to provide visitor accommodation and manager’s dwelling, a change of use of land for equestrian purposes, provision of all-weather riding surface, car parking and erection of a stable building.

And at its meeting last month the committee approved an application for a barn in Garsdale which a planning officer described as being a substantial early 19th century bank barn beside the A684 which was in an isolated and locally prominent position.

David Pointon’s Gambian adventures

David teaching a blind student at the GOVI school in Serrekunda, The Gambia, in January 2010

Malcolm Garner and the impact of that first overland journey to The Gambia:

I feel as though a part  of my own history has died with him, as David and I go back a long way professionally, and then I shared with him one of the greatest adventures of my life – the drive to Gambia in December 2003 to deliver the Mitsubishi minibus to the School for the Blind in Serrekunda.

In our working careers, David was the representative for teachers of the blind and partially sighted when I was for teachers of the dear on an organisation called the Special Educational Needs National Advisory Council (SENNAC) which was actually far less important than its name suggests! Nonetheless we did some good work and organised a few national conferences which were interesting and sometimes influential.

It was through that contact that David got in touch in 2003 to ask if I (and others) would sponsor his journey to deliver the minibus to Gambia. I was impressed that he had set this up and wrote and said I would, and that I wished I was going too, to which he replied – “Well why don’t you. I need a co-driver.” Hence my involvement.

The journey was absolutely fascinating and exciting, including a complete failure of the clutch in  the middle of our crossing of the Sahara Desert! The repair of that in the desert was an epic achievement and we made it to Gambia intact and were able to hand the minibus to the school as planned. The project and journey was all David’s idea and initiative and, to his great credit, he made the journey [several more times] with other vehicles to donate to work in Gambia. I know he is remembered in Gambia with enormous affection and gratitude and they too will be very sad to hear of his passing.

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Above: David (left) and Malcolm with Mitsi on arrival in Banjul, The Gambia, in January 2003

This experience had a life changing impact for me as I was later to return to Gambia on a regular basis to try and develop health and education services for deaf children and adults, something which continues to this day. This has been a rewarding and fascinating (and sometimes frustrating) experience and I have David to thank for leading me in this direction.

David has left a very significant legacy of change for good among many pupils disadvantaged by limited or no sight, both in the UK and also in Africa, and also among professionals such as myself who have benefitted from his energy, initiative and enthusiasm. As such I will never forget David and will always be grateful for the opportunities and encouragement he has given me over the years.

Phillip Feller, Chairman of the Friends of Visually Impaired Children in The Gambia:

Thirty years ago David answered my appeal for assistance for the blind and visually impaired children of The Gambia.  At that time David was head of what was then the Sensory Support Service of the Norfolk County Education Department.

Joining me in The Gambia David soon assessed the needs of the blind and visually impaired children there. His list was frighteningly long.

To mention a few: proper training for the few teachers who were working with the children; computers with special programmes to assist training; Braille machines and paper; tape recorders; and even a purpose-built school. At that time the few pupils attending a dedicated facility were housed in an annex to a mainstream school in Banjul.

David – with great enthusiasm – set to work with myself and my wife, Joan, to start meeting those needs. A charity was registered first as the Friends of GOVI (The Gambian Organisation for the Visually Impaired) and later as the Friends of Visually Impaired Children in the Gambia. Funds were successfully raised for building a special school for the children at Serrekunda.

A highlight for David was the purchase of a minibus in 2003 and, together with Malcolm Garner,  drove to The Gambia with urgently needed equipment. Subsequently he organised and led several other overland deliveries including that with the Dales Team in late 2006 and with members of the Wensleydale Rotary Club in January 2010 The minibuses were then used by the school.

After several years of meetings with the Minister of Education we succeeded in obtaining an agreement that student teachers, as part of their training, would spend time with disabled pupils at St John’s School for the Deaf and at the GOVI School for the Visually Impaired (both at Serrekunda).

David worked closely with the Education Department and with the Integrated Education Programme headed by Nancy Mendy and her deputy Sarjo Bajinka.

Having just returned from The Gambia I was unable to inform David that there were now over 300 visually impaired children receiving education and of Nancy Mendy’s latest initiative to recruit more teachers. This is a legacy that David could be proud of.

All I can say is: Thank you David for all your help and support over the years and for realising my dream of a future of hope for the blind and visually impaired children of The Gambia.

(First posted on the website of the charity of which David was a founder member and a former trustee.)

David Pointon and a special celebration at Thornton Rust

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Villagers at Thornton Rust raised their glasses to my husband, David Pointon, on Saturday June 1. He had died just two weeks before the 20th anniversary celebration of the founding of the village’s Kennel Field TrustAbove: David on his quad bike overlooking Wensleydale from near the Kennel Field.

At that celebration the villagers also raised their glasses to the continued prosperity of what is often known as the Millennium Field. The Kennel Field Trust was set up to bring that field, once used by the Wensleydale Harriers for kennelling its hounds, into public ownership and to restore it.

The Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust (YDMT)  had supported the Kennel Field Trust  then – and, as part of its own 20th anniversary celebrations awarded a further grant of  £4,000.

At the party in Thornton Rust village hall on Saturday the chairman of the Kennel Field Trust, John Dinsdale, explained that this grant was used to install new fencing, reinstate the cooking area of the mash house, order an interpretation board and install a new bench.

Deborah Millward, the Trust’s secretary, told those who had gathered in the village hall: “Dave [Pointon] had been associated with the Kennel Field for at least 15 years and for much of that time he was a trustee.

“I think what appealed to him and the rest of us was the ethos of the Kennel Field: that it was owned by the community; that the villagers could freely wander wherever they wanted there – enjoy the flowers, enjoy the birds, and enjoy the view.”

She added that he was a very good artist and had designed the artwork for the new bench. “Sadly he hasn’t been to see it but he did have photographs. I think he would be wanting us to celebrate and so I would like you to raise your glasses in joyful memory to Dave.”

His wife, Pip, said later: “As his mobility was becoming more and more restricted he had bought a quad bike so that he could still visit the Kennel Field and go up onto the moors. He loved the Yorkshire Dales and still wanted to enjoy them.”

Below: the new bench with David’s artwork engraved on it.

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David was an Aysgarth and District parish councillor for Thornton Rust and a member of its village hall committee.

He was chairman of Northallerton branch of the Institute of Advanced Motorist and a Qualified Observer (trainer).

He was on the Representative Group for West Burton CofE School and then a member of the Bainbridge, Askrigg and West Burton Federation of Schools Working Party.

Before he retired to Wensleydale in 2001 he was head of service in Norfolk for children and young people with sensory impairment. He set up that service in 1983 and through it children were brought from boarding schools for the blind and visually impaired into main stream education. This led to him being a representative for teachers of the blind and visually impaired on the Special Educational Needs National Advisory Council and being a trustee of a charity aimed at helping such children in The Gambia.

After retirement he made several overland journeys to The Gambia to deliver equipment to the only school for the blind and visually impaired in that country and to run training classes for teachers working with them. David and I also introduced Heather Ritchie of Rug Aid to that school and it is wonderful to see how her work in The Gambia has developed since then.

He also served as a governor at Risedale School until it was converted into an academy and at Leeming Bar CofE Primary. He was involved for a time with Reeth School through the Quaker Trust as well as being a governor for six years at Breckenbrough School at Sandhutton run by North Yorkshire Quakers.

His funeral will be at Gorleston Crematorium as he died on his boat on the Norfolk Broads and as his daughter and some of his closest friends live in Norfolk.

Later there will be a Memorial Meeting at Bainbridge Quaker Meeting House. As one of those who worked with him in the Sensory Support service commented: “His discovery of the Quaker faith gave him an anchor later in life and I know he loved the life ‘up North’ surrounded by such magnificent countryside.”

Pip’s message on Facebook on May 21:

Sadly my wonderful husband, David, died suddenly on Sunday – [sitting] in his favourite place on his boat on the Norfolk Broads. I am so grateful to the strangers who helped me with CPR, to the paramedics and ambulance staff who worked so hard to bring him back, to Eddie my son for driving from London to be with me that evening and for being a tower of strength, and to the Bondi family, especially Jim and Sue for caring for me so well at their home.

Thoralby parish councillors – a family affair

ThoralbyCouncillors2019S

Forty years after Brian McGregor was elected as an Aysgarth and District Parish councillor for Thoralby his daughter, Sandra Wilman (55), has been elected to join him.

Thoralby was one of the five parish councils which had to have an election this month as there were more candidates than required.

This was the first election at Thoralby in 40 years – and the village did it in style with a 70 per cent turnout. The highest turnout anywhere else in Richmondshire was the parish council election at Bellerby (58%).

At the meeting of Aysgarth and District Parish Council on Thursday (May 16) Richmondshire District councillor Yvonne Peacock congratulated Thoralby for what she described as an “absolutely fantastic” turnout.

Cllr Wilman received the highest number of votes (64) beating her father by seven. The other councillor elected was Linda Cooper who has served on the parish council for several years.

Asked why she decided to stand for election Cllr Wilman said: “I want to give something back.” When she was growing up in the village she remembers so many children from there attending school but now there are far fewer.

She worked with her husband in his family’s joinery business in Bradford for many years and now they have retired to Thoralby. So her two sons went to school in Bradford, and her two grandchildren also attend school in Bradford.

YDNPA – Planning committee May 2019

An ARC News Service report on the meeting of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s (YDNPA) planning committee on May 14 2019 when decisions were made concerning: a temporary site for Gypsies and Travellers at Sedbergh; barn conversions at Sedbergh and in Garsdale; alterations to Yarnbury  House near Grassington;  a cabin on a small holding  in Gaisgill; and an unauthorised dwelling house in Langcliffe.

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.

North Yorkshire County councillor Richard Welch thanked Caroline Thornton-Berry for chairing the committee and the other members applauded her. She has now stepped down from being a Richmondshire District councillor and so will no longer be one of its representatives on the Authority.

Sedbergh – Gypsy and Travellers’ site

The 21-day site for Gypsies and Travellers at Scrogg Bank Field, Cautley Road, Sedbergh, has been a complete “godsend”  Sedbergh Parish councillor Ian McPherson told the committee.

Cllr McPherson, who has been a member of the Travelling and Settled Community Respect Group for ten years,  proposed that only a five-year temporary permission should be granted for the site and this was unanimously approved. The application was for permanent permission which Sedbergh Parish Council objected to because, it said, this would enshrine the use of the site by Gypsies and Travellers for the long-term.

The provision of the site covers the period when Gypsies and Travellers are going to and returning from the Appleby Fair. Cllr McPherson told the committee: “This field over the last five years has been a complete godsend.

“It means that instead of Travellers being here, there and everywhere and putting their horses to graze on the school playing fields and using ditches [as latrines] has largely ceased. Without this field it is felt that matters would return to the bad old days.”

The committee was told that when in use the site for no more than 100 caravans at one time will be supervised at least twice a day by South Lakeland District Council (SLDC)  officers and the Police. An enclosed skip and bin bags will be provided and the SLDC will clear away litter and waste afterwards. Portable toilets will be provided.

John Bucknall, a trustee of Pendragon Estates which owns the two farms adjoining the site, told the committee: “The Gypsies have their own codes of cleanliness. Some, in preference to using the sanitary facilities provided on site, use the hedgerows, adjacent fields and our farm entrance as latrines.”

He recounted how last year one of the tenant farmers found  teenagers had driven a ewe into a gill and appeared to be attempting to steal two lambs. Some horses had also been put to graze on a farmer’s field. “Grass is gold. These are our best meadows,” Mr Bucknall said.

“We live in a state of virtual siege in the house and on the farm while the Gypsies are encamped. We cannot leave house or farm unmanned at any time and we feel at constant risk of intimidation and trespass. Our tenants are in constant fear of stock being injured or stolen,” he added.

He understood the need to provide such a site and appreciated the achievements of the public meetings. He said he had been able to discuss their difficulties with Billy Welch, the Gypsy leader [Shera Rom] at one of those meetings.

“As the conditions of the fair constantly change, I support the five-year temporary permission,” he said.

Richmondshire District councillor Yvonne Peacock commented that Sedbergh was fortunate to have such a site. She explained that Bainbridge village green was now a managed site for the Gypsies and Travellers over the period of the Appleby Fair when there was no charge to use the public toilets. Residents did often feel intimidated she said and found it difficult when generators were being run until midnight.

Eden District councillor Ian Mitchell did not take part in the discussion and did not vote as he is a member of the Appleby Fair Multi-Agency Coordinating Group. This year Appleby Fair begins on Thursday June 6 and ends on Wednesday June 12.

Sedbergh

Unanimous approval was given for the conversion of a barn in Joss Lane, Sedbergh,  into two dwellings for either holiday  lets or local occupancy even though a degree of rebuilding may be necessary.

A planning officer told the committee that some of the single storey walls and the upper part of a gable wall were unstable. “The majority of the walling and the most important features of the barn would be retained. The degree of rebuilding is therefore justified on heritage grounds,” he said.

But David Parratt, on behalf of his mother-in-law who lives in The Old House adjacent to the barn, stated: “We consider that the building appears unsafe and would require rebuilding.” He added that major intervention would probably be required.

Sedbergh Parish Council had initially objected to the application because, it stated, the barns exhibited apparent defects, including leaning walls, displaced masonry, open joints and cracked lintels.  After seeing amended plans it no longer had any objections.

Mr Parratt was also concerned about the impact upon the amenity of those living in The Old House especially if the new dwellings became holiday lets, and that a package sewage plant had not been included in the plans. The committee agreed that the latter should be included.

The agent for the applicant, Ian Swain, said that The Old House would not be overlooked by the new dwellings as the barn was at an angle to it.

Ian McPherson, who is a Sedbergh parish councillor, commented that he regularly walked past The Old House and the barn. “The barn has been crying out for renovation for a long time. In my view it would make an excellent holiday let or local occupancy dwelling.”

Gaisgill 

Despite a plea from a farmer for more time the committee refused planning permission for a wooden cabin at Gaisgill to continue to be used as a temporary dwelling for a further three years.

Neil Plant of Rayne Holdings said that the smallholding at 3 Rayne Cottage, Gaisgill, was being developed and the wooden cabin was still needed. “Just give us a chance. Three years is going to make a difference,” he said.

Eden District councillor William Patterson supported him and stated: “I can’t see the problem with giving the chap a chance to build up a small holding.” And North Yorkshire County councillor John Blackie added that many Dales farmers had started their farms that way.

But the head of development management, Richard Graham, reminded the committee that in December 2017 it had approved enforcement action to be taken for the removal of the cabin as the three-year temporary permission given in 2013 had expired.

A planning officer had told the committee that when Mr Plant had requested pre-planning advice in October 2018 he had been told that he had not shown there was a functional need for a full-time worker to live at the site and that the business could just as well be run from one of the nearby converted barns owned by Rayne Holdings.  The officer added that the current and previous owners had had two and a half years to remove the cabin from the site.

Authority Member Julie Martin commented: “We don’t have any clear evidence that this is needed for a agricultural worker and we don’t have evidence at this present time that this is a viable business. We do have evidence that there is alternative accommodation. I think we have to follow through otherwise we undermine our own decision [in December 2017].”

Eden District Council granted permission in May 2019 for the change of use of one of the two barns from a holiday cottage to an unrestricted residential dwelling.

The committee voted by ten votes to seven to refuse the application.

Garsdale

Cllrs Blackie and Peacock questioned the length of track required to provide a barn conversion in Garsdale with safe access to the A684 at Aye Gill Farm.

They compared the length required (about 160m) with that proposed for a barn conversion at Long Shaw near Bainbridge which was refused in March this year.  The track for that would have  been 110m long.

The head of development management, Richard Graham, emphasised that the barn near The Hill in Garsdale was a roadside barn in accordance with the Authority’s policy. That at Long Shaw was not a roadside barn and a length of walling would needed to be moved back from the road to provide sufficient visibility at the access, he said.

The planning officer reported that there would be no loss of walling at the access onto the A684 at Aye Gill Farm

Remarking on the photographs shown of the proposed track to the barn in Garsdale, Cllr Peacock said: “This looks to me like a farm track.” She noted that drivers in some small cars would have difficulty negotiating it and that the officer had not included any recommendation about improving it.

The planning officer described the building in Garsdale as being a substantial early 19th century bank barn standing beside the A684 some 7k to the east of Sedbergh. “It stands in an isolated and locally  prominent position on top of a bluff. The barn structure is basically sound and no rebuilding of walls is necessary,” he said.

The owner has agreed to demolish the additions to the barn which were added in the 20th century.

The committee unanimously approved the application to convert the two-storey stone barn into a three bedroom dwelling for local occupancy or short term holiday letting.

Grassington

The  committee very quickly approved a planning application for alterations to Yarnbury House in Moor Lane, Grassington, even though the parish council had asked the Authority  to investigate the true intentions of the applicant.

The committee heard that Grassington Parish Council strongly suspected that this was an attempt to change the use of the property to another shooting lodge without having to make a formal application for change of use – something it would oppose.

The parish council said that the application gave the appearance of wanting to enhance and increase the living accommodation and added: “How can this be done when the bedrooms will be reduced from four to three, but more features such as a boot room and a drying room are added, together with the conversion of the double garage?”

The application included altering the outbuildings and garage to become ancillary living space to Yarnbury House.

The planning officer reported that there had been lengthy discussions with the applicant and that the proposed scheme had been significantly amended so as not to cause substantial harm to the listed building.

She added: “Neighbours have raised the issue that the house may become a shooting lodge or used for some kind of shooting enterprise and that the applicant is a sporting company not a private resident. The agent has confirmed that the site will be used as a private domestic dwelling.”

The agent, Maria Ferguson, emphasised this at the meeting. She said that her client had bought Yarnbury House so that he and his family and friends could enjoy the countryside and sporting activities.

Langcliffe

There were gasps when an enforcement officer showed the committee a photograph of the fully fitted modern kitchen inside “The Old Dairy” beside Cowside Barn at Langcliffe.

She said that when she visited the building in June 2017 she was told it was mainly being used as a kennel facility even though there were some kitchen units, a sink, a cooker, a bed and a sleeping bag alongside the designated area for dogs. She was told that the only time it was occupied was when additional care was needed for the dogs and new litters.

When she went there in November 2018, however, she found that the building had been converted into a three -bedroom dwelling house. Two of the bedrooms are en-suite and there is a bathroom and living area. All the windows and doors had been replaced with uPVC double glazed units. Outside there are hanging baskets, decking, a BBQ, washing line and garden furniture.

The enforcement officer showed photographs of how the interior of the cabin looked in 2017 – and then those taken in November 2018 which so surprised the committee members, especially the black and white kitchen with large extractor fan.

She reported that the owner intended to apply for a Lawful Development Certificate to prove the lawful use of “The Old Dairy” as a dwelling house from March 2013 to December 2018.

She stated: “Despite the owner’s assurances that the outbuilding has been occupied as a self-contained dwelling house since March 2013, no supporting evidence to prove the lawful use of the building has been forthcoming. The fact that there was a bed and basic kitchen facilities within the building does not demonstrate that the building has been occupied as a self-contained unit of accommodation .

“At the time of visiting in 2017, the building did not appear to be in use as habitable living accommodation. It appears that, prior to the works being carried out to convert the building in late 2017, it was used as an ancillary out building and as kennelling facilities in connection with Cowside Barn.”

The enforcement officer added that a smaller building had been constructed without planning permission next to “The Old Dairy”. She said that when she visited in April 2019 there were seven dogs and three litters (24 puppies) in that building.

Richmondshire District councillor Yvonne Peacock commented: “So many people in the Yorkshire Dales never do anything without asking for planning [advice or] permission. To me it is only right that we respect that.”

For that reason, she said, the Authority should take enforcement action when something had been done without planning permission.

The committee agreed that the Authority’s solicitor should serve an Enforcement Notice to secure the cessation of the use of “The Old Dairy” as a dwelling house; the removal of internal fixtures and fittings including the kitchen units and appliances; and the removal of the decking and fence.

The original recommendation was for a three-month compliance period but the committee agreed this should be extended to six months to provide time for those living there to find alternative accommodation.

West Burton School “Set to Thrive”

Press release from the BAWB Federation:

Parents of children at West Burton Church of England School have received the welcome news that from September 2019 the full range of primary education will be taught at the school.

The governors of the BAWB federation of Bainbridge, Askrigg and West Burton schools have made the decision to restore a second class at West Burton following consultation with the Local Authority of North Yorkshire County Council.

The decision came as a result of the efforts of the working party set up recently to attract more children to the federation. The group, which combines the energies and enthusiasm of teachers, governors, parents and members of the community, has embarked on a wide-ranging marketing strategy which has created a renewed interest in this small rural school.

Set in the context of rising numbers of children across the whole of Wensleydale, West Burton School is well placed to take advantage of the increase in affordable housing, better broadband connection and the desire for a healthier lifestyle that is bringing more young families to the area.

In a letter to parents, signed by all the members of the working party, the Chairman of the board of governors said that he was ‘extremely optimistic’ that numbers at West Burton School would increase, and looked forward to the ongoing support of the parents and the community.

He also welcomed ‘the approval and support’ of the Local Authority.A member of the working party said ‘We are all very pleased that the younger children will be returning full-time, and we are sure that the school is now set to thrive.’West Burton School will be holding an ‘open day’ as part of the annual May Fair held in the village on bank-holiday Monday, 27 May.

A stall with games will be set up outside the school, and activities and escorted tours will take place inside. Further information about West Burton School and the BAWB Federation can be found at www.b-a-wb.co.uk

YDNPA – Planning committee April 2019

An ARC News Service report on the meeting of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s (YDNPA) planning committee on April 9 2019 when decisions were made concerning: Hawes Methodist Chapel and Sunday School; a residential care home at Smardale; barns at Eshton, Litton, Threshfield, Thorlby, Bolton Abbey Estate (Stank House and Hazlewood);  Starbotton, Cautley near Sedbergh, and at Akrigg near Killington; and the Angel Inn and Wine Cave at Hetton.

Residents from Hawes again applauded the majority of the committee for agreeing with them that the conversion of the town’s former Methodist Chapel and Sunday School  into five holiday lets would be over-development and cause parking problems which would have a detrimental impact upon neighbours and businesses nearby. The committee, therefore, confirmed its decision last month to refuse permission.

But the story was very different for the residents of Smardale.

Smardale

Violent and anti-social incidents at a care home for vulnerable children in Smardale have created so much fear in that small community that the residents appealed  to the planning committee not to allow even more youngsters to reside there.  But their request has been refused.

Gloria Venning told the committee in March that the trained staff at Cloverdale, run by A Wilderness Way Holdings Ltd,  weren’t even able to control two children. She reported that the Police had been called when a staff member locked herself and another child in a safe room while a distressed teenager was left wandering around the area with a knife. She said there had been six incidents at Cloverdale so far including arson and anti-social and sexual behaviour.

“In less than two years this property has been transformed from a family home … to an offenders’ institution,” she said.

The planning committee accepted the request of Eden District councillor William Patterson to hold a site meeting mainly to see how difficult it was to reach Smardale. Cllr Patterson and residents pointed out that the nearest Police station was 30 miles away and the only route into Smardale was via a single-track road.

At the meeting on April 9  however, the planning committee by eight votes to six, gave approval for change of use from a dwelling house to a residential institution capable of housing six children.

At that meeting Cllr Patterson refuted a statement by a committee member that the residents of Smardale were prejudiced.

“If the people of Smardale were prejudiced they would have fought for it not to be there in the first place,” he said.

Rosemarie Lees on behalf of Waitby and Smardale Parish Meeting told the April meeting: “We agreed not to oppose the original application for four vulnerable children to be there – indeed we sought to welcome them.” She said the planning officer  had trivialised the residents’ major concern – the fear of crime.  “The fear is real – the incidents are serious,” she said and added.

“We have totally lost confidence in the management of Wilderness Way. The company does not communicate with residents.”

She and others pointed out that the nature reserve at Smardale was being publicised as a major tourist attraction by the YDNPA. But visitors would have to walk past Cloverdale to reach it.

Richmondshire District councillor Yvonne Peacock was especially concerned that the application was for the change of use of Cloverdale from a dwelling to a residential institution.  She warned that members needed to be very careful as they didn’t know what sort of applications might be made in the future.

The agent for A  Wilderness Way Holdings Ltd told the committee that the objective was to make Cloverdale similar to a family home for the vulnerable children residing there.  She said that Ofsted, which inspects and regulates the services at Cloverdale, had asked that it should have the capacity to take up to six children in an emergency.

A Certificate of Lawfulness was issued in December 2017 confirming it could be used to provide care and accommodation for no more than four children under the age of 18 with the support of two carers on a 24-hours shift rota basis. To be able to accommodate six children with six adult carers Cloverdale needed to become a residential institution.

The agent added that the aim was to have a care home where the children could enjoy the wonders of the National Park.

The planning officer stated: “The proposed use would deliver a significant social benefit for the wider community in that it would provide care and respite for children/young people to recover from experiences that have rendered them vulnerable. Cloverdale is considered to be an appropriate location for such a use given its rural setting being ideal for therapeutic care and being remote from the home areas of children/young people where there may be significant risks to the success of their care.

“Concerns based on the fear of crime are not compelling given the lack of a reasonable, cogent evidential basis linking the use with criminal activity and given that the Police are satisfied with the applicant’s Statement of Purpose and admissions process.”

The chairman of the Authority, Craven District councillor Carl Lis, said that the Police and Ofsted were the experts – and Ofsted had asked for the residential capacity to be increased.

Committee member, Jocelyn Manners-Armstrong, stated: “This is an excellent location making a positive contribution to these children’s lives.”

And another member, Jim Munday, added: “This is about providing a safe home for vulnerable children. What is missing … is serious dialogue between the applicant and the local population. It’s important that the applicant and local population sit down and talk this through.”

Hetton

The small village of Hetton in the  Yorkshire Dales had  to retain the services of a Queens Counsel at considerable cost in its bid to stop Michelin-star chef, Michael Wignall and his partners, from turning the Wine Cave at the Angel Inn into a fine dining restaurant with the loss of 16 car parking spaces.

Andrew Armstrong, representing Hetton cum Bordley Parish Meeting , told the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s planning committee last month, that the parish meeting had felt obliged to do this because residents believed that a considerable increase in on-street parking would have an unacceptable impact on highway safety and the community.

The planning committee was told that Michael and Johanna Wignall and their partners, James and Jo Wellock, wanted to create a fine dining restaurant at the Wine Cave. But their plans included the removal of 16  car parking spaces in the rear yard, the construction of a rear extension,  and the creation of a landscaped courtyard.

In March the planning committee did approve plans for internal and external alterations at the Angel Inn including extensions at the rear. Hetton cum Bordley Parish Meeting objected because, it said, the increase in guest bedrooms would lead to more cars being parked along the road especially if the parking area behind the  Wine Cave was no longer available.

The parish meeting was so concerned when the planning officer recommended approval for the applications by Wellock Property Ltd that it asked Lichfields Planning Consultancy for advice.  Justin Gartland, the chairman of that consultancy, told the committee in March: “It is not acceptable practice to suggest that the parish meeting should secure its own consultancy.”

The parish meeting’s representative, Andrew Armstrong, said: “Hetton parish meeting has been obliged to go to the length of employing the Queens Counsel who represented [the Authority] at the 1995 planning appeal.” The Authority’s decision at that time to refuse a planning application involving the Angel Inn was upheld at the three-day appeal on the grounds that it would be detrimental to highway safety and the amenity of the local community. Mr Armstrong said that the same issues still applied.

Carl Tonks of the cTc transport consultancy told that meeting that a survey had been carried out in September 2018 using a nationally accepted data base. This had shown, he said, that there would still be significant capacity for car parking within the area even after the proposed alterations at the Angel Inn and the Wine Cave.

The parish meeting, however, argued that the survey had been carried out at a quiet time in the village and when the rear car park at the Wine Cave was operational.

Also at the March meeting Charles Reeday, a farmer whose house is next door to the Wine Cave, told the committee that the alterations to it would greatly affect his garden and home. “We already suffer noise from the Angel across the road but the rear of our house is away from this.” They would not be able to escape the noise if the back of the Wine Cave was developed, he added.

Another resident, Richard Jackson, said the increase in noise and light pollution would have an impact on the neighbours. Mentioning the expense of employing a QC he said: “We are wondering how and why the National Park is still considering to give approval. What more is it  possible for the village and the parish meeting to do?”

As the majority of the committee at the March meeting did not accept the planning officer’s recommendation to approve the application the decision was referred back to that on April 9.  The head of development management, Richard Graham, reminded members that the traffic survey had been carried out in accordance with a nationally  accepted model to industry standards and that evidence would be needed to counteract that.

North Yorkshire county councillor Richard Welch commented: “This is the over development of the site and detrimental to the residents and other road users. It will also have a detrimental impact on the residents’ amenities.”

The committee unanimously agreed with him and refused permission for the application.

Barn conversions in Craven District:

Six out of the eight barn conversions in Craven District approved by the  planning committee on April 9 will be primarily for holiday accommodation.

David Staveley, however, made it very clear that he wanted to convert Lane Head Laithe at Throstle Nest, Eshton, into a three-bedroom home for him and his wife on the family farm. North Yorkshire

County councillor John Blackie commented: “I don’t think any member could make a more compelling case for the approval of this application than David Staveley himself. What better case can you make for a redundant building.”

The Highways Authority had, however, objected because it did not believe there was sufficient visibility at the access onto the road. The planning officer reported that about 12m of the boundary wall would be set back to improve visibility.

And Mr Staveley stated: “We are very aware of the danger as we have been using this as a farm access for 19 years.”

Even a planning officer described Nether Hesleden Farm Barn near Litton as being in the open countryside and it is in the Littondale Barns and Walls Conservation area.

He explained that the power supply to this roadside barn could be undergrounded from Nether Hesleden Farm, that there would be little change to the exterior of the building, and that the garden had been reduced to the minimum. He added that the converted dwelling would be used primarily as a holiday let.

North Yorkshire County councillor Richard Welch said: “I can’t think of a more classic example of what defines a roadside barn. I can’t see any problems with it. It ticks all the right boxes in the right places.”

The application to convert Ellis Laithe at Grisedale Gate Farm near Threshfield was solely for conversion to a holiday let. The planning officer stated that only the existing openings would be used and the proposed parking and external area would be modest and contained within the existing width of the walled lane to the south. No extension is required.

An application to convert this barn into a home for a farm worker was refused by the committee in December. The planning officer told the committee that the Authority was discussing with the applicant the possibility of applying to build a family home at the farm. Ellis Laithe will now become part of the farm’s holiday letting business.

Stirton-with-Thorlby Parish Meeting had told the Authority that not all residents were happy with Manor Farm Barn in Thorlby being used solely as a holiday let. As with most of the other applications the owners, Trustees for Roman Catholic Purposes Registered (TRCPR) had applied for both local occupancy or holiday let in line with the Authority’s conservation policy for roadside barns and those within settlements.

The agent for TRCPR, Robert Hodgkiss, told the committee that the application was not contentious and was in accord with national and local policies. It would, he said, have a sustainable use within the village once converted.

Three of the applications were made by the Chatsworth Settlement Trustees (Bolton Abbey Estate). For speed of approval none matched those dealt with by the planning committee in February.

The Trustees applications to convert the former Wesleyan chapel at Barden and Harry’s Barn at Storith were submitted on January 7 and approved by the planning committee on February 12 which might be a record! Both will have hot tubs installed as they will be primarily for holiday accommodation.

Those two applications did not require any amendments whereas the three submitted on January 17 did. The amendments to the plans for the Shippon at Stank House to the west of Bolton Abbey included moving the hot tub to a less obvious position!

Permission was granted for the conversion of both the Shippon and the barn at Stank House, which is already used as a holiday let. The access to the complex is via an existing private driveway.

The third application from the Trustees was for the conversion of Laneside Barn at Hazlewood to the east of Bolton Abbey. This is near two cottages on what the planning officer described as a very quiet lane.

She said that the proposed garden and parking would be contained in the yard serving the barn and so would be screened from public view.

The eighth successful application was by the artist Victoria Russell to convert a toft barn at Starbotton into a studio and dwelling.

Starbotton

Despite a warning by a parish council that the conversion of a barn at Starbotton would lead to further inappropriate development in a conservation area created to protect a medieval “toft” system the planning committee approved the planning application by artist Victoria Russell.

Kettlewell with Starbotton Parish councillor Ian Macefield  told the committee  that Tom Lear Barn was an integral part of Starbotton’s medieval toft (croft) system.

“The toft system is the key charm, character and essence of the village,” he said.

The planning officer agreed that the barn had a very high heritage significance as there was evidence of it originally being of cruck construction and so likely to date from the late 16th century.

She said there  had been extensive negotiations over the design to produce a sensitive scheme which would also enable the owner  to use it as an artist studio as well as a two-bedroom local occupancy dwelling.

The parish council had objected to the original plans because they included a glazed gable which, it said, was out of character with the barn and other buildings in the conservation area.

This was not included in amended plans. Instead there will be patent glazing providing light to the first floor. The planning officer stated: “Although patent glazing can be a significant feature on a roof, on this building it will appear as a single strip of glazing running the length of the rear roof and will avoid the requirement for several roof-lights or new windows which would alter the simple character of the barn and impact on historic fabric.”

A committee member, Julie Martin, pointed out that the Authority’s senior listed building officer had commented extensively on the application but that had not been included in the planning officer’s report. She noted that this had happened with several reports to the committee that day.

The parish council had also objected to the proposed access. The planning officer explained that access via Back Lane or Long Lane had been considered but it was concluded these  green lanes of medieval origin were too narrow and unsuitable for modern vehicles. It was also unlikely, she said, that Ms Russell would obtain legal right of access down those lanes.

Instead the application included using a track across the toft but stopping a short distance from Tom Lear Barn. The medieval wall line is to be reintroduced in order to separate the majority of the field from the proposed parking and garden, she said.

“It is considered that the important landscape setting of the barn and the Conservation Area will therefore be retained, with some enhancement in the form of the reinstated medieval wall line compensating for the introduction of the track within the field,” she added.

The parish council, however, had stated: “The proposed track will have a serious visual impact, being visible from the footpaths above the village. In addition, the track and the soakaway  on a medieval toft will require earthworks on a potentially important archaeological site.”

Cllr Macefield said that Back Lane was at least 8ft wide and was already being used for access to Tom Lear Barn and the Quaker burial ground. He added that a vehicle with good ground clearance could be driven over the hump back bridge along that lane.

The parish council was also concerned about the installation of a cattle grid as this, it maintained,  would be an alien feature in a medieval village setting.  It added that a cattle grid was not especially good at controlling stock and would present a danger to children and small animals.

Cautley near Sedbergh

Permission was granted for a barn at Cautley Thwaite Farm to be partially converted into a local occupancy dwelling or short-term holiday let.

Sedbergh Parish Council had questioned leaving part of it as a barn as it felt converting all of the building would better ensure long-term maintenance of a heritage asset,  provide valuable family scale accommodation and that it would remain as a single planning unit.

The planning officer, however, stated: “The retention of part of the byre (including internal stalls) in the southern end of the building is supported as this area contains older timbers and furniture that pre-date the barn itself. It is likely that some materials used in the construction of the building were salvaged from an older barn on or near the site. By not converting this area to habitable accommodation, allows the historic features to remain in place as evidence of the past history of the building.”

She added that the existing access to the barn could be used to provide a parking area behind the barn as a new dry-stone wall would be built to screen them from open view.

Killington

The majority of the committee yet again voted to approve an application for the reconstruction of a partially collapsed barn at Akrigg to create a dwelling.  This confirmed the decision made at the meeting in March.

Final Service at Aysgarth Chapel

AysgarthChapelS

Above after the service on April 7 : Front Row l-r – Richard and Ann Wilkinson, Jean Cockburn and Rona Trowell. Back row – Anne Moore, Martin and Pauline Beckett and Frank Trowell.

Aysgarth Methodist chapel was full on Sunday April 7 for its final service before its official closure on April 22. 

The few remaining Methodist chapels in mid and upper Wensleydale were represented as well as St Andrew’s Church, Aysgarth, and the local community.

The service was led by Dr Richard Wilkinson who for many years was a local Methodist lay preacher as well as being the organist at St Andrew’s Church.

He spoke of his own sadness about the closure of the chapel which, he said, had been a wonderful centre for the village. He reflected on the history of the chapel and the local man to whom it has been a memorial – the Rev Sylvester Whitehead who served for ten years as a missionary in China and who, in 1904 became the President of the Wesleyan Conference.

The present chapel was built by local craftsmen in 1900. It replaced a cottage on the site which had been used for services since 1766.

Dr Wilkinson remembered those who had ministered there and recalled the annual nativity plays in which the village children participated. “These were a wonderful experience for all of us, led by Jean Cockburn and Rona Trowell,” he said.

Mrs Cockburn started the nativity plays in 1966 four years after taking over the chapel’s Sunday School. For 20 years or more she has assisted Rona Trowell with the nativity plays and all age worship services.

“I ‘m very grateful that I’ve had over 90 years of being a chapel member,” said 92-years-old Mrs Cockburn as she shared some of her memories (see below). She is one of the five remaining members of Aysgarth chapel who made the decision to close it.

Another was Pauline Becket who told the congregration: : “We have reached the end of a long road and we have to look for a new direction.”

She sang a solo at the beginning of the service, and there were two duets by Emma Cloughton and Colin Bailey. The organist was Diane Hartley.

After the service Mrs Cockburn was presented with a bouquet of flowers by Mary Hugill as a thank you for all she had done at the chapel for so many years.

Most of the congregation remained in the chapel afterwards for the buffet tea.

 

Jean’s reflections:

When Richard asked me if I would say a few words about our chapel my first thought was “No Way” – but I thought of the years I’d asked him to play [the organ] and he never refused so I had second thoughts and decided I just couldn’t refuse.

I seem to have been involved with chapel all my life, sitting with Mam firstly and then in the choir, with Dad [Cecil Riggs] playing the organ.  Occasionally Mam allowed me to take my panama hat off and put it on the window ledge, but in the 1930s not wearing a hat would have been frowned on. Everyone wore their Sunday best for Chapel, and trousers for women wouldn’t have been acceptable at all.

The heating for the Chapel was a coal boiler which Dad had to go every Sunday morning whatever the weather down the steps into the cellar to light the boiler.

Each year members and friends went round Christmas singing, always walking – Hestholme where the Vicars lived then the houses up to Aysgarth, cups of tea and biscuits at a few of them. Then the next night finish Aysgarth and Thornton Rust where Hannah at Low Gill had a lovely spread for us.

For me Christmas singing was the highlight of Christmas. It stopped a lot of years ago, maybe because everyone got older, and maybe because we’d not got Dad with his tuning fork.

Some verses from the poem Jean wrote several years ago about her memories of Aysgarth Chapel:

I learnt pretty early that Sundays were Chapel,

No playing games for me,

It was Sunday School, Chapel then Chapel again

And in the middle up to my Aunty’s for tea.

 

The Aldersons, Sayers, Thompsons, Pedleys

All were sat in the centre

With Grandma Riggs on the very front seat

To hear the preacher the better

 

Ben, Jim & Alice took Sunday School each week,

For the boys and girls of Aysgarth who were not always meek.

The boys carved names on Chapel pews and led old Jim a dance.

But faithful soul that old Jim was, he didn’t stand a chance.

 

The Sunday School trip was a must each year

To Redcar, the sands and the sea,

Paddling and building sand castles,

Then into a cafe for tea.

 

The old ones now have passed away

But still our Chapel remained

With a host of happy memories

Of many happy days.

 

and she has now added this final verse –

But now our Chapel’s closing,

And we all feel very sad

But we’ll trust God for the future

And thank Him for all the years that we’ve  had.

Association of Rural Communities

The Association of Rural Communities stands for local democracy in the Yorkshire Dales National Park and consistency in planning decisions.

It was founded in 1995 during a period of intense anger against what was then the Yorkshire Dales National Park committee and its chairman at that time, Cllr Robert Heseltine.

People wanted to see more consistency and fairness in planning decisions, and more democracy and accountability. One of the Association’s prime objectives was to work for the economic and social well-being of those living and working in this national park. This was added to the purposes of national parks by 1997 – but is so very important today when the rule of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) quango has been extended to include more districts in Cumbria and Lancashire.

The Association campaigned for secret ballots and limited terms of office for the chairmen and vice-chairmen of the YDNPA – and that was finally introduced in November 1999. Before that they were elected by a show of hands, and Cllr Heseltine had been chairman for 11 years.

Members of the Association’s committee have monitored the YDNPA planning committee meetings since the late 1990s. Back then the Association called for applicants and objectors to have the right to address the planning committee – something which is now accepted practice.

The Association has questioned the YDNPA about other inconsistencies over the years, and in 2001 even pointed out that the members of the Authority’s planning committee should be provided each month with the minutes of past meetings so that they could make informed decisions.

The Association’s chairman at that time, the late Jim Cunnington, also asked the planning committee to defer decisions until newly elected district and county councillors could be there to represent their constituents. This became accepted practice – but has now been discarded by planning committee.

It was the Association’s late president, Tom Knowles, who spotted in 2007 that an officer, under delegated powers, had made a decision which seriously undermined the YDNPA’s ability to fulfil one of its statutory purposes – to promote opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of national parks by the public.

The Association alerted the planning committee to the precedent set by the officer in allowing the removal of pitches for tents at Westholme caravan site near Aysgarth on the basis that this was a “planning gain”.   The result is that a site which had catered so well for touring caravans and campers, including those participating in the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme, has become a luxury lodge park where it costs about £600 per week to stay during the summer season. (For how the Westholme site started see Margaret Knowles.)

The planning committee took steps to contain that damaging decision and in June 2014 accepted that camping was “a low impact form of visitor accommodation” which enabled poorer families to come and enjoy this beautiful countryside and that this significantly benefited the economies of local communities. The new Local Plan will  provide even greater protection for camping and touring caravan pitches in the National Park.

We need your support if we are to successfully lobby for more democracy within the  Yorkshire Dales National Park and to act as a watchdog on the activities of the Authority. We want the voice of the people living and working in this area to be heard – locally, regionally and nationally.

The membership is £7 per year, or £10 for parish councils. The Register of Members is held by the Administrative Officer and is kept completely confidential. You can send us comments via reports on this website. To do so click on one of the reports below.

The Secretary of State approved the extension of the boundaries of the YDNPA. But do read Cumbria County Coun Kevin Lancaster‘s personal view and that of Mike Warden who, until he retired,  worked as a planning officer with the YDNPA and then with Harrogate Borough Council which included Nidderdale AONB.

To cut back on costs many more decisions are being made by planning officers. So parish councils and residents need to be even more vigilant when planning applications are advertised locally. Applicants and residents can contact the district or county councillor who represents their area on the YDNPA planning committee and request that an application should be discussed by the committee if they are concerned about the possible decision that just one planning officer might make.

FDCM – Scott Macfie portrait presentation

portrait_presentation

A painting of R.A. Scott Macfie, whose collection of books is at the Dales Countryside Museum (DCM) in Hawes, has been presented to the museum.

Photographed at the presentation are: on the left Bob Ellis, on the right side of the photograph, Mora Main, and on the far right Eleanor Scarr.

Macfie collected many books and documents while he was living at Lunds in the 1920s and early 1930s and these now form part of the Macfie Calvert Collection.This is housed at the DCM in trust to the people of Wensleydale and cared for by the Trustees of the Macfie Calvert Collection.

The stormy weather and floods on Saturday March 16 did not stop 27 family members and the godson of Macfie gathering at the museum.

The special guest at the gathering was 92-year-old Arthur Ashton, Scott Macfie’s godson, who lived on High Hall farm at Lunds a mile away from Macfie’s home. Arthur remembers Macfie well even though he was only eight when he attended his godfather’s funeral and burial at Lunds chapel in 1935.

There were 12 great nephews and nieces of “Uncle Scott” at the gathering, plus great great nephews and nieces and one very young great great great niece.

The gathering came about due to a chance encounter between some family members, John and Diane Elphinstone, and Bob Ellis who is a Friend of the DCM. When the Elphinstones were searching for a home in Clapham in 2009 they attended one of Bob’s lectures about watermills. Afterwards they discovered the connection between John, who is a great nephew of Macfie and Bob’s custodial role with the Macfie Calvert Trust.

Simultaneously a great niece, Mora Main, was cleaning out stored family items from her brother’s Perthshire garage and uncovered the portrait of Uncle Scott by renowned artist Francis Dodd. Dodd had worked in Manchester and London and was later an official WWI British war artist. Mora then began searching for a safe new home where the portrait could be hung and be accessible for future researchers.

The portrait had belonged to her father, the late Ramsay Main. Ramsay and his twin sister, Barbara (John Elphinstone’s mother) had held their Uncle Scott in high regard. It was John’s sister Janet who successfully contacted so many Macfie descendants to attend the gathering.

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At the gathering Bob and fellow trustees of the Macfie Calvert Collection, Eleanor Scarr and Mary Scarr, officially received the painting on behalf of the museum.

“We are so pleased that the portrait is joining the Macfie Calvert Collection,” said Janet. And her brother, John, commented: “We are delighted to find the portrait a permanent home in Yorkshire, close to where Uncle Scott lived. He loved the countryside and the people in it.”

To that Mora added: “He was admired by his nephews and nieces and now researchers can continue to uncover his story under his watchful eye at the museum.”

The Macfie/Elphinstone family also made a donation of £305 to the Macfie Calvert Trust.  Bob said this will be used to restore the portrait . When it has been restored it will be displayed on a wall in the Research Room in the museum,” he added.

Macfie was the son of a sugar magnate from Liverpool. Bob recounted in his article for the 2014 edition of Now Then (the annual magazine of the FDCM ) that after serving on the Western Front with the Liverpool Scottish Regiment during WW1 Macfie moved to the Lunds in the 1920s with the hope that the clean bracing air would prove beneficial to his precarious health. He bought Shaws, an isolated house on the fellside behind Lunds Chapel, and lived there until his death in 1935.

“During his years at Shaws, he became very involved with the local community and developed a passionate interest in the culture and history of upper Wensleydale, Mallerstang and the surrounding dales. As a result he amassed a large collection of books of local interest,” wrote Bob.

For a while Macfie’s books and those of Kit Calvert were in the care of the Wensleydale School and later were moved to the DCM.

At present the Research Room at the museum is being damp proofed and re-decorated. When that work is complete the Macfie Calvert collection of books will be moved back into the glass-fronted cabinets and store room there.

Bob plans to exhibit the tea service presented by the Macfie/Elphinstone family in one of those cabinets. The tea service has the family crest on it and the legend “R.A. Scott Macfie, Shaws, Lunds”. The family also presented other artefacts, books and documents to the museum.

There are Friends of the DCM in the Research Room on Mondays and Wednesdays to assist anyone who is researching family or history connected to upper or mid Wensleydale.

Above: the family gathering. Arthur Ashton is wearing a flat cap.

Below:  The portrait of Scott Macfie.

YDNPA – planning committee March 2019

An ARC News Service report on the meeting of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s (YDNPA) planning committee meeting on March 12 2019 when decisions were made concerning buildings in and near the following towns and villages: Askrigg, Fremington, Hawes, Barbon, Garsdale, Barbon, Killington, Austwick, Embsay, and Stainforth (hot tub) . It was agreed to hold a site meeting at Waitby in Smardale concerning proposed changes at the residential institution there.

The application for alterations at The Angel Inn at Hetton was approved, but the majority of members voted against giving approval for changes at the nearby Wine Bar which is also owned by Wellock Property Ltd. As that decision was against officer recommendation it was referred back to the April meeting. There will be full reports concerning both of those applications posted on this website following the planning committee meeting on April 9.

The decision concerning the conversion of Hawes Methodist Chapel was also referred back to the April meeting for the same reason, as was that for the rebuilding of a barn as a dwelling at Aikrigg near Killington in Cumbria.

Before the application regarding Hawes Methodist Chapel was discussed North Yorkshire County councillor John Blackie explained why he would speak and vote on that even though the agent for the applicants had made a complaint against him and stated that he should not be involved in the decision making. See the report below.

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.

Askrigg

A large field barn at Long Shaw near Bainbridge may be beautiful and large enough for a family home but converting it would be against policy the planning committee decided by an eight to seven vote.

Edward Scarr told the meeting that it would make a suitable family home given its location on the family farm. “It would be ideal for my work. We have four young children under the age of six and want to convert the barn into a family home.”

He said that he and his wife, Gwen, had always lived and worked in Wensleydale and converting the barn would enable them to raise their family on the farm. Mrs Scarr attended the meeting with their daughter Faye who was born in late February.

They heard several committee members speak in support of the planning officer who had stated that the YDNPA’s policy required that to be suitable for conversion a barn had to be in an existing settlement or building group, or be close to or adjoining a road.

He reported that the barn at Long Shaw was 110 metres from a road and would require a long track to be created and a significant length of walling to be moved to provide access to a road.

He added: “Although the proposed works to the barn are relatively well designed, it is in a very prominent and exposed position in the landscape. Its conversion to a permanently occupied dwelling would have a negative effect on the landscape that arises from the replacement of a simple, unadorned traditional farm building with a dwelling that has car parking, lighting, curtilage development, new access road and significant alterations to the existing roadside walls and the character of the road itself.”

Julie Martin agreed that this would be an intensive use of the barn which would have an impact upon the landscape. “It has been demonstrated there is a need but not at that location. The applicant has been asked to explore an alternative option,” she said.

Mr and Mrs Scarr had been told that, as it was accepted there wasn’t sufficient housing at the farm for the required number of agricultural workers, it was possible that an application for a new build dwelling at Yorescott Steading , where the ewes were lambed, would be acceptable. To this North Yorkshire County councillor John Blackie remarked that a new build might have more impact upon the landscape than a sympathetically converted barn.

Another North Yorkshire County councillor, Richard Welch, pointed out that many farmhouses were far from a road. “In ten years time you wouldn’t know it was a barn conversion,” he said.

Eden District councillor William Patterson agreed and asked if the YDNPA was going to pay for the upkeep of such buildings in the future – or would the owners be expected to keep them up as a national asset? He and others were concerned that if it was no longer needed for agricultural purposes and was not converted into the dwelling it would fall into disrepair and disappear.

“Is it true that we would rather see a non-designated heritage asset [disappear] when there is a family who wish to make use of it?” asked Lancashire County councillor Cosima Towneley. “I can not think of a better way of using an agricultural heritage that will otherwise go to waste,” she added.

Fremington

The committee unanimously approved the application by Mr and Mrs Peter Catchpole to convert Little Barn at High Fremington in Swaledale into a one-bedroom local occupancy dwelling.

Mrs Catchpole explained that they were living in rented accommodation and wanted a Dales home of their own.

Several residents had, however, objected and they were represented by Chris Whittaker. He disagreed with the planning officer that there was sufficient visibility splay from the proposed access as it was near to a blind bend and crossroads. Nor was it always a quiet road for, he said, during a cycling event 4,000 riders had raced up it.

He did not accept that the proposed extension was not significant as it would increase the size of the barn by 42 per cent and added that the amenity of those living in the house close to the barn would be affected.

The planning officer reported that the neighbouring house was 3.9m away on the other side of the narrow road. The plans had been amended so that the windows overlooking that house were smaller and glazed, he said.

He stated: “It is recognised that the proposal would introduce a degree of domestication into a site that currently exhibits a largely agricultural and undeveloped character. However, the proposal is relatively small in scale and, further to amendments to the scheme, is not considered to adversely affect the immediate setting of the barn. It should be noted that the wider landscape impact of the proposal is negligible given the lack of public views from longer distances.”

He also believed that the package treatment plant would not affect the two properties to the south of the barn.

The conditions include creating a photographic record of the barn before conversion and a written scheme of investigation regarding excavation and archaeology as the external work would be close to Fremington Dyke. This was one of the linear dykes in Swaledale which formed part of the boundary of an early, post-Roman, British political area or kingdom (Out of Oblivion).

Hawes

There was applause when the majority of the committee voted to refuse an application to convert the Methodist Chapel and Sunday School into five holiday lets. This, however, was contrary to the planning officer’s recommendation and so has been referred back to the meeting in April.

The planning officer stated: “The willingness of the parish council to set aside the problematic elements of this proposal illustrates the dilemma at the heart of this application. The buildings are part of the town’s heritage and as such are worthy of retention and a viable economic use that would ensure their future. However, it is difficult to envisage a new use that will not have the same parking and access problems as this proposal.”

Hawes and High Abbotside Parish councillor Sheila Alderson told the meeting: “There is absolutely no parking outside the chapel.” Both she and Jack Sutton, who lives near the chapel, said that the small area of parking at Town Foot, opposite the doctors’ surgery, was used by residents who had nowhere else to park their vehicles. When that space became full vehicles were parked on the pavement.

“You take your life in your hands when you try to access Hawes,” commented Mr Sutton.

The meeting was informed that the developers, Matthew and Sally  Faulkes with Ian Morton and Heritage Apartments Ltd,  had proposed that five annual parking permits at the Dales Countryside Museum (DCM) car park could be purchased for those staying at the holiday lets.

The agent, Rachel Ford, explained that the conversion of the building would cost over £500,000 so local occupancy was not viable. The application was, she said, compliant with the Authority’s policy and the provision of more  holiday lets would bring more visitors to Hawes and so be good for  local businesses. She maintained that the holiday lets would not have an impact upon residents and  that there would be a reduction in traffic compared with when the building was used as a church.

Cllr John Blackie disagreed stating that it had mainly been used on Sundays and many people had walked to it. Both he and Mr Sutton questioned that those using the holiday lets would want to walk 300m with luggage from the DCM car park especially when it was raining.

Cllr Alderson said the parish council was very concerned about Chapel Lane, which it described as an important access road for local residents, being blocked when people were unloading or loading luggage at the proposed  holiday lets. The parish council could not understand why the Highway Authority had not objected to the application.

The planning officer explained that according to the National Planning Policy Framework a development should only be prevented or refused on highways grounds if there would be an unacceptable impact on highway safety, or the residual cumulative impacts on the road network would be severe. He added: “The Highway Authority has no objections but requires a Construction Management Plan to be provided to include parking for operatives, the loading, unloading and storage of plant and materials.”

He said that the developers had shown that the building was no longer needed by the community and could be sensitively converted.

North Yorkshire County councillor Richard Welch commented: “I couldn’t think of a more insensitive conversion for the local residents and  how it will affect their  lives. We are creating a nightmare for local residents.”

Another North Yorkshire County councillor, Robert Heseltine, compared the development with trying to pour a pint into a quart pot.  And Allen Kirkbride added: “A large use [of this building] with lots of holiday cottages is going to make life in Hawes quite unbearable at times.”

The parish council had pointed out that the government through its Homes England Agency was now actively promoting community-led developments  of affordable housing with very substantial grants. This made an affordable housing scheme  for the Methodist chapel far more viable. “We would be prepared to accept some of the drawbacks if we saw clear benefits for the community,” Cllr Alderson said.

Cllr Blackie told the meeting: “The parish council has no doubt that no change is not an option but it questioned what is proposed is the best use. The word that comes to mind is over-development. Simply – there is no room for what is proposed. Something on a lesser scale would have been more acceptable.

“But they want to squeeze every square inch out of the former Methodist chapel. The trouble is with doing that – they will spill over their requirements to compromise the amenity of local residents who live in that very densely constrained area just near Town Foot. There are 14 houses – some are holiday lets and some are used by local residents. They have a right to enjoy their amenity.  Something less ambitious, something less profit-making would actually be more acceptable.”

Before the application was discussed by the committee Cllr Blackie said there had been a complaint from the applicants concerning whether or not he should be involved in speaking or voting. “There is a clear threat that if I do, the applicants may well wish to take legal action against the Authority. I want to say that I have never ever in 21 years of sitting on this planning committee – or at Richmondshire District Council –  had a complaint made in this way.

“I have never been accused of bias in the way that the applicant has accused me of bias. The bias comes from the fact that I had and I still run holiday cottages.”

He said he had taken legal advice many times and been told that he could take part in deciding holiday cottage applications so long as he had no financial interest. He explained that he had made it clear that he had expressed a preliminary view on the application in writing and verbally previous to the meeting, but had come to the meeting with an open mind as he was legally obliged to do.

“This seems to be an attempt to fix the jury but I have done absolutely nothing wrong. Threatening both me and the National Park is undermining the planning process.”

When she addressed the committee Ms Ford stated concerning that complaint that it had never been their intention not to have Cllr Blackie involved or to speak but to make the Authority aware  of some issues.

Ms Ford, who is the head of planning for the Leeds-based agents Bowcliffe, had written to the Authority previous to the meeting  that Cllr Blackie was biased against the application because he ran a holiday cottage company in the Dales. She had also complained about his behaviour at a site visit where, she said, he broke the code of conduct by using that as an opportunity to lobby against the plans.

She stated: “If Councillor Blackie proceeds to vote on the application …., to vote against the proposal and if his vote turns out to be decisive, then my clients will have no option but to explore potential legal claims against the council. I strongly suggest that Councillor Blackie plays no further role in the decision making process for my client’s application.”

Barbon

“This is  our first conflict with the Yorkshire Dales National Park,” Cllr Robert Groves, the chairman of Barbon Parish  Council told the meeting. Barbon in Cumbria became part of the National Park in August 2016.

The parish council had objected to an outline application for a single storey dwelling on some land in Moorthwaite Lane, Barbon.

Cllr Groves explained that the site had serious drainage problems and  added  that previously the refusal of planning permission for any residential development there had been upheld at appeal because any building would fill in one of the open spaces in the village which were an important part of the character and appearance of Barbon.

The planning officer explained that as Barbon was in one of the new areas of the National Park  the application had to be considered in accordance with the South Lakeland District Council’s Core Strategy. He said this had changed since the last application regarding that site and the new policy allowed for “infilling” development between residential properties.

He told the meeting that the applicant’s plans included flood alleviation measures,  and that the low profile of a bungalow would not be harmful to the distinctive characteristics of Barbon.

Lancashire County councillor Cosima Towneley said she hoped the Authority would be quite strict about the design when that was submitted for approval.

She abstained from voting but all the rest of the members voted to approve the application.

Killington

When an 18th century barn at Aikrigg partially collapsed during a severe storm the owners were heartbroken, Ian Dawson, the chairman of Killington Parish Meeting told the planning committee.

He explained that the owners had been given permission to convert the barn into a home for themselves and a base for their business. “We would welcome this new couple,” he said.

They had applied for permission to reconstruct the partially collapsed barn to form a dwelling but the planning officer pointed out that this would now amount to a new open market home which did not comply with the South Lakeland Core Strategy.

South Lakeside District Council had given permission in 2014 for the two other barns on either side of that which collapsed to be converted into open market dwellings. They are in a remote location near Killington.

Ian McPherson argued that the impact of the barn on that group of buildings, the beneficial impact on the visual quality of the surrounding landscape, the reason why it collapsed and that South Lakeland District Council has approved similar applications were valid material considerations for approving the application even if it was not in accordance with policy.

Cllr Towneley agreed and added that there would be considerable loss in the archaeological heritage of the hamlet if the barn was not reconstructed.

Twelve out of 15 of the members voted to approve the application. As this was against the officer’s recommendation it was referred back to the April meeting.

Embsay

Permission was granted for four bedroom dormer bungalow for  local occupancy to be built in Millholme Rise, Embsay.

Cllr Vince Smith attended the meeting on behalf of Embsay with Eastby Parish Council which had objected to the application. He explained that the parish council believed the height of the proposed building would set a precedent for higher builds in that area.

The parish council also wanted an area of hard standing to be created on the site before construction began so that vehicles were not parked on the road especially as it was close to a junction and a bend. But the planning officer said it was not possible to do that as any hard standing would hamper the developer’s ability to construct the building.

She told the meeting that the applicant, who lives next door to the site, had asked for a  higher ridge height so as to have space for two bedrooms in the roof space. She said the overall ridge height would be the same as for the original approved scheme with a negligible difference in the height of the eaves.

Stainforth

Residents asked the committee to refuse an application for a hot tub in the garden of a holiday cottage beside Stainforth’s 18th century Grade II listed bridge because the noise made by those using it detracted from the enjoyment of the natural environment and tranquillity of the area.

Cllr Richard Welch supported them and stated: “This should be refused as it is beside a historic bridge and a footpath and so did affect the quality of life and the tranquillity of the village.”

But the majority of the other members accepted the planning officer’s argument that there would not be a detrimental impact on the visual amenity of the area, nor would the heritage significance of the bridge be affected. One of the conditions, however, is that it should only be in use between 9am and 9.30pm.

The application by the owner of Bridge End holiday cottage for the replacement of two existing sheds and the siting of an electric hot tub was, therefore, approved.

Frank Underwood, on behalf of Stainforth Parish Meeting, explained that the electric hot tub would replace one which was heated by a  wood burner.  On occasions those using that hot tub had created a lot of noise he said. He added that the National Park was also responsible for the social and well being of residents.

“How a hot tub is fostering the social and well being of the local community escapes me,” he commented.

A resident, Viv Mills, told the committee that 19 residents – almost one fifth of the community – had sent in letters of objection and added: “It is clear from the number of objections that it doesn’t fit in with the historic nature of the area.”

She said that Bridge End was unique in the village because it was the only holiday cottage causing problems and the daily time limit on the hot tub would not solve these as it could be in use all day.

The owner, Lianne Butler, said a higher fence would be installed to screen the garden. The hot tub was, she added, near the pub’s beer garden, brought in business for the pub, and attracted families to stay at Bridge End.

Garsdale

Permission for an outbuilding beside Rose Cottage in Garsdale to be converted into one-bedroom short term holiday accommodation was granted very quickly as the application was not considered by the committee until after 6pm. (The meeting began at 1pm.) The planning officer quickly explained that it was a 19th century former garage alongside Rose Cottage within a roadside group of stone build cottages on the A684.

He said that the proposal represented a reasonably sensitive conversion and would not have a detrimental impact upon the landscape, residential amenity or highway safety.

Austwick

Permission was granted almost as quickly for the conversion of a detached stone building at Fleet House in Wharfe, near Austwick, into a one-bedroom dwelling either for holiday let or local occupancy.

Austwick Parish Council supported the conversion because it would reinstate some traditional features and secure the future of the redundant small barn by creating a viable use.

It did, however, ask that there should be conditions regarding external lighting and for the removal of all permitted development rights. These were included by the planning officer.

Cllr Towneley asked about parking especially as the parish council had requested that there should be clear, workable, enforceable and permanent provision for at least one car parking space. Richard Graham, the head of development management, said that the Authority could not regulate that.

The planning officer had told the meeting that the barn was adjacent to a non-metalled road within the hamlet of Wharfe and the design of the proposed conversion was considered to be high quality.

West Burton school – Stop the Bussing!

Aysgarth and District Parish Council has again agreed that the bussing of the youngest children from West Burton CofE School to Bainbridge by the Bainbridge, Askrigg and West Burton Federation of Schools (BAWB) for lessons must stop.

At its meeting on Thursday February 21 the council welcomed the invitation from BAWB to the West Burton Representative Group to engage with it in a small working party on Tuesday March 19.

Cllr David Pointon, an educational consultant who is a member of the Representative Group, reminded the council that the first request for defederation from BAWB by parents of pupils at West Burton school was made in January 2018.

He added that BAWB had refused defederation and was continuing with bussing the youngest children which was one of the main things that parents were objecting to. “The community is still not satisfied,” he said.

Richmondshire District councillor Yvonne Peacock described as dreadful had been the lack of communication by the BAWB governors. “We’ve had emails but we haven’t had a conversation. To me the governors should have dealings with people, with the parents.”

Another Richmondshire District councillor, Caroline Thornton-Berry agreed that the governors didn’t seem to know that the West Burton parents were so unhappy.   She told the council that she had invited one of the BAWB governors to have coffee with her – only for that governor to say that the chair of governors had said she shouldn’t accept.

One of the parish councillors spoke of a teaching head at a church school of 120 pupils who was at the top of the pay scale who earned about £20,000 less per year than the non-teaching head of BAWB which has 80 pupils. BAWB also has a part time business manager.

“The financial situation at BAWB is unsustainable,” commented Cllr Thornton-Berry. She also pointed out that, unlike councillors, the governing body of a school was unanswerable to anyone and was free to make all decisions  apart from that to close a school.

Cllr Pointon emphasised that the most important issue was the needs of the children  – and the councillors agreed that bussing the youngest children was contrary to that.

See: Cllr Pointon’s statement about educating primary school children.

Yore Mill Planning Application

Aysgarth and District Parish Council will support an application for the refurbishment of Yore Mill at Aysgarth Falls even though at its meeting on Thursday February 21 councillors were concerned about parking and that the mill race leaks.

The application, by David Peacock of Richmond, is for the conversion of the mill into two apartments, four holiday let apartments and one apartment in conjunction with a bar and restaurant, bunk house, community room and retail outlet; bicycle store and wash down area, and the re-instatement of the hydro-electric turbine. It was reported at the meeting that the proposal includes three parking spaces [on the east side of the building] but with none for those staying in the holiday lets or  visiting the restaurant and bar. Parking for them will be at the YDNPA car park across the River Ure.

An Aysgarth councillor reported that the Himalayan Balsam growing in the mill race would have to be cleaned out. He added that the mill race leaked and the turbine in the mill had been turned off so that the cottages on the west side adjacent to the river could dry out prior to being sold. “If the turbine is brought back into use they will flood again,” he said.

The councillors agreed, however, to support the application as it would improve and make safe a building they had reported as being in a dangerous condition. This, they said, would be a planning gain.

Above: Yore Mill as it is at present

YDNPA – planning committee February 2019

An ARC News Service report on the meeting of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s ( YDNPA ) planning committee on February 12 2019 when decisions were made concerning buildings in or near the following villages or dales: Arkengarthdale and Langthwaite, Barden, Storiths and Thorpe, Gayle, Askrigg, Carlton in Coverdale, and Hawes. The ARC News Service is the local democracy reporting service of the Association of Rural Communities.

This was an  unusual planning meeting for several reasons: the number of applications to be decided (see Conversion of barns and traditional buildings); the large number of people in the “public gallery” – about 35; and that the YDNPA chief executive officer, David Butterworth, was there throughout the meeting. In addition, Ruth Annison said the Authority might be reported to the Secretary of State – see Halfway House, Hawes.

The split in the committee so evident at the December meeting was less apparent this time – but was clearly visible in the voting concerning the proposed new agricultural building at Throstle Nest Farm, Thornton Rust. There again the decision depended upon the chairman of the planning committee, Richmondshire District councillor Caroline Thornton-Berry, voting with seven others in line with the officer’s recommendation to refuse the application. Most of the elected representatives voted to approve it. But this time, at least, there was a more open debate compared to the meeting in December.

Two decisions were deferred so that site meetings could be held. The applications were for the redevelopment of the Angel Inn at Hetton and the conversion of the former Methodist church in Hawes to three apartments and two cottages for holiday let accommodation. In both cases the parish councils have strongly objected because of the likelihood of increased street car parking.

Conversion of barns and traditional buildings

After tensions ran high in December about barn conversions the planning committee found that even the most straight forward of applications were on the agenda at the February meeting.

When asked about this by Richmondshire District councillor Yvonne Peacock the Authority’s head of development management, Richard Graham, replied: “I am concerned that officers’ interpretation of policy is somewhat determined by members’ interpretation of policy. So, in the interests of consistency in decision making… it is for the best interests of the Authority that these are brought to the committee.”

All five of the applications for converting traditional roadside buildings were quickly approved: three  from Wharfedale and two from Arkengarthdale –  for the Old Butcher’s Shop at Langthwaite, and Neddy’s Barn, East of Eastfield on the  Arkengarthdale Road.

Dan Gracey, the agent for the owner of the Old Butcher’s Shop, described it as an interesting little building in the centre of Langthwaite. The back of the building facing the beck is lower than the front and that will contain two bedrooms and a bathroom. The kitchen and living room will be in the upper floor which is level with the road at the front.  Mr Gracey said the owner had worked closely with the planning officers to achieve an acceptable design.

The planning officer told the committee that the conversion would maintain the character and appearance of the building and would not harm its setting within the village.

North Yorkshire County councillor John Blackie welcomed both this application and that for Neddy’s Barn as Arkengarthdale so needed local occupancy housing.

Richard Coates read a statement by his son, Thomas, about why he wanted to convert Neddy’s Barn into a two-bedroom dwelling. Thomas recalled that when he attended Arkengarthdale School there were 34 pupils and now, he said, there were only three. He explained he had gone on to qualify as a joiner and had the skills to work on the conversion himself, making it affordable to him.

He said: “I would like the chance to preserve this building for the future while also providing a home for myself. This is my one chance to remain in the Dale.” He added that he would maintain the agricultural character of the barn and there would be minimal impact upon the landscape because no external alterations or extensions were needed.

Cllr Blackie commented: “Wasn’t it wonderful to hear somebody of the age of 21 prepared to stay in the Upper Dales for the rest of their life.”

Wharfedale:

Barden – The application to convert the former Wesleyan chapel at Barden to a local occupancy dwelling or holiday let and the provision of pedestrian access to the existing car parking area was very quickly approved. The planning officer  reported that there would be four bedrooms and four bathrooms with the garden, including a  hot tub, in the existing enclosed area outside.

Storiths – the Chatsworth Settlement Trustees had applied to convert Harry’s Barn at Storiths into a single bedroom dwelling for local occupancy or holiday let. This again had a small enclosed area outside sufficient to accommodate a hot tub. The planning officer pointed out that the piggery attached to the barn looked to be in poor structural condition but was still an undesignated heritage asset as was the rest of the barn.

Cllr Blackie asked how such buildings were defined as undesignated heritage assets. Mr Graham said this term had come into use about six years ago. “Many of these buildings are over 100 years old. With the materials and traditional construction methods they often have a history. They may look somewhat dilapidated but you can describe them as a heritage asset because of their contribution to the landscape.

Eden District councillor William Patterson then jokingly asked if all the heritage assets had asbestos roofs.

Thorpe – The application to convert Pogles Wood Barn into a two bedroom dwelling was the only one that was just for short term holiday lets. The planning officer recommended approval because, she said, there would be minimal alterations to this barn in Bolland Lane outside Thorpe and so its simple character and appearance would be retained.

Gayle

It was agreed that a large roadside barn “in the wilderness” along Beggarmans Lane near Gayle can be converted and extended to create a “horse assisted learning” business.

The planning officer told the committee: “The applicant’s therapy is geared towards people who have experienced post traumatic stress disorder as well as people with stress and other mental health issues. As well as horse-assisted learning the applicant [Caroline Penman] would use the building as a base for Paleo eating, Craniosacral therapy and mindfulness. The location has been chosen by the applicant for its tranquility and wild nature which is considered to aid the therapy.”

The two-storey Dodds Hall Barn is around two miles south of Gayle and has a stone walled enclosure which will be used for car parking. The planning officer reported:

“What is proposed in this location is a very high intensity employment use requiring the erection of a large first floor extension to the building and the erection of stables, [two] shepherds huts  and an outdoor interaction area in the surrounding land. The whole field would also be used for equestrian purposes.”

He added that the addition of a large extension, the fact that the barn was not adjacent to or within an existing settlement and that the business was not land-based, meant that the application was not in accordance with policy and so any approval would require a departure from the Local Plan.

Although it was reported that Ms Penman had run a similar, successful business in Cyprus the planning officer warned that there was a degree of risk should this venture fail once Dodds Hall Barn had been converted.

The senior listed building officer had reported: “The external stairs and floating FF extension with balcony and covered GF terrace underneath has a harmful impact on the heritage significance of the barn’s and Dales vernacular architecture in general, and would be visible from the road.”

The committee, however, accepted the planning officer’s  argument that the proposal had been relatively well-designed to work with the site itself to minimise its landscape impact and impact on the building. He said: “Whilst the extension to the building is significant, it is relatively lightweight and would only provide internal living space to one floor with the ground floor forming a sheltered area [for  horses].”

He added: “This is a relatively unique site and a unique proposal that would result in economic and social benefits in the locality and has support from the parish council.”

Hawes and High Abbotside Parish Council had told the committee: “It offers a completely new dimension to the all-important tourist sector in the Upper Dales – horse assisted learning. The site and the surrounding landscape entirely fits the description of a wilderness, although the town of Hawes is just seven minutes’ drive away.”

The planning committee approved the application for the conversion and extension of the barn to provide visitor accommodation and manager’s dwelling, a change of use of land for equestrian purposes, provision of  all weather riding surface, car parking and erection of stable building.

Askrigg

Three representatives of the Askrigg Foundation charity  had to wait several hours before the planning committee considered – and unanimously approved –  an application to create three affordable dwellings for rent in perpetuity at the foundation’s buildings in Askrigg.

“It’s great isn’t it? So pleased with the decision and all the support we had. Now the hard work starts in earnest,” commented Betsy Everett.

This approval means that the charity can not only renovate the retail unit and relocate the office to the ground floor, but also convert the upper two storeys into residential flats and the rear building into a cottage. This is the third community-led housing scheme in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, the others being the three-home scheme completed in Hudswell last year, and a four-home scheme at Arkengarthdale for which planning permission has been granted.

Carlton in Coverdale

Cllr Peacock told committee members that they should go and see the high standard of workmanship Andrew Dent had carried out when converting the former Church of England School and Good Shepherd Church in Carlton in Coverdale before making a decision about some of the uPVC windows he had installed.

But the majority of the members refused his retrospective planning application as they agreed with the planning officer that by replacing the late 19th century windows at the front and the side of the building with uPVC ones he had harmed the character of what was described as an un-listed heritage asset.

Planning permission was given in 2011 to create an extension and two local needs dwellings side by side facing the highway. Mr Dent explained that he bought the building in 2013 and decided to have one dwelling in the front and one at the back so that he did not need to break through external and internal walls to create doors. He also installed uPVC windows rather than wooden ones which, he told the planning officer, would have cost about £50,000.

“The south facing windows did not have any frames. The glass was just set into the stone. It would be impossible to create the original look. New windows were, therefore, essential,” he said. He added that only by installing the uPVC windows could he meet the fire escape regulations. He described the uPVC frames as being a neutral, earthy colour rather than yellow.

Cllr Blackie told the meeting that the windows were installed four years ago but only came to the notice of the Authority when Mr Dent wanted to bring the planning permission in line with the latest policy which allows converted buildings to be used for short term holiday lets as well as local occupancy even though he plans that the dwellings will later be for two of his three sons.

Mr Dent not only offered to sign a legal agreement but also asked for the same planning  condition as had been approved some years ago on the uPVC windows installed in a Grade II listed building in Carlton. This required any future reglazing to be agreed with the Authority.

The planning officer reported that the internal conversion of the building carried out by Mr Dent was considered acceptable in principle and there was no longer any need for an extension. It had been agreed he could retain the uPVC windows at the back.  She maintained, however, that the windows to the front and side of the building could have been upgraded far more appropriately and showed members pictures of alternative solutions.

Mr Dent said about his work on the church and his former school: “It was so important to me to get the details correct and in keeping.”

Thornton Rust

A Wensleydale farmer was refused permission to construct a new agricultural building even though the committee was told by a parish council chairman that there was no chance of finding a site nearby that didn’t flood.

The planning officer stated that as the farmer,Nigel Thornborrow, did not want to reduce the size of the proposed building at Throstle Nest Farm on the A684 near Worton, he should locate it further away from the road.

Cllr John Dinsdale, chairman of Aysgarth and District Parish Council, Mr Thornborrow,  Cllr Peacock, and Cllr  Blackie, all tried to explain to the committee that the farmhouse and buildings were on a hill surrounded by fields that flood regularly, as does the road. Mr Thornborrow had applied to demolish two old farm buildings and replace them with one large one. This, Mr Thornborrow said, would house his farm machinery and also his livestock when a barn nearby flooded.

When shown a diagram of  how much larger the building would be compared with those to be demolished many members agreed that it would be too close to the road and have a harmful impact upon the landscape.

North Yorkshire County councillor Richard Welsh commented: “I think it would stick out like a sore thumb”.

The parish council,  however, had told the committee: “The current agricultural buildings [are] in an unattractive derelict and potentially dangerous state and need replacing urgently. The proposed replacement building is in line with the existing building and should cause no concern.

“The Council consider the proposed development to be a planning gain as it will improve the landscape visually and will assist with the development of a local family business.”

Halfway House, Hawes

The committee was told that four cars being parked on the former track bed at Halfway House near Hawes might prejudice the re-opening of the railway between that market town and Garsdale.

Ruth Annison, who convened the meeting at Hawes last summer to discuss the re-opening of that six miles of railway, told the committee: “Halfway House is one of the very few critical sites for railway reinstatement. The possibility of access and parking for four cars encroaching on the track way is a serious matter so that I have already given formal notice that, if necessary, we will report this application to the Secretary of State.”

A professional engineer, Tony Smare, said that it looked as if establishing a new train service on the former branch of the Settle-Carlisle railway was achievable, and asked if alternative parking at Halfway House could be investigated before the application was approved. Richmondshire District councillor Yvonne Peacock agreed with him.

The application was for full permission to convert the barn attached to Halfway House into a separate local occupancy dwelling.  The planning officer said that as the Authority’s policy was to support the reinstatement of the railway line the application had been advertised as a Departure to the Local Plan for a period expiring on February 22.

He reported that the conversion of the barn would have a neutral impact upon the landscape and that a dry stone wall would be built to divide the present garden between the two dwellings.

He told the committee that although the existing car parking area on the former track bed would be increased to accommodate two more cars the track bed would remain unaltered and would be reversible should the railway be reinstated.

The head of development management, Richard Graham, reported that the owners of Halfway House also own the track bed there, using some as curtilage and some for parking. Neither he nor the Authority’s chief executive officer, David Butterworth, felt the issue was big enough to be considered by the Secretary of State.

Mr Butterworth commented: “In the 21 years that this Authority has been in existence I don’t think there has been a single application that a Secretary of State would even consider calling in. I don’t think this one will be either. So it’s up to members to make a decision.”

Cllr Blackie asked, however, that the representations made at the meeting should be carefully considered and if there any issues that couldn’t be resolved the application should be brought back to the committee.

The majority of the committee, however, accepted Mr Butterworth’s advice and voted in favour of the officer’s recommendation. This means that it is very likely that the application will be approved by officers on February 22.

Hawes

An enforcement notice will be served on the owner of Bainbridge Ings Caravan Site at Hawes for the removal of camping pods which were described by Cllr Blackie as grey-painted abominations and by a planning officer as “wholly alien features within the landscape”.

The planning officer read the following letter from Hawes and High Abbotside Parish Council:

“Councillors were appalled at the ‘Pembroke’ pods that have been installed which look completely out of keeping on the site at Bainbridge Ings. The bright orange fencing around the stone chipping base adds to their unacceptable appearance.

“It was pointed out they have been installed close to Old Gayle Lane, along which many local people and visitors enjoy a circular walk on mainly flat ground, often with young children in push chairs, starting and finishing at either Hawes Town Centre or Gayle. At this time there are few leaves on the trees by the edge of the site so they are in full view.”

The parish council had objected to the loss of almost all the camping pitches on the site and pointed out that many regular visitors had said they could no longer afford to stay there. (A glamping pod on the site is advertised at £249 per week.)

At the planning meeting Cllr Blackie said that in the past the site had been covered with tents during the summer and that campers were the best supporters of the local economy.

He described how the parish council had been heavily involved in seeking modifications to a previous application by David Khan of The Lodge Company North.

The planning officer reported that the four Lune Valley pods included in that application had been considered acceptable due to  their dark stained timber, curved shape and being arranged in an informal circle.

She said that the four Pembroke pods,  however, were larger and have an unusual shape –  “akin to a portacabin with a triangular insert bisecting the body and protruding above the flat roof. The structure is clad in a dark battleship grey material with orange wood panels. Each pod has a horizontally boarded timber enclosure around it and the pods are laid out in a line.

“The structures have an uncompromising and unsightly appearance, lacking any aesthetic or architectural merit,” she added.

Mr Khan told the committee that the Pembroke pods were lower in height than those originally planned and so would be easier to screen. He said that a comprehensive planting scheme had been agreed with the Authority.  He had been assured by the supplier that the orange fences would weather to a cedar colour. He explained that he had invested heavily in the site and needed a variety of accommodation to attract people.

The committee, however, unanimously agreed with the planning officer that the Pembroke pods did harm the natural beauty and visual quality of the National Park landscape as they were highly visible and incongruous, and represented poor design. Mr Khan was given three months to comply with the enforcement notice to remove them along with the fences and the hard standings, and to reseed the affected area with grass.

 

Pip Pointon reports on the YDNPA meetings on a voluntary basis as part of the Association of Rural Communities objective to encourage democracy in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

West Burton CofE School – no solution

The parents of children at West Burton CofE School and many in the community served by that school have lost confidence in the BAWB Board of Governors, Stuart Carlton, North Yorkshire County Council’s Corporate Director of Children and Young People’s Service, has stated.

He wrote to Derek Walpole, chair of the BAWB Board of Governors, in November 2018, to explain why the county council as the local education authority (LA) had reversed its decision and decided to support the request to defederate West Burton school.

He recognised that the BAWB governors had hoped that during the autumn term of 2018 the new transporting arrangements (bussing) would be successfully implemented and that the parents of children at West Burton school would, therefore, no longer have any objections.

But he added: “The transportation of pupils away from West Burton will never be accepted by the West Burton parents and community. There is obvious parental and community discord which means the three BAWB federation would lose West Burton support and this has negative implications for the education of all children.

“I believe, based on what I have seen and heard that the relationship between the parties is broken beyond repair as the West Burton parents and community have (despite your best efforts and unfairly in my view) lost confidence in the BAWB governance as evidenced by the formal complaint.”

Since mid 2018 there have been several meetings of parents and community members connected with West Burton school to which BAWB governors were invited  but none attended.  According to the minutes of the meeting of the BAWB Board of Governors in November 2018 it was pointed out that there was a vacancy for a co-opted member but the parents of children at West Burton School were not invited to nominate anyone.  Those parents have constantly pointed out that not one of the BAWB governors has listened to their arguments against bussing the youngest cohort of children from West Burton to Bainbridge during school days.

Mr Carlton did emphasise that decisions about the federation rested with the BAWB governors – and on January 21 the latter again decided against defederation. Following that decision several of the parents of pupils at West Burton school met to consider their options which included moving their children to other schools not connected to BAWB.

Referring to the minutes of the BAWB governance meetings in November and December 2018 they pointed out, yet again, how out of touch all the federation governors were with the majority of the parents of children attending West Burton school and the communities within its catchment area.  The parents were angry and  upset about some of the statements in those minutes which, they said, misrepresented them.

They very strongly disagreed with the following statements in those minutes: that parents could have been under duress to sign the letter requesting defederation; that the request for defederation had come from just five families and that Option 3a (bussing) could be seen to be working well with the children happy and settled.

Their anger and frustration increased when they read the eight-page letter of January 31 2019 from the Executive Head of the BAWB Federation, Charlotte L Harper, in which she explained the reasons why their request for defederation had been refused.

She wrote: “In his letter Mr Carlton reiterated on many occasions that the West Burton Community and parents have lost confidence in the BAWB Board and that there was unresolvable discord between BAWB Board and the ‘community’. The BAWB Board challenged the assertions about the community. The Director and LA officers have ONLY spoken with the defederation group, many of whom do not live in West Burton.”

Miss Harper continued: “It is not clear what ‘community’ refers to, but the BAWB Board are aware of support from many long standing residents of West Burton, at least two of whom have now written to him. The BAWB Board are concerned that the LA have demonstrated a clear lack of impartiality by relying solely on evidence given to them by the group seeking defederation, and then repeating this in writing without any checks or clarity of definition.”

The catchment area for West Burton school includes Walden, Bishopdale, Thoralby, Aysgarth, Swinithwaite, West Witton and even part of Redmire so it is not surprising that the parents requesting defederation (representing 85 per cent of the children in that school) do not all live in West Burton.

Mr Carlton has stated that the LA came to an impartial view based on the issues placed before it.

 

Miss Harper’s letter can be read here.

The reasons given by the county council for supporting defederation can be read here.

West Burton CofE School – a consultant’s view

Statement by David Pointon, independent educational consultant: As a member of the West Burton School Representative Group I am very aware that the debate about the request to defederate the school has fuelled a lot of misinformation about education, schools and the optimum size of classes.

The principle purpose of a school is to equip children with the knowledge and skills to be successful in their lives and be useful members of their community and the wider universe.

It should be providing opportunities to enable the children to access knowledge as well as providing a stable, safe, inclusive and comfortable environment in which the children can learn. It should be concentrating on learning before teaching.

Learning is an individual process.

All schools should be concentrating on the above ‘shoulds’ with the children as the central main priority.

Teaching should be adapted to the needs of the children. There is much supporting evidence that most children thrive and learn better in small groups. In fact some children would be submerged in large groups and may then need special provision. Teaching is imposed on learning and requires very special people to ensure that all childrens’ individual needs for learning are met.

These are the basic premises that govern a successful school. Does your child’s school meet these standards?

A school should not be training children to pass tests and to help to get a good Ofsted or other reports, so it can meet financial targets.  It should not be stealing and misusing the children’s time in useless exercises (such as in-school-day bussing).

For time is our only non-renewable resource.

Every adult with any contact with the school has a responsibility to enable and support the learning and teaching to be achieved, to the highest standards.

D.G.Pointon, BA, Cert Ed.,DipCTB, CETHIC, Fellow of VIEW

Independent Educational Consultant.

(VIEW is the professional association  of the Visual Impairment Education and Welfare)

 

West Burton CofE School – defederation refused

Frank Knowles’ Photography Exhibition

FKQueenMotherIn the 1950s Frank Knowles was Wensleydale’s archetypal news photographer – and until Sunday February 17 60 of his magnificent black and white photographs are on show at Tennants Garden Rooms in Leyburn. These include his favourite news picture – the one he took of the Queen Mother when her train stopped at Harrogate Station (left)

He was working for the Ackrill Group of newspapers based in Harrogate and had gone there to process the glass slides which were then used as negatives. He was asked to go to the station and try and get a photo of the Queen Mother.

“Everything was cordoned off. There wasn’t a soul on the platform but I got on alright. It was a long train and I had to go right down the platform. Eventually I found the Queen Mother. She was sat at the window, had her glasses on, her ledger open and was writing in it.

“I bowed my head to be respectful and I pointed down at the camera. She [signalled to me] to wait a minute and I thought ‘Oh, all the security people are going to come and catch me.’ She just took off her glasses, put them to one side, closed the ledger and she posed. And I took that picture. I was absolutely amazed. I thought how nice it was of her. She could so easily have waved me out of it. I was quite prepared that if she did tell me to be off I would have done so without taking a picture. I think it’s a good picture.”

Frank was 15 when he left Harrogate Grammar School and joined the Ministry of Aircraft Photographic Laboratory in Harrogate in 1943. His job entailed making 8×6 inch contact prints from whole plate glass negatives. He explained: “Many of these were photographs of new and secret aeroplanes and were subject to Official Secrets Regulations.

“When the Ministry of Aircraft moved back to London I started as a printer with the Ackrill Group.” He did his two years National Service in the Army during when he continued his interest in photography. He even took the official photos of his Company Commander, Officers and NCOs for recording purposes.

THE LIFE OF RILEY

“When I returned [to the Ackrill Group] from National Service, I started using a press camera in earnest in both Harrogate and Thirsk. Soon after this I was asked to cover the Wensleydale area. It was the life of Riley. I cannot think of any better job in the world – to be given a camera and told to go up into the beautiful Yorkshire Dales and record the people and events. I had a completely free rein as long as I sent in a supply of pictures each week.”

Those provide a remarkable glimpse into the life and times of the dale which became his home. They include house fires, train crashes, local gymkhanas and dramatic winter weather.

“Perhaps the most memorable and scary event was being with a bomb disposal team on the moors and actually touching a live 100lb German bomb prior to it being detonated,” he commented.

The bomb disposal unit from Portsmouth had been sent to Wether Fell near Hawes in 1957 to deal with the bomb. The unit took five weeks to reach it but Frank had only a fraction of a second to photograph the 200ft-high plume of debris when it exploded.

It was even harder for him to estimate the right moment to take a photograph when one of the largest prepared explosions in England took place in Redmire Quarry in 1952. His photograph showed the rock face bulging outwards due to the impact of the 3,750lbs of explosives when they were detonated inside a tunnel.

“I had to follow a lot of ambulances to get one good story,” he told me. One ambulance took him to the Blea Moor tunnel near Ribblehead station where, in April 1952, the morning express from Glasgow to London had crashed. He was the first pressman at the scene and took some moving photographs of not only the crash, complete with discarded pram, but also of a mother and her baby waiting with other slightly injured passengers for transport.

Frank didn’t chase fire engines. Instead he often beat Leyburn’s retained firemen to a fire.

“The firemen then had only basic equipment and no radio pagers,” he said. “They had to rely on the siren and if they were working out of town they couldn’t hear it. The fire engines were not much better than Green Goddesses. When I heard the siren I went to the fire station to find out what sort of fire it was. The fire engine was quite ponderous and could not go as fast as my van.”

THE FIREMAN’S ASSISTANT

One day only two turned up at the fire station, a fireman and himself! They loaded a couple of extinguishers into his press van and went to a house in Leyburn where a settee was smouldering. “The fireman and I carried it out into the garden and he put the fire out.” Not surprisingly Frank has no photographs of that fire scene.

But he did get others such as in Bedale when a car burst into flames behind Mr Brears’ ironmongery shop. The man who had been working on the car was in flames as he ran for help. Frank arrived in time to photograph people using new buckets from the ironmongery as they helped quench the flames.

“I was also involved in life and death situations,” he said. “On one occasion I helped a farmer to deliver a calf with a difficult birth. I pulled on a rope around the calf’s legs. Another time I took some photos of a fire where an old gentleman died. The photos were used by the police at the inquest – obviously they were not published.

“I was fortunate that I had a good relationship with the police. On one occasion I provided transport to take an officer on to the moor to try and rescue a swan [which had fallen] down a mineshaft. Unfortunately it had to be shot as no one could get near enough to rescue it.“

The police once asked me to keep an eye out for two young boys who were missing from home in Sunderland. When returning to Leyburn from Hawes Sports, I saw two youngsters near Bainbridge. I returned to Hawes, picked up a police officer and we caught up with the boys who turned out to be the missing pair. They had been camping near the river. I looked after one while the officer took to the other boy to their camp to collect clothes etc. I received a letter of thanks from the grateful parents.”

JUST ONE CHANCE

Photographing action shots was not easy in the days when photographers had to use heavy quarter-plate glass slides as negatives. “With a modern camera you can keep your finger on the trigger! I had only one chance – I either got it or I didn’t. You didn’t have a second chance because you had to change slides. It was quite a performance between one shot and another. I could change a glass slide in 10 seconds. You had to keep careful track of which ones were unused and which ones were used. Otherwise you could spoil the ones you had already taken.”

“With that camera I had to focus manually. It had what you call a focal-plane shutter. You had to wind a nob on the side and a shutter came down and a blind with a slot in it. You adjusted that slot as to how little or how much exposure you wanted to give it. You didn’t quite know what you were doing but you just knew by experience to put it at an eighth of an inch wide or an inch wide if it was bad light. It was quite a skill really.”

Photographing gymkhanas was a particularly difficult job. He had to decide, before a horse jumped a fence, if the rider was likely to come a cropper or not. If he aimed at photographing the final part of the jump it was possible he wouldn’t get an interesting photo at all. He did capture the moment at Bellerby one year when a competitor’s horse “carried all before him” and destroyed a jump.

camera_two

In addition to carrying the large camera and a box of glass slides he also had to take a heavy pack to recharge his flash unit.“It was terrible when you were going off to take snow pictures. You had this great weight on your shoulder,” he said.

He was always expected to cover bad weather stories, however dangerous. In December 1952 he heard about a multiple pile-up outside Leyburn. As he reached the scene his own van skidded on the black ice and was damaged.

“It was happening so fast no one could run up the hill to warn people. You had to keep leaping out of the way. It was like one of those funny films,” he said. In all 11 vehicles were involved including two large Army trucks and the seven-ton army recovery lorry sent to rescue them. Above: Frank and his camera in the 1950s.

In February 1956 he joined a post woman, Marion Bowes, from Ulshaw Bridge, to photograph her trying to deliver letters during a four-day snow storm. Together they battled their way up to Sowden Beck farm where they found Mr and Mrs Banks feeding their sheep. Marion had just one letter to deliver and when Mrs Banks opened it she commented: “You needn’t have brought that.” It was a notice of a rent increase!

Frank then had to take his slides to Harrogate for developing. “I would fight my way out of the dales and when I got to Harrogate there wasn’t a flick of snow. If I didn’t have the photographs with me they would not have believed me.”

In 1953 he married Betty Wray whose father and uncle ran the ironmongery business in the centre of Leyburn. He joined the family business in 1960 and continued to manage it, even after it was taken over by new owners, until he retired in 2004.

He will be 90-years-old on January 31 but is as determined as ever to continue taking good photographs. He uses what he describes as a glorified digital camera which has a zoom lens but no interchangeable lenses. “It’s a lot lighter,” he said with a chuckle.

frank_knowles

Above: Frank pointing out the difference between the glass slides he used in the 1950s and, on the right, a modern SD card on which over a thousand photos can be stored. Photo by Gilly Knowles.

He also showed me his excellent action photo of cyclists racing towards Leyburn during the Tour de France in 2014.

“Even today it depends on what the photographer wants and how he is going to get it,” he commented. Both he and his daughter, Gilly, took pairs of steps with them so that they could be above the crowd to take photos of the Tour de France.

A FAMILY TRADITION

Photography has become a family tradition for the Knowles. Frank explained: “One hundred years ago my mother was employed as a photographic finisher at Davey’s, a well-known Harrogate photographer in James Street.

“My son, Andrew, was the official photographer and line artist for North Yorkshire County Council. His son, Ben, is a professional photographer and his daughter, Abi, is also an accomplished photographer. Gilly continues the theme by embarking on a degree course in photography. Four generations working with photography. I think we may have photography in the blood!”

Gilly added that, as a family, they produce a calendar every year. The photographs for these are contributed not just by Frank, Gilly and Andrew but also by Ben and Abi.

It was Gilly who introduced Frank to Leyburn Band when it was re-started in 2003. She plays 2nd horn – while Frank takes the photographs. “I must have two to three hundred pictures of the band,” Frank said.

One of the regular venues has been Tennants Garden Rooms. He described how Rodney Tennant (chairman of Tennants Auctioneers) had allowed him to photograph the band from anywhere he wanted. And it was Rodney who encouraged Frank to hold an exhibition there of his 1950’s press photos.

The curator at the Garden Rooms, Harriet Hunter Smart, worked with Frank to organise it. Together they chose 60 out of the 200 that he and Gilly have made digital copies of. One of those photos is of a crowd at Middleham and in the front is Rodney in school uniform.

Harriet was keen to have photos for which there were stories. “It was quite a job writing full captions,” commented Frank.

The exhibition includes the photo he couldn’t take – that of his own wedding.

“I must have taken over 1,000 wedding photos over that ten years,” said Frank. Some people still remind him that he took their wedding photo.

Gilly is looking forward to hearing peoples’ comments at the exhibition. Those who took the opportunity to visit on January 18 so as to meet Frank were very impressed.

 

Remembering a father and a great uncle

MajorRoseS

The Festival of Remembrance at St Andrew’s Church, Aysgarth, in November 2018 provided an opportunity for Hugh Rose of Leyburn and Catrina Cloughton of Thornton Rust to remember their father: Major Donald Herbert Rose MC (above).

Major Rose was born in 1885 in Lincolnshire, went to what was then Ceylon in 1910 and became a tea and rubber planter. He joined the Ceylon Planters Rifle Corps (CPRC) in 1911. Lance Corporal (Rifleman) Rose was among the 237 from the Corps who were sent to Egypt in October 1914. They initially helped to defend the Suez Canal against Ottoman Turkish attack.

In December that year they joined the Wellington Battalion of the newly formed Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (Anzac). They made such a good impression that many were sent for officer training. Rose did his in Egypt with the 1/6 Essex Regiment. In August 1915 the regiment was sent to Suvla Bay, Gallipoli. Those who survived were evacuated in December 1915, first to guard the Suez Canal and then to fight the Turkish Army through Egypt into Gaza.

Major Rose commanded the company which was the first to enter Gaza City. From there they went to Damascus where he and his company marched into the city 200 yards behind General Allenby and Lawrence of Arabia. He finished in Baghdad and returned to Ceylon in 1919.

He remained there until the early 1950s by which time he was married. On returning to England they finally settled in Thornton Rust when his wife Joan became the assistant matron at what was then a sanatorium at Thornton Lodge.  He died in 1963.

SgtMooreS

“Trina” Cloughton also shared the sad love story of her maternal great uncle Sgt Ernest Moore.

He grew up in Tudhoe Colliery in Co Durham, the only son of John and Alice Moore. John was from a mining family but attended evening classes after he left school when he was 14. He worked his way up to becoming a mine’s inspector.  His job included making sure there was no gas in the mines said Trina.

When Ernest joined the Durham Pals (18th Battalion Durham Light Infantry) at Craken Hall on 29 December 1914 he was 20 years and 10 months old and listed his occupation as “shop assistant”.

After training the Durham Pals were sent to Egypt late in 1915 to defend the Suez Canal. They were then moved to France in March 1916 for the “Big Push”. Sgt Moore survived the Battle of the Somme but was killed in action on 19 May 1918. He was buried at Caestre Military Cemetery in France.

He had hoped to return and marry his girlfriend and had given her a bracelet as an “engagement” present before he went overseas.

Mrs Cloughton said: “He was ‘engaged’ to one of my grandma’s sisters, Emma Musgrave. He and Aunty Emma loved poetry. He sent her a book of poems each Christmas. They are suede covered and wouldn’t have been cheap.”

Emma cut out the “In Memoriam” notice in the local newspaper and stuck it on a page in one of those books. The notice read: “Roll of Honour. MOORE. – In cherished memory of Sgt. E. Moore (Durham Pals), beloved son of Mr. and Mrs. J. G. Moore, Tudhoe Colliery, who fell in France May 19th, 1918. Safe in our Father’s home until the day breaks and the shadows flee away.”

And the poem on that page was God’s Acre:

I like that ancient Saxon phrase, which calls

  The burial-ground God’s Acre….

God’s-Acre! Yes, that blessed name imparts

  Comfort to those who in the grave have sown

The seed that they had garnered in their hearts,

  Their bread of life, alas! no more their own….

Below: It is likely that Sgt Moore is the man with a cigarette standing at the back with his arm resting on a friend’s back. He does look older and battle weary compared to that above which was probably taken before he left England for the Western Front.

DurhamPalsS

Remembering Pte Thomas Spence

PteSpence

Pte Thomas Spence of Walden and West Burton was one of those who did come home from WW1 but then died during the flu epidemic. ‘He was gassed and later got the flu. He died at home,’ said his grand-daughter, Frances Sledge of Leyburn.

For his wife, Fanny, and daughter, Grace Kathleen, his death meant that they had to leave their home in West Burton. Fanny took her daughter back to her family in Wharfedale. They either lived with Fanny’s parents (William and  Deborah Gill) at the post office in Buckden or they stayed with her aunt and uncle at Fold House Farm in Kettlewell.

It was to those addresses that his medals (the British War Medal, the Victory Medal and the 1914-1915 Star) were sent and the family carefully stored them in the boxes and envelopes in which they came.

Tom was born at Hargill Haw Farm in Walden where his father, John farmed. He had four siblings: Margaret, Grace, Sarah and John. In the 1911 census he was described as a 15-years-old draper’s apprentice.  By 1915 he had enlisted with the 4th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment (Green Howards).

On April 1 1915 he wrote to his mother, Margaret Spence,  from Newcastle-on-Tyne: “Dear Ma, I arrived safe and sound, but I got a very pleasant surprise, we are of (sic) across before the 18th of this month. Dont fret or worry I shall be alright…. Tell uncle Kit I am of but dont forget I shall come safely back again. I had a very enjoyable time at Northallerton…. Tell Mr Roulden I shall write to him soon now, to let the School children know how we get on. … I am in the Pink of health. I am  your loving son Tom. Remembrance to all at Burton.”

His battalion had moved from its home base at Northallerton and, just as Tom said, was sent to France on April 18, and straight into battle in the Ypres sector. The regiment saw action at the Battle of the Somme in 1916 which was probably  when he was gassed. He received his honourable discharge certificate and silver badge after being in hospital in August 1916.

He married Fanny Gill at Skipton registry office in August 1918 but died on April 18 1819 aged 23. He was buried in Aysgarth churchyard four months before his daughter was born.  In the 1911 census her grandmother, Deborah, then 57-years-old, was described as being in charge of the post office at Buckden.  Deborah’s husband was then 71-years-old.

“He was a shoemaker. He had a long beard and lived until he was in his nineties,” said Mrs Sledge. Below: William Gill with his daughter, Fanny Spence, and grand daughter.

william_gill

Peace and Remembrance Poppies at Bainbridge

The two 4ft diameter brightly coloured  poppies on the fence outside the  Bainbridge Quaker Meeting House in Wensleydale with their message of peace and remembrance which have been a feature of the village since March 2014 have now been removed.

When this was reported at the Local Quaker Meeting at Bainbridge Meeting House on Sunday January 7 it was pointed out by one member that several villagers had said how much they had appreciated this Remembrance display.

(Click on the photo above to see pictures of how the poppies were created and installed.)

When the poppies were first put in place all were invited to place their own individual remembrances and attitudes towards war and peace on the fence.  There was also a display inside the meeting house illustrating the local involvement in the two World Wars. This explained the Quaker views on peace and the work of the Friends’ Ambulance Unit (FAU).

The Bainbridge Quaker Meeting has its own special link with the FAU for during the 1st World War as John Leyland of Bainbridge was one of the 96 volunteers with the Unit to be awarded the Croix de Guerre for continuing to work when under fire along the Western Front. His son, Peter, served with the FAU in China in the 2nd World War. (See also A Bainbridge Family )

The poppies were created at Gayle Mill by David Pointon, a member of the Bainbridge Quaker Meeting. He was very grateful to the Gayle Mill Trust for making that possible.

 

 

Aysgarth parish and WWI

In December 1918 the vicar of Aysgarth, the Rev William K Wyley wrote in the parish letter: “I wonder if, in the years to come, November 11 will overshadow the 5th as a day greatly to be remembered.”

He was, however, very aware that dalesfolk were in the midst of the great Spanish Flu epidemic and that the WW1 peace agreement had not yet been signed.

Two soldiers, L/Cpl John Wood of Carperby and Driver William Metcalfe of Aysgarth, were given compassionate leave when their wives became ill with the flu. Both women died, Eleanor Metcalfe (22) before her husband got home.

Soldiers began to be demobbed in early 1919 and this led to Mr Wyley publishing an interesting ‘advert’ in the parish magazine: “The Employment Exchange at Northallerton has asked me to state that it has on its Registers women discharged from War Service and suitable for several classes of employment.”

It was acknowledged that women had an important part to play in reconstruction. The role that women had played during the Great War was recognised when limited suffrage was granted to them in 1918.

In October 1918 Mr Wyley commented: “We are approaching the time when, as a nation, we shall realize more fully what a tremendous change the war has made in the social, industrial and religious life of England.”

In that letter he reminded everyone about the great need of economy in the use of oil and especially coal. “I know that very many of us are reducing our fires to a very low minimum, and where wood fuel is available I am sure we shall be careful to ‘do our bit’ in this respect for our country.” He had regularly emphasised the need for food economy and, in June 1917, explained why (below).

HomeFront1S

WW1 had a massive impact upon the lives of everyone and not just because of the ravenous war machine in France and Belgium. The parish magazines not only listed those who had enlisted – but also those who were killed.

When war first broke out local people didn’t know how to respond. Initially events were cancelled but it didn’t take long for people to realise that they could use the church’s flower festivals and other celebrations to raise money for the War Working Parties or to be sent direct to hospitals caring for the war wounded. Concerts, jumble sales and tea parties were also held.

In May 1915 there was a bold headline: “200,000 Eggs wanted weekly for the wounded.” The National Egg Collection had been launched with the request that each household should send one each week to help the recovery of wounded soldiers. The West Burton and District Scout Troop took on the job in the parish and by late November had collected 6,144 eggs. These were sent to military hospitals in France and Malta and some to wounded soldiers at Leeds Infirmary.

HomeFront2SRight: published in the Aysgarth section of The Upper Dales Parish Magazine in December 1917

Children helped with collecting sphagnum moss for dressing wounds, made items of clothing and, in November 1917, were encouraged to collect horse chestnuts for munitions and also waste paper. Mr Wyley reported that within two months he received half hundredweight of horse chestnuts and four hundredweight of waste paper.

The times of services had to be adjusted when lighting restrictions were introduced in February 1916 following air raids by Zeppelins. And the shortage of manpower was beginning to have an effect. In July 1918 Mr Wyley wrote: “May haytime be favourable and health and strength sufficient to tide over the shortage of labour.”

Conscription was introduced in January 1916 and in July 1917 he wrote: “I am glad to say that the local Tribunal has granted exemption to our Sexton on condition that he is released as far as possible for agricultural and other work of National importance.

The signing of the Peace Treaty in July 1919 led to celebrations throughout the country and the Empire. But in Wensleydale the hay harvest had to come first. Mr Wyley commented: “I hope that when all the hay has been led each village… will do something to mark our rejoicing over the Peace and our gratitude to the men who won the possibility of it.”

This has been edited from the Aysgarth sections of the  Upper Wensleydale Parish Magazines 1914-1918. Aysgarth parish consists of Aysgarth, Carperby, Bishopdale, Thoralby, Thornton Rust and West Burton.

Below: The peace celebrations in 1919 at The Rookery in Bishopdale  (courtesy DCM)  The Rookery no longer exists.

Peace CelebrationsS

For more stories see the WWI section of the Thoralby Through Time website.

JWLodgeSThe biggest military funeral at Aysgarth church during WW1 was that for Col John William Lodge with the band of his regiment and the detachments of two battalions being present. The firing party fired volleys over his grave and buglers sounded the Last Post. He was 60-years-old when, on leave at his home at The Rookery in Bishopdale, he died on 23 August 1917, after a short illness.

He had served in the Boer War and from 1906-1912 had commanded the 3rd Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment. At the outbreak of the 1st World War he had immediately returned to the battalion as a major and in May 1916 was appointed to the command of a Garrison Battalion. (Information and photo courtesy Wensleydale Remembered)

There wasn’t a military funeral for Pte John Percival but there is a military gravestone. He was 21-years-old when he died and was buried on 12 April 1918.

This obituary was published about him:

“He enlisted when he was 19, and after being trained at Rugeley Camp, went to France in April 1916, and was through the battle of the Somme, being badly wounded in the hand in September 1916. He was sent back to England for treatment, and made a sufficient recovery to enable him to return to service.

JohnPercival

“As he was a competent motor driver he was transferred by the authorities from the Yorkshire Regiment to the Motor Transport, Army Service Corps, in June 1917. In this work he did good service until October last, when he was badly gassed, and was seriously ill. He returned to England, and was in the 1st London General Hospital, Camberwell, until November 27th, when he was officially discharged from the Army as physically unfit for further service.

“A relative went to London to bring him home. He was very weak, and while crossing London an air raid was proceeding, and the journey was several times interrupted. Arrived at Aysgarth he was very happy to see his home and family, and seemed to revive for a while, but the gas had seriously damaged his lungs and recovery was seen to be impossible.

“Though relatives and friends nursed him tenderly day and night there was no progress towards health. The funeral was largely attended by sympathising friends, and some beautiful wreaths and affectionate messages were sent.”

YDNPA – Full Authority meetings in 2018 and 2017

ARC News Service reports from some  YDNPA Full Authority meetings in 2017 and 2018.

December 2018: the Review of Designated Landscapes including the important role of farmers and landowners; a new Three Peaks Code of Conduct; and a Youth Manifesto. See also YDNPA and the cost of the boundary extension.

March 2018:  farming in post-Brexit Britain and a pioneering agri-environmental scheme in Wensleydalecouncil tax on second homes; and extending the conservation area at Downholme. A resolution concerning Yore Mills at Aysgarth was published.

December 2017: Attracting families to live and work in the Yorkshire Dales and increasing council tax on second homes;  and allocating funds for a garden at the Chelsea Flower Show. There was also a very interesting report on the introduction of a charge to use the YDNPA’s  public toilets at Grassington compared to having a donation box at those at Aysgarth.

DECEMBER 2018

Review of Designated Landscapes

It was agreed at the Full Authority meeting that the government should be informed  about the significant and central role of farmers and landowners in maintaining the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

The members approved the Authority’s Review of Designated Landscapes which was then submitted to the government. This will be used to compile the government’s review of National Parks and Areas of Natural Beauty (AONB) as part of its 25 Year Environment Plan.

The YDNPA review stated: “The Yorkshire Dales NPA has a close working relationship with farmers and land managers. This has been developed over many years with the Authority sometimes running its own local agri-environment schemes, as well as supporting the delivery of national schemes (and occasionally directly delivering them).

“The most high-profile example currently is the ‘Payment by Results’ pilot project in Wensleydale. This builds on the wider work of the Northern Upland Chain Local Nature Partnership and the Northern Hill Farming Panel, which identified the need for action to support ‘High Nature Value farming’. In particular, it identified a need for ‘a more collaborative approach to the delivery of agri-environment schemes, using the skills and knowledge of HNV farmers to deliver environmental outcomes in a way that allows the whole farm to work and make sense as a system.”

The review continued: “From our experience through the pilot [scheme] and the wider feedback from farmers we believe that National Park Authorities should be involved in the direction, co-design and delivery of the new environmental land management scheme. The aim being to provide a system that is responsive to our landscapes and farming practices; that better integrates and works alongside local farmers and land managers and ensures positive outcomes for nature and those who work the land.

“These schemes should be: locally-tailored and locally-administered; based on a more collaborative approach that uses the skills and knowledge of the sort of High Nature Value farmers found in the National Park; paid by results not by adherence to a tangle of rules and prescriptions; and focus on delivering multiple benefits (biodiversity, water management, heritage etc).”

The review also considered the socio-economic impact of National Park and AONB authorities on those who lived and worked in those areas especially at a time of large demographic shifts (including the movement of young people),  the huge increase in the number of second homes and holiday lets, and the reduction in key local services such as transport, post offices and the roll-out of broadband and mobile telecommunications.

It stated that there were significant market failures in relation to housing and a chronic shortage of affordable housing and added: “These are national rather than local or even just rural issues.”

Richmondshire District councillor Yvonne Peacock emphasised that the YDNPA should have a duty to the social and economic wellbeing of those who lived and worked in the National Park.

And North Yorkshire County councillor John Blackie said that the way forward was to encourage more self-help projects like those in Hawes. He also described the Right to Buy scheme for Housing Association tenants as being one of the biggest threats to providing local affordable accommodation in the National Park. “Right to Buy threatens the communities that we have here,” he said.

North Yorkshire County councillor Robert Heseltine and Cllr Peacock questioned the statement: “There is a wide recognition that National Park Authority boards are too large and cumbersome. In the YDNPA the board is also unrepresentative of the population at large [as a consequence of the 2016 boundary changes].”

“Small is not always beautiful,” commented Cllr Heseltine. He felt that the membership of 25 on the YDNPA board was right because sufficient members were required to ensure good representation.

Cllr Peacock commented that the Yorkshire Dales National Park was so diverse that a wide spread of board members was necessary.

It was agreed not to change the report, however, especially as it pointed out that the YDNPA would be carrying out a governance review in 2019 and 2020.

The full report can be seen at: Review of Designated Landscapes – Submission.

See also YDNPA and the importance of farmers

Three Peaks

North Yorkshire County councillor Richard Welch described the problems that the residents of Horton-in-Ribblesdale were facing due to the tens of thousands of walkers seeking to complete the Three Peaks Challenge.

He said that on one occasion two coach-loads of walkers arrived at 5am. The coach drivers kept the engines running while the very noisy walkers disembarked. Once the walkers had completed the route they headed for the pub and were clearly heard singing about their success until late at night.

He agreed that the new code of conduct should be approved. This was outlined to the members by Kathryn Beardmore the YDNPA director of park services.

She said that the main problems for Horton in Ribblesdale appeared to be noise and anti-social behaviour. The Authority had worked with the community there to draft the new code of conduct.

She noted that Horton in Ribblesdale was the traditional start of the Three Peaks challenge which was a 24-mile walk on public rights of way and open access land.

She reported: “The Authority does not want to stop people doing the Three Peaks [as] the promotion of understanding and enjoyment of the area is one of our statutory purposes. Moreover increasing visitor numbers in National Parks is a Government target.”

The Authority’s member champion for recreation management, Cumbria County councillor Nick Cotton commented: “In a way this is an enormous success story.”  He pointed out that the Three Peaks challenge attracted people of all ages and was also used by charities to raise money. This meant a lot of people spent one to two nights in the area and it was likely many would return to visit the Yorkshire Dales.

For the full report and new code of conduct click here.

Youth Manifesto

The Youth Manifesto adopted at the meeting was heralded by some members as a good way to gather information about the needs of young people in the National Park.

And two members pointed out that there were already groups from which the information could be collected.

Askrigg Parish councillor Allen Kirkbride commented: “It [the manifesto] seems quite sound. Local youth groups are quite well into this already.”

And Eden District councillor William Patterson said the National Park should work with the young farmers groups which involved people from all walks of life.

Jocelyn Manners-Armstrong welcomed the manifesto as a mechanism for obtaining the views of young people. She emphasised that the way to retain young people in the National Park was to make it economically viable. “We need jobs and for the environment and the economy to work together. They are co-dependent rather than thinking they are always in conflict.”

In the manifesto, presented by YDNPA communications and ranger apprentices Katy Foxford and Ian Colledge, the problem of low wages and the need for job opportunities and more training were highlighted alongside such issues as the provision of transport, improved digital connectivity, affordable housing,  further education and business support.  The objective was youth empowerment through establishing youth councils and other means so that young people would gain the experience to be the future leaders in National Parks and rural communities.

They plan to launch a youth forum in the park to facilitate social opportunities for under-25s.

Mr Butterworth explained that the manifesto was developed by a number of young people across Europe after the 2018 Europarc Conference in the Cairngorms.

He said: “The Europarc Youth Manifesto seeks to improve the connection between decision makers in rural areas and young people. It highlights what public bodies can do to assist in the retention of young people in our communities and act as an attractor for others to move to the area.

“It is certainly the case that the voice of young people is marginalised on decision making bodies. This makes it all the more vital that those bodies open themselves up to the challenge, debate and discussion from this important demographic group within our community.”

He hoped it would also be adopted by county and district councils.

See Youth Manifesto.

MARCH 2018

Farming post-Brexit

The YDNPA is leading the way towards farming in the post-Brexit era thanks to a pilot scheme involving 19 farmers in Wensleydale. And members agreed that Defra should be approached for the funding needed to extend it.

Ian McPherson told the meeting: “We are leading the field in the country on the way in which agric-environmental schemes might look like.  Ministers are extremely impressed by the work we are doing (with) the results based agri-environmental scheme in Wensleydale.

“There’s a strong possibility that what we are doing here might well be the model that could be rolled out across the whole country.”

The National Park’s Farming and Rural Management two-year scheme in Wensleydale, which is being run in partnership with Natural England, involves 19 farmers and will end in September this year. The YDNPA has now applied to Defra so that it can be extended for three years and the number of Wensleydale farmers increased to 40.

The scheme was developed in response to the Government’s intention to introduce a 25-year plan to improve the environment.

One of the members, Neil Heseltine who farms at Malham, described it as exciting. He told the meeting that it could mean that rather than him having a one dimensional farm which produced red meat it could also encourage wildlife habitat, bio-diversity, pollinators, soil health and public and educational access.

He said it appeared that Defra and the government had followed closely a paper presented by National Park England last year before it produced its Agriculture Command Paper entitled Health and Harmony: The future for food, farming and the environment in a green Brexit.

“Local knowledge is imperative to delivering high results and also gives us a much better value for money,” he commented.

YDNPA officers Gary Smith and Adrian Shepherd explained that the Wensleydale scheme was exploring the concept of “public works for public money”. They reported that at every stage the pilot had been developed in collaboration with the local farming community. The farmers, they said, had invested time and effort into developing the skills necessary to implement a results-based approach, and switch to a system based on farmer self-assessment.

In his report Mr Smith underlined the problems being faced by farmers in the dales. “Farming remains critical to the local economy. It accounts for 10 per cent of employment in the National Park, with around 2,700 people employed directly agriculture.” But, he added, the core agricultural business of many upland farms was operating at a loss.

He quoted the Evidence Compendium that accompanied the Government’s Agriculture Command Paper which was launched in February this year. This stated that currently Direct Payments provided an average of about 60 per cent of upland farm business income. Even with Direct Payments 14 per cent of upland grazing livestock farm businesses were currently making a loss, and without it this could have risen to 46 per cent.

“Farming remains critical to the local economy – not only because of the direct employment it provides but because it manages the landscape on which a multi-million pound tourism industry depends,” Mr Smith said.

Members were told that during the transition period the government is considering reducing the direct payments to the largest landowners so that it can support farmers with agri-environmental schemes which would include restoring peat bogs, protecting drystone walls, reducing flood risks, creating new habitats for wildlife and increasing biodiversity. This will be in line with the government’s manifesto pledge to “be the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than we inherited it.”

David Butterworth warned, however, that so far the Government had not yet set out a clear work programme.

And Chris Clark stated: “We as an authority have to under pin farmers’ uncertainties. We must communicate more what are the issues that are facing the dales farmers, and we also need to communicate the solutions. I think as an authority we need to be doing that in a more open way.” Mr Clark (who farms in Langstrothdale) is, like Mr Heseltine, a parish council representative on the Authority.

(To take part in the Government’s consultation on the future for food farming and the environment click here. The consultation period closes on May 8 2018)

Council tax on second homes:

Mr Butterworth reminded members that the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority still has a policy which involves controlling the creation of second homes through either the planning system, taxation or other means.

North Yorkshire County councillor Richard Welch had spoken of the members’ disappointment that Richmondshire District Council (RDC) had rejected the Authority’s call to increase the council tax on second homes. Cllr Welch asked: “Bearing in mind that one of our initiatives is to increase [the number of] people living and working in the Dales – what do we do now?” He added that he did not want the Authority to give up on finding a solution.

Mr Butterworth responded that they should wait for a while and when they did look at the issue again it might involve some more research and data analysis.

He said that only one of the four authorities with areas within the Yorkshire Dales National Park had voted against the proposal, but the RDC had the largest number of second homes.

“We failed,” commented the leader of the RDC and YDNPA member, Cllr Yvonne Peacock. She added, however, that during the two months that the issue was being debated the Government and many others in England had been made aware that the large number of second homes was a causing a huge problem for rural communities.

Lancashire County councillor Cosima Towneley agreed with Mr Butterworth that it was just as important to improve the infrastructure within the National Park.

Whilst she mentioned the roads he listed the need for more affordable homes, the development of economic sites, the extension of broadband and the branding of the area as ways in which to make the National Park a more attractive place to live and work.

Downholme conservation area:

It was unanimously agreed that Downholme conservation area can be extended into the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

Gary Smith, the Authority’s Director of Conservation and Community, told the members that the application to extend the conservation area was unusual for two reasons: First, that the part of the village within Richmondshire District Council’s area already had conservation status; and secondly because Hudswell and District Parish Council had asked the Authority to extend it into the National Park.

Mr Smith said that the Authority had worked with the villagers, the parish council and the district council on the appraisal. Members were told that there were no objections to the proposed extensions although at first the Ministry of Defence was concerned about the potential obligations for remedial or other works on its land.

It was, however, assured that no such work would be necessary. It was reported that the district council had indicated its intention to support the boundary extensions which will affect minor inclusions in its area.

The areas to be included in the extended conservation area are:

  • The north side of the main street inside the village which includes important historic buildings like the Bolton Arms, Downholme Hall ruins and the former smith as well as the central village green, the pin fold and a churn stand.
  • The area at the northern edge of the village which includes the remains of the former mining industries and fine views into Swaledale, to How Hill and Downholm Hall ruins.
  • The triangular green which provides a significant entrance into the village from the west, with the Vicarage and surrounding mature trees and hedges.
  • The large open fields to the north and medieval lynchets, the quarry with lime kiln, quarry-foreman office building and explosives magazines, and the church.

Yore Mill, Aysgarth

The condition of the mill was discussed in private session at the December Full Authority meeting. In the minutes approved at the March meeting it was stated that the following was resolved:

That the Authority: a) supports Richmondshire District Council to secure appropriate urgent works to Yore Mill through the use of their legal powers; and b) makes public the Mill’s plight in the hope of securing a change in ownership and new funding possibilities so as to improve the chances of a comprehensive re-use in the future.

DECEMBER 2017

Attracting families and increasing council tax on second homes

Second homes  “deny” a home to a permanent resident and help to push up house prices beyond the reach of  local people, especially younger people, David Butterworth, the YDNPA chief executive, told members.

He quoted figures from the 2011 census which showed the from 2001 to 2011 an average of 65 new homes were created each year in the National Park. But approximately 90 houses were being turned into second homes or  holiday lets each year. Of the 13,500 dwellings or more 3,000 were second homes or holiday lets.

The majority of the members supported his recommendation to support putting time into working with the constituent district councils to try to reach agreement on a joint programme of activity to attract more families and people of working age to move to the National Park; and, as part of that programme, to approve the Authority working alongside the district councils and other relevant authorities to develop a specific proposal to the Government on second homes.

Mr Butterworth recommended that the YDNPA should work with the local authorities to seek government support for the establishment of a five-year pilot to test whether a substantial increase in council tax on second homes within the National Park would have a positive impact, in part by bringing homes back into full-time occupancy and by discouraging the purchase of second homes.

He said: “It is not for the YDNPA to set the level of council tax that might apply during the pilot period. This can only be decided by the authorities that have responsibility for these matters. Nonetheless the sum concerned has to be of sufficient magnitude to have a significant impact. Whilst a small increase in council tax on second homes might raise some additional revenue, it is unlikely to deliver the objectives.

“For those reasons it is suggested that a figure of at least five times the current rate should be considered. To provide an indication of impact, that would equate to a charge of at least £8.5k per annum on a Band D property. It is unlikely that this initiative would raise significant revenue, and that is not the aim. However, any additional funding that is raised should be ring-fenced to provide extra support for local services in the Park communities.”

One reason  he gave for this was that second home ownership was inadvertently contributing to the long term decline of the area. He told members: “ People should not be prevented from buying second homes but we believe there is merit in exploring options to make the process less attractive for second home owners.”

Many of the members agreed that something had to be done as communities were being undermined leading to the loss of schools, shops and other facilities. Richmondshire District Councillor Yvonne Peacock pointed out that in order to retain such a beautiful landscape it was not possible to build many new houses. She hoped that an increase in the council tax on second homes would lead to a drop in house prices. “Then we will actually have people living and working in our National Park,” she said.

Some members did question the proposal to increase council taxes on second homes.

A former chairman of the YDNPA, Steve Macaré, did not believe that the Authority should be leading the way with such a proposal because it was not a precepting council. That, he said, should be left to the district councils which have areas within the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

He and others pointed out that the negative impact upon rural communities of the increasing number of second homes and holiday lets was a nationwide problem and not just within national parks.

North Yorkshire Conty Cuncillor John Blackie warned about the law of un-intended consequences which could lead to the interests of local communities actually being damaged. Others described the proposal as a blunt instrument which had not been fully researched.

Jocelyn Manners-Armstrong said: “The people who buy second homes are our [national park] friends, they are our supporters, they care about the Dales. We shouldn’t repay their support by making them pay more.”

She accepted that something did need to be done but asked at what cost. She agreed with some others that the priority had to be to create more jobs, and to improve transport and communications.

The chairman of the Authority’s planning committee, Richmondshire District Councillor Caroline Thornton-Berry commented: “I think we could be open to legal challenge if we suddenly say to somebody who has been coming here for maybe 40 years that [their second home] is going to cost an extra £10,000 a year.”

A parish council representative, Cllr Allen Kirkbride, described how many second home owners in Askrigg actively supported community events. He did not believe that increasing the tax on second homes would solve the problem of providing more affordable housing.

Cllr John Blackie pointed out that many of the volunteers with the Little White Bus service had been second home owners and now wanted to give back something to the community. “An increase in tax will put off people who want to contribute – they will go elsewhere,” he added.

Some members wondered why the issue of holiday lets was not also being considered as these also had a detrimental impact upon local schools, medical practices and other facilities. Jim Munday said the Authority should consider its own planning policy which allowed traditional barns to be converted into holiday lets as well as local occupancy homes. “I support this initiative but I strongly recommend that there is no difference between holiday lets and second homes,” he stated.

Mr Butterworth,  however, replied that holiday lets were businesses that contributed to the local economy in a way that second homes didn’t. More importantly, he added, was that one of the policies of the National Park was to encourage more tourists to come and enjoy it (see below regarding the Chelsea Flower Show). To include holiday  lets  with second homes would be an ‘absolute nonsense’, he said.

(One member told the Association’s representative at the meeting that some second home owners were already considering turning their properties into holiday lets. If they did that they would then pay business rates of which only half would go directly to the district council. The rest would go to the government which would then decide how much to give to the district council. )

Toilet charges

AysgarthNPToilets

After a 25-month trial the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority has found that people prefer to make a financial donation to use public toilets as at Aysgarth rather than being charged.

“Psychologically it is known that making a donation makes the individual feel good. Paying for something can have the opposite effect,” Kathryn Beardmore, the director of park services, said.

According to her report it was decided in March 2015 to run a trial at two National Park centres to help raise funds for the Authority. At Grassington turnstiles were installed at a cost of £8,700 so that visitors have to pay 20p to enter the National Park’s toilets, whereas a donation box was placed at those at the Aysgarth information centre (above) for just £500. The net income at Grassington between August 1 2015 and August 31 2017 was £23,900 after £3,200 was spent on collection costs and £1,200 on repairing the turnstiles.

Ms Beardmore reported: “In the first year, when the turnstiles were under warranty there was no maintenance, but two years on they are becoming increasingly troublesome.”And that means more trouble for the Authority’s staff at Grassington.

The staff have had to deal with irate visitors who have put their pennies in but couldn’t gain admission to the toilets. Besides helping them to access the toilets and organising the repairs, staff have also had many requests for change.

This was compared to the toilets at Aysgarth where the car park is one third the size of that at Grassington and where coaches cannot park. The income raised from donations there was £3,000. Ms Beardmore said: “The box is emptied by the centre staff and banked by them as part of their daily routine so takes minimal staff time, and has no start up or on-going repair costs.”

She added that at Grassington 54 per cent of visitors were satisfied with the toilets there compared to 91 per cent at Aysgarth. She said this was not due to the level of upkeep or cleanliness of the two sets of toilets. Not surprisingly, the Authority will not be installing any more turnstiles at their toilets although those at Grassington are expected to remain for a few more years.

Ms Beardmore commented: “Based on this trial, the life span of the turnstiles and the amount of on-going maintenance and staff time required could be problematic.”

A donation box has already been installed at Malham and it is likely that there will be boxes at the National Park’s toilets at Hawes and Horton in Ribblesdale.

Ms Beardmore concluded her report by stating: “We want to be a welcoming National Park, with a high level of customer satisfaction, particularly when people come to our own sites. At the same time we need to set ourselves targets for income generation. Based on income generation, the turnstiles at Grassington have been a success. This is largely due to the high number of coaches, and because staff are on hand, throughout the year, to resolve problems as they arise.”

Chelsea Flower Show

It was agreed that the Authority will allocate £25,000 from its Opportunities Fund to sponsor Welcome to Yorkshire’s “Yorkshire Dales Garden” at the 2018 RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

David Butterworth, the Authority’s chief executive, told the meeting: “At a difficult time economically, tourism within Yorkshire and the National Park has continued to grow. It is important that this continues into the future and it is felt that playing a part in the 2018 Chelsea Flower Show would be part of that process.”

YDNPA and the cost of the boundary extension

The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) not only needs a Local Plan which includes all the new areas added in August 2016 but must also commission  its own socio-economic study.

“Our policy making and our decision making is only as robust as the evidence on which it relies. The evidence we have available is based upon assumptions, analogies and anecdotes,” Jocelyn Manners-Armstrong said at the YDNPA’s  Full Authority meeting on Tuesday December 18.

Peter Stockton, the Authority’s head of sustainable development, told the meeting: “In the past we sort of begged, borrowed and stole the evidence from our district [council] colleagues and it never quite fitted with our own planning area. The problem is that it is skewed to the towns outside [the park]. So we never quite got that deep rural information that we needed. We don’t really know how many people live in each district of the National Park.

Approval was given for the Authority to commission an independent socio-economic study of the National Park to provide baseline facts for a new Local Plan and also for the review of the present one.

Mr Stockton commented: “Generally speaking Local Plans are worth tens of millions of pounds … to developers, landowners and to people who are making use of the infrastructure and the development that needs undertaking.”

He explained that when the boundary was extended the YDNPA inherited seven local plans some of which were out of date. During the  Full Authority meeting on Tuesday the Eden District Local Plan was adopted.

But members decided that the Authority must now begin preparing a new, single Local Plan for the whole of the National Park.

Mr Stockton reported: “Within the new parts of the National Park (especially Eden) there may be a perception of unnecessary and additional bureaucracy being ‘imposed’. It is also by far the most expensive and resource-intensive option.”

As several specialist consultancies (including the socio-economic one) would be needed he added: “The costs are likely to be significantly higher than the current budget projections for the ‘Development Planning’ programme.”

Nor did the planning department have sufficient staff to carry out all the work required to get the new Local Plan adopted within three to four years. His proposal that a senior policy and performance officer should be employed to assist with this was accepted.

Member Chris Clark said: “It now seems sensible to have one plan rather than several. We need it to breathe life into the vision we have come up with in our Management Plan.”

He argued for a wide-ranging socio-economic study to provide benchmarks for a park-wide Local Plan and added: “There will be costs and there will be a significant amount of time and staff resources required but to me that is where we need to start this planning policy.”

The socio-economic study, he said, would provide a solid foundation for robust decisions and would set the options for long term strategy.

North Yorkshire County councillor John Blackie warned that the Authority needed to find consultants who understood deeply rural areas and that even more resources could be required if the Authority was going to produce such a Local  Plan within four years.

Both he and Lancashire County councillor Cosima Towneley asked that the county councils (North Yorkshire, Lancashire and Cumbria) should be consulted, as well as the district councils and Lancashire City Council, as the former provided so many important services such as transport, schools, health and social care. It was agreed to amend Mr Stockton’s report accordingly. 

In March Mr Stockton will report to the Full Authority about the commissioning of the socio-economic report.

……….

In September 2016 the Association of Rural Communities asked Richard Graham, the head of development management, if additional staff would be required following the boundary extension. He replied:

“The number of planning staff has not increased since 1st August. The additional work generated by the enlargement of the Park has been dealt with by officers working additional hours. The Finance and Resources Committee has approved a reorganisation of the Authority which includes some additional resources for Development Management in technical support, minerals planning and planning enforcement.”

YDNPA and the importance of farmers

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Above: Alistair Dinsdale at his farm in Wensleydale

The developing partnership between farmers and national park officers could save some hill farms from dereliction if and when the single farm payment is phased out the Association of Rural Communities was told at its annual general meeting at Kettlewell.

Its chairman, Alastair Dinsdale, who has a dairy farm at Carperby in Wensleydale praised the team at the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) which is involved in pioneering some of the agri-environment schemes that could be rolled out nationally.

He has been involved in the three year agri-environmental scheme which was funded by the EU to test the payment by results in Wensleydale and several other areas of the country. The government is now directly funding those for a further two years.

Mr Dinsdale said he was encouraged by the way the YDNPA’s team was working with the farmers. “The involvement of the National Park has been quite impressive. It has grasped that there is a clear link between farming and the landscape.

“I feel we have a partner. It is wholly different from years ago when the Authority didn’t acknowledge the social and economic importance of those who lived and worked in the national park.”

This is something that the Association of Rural Communities has campaigned about for over 20 years.

Mr Dinsdale was, however, still very concerned about the future of hill farming. He said: “Without the Single Farm Payment the vast majority of the agricultural hill businesses are not sustainable. The environmental payments which are emerging will have great difficulty in matching that funding which is desperately needed to keep these people on the land.

“I am sure people will leave the land. Given the [average] age of farmers, the farming community will look at this as the final straw. We may have a period where we see dereliction in certain areas.

“The people who are developing these new policies haven’t grasped that this funding [Single Farm Payments] is necessary to produce a living off these farms.”“We need to make sure that the funding coming in for the environment will keep people on the land and keep the National Park looking like we all want it to be.”

In his speech he especially remembered the association’s founder, Tom Knowles, who had inspired them to campaign for more consistency in planning and a better working relationship between Authority’s officials and those living and working in the National Park. He also paid tribute to a former chairman of the association, Stephen Butcher.

Both Mr Knowles and Mr Butcher died this year. “I don’t think people have acknowledged what they really achieved,” he said.

He thanked Jack Heseltine and Pip Pointon for continuing to monitor the Authority’s planning committee meetings and Mrs Pointon for producing ARC News Service reports on behalf of the association.

See also the Review of Designated Landscapes section of the Full Authority December 2018 report.

 

YDNPA and Swinden Quarry

ARC News Service: An application to deepen Swinden Quarry received unanimous approval at the meeting of the  Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority ’s planning committee on Tuesday December 11.

Tarmac applied to deepen the quarry by a further 50m by removing an additional 11.3 million tons of limestone. This will extend the life of the quarry from 2030 to 2039. Although restoration work would  be completed by 2041 the 144m deep lake would take 27 years to fill once pumping stopped, the committee was told. 

Tarmac’s  area director, Stephen Barker, told the committee that the appearance of the site would not be altered. He said Tarmac was determined to remain a good neighbour an stated: “We can’t deny that quarrying has an impact upon the local community but we believe much of that impact is positive.”

They had, he said, consulted extensively with the community over a two year period and made some significant changes and commitments in response to the feedback they had received.

He explained that they planned to expand the rail operations and reduce the amount of road haulage.  The company would continue to be involved with bio diversity and environmental projects in Upper Wharfedale as well as supporting community projects, he said and added:

“Early in the consultation it was made apparent to us that the potential impact to the ground water and the springs and wells that supply drinking water was a concern. We have agreed to pay Yorkshire Water to install mains water to Cracoe village and to outlying properties [including Rylstone]  following the granting of planning permission.”

One of the conditions of the planning permission is that the company will sign a legal agreement which includes funding mains water supply to local residents and the reduction in road transport from 800,000 tons in 2019 to 25,000 tons a year between 2030 and 2039.

Also included is the extension of the existing provisions for independent arbitration if there are any disputes over water supply, subsidence or blasting vibration. Adequate insurance cover will be provided to cover any remedial works resulting from any adverse impacts of quarrying.

These conditions cover many of the issues raised by Cracoe Parish Meeting. The parish meeting did, however, feel that the company’s hydrology and hydrogeology report was flawed and there were insufficient monitoring wells. A Cracoe resident Dr Richard Muir explained to the planning committee why there were concerns that the lake could become alkaline.

The parish meeting had welcomed the undertaking that there would be no heavy traffic from the quarry on Saturdays and had also asked that HGV transport should not start  until 7.30am. The hours of haulage approved the the planning committee, however, were from 6.30am to 5pm Monday to Fridays.

David Parrish, the Authority’s Minerals Officer, told the committee: “There are clearly economic benefits by extending the life of Swinden Quarry – by the direct and indirect employment and to the local economy.”

North Yorkshire County councillor Richard Welch pointed out that each day everyone depends on quarried products both within and outside our homes. He remembered the days when residents packed liaison meetings because they were so concerned about issues at the quarry. Now there was often no need to organise such meetings.

This supported Mr Barker’s statement that Tarmac took its obligations to the community seriously. Mr Barker said: “We recognise that some people object to the concept of quarrying in the National Park but there is a clear local and regional need for the materials we produce. We believe we have designed a scheme that protects the local landscape, secures local jobs and minimises our environment impact.”

Aysgarth Chapel Nativity

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Above: Jean Cockburn (in the foreground) and Rona Trowell with the children who participated in the Aysgarth Chapel Nativity this year.

Christmas won’t be quite the same in  Aysgarth without its annual children’s nativity at the Methodist Chapel. With the chapel due for closure in 2019 the last nativity was held  on Sunday December 9.

A few days later I sat with Jean  Cockburn (92) as she searched both her father’s diaries and her own to pinpoint exactly when she started organising this very special community event.

Finally we found her notes in November and December 1966 about the rehearsals for the first nativity play in the chapel. By then she had already been running the Sunday School for four years.

“I used to go to Kendal to buy suitable plays as there was a nice little religious bookshop there,” she told me.

It was pointed out at this year’s nativity that the parents of several of the children taking part had also previously participated in the plays – and some of the grandparents too.

For the past 25 years Rona Trowell has helped to organise the chapel’s Nativity event. Both she and Jean were thanked by Frank Trowell.

In recent years Rona and Jean have introduced some very creative changes to the nativity story adapting it to the abilities of the children taking part. This year’s was a very good example with the older children (Charlotte, Thomasina, Abigail and George) providing the narration and impressing everyone with their singing.

The younger children (Sebastian, Douglas, Aidan, Lily-Anne, Jacob and Will) had great fun enacting the arrival of the nativity characters. The congregation also thoroughly enjoyed the  instrumental solos by Amy and Sophie.

Andrew Souter accompanied the carol singing on the organ. The collection of £160 was shared between the charities Action for Children and Children in Need.

Below top: One little shepherd comes out of hiding!

bottom: Jean with Amy and Sophie

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YDNPA – Barns and Yurts

ARC News Service: Reports on the YDNPA (Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority) planning committee meeting on Tuesday December 11 2018 regarding the following: reference back refusals concerning Shoemaker Barn at Grinton; Mike Barn near Appersett; and  Pike Hill Barn near Hawes; as well as holiday yurts at Low Abbotside; a proposed barn conversion at Threshfield; and a building for a biomass boiler at Stirton Tithe Barn. Cllrs Allen Kirkbride, Yvonne Peacock and John Blackie were very critical of the way the reference back decisions were dealt with:

Businesses involving young families are not appreciated by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, Askrigg parish councillor Allen Kirkbride told the committee.

“I am not pleased with the way today has gone and how the Authority appears to be reacting,” he told other members of the committee.

Richmondshire District councillor Yvonne Peacock agreed with him. She warned that the Authority was going back to being as divided as it was 20 years ago.

And North Yorkshire County councillor John Blackie stated: “We want to attract young families. We want to retain young families. We want to attract new businesses. [But] we have been kicked in the teeth by a planning system that is there to shape our future not ruin it.”

They spoke out about the way three barn conversion applications had just been dealt with when discussing an application for seven seasonal yurts at West Shaw Cote Farm, Low Abbotside in Upper Wensleydale.

The head of development management, Richard Graham, told the committee that the barn conversions should be refused as the landscape would be harmed if they became dwellings. For each application Cllr Blackie and Cllr Peacock asked the committee to consider the needs of local young families.

Cllr Peacock pointed out that it was young farmers like the one who wanted to convert Shoemaker Barn at Grinton into a home for his family who maintained the walls and barns. “You cannot expect to sustain our communities and to look after our landscape if we don’t actually have people wanting to live and work in the dales,” she said.

It was very unusual that no committee members spoke against the three barn conversions. Yet when the vote was called seven lifted their hands in support of the officer’s recommendation for refusal while seven supported the applications. The counting was almost inaudible and it wasn’t clear that the chairman, Richmondshire District councillor Caroline Thornton-Berry had also voted against approving the applications. Nor did she clearly state after each vote what the results were.

It was also unusual for the Authority’s Chief Executive Officer, David Butterworth, to attend a planning meeting. Mr Graham told members that if they did grant permission the decision might be unlawful.

For the voting about the yurts at West Shaw Cote Farm no announcement was needed as every member approved the application – even though the officer had recommended refusal.

Cllr Kirkbride had questioned the way a “long-range” photograph had been used to support the officer’s argument. “That must been at least two and a half miles away at least… to make it look worse than it actually is,” he commented.

He pointed out that the yurts would be there during the summer when the trees were in leaf and so there would be more screening. The nights were also shorter – and so there would be far less impact upon the National Park’s dark skies status.

Mr Graham agreed that this decision would not be referred back but the applicants will be asked to plant more screening. “Bushes not trees,” said Cllr Thornton-Berry.

After a long afternoon she asked the committee to make a quick decision about an application for a children’s playhouse at Hudswell which the planning officer had recommended for approval. The voting was so fast it was lost among the scraping of chairs and chatter. And there was no announcement about the result. (It was approved)

North Yorkshire County councillor Richard Welch commented afterwards: “As someone who sits on other Authoritys’ planning committees this is the only one which has a reference back procedure.”

He recalled that at the October meeting  of the YDNPA planning committee the majority of members voted to approve an application for a house in a haulage yard at Hebden for a local family. This was against officers’ advice. He continued: “I wonder what happened in the following month when, at the November meeting under reference back, it was refused by nine to eight. What happened to make five members change their minds?”

The YDNPA press release following the meeting: Landscape conserved with barn decisions

Decisions made by Planning Committee today have helped to conserve the open, farmed landscape of the Yorkshire Dales, the Park Authority Chairman Carl Lis has said.

Members voted to refuse applications to convert three barns near Appersett, Hawes and Grinton because of the harm such conversions would do to the landscape. Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority Chairman and Planning Committee member, Carl Lis, said:  “I need to stress that we are permitting lots of barn conversions – 99 of them since 2015, against eight refusals – but they do need to be in the right locations.

“Approvals for the three applications today would have led to landscape harm, in part because such developments would bring with them new tracks, car parking, lighting, overhead lines and the other facilities necessary for residential use.

“Some Members made the argument that we should have approved the applications in order to help the applicants find an affordable home.  I think it is not a case of deciding between looking after the landscape and looking after local people.   The two must be taken together, as it is the fantastic landscape of the Park that provides the engine for the local economy.”

Mr Lis added “I can understand the disappointment of the applicants, but if they believe we have made the wrong decision they have recourse to appeal to an Independent Planning Inspector.”

Shoemaker Barn, Grinton

At the October meeting of the planning committee the majority of the members voted to approve the application to demolish an agricultural building and convert a stone barn into a dwelling. Grinton Parish Council supported this not just because it would improve the appearance of the site but  as it would also provide a home for a young family. The application included a new agricultural building to be constructed nearby.

As that decision was against officer recommendation it had to be referred back for confirmation. At the December meeting Mr Graham stressed that members had to put forward acceptable material considerations to support any decision which was not in accordance with the Local Plan. He stated that two of the considerations put forward by members could be considered: that the improved appearance of the site represented a planning gain; and that it would support sustainable communities and provide an opportunity for a home for a local family.

He argued, however, that as so much of the barn would be rebuilt plus the addition of two porches and a rear extension it would look like a modern building rather than a historic barn. He said: “A large modern farm building and a large modern-looking dwelling in this location would detract from the visual quality of landscape and would not preserve or enhance the historic character of the Conservation Area.”  This could not, therefore, be described as a material consideration he added.

“The provision of a house for the applicants specifically can not be a material consideration unless there are exceptional personal circumstances involved. Personal circumstances are rarely sufficient reason to outweigh policy… It has not been demonstrated that this proposal represents the only opportunity for the applicants to live in the locality, or that their current accommodation in Grinton is not suitable, or that there is an essential need for them to live at this location,” he said.

Cllr Blackie commented: “Here is an opportunity to be flexible and to support a local family who will add to the sustainability of the local community.

Mike Barn, Lanacar Lane, Appersett

At the October meeting a decision on this application for the barn to be converted for local occupancy was deferred as the majority of members were in favour of approving it contrary to the officer’s recommendation. The reasons given by members were: the barn fulfilled the “roadside” criterion as in the Local Plan; there were dwellings nearby and the residential use would not have a harmful impact upon the area.

Mr Graham told the December meeting that the barn did not “physically adjoin the boundary” with the road and did not have an “immediate definable curtilage”.

Cllr Blackie pointed out that Mr Graham’s report did not give the distance between the barn and the road.

He asked how this compared to the distance between Tug Gill Lathe and the B6160 in Wharfedale. The application to convert Tug Gill Lathe was approved by an appeal inspector.

Mr Graham accepted that Tug Gill Lathe was further. He added that the appeal inspector had stated that its curtilage did meet the road. “That was a mistake. I think the inspector’s decision was a very cruel one and I don’t think [we] have to stand by it.”

“That’s something I have never heard before in a planning committee in 21 years,” commented Cllr Blackie.

North Yorkshire County councillor Richard Welch compared barn conversions to many of the farmhouses which were often quite a distance along a track from a road.  Converting barns could enhance the landscape he said and added:

“It makes it look as though people live there. It is not a museum, not a chocolate box scene to be put on postcards. Providing barns are converted sensibly there is no difference between them and a farm house.”

Pike Hill Barn, Ashes, Hawes

A decision on this application was deferred at the October meeting as, yet again, members had been inclined to disagree with the officers.

At the December meeting Cllr Blackie explained that Pike Hill Barn was within one of the small enclaves that formed part of the community of Hawes and so the application was in accordance with the Local Plan.

He also asked why Mr Graham’s report did not include the fact that the owner of the barn had amended his application to include local occupancy as well as for holiday lets.

Ellis Laithe, Grisedale Gate Farm, Threshfield

One young couple with their baby waited all afternoon for the committee to discuss their application to convert a barn into an agricultural worker’s dwelling.

Frank Kitching told the committee that he needed to live close to the family’s farm as he helped with caring for the livestock. During the two-month long lambing season he said he slept in his pick-up at the farm.

The planning officer reported that there were three holiday lets at the farm and argued that one of these could provide a home for the couple. He said that no financial information had been provided to prove that the holiday lets were essential to the farm business. He accepted that there was a need for permanent on-site accommodation for Mr Kitching.

Jocelyn Armstrong-Manners said the committee did need more financial evidence concerning the  holiday lets. And Cllr Kirkbride wondered if the plans could be amended so that the proposed extension would be on the gable end of the barn.

It was agreed, therefore, to defer making a decision.

Stirton Tithe Barn

Permission has been granted for a building to house a biomass boiler and to store pellet fuel in the car park beside the Tithe Barn at Stirton.

Clive Armstrong, who now owns the barn with his wife, told the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s planning committee on Tuesday December 11: “We feel passionate about preserving our environment for future generations.” For this reason they aimed, he said, to install a zero carbon footprint heating system at the barn.

Planning permission for the 17th century barn to be converted into four offices with car parking spaces for six vehicles was obtained by the Trustees of Roman Catholic Purposes  in November 2014. Mr Armstrong said they now intended to have only  three offices and one of these would be for his wife’s business, Dignicare.

One of the reasons Stirton-with-Thorlby Parish Meeting objected to the new building was because it would reduce the parking spaces to four.  Heather Longbottom, on behalf of the parish meeting, told the planning committee that it would not be possible to park on the road near the barn due to the bends and narrowness of Stirton Lane. Residents, she said, were also concerned about the possible increase in large vehicles  using the lane.

Her husband, Peter Longbottom, questioned the efficiency of biomass heating in the barn conversion and felt that the proposed building would detract from the appearance of the Tithe Barn. He was also concerned about having access to repair the wall between his meadow and the car park at the barn.

Mr Armstrong said that, if in the future more parking spaces were required, there was land available.  He told the committee that only two deliveries of pellets would be required each year and by wagons which were well under the weight restriction on that lane.

They had originally intended to attach the new building to the barn but the Authority’s conservation officer was concerned about the impact of this upon the character of a listed building.

The building will be clad with vertical timber boarding with a mono pitched roof of reclaimed stone slates. One of the conditions was that the flue should be removed should the building no longer be used to house a biomass boiler. The committee agreed with  the request of the parish meeting that the whole building should be removed should that occur.

 

Pip Pointon reports on the YDNPA meetings on a voluntary basis as part of the Association of Rural Communities objective to encourage democracy in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

Remembrance – John Leyland and the FAU

This story about John Leyland and the Friends Ambulance Unit was included in the Festival of Remembrance exhibition at Aysgarth church, November 9-12, 2018. The exhibition has been left in situ for the next few months.  Juliet Barker mentioned John Leyland in the address she gave at the Remembrance Service on November 11.

 

John Leyland was born in Bainbridge in 1890. His parents sent him to the Quaker school at Ackworth near Pontefract in West Yorkshire and there he learnt the principles of non-violence which made him choose to be a conscientious objector.

In July 1915 it was recorded in the Askrigg section of the Upper Dales Parish Magazine that 30 men had answered the call to serve King and Country. John was listed among those as he had joined the Friends Ambulance Unit (FAU) – group mainly staffed by conscientious objectors.

It was set up at the start of the Great War by a group of Quakers who wanted to offer a service that would save lives. The first party of 44 newly trained me arrived in Dunkirk in October 1914. Their first job was to help the 3,000 wounded soldiers lying on the straw-covered floor of the goods sheds at the railway station.

There was a terrible typhoid epidemic that winter and so the FAU set up the first of its hospitals, the Queen Alexandra at Dunkirk. Two of its hospitals near Ypres cared for the civilians affected by the bombardment of that city and the typhoid epidemic. The FAU had eight hospitals during WW1, four of which were in England, as well as two hospital ships.

The French army medical headquarters asked the FAU to staff and run three of its ambulance convoys (Sections Sanitaires Anglaises) – SSA 13,14 and 19. These French ambulance convoys served the whole length of the Western front during all the major offensives.

The FAU sent over 1,000 men and women to France and Belgium. Between July 1915 and February 1919 its ambulances with the SSA and its ambulance trains carried 224,964 patients, and travelled over two million kilometres. Of the 96 Croix de Guerre awarded by the French government to the FAU 78 were to those with Convoys 13,14 and 19. John Leyland was a member of SSA 14. During WW1 26 members of the FAU were killed including five convoy members.

His son, Peter, said that it had come as a big surprise to local people to hear, at John’s funeral in 1942, that he had been awarded the Croix de Guerre. He had earned that by continuing to drive ambulances to the front line to collect the injured even when the road was being shelled. ‘One day he could see shells popping up the road towards him. As they got nearer he hopped out into the ditch and the next shell hit his ambulance,’ Peter explained.

 

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Above:  John Leyland beside his ambulance; and the ambulance after it was shelled.

Photos copyright Janet Leyland

Many Quakers (members of the Religious Society of Friends) wear the white poppies of the Peace Pledge Union to remember all victims of all wars and to reflect the society’s commitment to peace since 1660.

More about John Leyland from an interview I had with his son, Peter, in 2008:

When he returned to Wensleydale from service with the FAU John was accepted once again as a stalwart of the local community even if many felt he had, as a conscientious objector, “skived” during WW1.

In 1918 he inherited the village grocery and drapery shop started by his great grandfather, Alexander Tiplady after returning from fighting at the battle of Waterloo.

John, like his father, was also a Wensleydale cheese factor, collecting cheeses from the local farms and selling them to retailers throughout the country. He and his wife, Isobel, whom he married in 1919, carried on running the Bainbridge Electric Lighting Company which his father had helped to set up in 1912.

The couple had two sons – Derrick and John, the latter being known locally as Peter. John Snr was chairman of the Aysgarth Board of Guardians, governor of Yorebridge Grammar School, and a member of Aysgarth Rural District Council. He played cricket and also enjoyed playing football with the Bainbridge team.

Peter served with the FAU China Convoy during WW2.

Remembering Pte William Thomas ‘Tot’ Dinsdale

‘Granddad was never the same man again. He was gassed [mustard gas] towards the end of the war. When the Armistice came he was in a hospital somewhere in the Midlands. He was there for a long time. He just got out before the hospital was decimated by Spanish Flue,’ said John Dinsdale of Hawthorn Farm, Thornton Rust. (John is the chairman of Aysgarth and District Parish Council). He continued:

‘Granddad went back to farming at Sedbusk but he was never a fit man. He was always short of breath. If he did anything strenuous he was jiggered. When the lads [his sons] got to be 12 or 13 they did most of the work.

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Above: Tot and Charlotte Anne Dinsdale with their children l-r Thomas (John’s father and also known as ‘Tot’), Alice, Jim, Dorothy, Jack and Margaret.

Below: The kettle presented to Tot Dinsdale by High Abbotside Parish Council in recognition of his service during WW1

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Pte Dinsdale fought with the 1/4th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment throughout most of the war apart from when he was recovering from being wounded, John said.

‘He joined up at Hawes when they first started recruiting – I think there were 15 or 16 of them from the Upper Dale and then they all marched to Leyburn with the rest from the Dale. He thought it was the right thing to do. He was 19 or 20.’

The 4th Yorkshires first experience of trench warfare was during the Battle of Ypres from April to June 1915. The front line battles the battalion was involved with included Armentieres from August to December 1915, the Somme from August to November 1916, Ypres October 1917 (Tot returned to the battalion in time for Passchendaele) to February 1918, and Aisne in May 1918.

At Aisne on May 27 1918 the battalion and others fighting alongside it was decimated by a massive German attack. That was the end of the 4th Yorkshires as a fighting unit during WW1. (from 4thYorkshires.com).

Like many others who returned home after the war Tot found it difficult to talk to anyone about it other than those who had also fought in the trenches. The two he turned to were Anthony and Jack Fawcett, his brothers-in-law, from High Abbotside.

John said: ‘They would go into the far room and shut the door. I’m pretty certain they were talking about the war but as soon as anyone went in they shu7t up. They never talked to us about it. But granddad did talk to my Uncle Ernie – his son-in-law.’ (Ernest Metcalfe)

Anthony ‘Ant’ Fawcett was given a small book of Common Prayer and Hymns Ancient and Modern by his sister Annie (later Mrs Pratt) in February 1914 and he carried that with him throughout the war. From the state of the pages it is obvious that he read some of the hymns a lot such as No230. (See Penny Barker’s address in Remembrance Service at Aysgarth Church)

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Family photo courtesy John Dinsdale. Other photos by Pip Pointon.

Remembrance Service at Aysgarth

For me the Remembrance Service at St Andrew’s Church, Aysgarth, was particularly poignant for several reasons. First, as the names of The Fallen were read each soldier was so real to me after having spent weeks preparing the display for the Festival of Remembrance exhibition. Secondly, my final duty after 14 years as a Community First Responder was to ensure that a wreath from the Yorkshire Ambulance Service was included among those laid below the memorial plaque.

Thirdly, there was the memorable address by Juliet Barker in which she reminded us that World War One was a time when ordinary people did extra-ordinary things. (See below)

About 180 residents attended the Short Acts of Remembrance at village memorials at Aysgarth, Carperby, Thoralby and Thornton Rust that Sunday morning. Many then joined the procession to the church for the Remembrance Service passing the wooden ‘Tommies’ along the drive from the WW1 memorial gates on Church Bank (above). The memorial pillars had been renovated ready for the festival.

The church was full for the service which was led by the Rev Lynn Purvis-Lee and Reader Ian Ferguson.  Wreaths were laid by the  Deputy Lord Lieutenant of North Yorkshire Brigadier David Madden on behalf of the Lord Lieutenant, and Lieutenant Colonel Peter Wade (British Legion), Cllr John Dinsdale  (Aysgarth and District Parish Council) and Neil Piper (Aysgarth church).

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Juliet’s address:

Exactly one hundred years ago today, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the guns on the Western Front fell silent as the Armistice that was to end the First World War came into force.

While the crowds back home in England went wild with joy, cheering, singing and getting drunk, the men actually serving in the trenches at the time spoke only of a sense of anti-climax. ‘We were drained of all emotion’, one said. ‘You were so dazed you just didn’t realise that you could stand up straight – and not be shot’, said another. Sgt-Major Richard Tobin summed it up:

‘The Armistice came, the day we had dreamed of. The guns stopped, the fighting stopped. Four years of noise and bangs ended in silence. The killings had stopped.

‘We were stunned. I had been out since 1914. I should have been happy. I was sad. I thought of the slaughter, the hardships, the waste and the friends I had lost.’

The scale of the slaughter over those four years is unimaginable, even by our standards today, and the statistics are worth repeating. Across Europe nine million soldiers died. A third of all British men who were aged between 19 and 22 in 1914 were killed.

At small public schools, which provided most of the officers, the proportion was even higher: the headmaster of Loretto, near Edinburgh, (who lost three of his own sons) observed that every boy who had left school fit to serve over the four years of the war had joined the army: over half of them had been killed or wounded.

Even on the very day of the Armistice itself, 863 Commonwealth soldiers were killed – the last one, Private George Price, a Canadian, who was shot by a sniper in Mons, died at just two minutes to 11.

This was a war that affected the whole of our country on an unprecedented scale. Although it was the big industrial towns with their ‘Pals’ regiments who suffered the heaviest losses, it is worth observing that out of all the 13,702 civil parishes in England and Wales only 53 or 54 welcomed back alive every man who had left to serve – the so-called ‘Thankful Villages’.

Statistics like these may give us some idea of the sheer numbers who died but what they cannot do is reveal the devastating human impact of each and every one of those deaths: the bereaved parents, the wives made widows, the orphaned children, the women who would never marry because a third of their generation of young men had been wiped out. Nor do they tell us of the lasting impact on those who survived, but had to live with sometimes horrific physical and mental injuries; or the many hundreds, if not thousands, who died of what was classified as influenza or TB – though in fact it was actually the result of being gassed.

Every Remembrance Sunday we pledge ‘We will remember them’. But even if we honour their sacrifice, how can we actually ‘remember’ people we don’t know? And as the years pass, fewer and fewer of us can claim to have known anyone who lived through, or fought in, the Great War of 1914 to 1918. When their names on the war memorial are read out, how many of us know who these men were? How many of us have wondered, like me, if repeating the name of Pte Matthew Heseltine is simply a mistake?

This centenary year of the signing of the Armistice seemed a particularly appropriate time for us to hold our Festival of Remembrance – an opportunity for us to come together as a community so that we could gather and preserve the stories of the men and women from our parish who served in WWI, before they are lost forever. So when you hear Pte Matthew Heseltine’s name read out twice, you will now know that it is not a mistake, and that these two young men were cousins from farming families in Thoralby and Newbiggin, who not only shared a name, but enlisted into the same regiment on the same day and, aged 21 and 22, were killed in action at the Somme – on the same day, 14th September 1916.

And you’ll also know that Pte John Percival of the Motor Corps, who is buried in a Commonwealth War Grave in our churchyard, was actually 21-year-old Jack, son of the huntsman of the Wensleydale Harriers, who fought all through the Somme in the Yorkshire Regiment alongside the Heseltine cousins, and was only transferred to the Motor Corps after being severely wounded. Sent back to France, he was badly gassed in October 1917, discharged as unfit for further service and brought home by his family to die. Jack has the dubious distinction of being commemorated on more local memorials than any other man from our parish.

For every man on our memorial there is a story: 19-year-old Pte William Edmund Bushby, who won the Croix de Guerre but was killed in action only nine days before the Armistice; 28-year-old Gunner Timothy Spensley Percival who died of his wounds five days after it; 26-year-old Pte George Sydney Gould and 28-year-old Pte James Pickard Bell, who had both emigrated to Canada in search of employment and a better life, as so many young Dalesmen did during the first decade of the 20th century, but returned to fight in defence of king and country, and were killed for their altruism.

But there are also men born in the parish whose names had already slipped from memory when the memorials were erected in the years immediately after the war: Pte Albert Dinsdale Bell, of Thoralby, for instance, who was killed in action on the Western Front in 1917 and Pte Walter Percival, of Thornton Rust, who was only 19 when he died of dysentery as a Prisoner of War in France.

Thanks to the extensive research undertaken by Penny Ellis, our First World War Roll of Honour for The Fallen of our parish has now risen from 20 to 32 men. But what the new Roll of Honour also does is commemorate the service and sacrifice of the men – and women – from this parish – 193 of them – who went to war, but came back again.

One of the popular vaudeville songs about American soldiers returning from France posed the question in its chorus ‘How ‘ya gonna keep ‘em down on the Farm? (After they’ve seen Paree)’. The idea that there was a wider world outside the small farming communities in which they had hitherto spent their lives was one which certainly spoke to some of the women who joined the Voluntary Aid Detachment.

May Heseltine, who served as a nurse in Egypt and lost her brother and cousin in the war, had no intention of returning to Thoralby once it was over, choosing instead to take up a nursing career in America. Madge Blades, who trained with her, would also have liked to remain a professional nurse in Leeds, but succumbed to family pressure to return home, becoming instead the pharmacist at the doctor’s surgery in Aysgarth – and organist at this church for a remarkable 69 years.

By contrast, the men who had lived through the horrors of the trenches and served at the Front, seem to have been quite content to return to the Dales and pick up the threads of their old lives as far as they were able to do so. Many of them had been injured, some of them repeatedly, and some of them endured constant pain; some of them had been gassed and would suffer from breathing problems for the rest of their lives, which were often cut short because of their wartime experiences. We live in an over-sharing age, but these men kept the burden of their terrible memories to themselves: only when they were with other veterans would they feel able to talk freely – and would always fall silent if someone else entered the room.

John Leyland’s friends and neighbours would only learn at his funeral in 1942 that this staunch Quaker and conscientious objector had won the Croix de Guerre for driving ambulances to the front line, under heavy shelling, to collect the wounded.

And despite everything that had happened to them, most of them kept their faith and remained stalwarts of church and chapel. Some of the most poignant exhibits we have on show are examples of this: the tiny Bible, carved with a nail out of a piece of marble from the rubble of Ypres cathedral in 1918 by a local stonemason – whose family are still local stonemasons; the well-thumbed prayer and hymn book (see Pte W T Dinsdale) which accompanied a soldier to the Front and falls open at his favourite hymn:

‘There is a blessèd home

Beyond this land of woe

Where trials never come

Nor tears of sorrow flow…

There is a land of peace

God’s angels know it well ….

Look up you saints of God

Nor fear to tread below

The path your Saviour trod

Of daily toil and woe.

For Ant Fawcett, and the thousands of men like him facing the sheer horror and terror of daily life – and death – on the Front Line; experiencing the worst that human beings can, and do, inflict on each other; there was comfort and hope in trusting and believing in a Saviour – our Saviour – who shared both our humanity and its sufferings. A Saviour who, in that inspirational Gospel reading we heard today, commanded His followers to love one another, as He had loved them.

This goes to the heart of Christian teaching. Love is not only stronger than death, it is the path to life and to salvation. It is selfless and therefore it is sacrificial. ‘Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends’ Jesus told His disciples as He prepared to go to His own death so that we, his friends, might have eternal life. His words appear on so many of our war memorials because they reflect the sacrifice made by so many who also gave their lives for those whom they loved.

If our Festival of Remembrance does nothing else, I hope it pays appropriate tribute to the so-called ‘ordinary’ men and women of our dale who, not of their own choosing, were called upon to do extra-ordinary things.

In a period when hatred and violence seemed all-powerful, they demonstrated time and again the selflessness of love: love for their families and friends back home (‘Don’t tell mother so much about it’ one young man drafted into a tank unit nick-named ‘The Suicide Club’ writes home to his brother, ‘I know she will take it badly’). And love for their comrades whose lives they held dearer than their own in the hell on earth that was the battlefields and trenches of the First World War.

By telling some of their stories I hope that we will be able to say, with renewed conviction and greater understanding than before: ‘We will remember them.’

(Photo of front page of the Northern Echo Tuesday, 12 November 1918, courtesy of John Suggitt. A copy of the front page of that newspaper is still on display on the Home Front board in Aysgarth church.)

For photos of the Festival see Aysgarth Festival of Remembrance.

(Sadly I had to resign as a community first responder due to back problems)

Aysgarth Festival of Remembrance

RollofHonour2S

(above l-r: Rishi Sunak MP, Richard and Christine Tuer, and Ann and Stuart Guy, studying the Roll of Honour created by Penny Ellis for Aysgarth ecclesiastical parish. 

Over 1,000 people including school children participated in the Festival of Remembrance events hosted by Aysgarth church from November 9 to 12.  (Click on the photo above to see more pictures of the festival)

‘That’s the value of what you have done – bringing together the many communities in an act of remembrance and a mark of remembering and paying tribute to the sacrifice of those who gave up their freedom so that we might enjoy ours today,’ Richmondshire MP Rishi Sunak said when he officially opened the festival of Friday November 9.

Mr Sunak took time to study the Roll of Honour created by Penny Ellis which listed 193 men and women from Aysgarth, Bishopdale, Carperby, Thoralby, Thornton Rust, West Burton and Walden who served during WW1. The stories of some of them were told in the festival exhibition. In her address at the Remembrance Service on Sunday Juliet Barker said: ‘If our Festival of Remembrance does nothing else, I hope it pays appropriate tribute to the so-called “ordinary “ men and women of our dale who, not of their own choosing, were called upon to do extra-ordinary things.’

The Vicar, the Rev Lynn Purvis-Lee, praised what she described as the amazing team which had planned and prepared the festival and especially thanked the sponsors. These were: Aysgarth and District Parish Council, the Richmondshire Area Partnership Fund, Tennants of Leyburn, The Wensleydale and Swaledale Quaker Meeting, Lambert’s Florists of Leyburn, Outhwaite Ropemakers of Hawes, RCP Parking Ltd, the Wensleydale Creamery and Campbells of Leyburn.

Lynn thanked those in the parish who had knitted poppies and made the paper ones for the ‘waterfall’ of poppies which cascaded over the altar. This began with 1,100 poppies and grew throughout the weekend as visitors made more.

Juliet Barker chaired the committee which worked for more than a year on the arrangements for the festival.This included an inspiring flower festival, organised by Barbara Hadlow, with floral displays depicting the battles and poets of WW1 created by the ladies of the church’s congregation and friends from Wensleydale Flower Club. Many gasped with admiration as they entered the church and saw Hazel Oliver’s ‘War Horse’ (below). And that sense of wonder continued as they viewed all the other floral displays.

(Click on the photo of the ‘War Horse’ to see more pictures of the Flower Festival.)

WarHorse

On the Saturday afternoon over 250 people attended what many described as a brilliant and very moving Concert of WW1 Words and Music in the church. The music was provided by the Hawes Silver Band, the Aysgarth Singers and the children of The Songbirds community choir based in West Burton.

The music was interspersed with readings under the headings ‘The oubreak of war’, ‘Fraternising with the enemy’, ‘Life and death in the trenches’, ‘The horrors of war’, ‘Women at war’ and ‘The Armistice’. Many of the readings had considerable impact because those quoted were ordinary soldiers rather than poets.  Juliet Barker, who was one of the readers, said: ‘We have deliberately chosen to use a larger number of less familiar pieces which voice the first-hand experience of the ordinary men and women who lived through The Great War.’ The other readers were Sophie Barker, Heather Limbach and David Poole.

The end of the first half was especially moving as, after everyone sang Lead Kindly Light the lights were turned out and there was silence as the Remembrance Candle was lit.

I especially liked the fact that the concert did not celebrate war but rather celebrated the human spirit.

On Monday November 12, 90 school children from Askrigg, Bainbridge and West Burton schools (many with their parents and grandparents) spent over an hour at the church.

This gave them an opportunity to see and touch the WWI memorabilia brought along by a curator of the Green Howards Museum in Richmond, and also to find some of the gravestones in the churchyard on which the soldiers of two world wars have been remembered. For the latter they used the pictorial guide which I produced for the festival.

Throughout Saturday, Sunday and Monday there was a steady flow of visitors with some returning to spend more time in the exhibition and to enjoy the floral displays and excellent homemade refreshments. The exhibition created by Penny Ellis and myself will remain in the church after the festival.

The Roll of Honour can be viewed on the WW1 section of Penny’s website, Thoralby Through Time.

Photos copyright Pip Pointon

February to November 2018

ARC News Service local democracy reports on YDNPA planning meetings in 2017 provided on a  voluntary basis by Pip Pointon. Below are reports on the decisions made regarding applications from the following towns and villages: Appletreewick, Arkengarthdale,  Bainbridge, Bolton Abbey Estate, Coverham (Forbidden Corner) , Dent, Embsay, Fremington, Grassington, Hartlington, Hartlington Raikes, Hawes,  Hebden,  Kettlewell, Long Preston,  Malham , Maulds Meaburn,    Newbiggin-on-Lune, Oughtershaw, Rylstone, Stalling Busk,  Swaledale (telecommunications masts,Thoralby, Threshfield, West Witton.

The issues discussed included telecommunication masts in deeply rural areas (see also Swaledale Telecommunication Masts below), and barn conversions.  See also the appeal decision regarding an application to convert Tup Gill Lathe near Kettlewell.

There are no reports from the August meeting (due to my wedding celebrations) nor from that in October (as I was ill).

Quote of the year:

At a meeting of Aysgarth and District Parish Council the chairman of the YDNPA planning committee, Richmondshire District councillor Caroline Thornton Berry was asked about inconsistencies in how applications for garages had been dealt with in a Dales village.

Cllr Thornton Berry replied: “You are dealing with humans and the planning officers are all different. They all have different takes on everything. That’s what you are up against. There is no total consistency.”

Transparency and Accountability:

The Association of Rural Communities was very concerned that the planning department was becoming less transparent and accountable. In June it made the following statement to the planning committee:

“At the Full Authority meeting in September 2017 [YDNPA] Members agreed that the functions of the Authority’s Development Management should be streamlined.

“One of the criteria was that the information should already be readily accessible to Members and the general public. It was argued, therefore, that the monthly list of decisions made by officers under delegated powers was unnecessary because there was a wealth of information about planning applications available on the Authority’s website. It was stated that this data could be searched by date and location in any parish.

“The emphasis there should be on ‘in any parish’. There are now 112 parishes in the National Park. We would estimate that it could take two days to carry out an overview of decisions regarding any one issue such as barn conversions. That is not making information easily accessible to either Members or to the general public.

“In fact, the Association of Rural Communities would argue that information is remaining hidden especially as it can be very difficult even for Members to contact individual officers. The standard auto-reply from one officer urges enquirers to contact him by email, stressing how difficult it is to maintain contact by telephone.

“We do understand that the planning service is under-staffed and under pressure – but surely in the 21st century it is possible to generate lists of decisions by officers and to make those available on the Authority’s website? This would greatly improve the transparency and accountability that the Authority has stated it wishes to achieve.”

This request was refused – and so that lack of transparency continues, as it does in other ways.

When studying planning applications it is frustrating that the YDNPA does not make it possible to view all the comments it receives unlike Richmondshire District Council. Residents in Middleham could read all the arguments for and against a proposed glamping site in a field north of Curlew Barn on East Witton Road, Middleham (17/00892), Middleham, compared to what was available about the Forbidden Corner applications on the YDNPA website. The ARC News Service can – and does – report on what is said during the five minutes allocated to objectors at planning committee meetings. The written objections, however, often give far more detail.

Debate about barn  conversions at the June meeting

Even strong legal advice about the consequences did not stop the majority of the members confirming that two barns – at  Oughtershaw and Hartlington Raikes – could be converted into dwellings.

Parish council representative Ian McPherson told the meeting: “We [the Authority] went to the trouble to get Counsel’s opinion. It is a very thorough and detailed opinion. If we don’t stick to policy … we will be letting ourselves in for the consequences as Counsel sets out.

He added that those members who agreed to approve the applications after such advice were on a different planet to him.

Julie Martin commented that if they breached their own criteria it would be difficult in the future to adhere to the policies in the Authority’s Local Plan and Jocelyn Manners-Armstrong reminded the committee: “Our policy is basically a conservation  based policy – and that is our primary purpose.”

Richard Graham, the head of development management, summed up the Counsel’s advice by stating that consideration had to be given to the impact  upon the character and appearance of a traditional barn, its landscape setting and upon the historic significance of the building.

Most of the committee, however, did not agree with the planning officer that the conversion of both of the barns should be refused because the proposed alterations would detract from their heritage significance and the landscape. The planning officer also argued that the proposed extension to that at Oughtershaw was significantly too large.

North Yorkshire County Councillor John Blackie pointed out that Counsel had stated it was possible to have a large extension or alteration that did not have a significant effect on a building, just as it was possible for a small extension or alteration to have a significant impact. So just measuring an extension did not reveal if it’s size was significant or not.

He added that the converted barn without the extension to house a utility room would not suit the needs of a young farmer with a family living in such a remote place as Oughtershaw.

Parish council representative Chris Clark said: “If that barn is not converted it will fall down. It is already deteriorating and there are holes in the roof. I would rather see a family in a roadside barn with the extension than have a barn which falls down.Its only a few yards away from Oughtershaw hamlet.”

The planning officer had also argued that the barn at Hartlington Raikes was too far away from the road to be described as a roadside barn.

North Yorkshire County Councillor Robert Heseltine reminded the members that an appeal inspector had overturned the Authority’s decision to refuse a barn conversion at Tug Gill Lathe near Starbotton which was a similar distance from a road.

He did, however, want the Authority to reconsider its policy of allowing dual use of such barn conversions, removing the permission for holiday lets and retaining just that for local occupancy. And he did not like the use of telescopic lenses on cameras when officers were seeking to illustrate what they believed would be the impact upon the landscape.

“It is important to take care of the landscape but also to care for the people who live here,” said Richmondshire District councillor Yvonne Peacock. She added that it was proving very hard to get new affordable  homes built in the National Park and so barn conversions were very important.

Appletreewick – February

A planning officer’s recommendation to approve a retrospective application to retain an area of hard-standing near the New Inn in Appletreewick was accepted. This was on condition that there was an approved Management Plan and that only pre-organised groups will have the right to camp at the site.

The Management Plan would include the provision that the field gate should remain shut and locked at all times with only authorised key holders able to have access. This would be in accordance with the requests made by Appletreewick Parish Council. Residents are also concerned about how the security of the site is monitored and the control of litter and noise.

The hard standing was created by Yorkshire Water when it was carrying out work at the sewage works. It was reported that the owner does plan to cover it with earth from the site and then to seed it with grass.

Some residents had questioned the size of the hard standing but the planning officer believed that it was needed to accommodate up to six cars and three larger vehicles carrying equipment when Scout groups were camping at the site.

Arkengarthdale – November

There was unanimous approval for the application by the Upper Dales Community Land Trust Ltd to build four affordable homes for rent in perpetuity on land adjacent to the Methodist Church in Langthwaite, Arkengarthdale.

Arkengarthdale Parish councillor John Watkins told the members that when he bought his home in Arkengarthdale 20 years ago it cost him less than £70,000. Today it would sell for around £270,000. ‘For me that is simply not affordable. Home ownership in Arkengarthdale and indeed the rest of the Dales is now the privilege of the older and the fairly well off. And that’s why our communities are dying off in my opinion. What is badly needed are nice affordable homes to rent such as the ones under consideration here’.

The chairman of Arkengarthdale Parish Council, Stephen Stubbs, said: ‘Arkengarthdale Parish Council is very excited abut the prospect of four affordable homes being built for rent for perpetuity in Arkengarthdale. They’ll be primarily for young people to live in, and will encourage them to bring up their families here and so keep the future bright for our deeply rural communities, because a Dale without the presence of young families does not have a future at all.’

Mr Stubbs and Mr Watkins are both directors of the Upper Dales Community Land Trust. Another director,  North Yorkshire County councillor John Blackie, told the planning committee how important the development was to Arkengarthdale and then went and sat with the public and took no further part in the meeting.

The planning officer commented: ‘This is an encouraging proposal for community-led housing made by a community land trust that would help increase the supply of local housing for the local community. The proposal would address a proven local need that is supported by the Housing Authority and there are no alternative sites within the housing development boundary that could deliver affordable housing.’

Richmondshire District councillor Yvonne Peacock said that such community-led housing schemes were an excellent way to solve the problem of providing affordable homes.

The YDNPA’s member champion for development management, Jim Munday, said after the meeting: ‘It is very encouraging to see this community-led housing scheme being proposed. The Upper Dales Community Land Trust, led by John Blackie, deserves considerable credit for making it happen.

‘The Authority has been pleased to be able work closely with the Trust, the local community and the housing authority, Richmondshire District Council.’

Bainbridge – February

The committee also approved the application to construct five affordable dwellings on land to the rear of the Rose and Crown.

Bainbridge Parish Council supported this and had pointed out that the real incomes of farmers and those employed in agriculture had substantially declined in the last few years to a point that open market housing was no longer affordable.

“Above all councillors felt that they wanted to be able to keep local people in the place where they want to be.”

But some residents are not sure the proposed development could be described as affordable housing and so set up the Holmbrae 2016 Residents Group. The planning committee deferred a decision in December because this group threatened legal action.

The Authority reported that In a letter from its solicitors this month  the Holmbrae 2016 Residents Group reaffirmed its position that it would seek to quash any decision to approve the application by way of judicial review. The letter, it said, reiterated previous objections based around the lack of evidence that the dwellings would be affordable and attached a report that they have had prepared by a consultant. The report disagreed with the need for five affordable dwellings within Bainbridge Parish, argued that alternative infill sites have not been fully considered, questioned the support for discount for sale properties rather than requiring affordable rented accommodation, and disputed the affordability of the proposed dwellings to those in housing need.

The planning officer has recommended that the application should be approved. He reported that even though the area behind the Rose and Crown was outside the housing development boundary it could be considered as an exception site as long as it was a small scale development where all the  houses were all restricted by legal agreements to be “affordable” to local residents who were in housing need “on a cascade basis”.  There was, he said, a considerable backlog in the provision of affordable homes in the Upper Dales.

He believed the new houses would reflect the character and appearance of other dwellings nearby and would have no negative impact upon the conservation area or on the amenity of other residents.

He stated: “The National Park has a static (potentially declining) and ageing population – a serious demographic problem identified in the Local Plan. The Authority’s Housing Strategy aims to release more land for housing to address this problem and support the social and economic well-being of local communities. The provision of more housing for sale to local people at a price below the market price in Bainbridge will contribute to the strategy and support the sustainability of the community.

Cllr Peacock said that such community-led housing schemes were an excellent way to solve the problem of providing affordable homes.

The YDNPA’s member champion for development management, Jim Munday, said after the meeting: ‘It is very encouraging to see this community-led housing scheme being proposed. The Upper Dales Community Land Trust, led by John Blackie, deserves considerable credit for making it happen.

‘The Authority has been pleased to be able work closely with the Trust, the local community and the housing authority, Richmondshire District Council.’

Bainbridge – November

The committee unanimously approved the application to build five ‘affordable dwellings’ on land at the rear of the Rose and Crown.

Cllr Peacock stated that the term “affordable housing” did not just mean to rent but also to buy. She explained:

“There are many, many local people who want to live and work in the Yorkshire Dales National Park who would not be eligible for property and they cannot afford to rent on the open market, which is now evidently higher than any mortgage. And they cannot afford to buy open market houses. They are in housing need. In the last six months a huge amount of work has gone into making sure that these are affordable houses.”

She was supported by Cllr Blackie who said that unless there was a 30 per cent discount on the new houses many local people would not be able to afford them because of the price increases caused by properties being bought for second homes and holiday accommodation. The committee was told that 30 per cent of the housing in the National Park was now holiday accommodation.

“Bainbridge is thriving but it still needs young families. Without young families your community does not have a future.” he added.

The six month delay in approving this application was due to a review being commissioned by the YDNPA following the threat by the Holmbrae Residents Group (HRG) that legal action might be taken.  The HRG questioned that the development at Bainbridge would be in accordance with Local Plan policy in respect of assessing the need for such affordable housing. It added: ‘The Authority has adopted a flawed approach to the question of whether the development can be described as affordable housing taking into account local incomes.’

In his report to the November meeting the head of development management, Richard Graham, stated that, even with the discount, two of the houses would only be affordable to those with the highest earnings available in National Park. With the discount the cost of the  three-bedroom houses has been estimated at £185,000,  £196,00 and £182,000, and the two-bedroom houses at £147,000 each.

Mr Graham  pointed out that the number of private lettings in the Upper Dales has fallen dramatically from a high of 92 lettings in 2012 to just nine in 2017. In the same period the median rent had increased from £477 a month to  £594pcm. He reported that most of the cheaper houses which those on low incomes could buy were small stone built cottages that were more expensive to heat and were often in remote areas and had no gardens. He added that insufficient affordable houses were being built each year to fulfil the estimated need.

The new houses at Bainbridge would, he said, be built to modern building regulations and would have adequate parking and garden space for families. In addition to each house being subject to legal agreements which will apply the 30 per cent discount with a local occupancy restriction there will also be a clause restricting purchasers to those in housing need. This would be vetted by Richmondshire District Council as the housing authority.

Mr Graham stated: “The Authority’s Housing Strategy seeks to widen the range of affordable housing to meet the needs of local families and first time buyers and attract younger working households to live in the National Park.” He added that there were no suitable sites within the housing development boundaries of the Upper Dales villages. That at Bainbridge is outside the housing development boundary and so comes under the policy for rural exception sites.

Bolton Abbey – September

It would be a sacrilege to change a 200-year-old barn at Bolton Abbey in any substantial way, Cllr  Heseltine, told the committee  – and the majority of the members agreed with him.

Lancashire County Council councillor Cosima Towneley, however,  reminded the committee that the agent, John Steel, had warned that if permission was refused the Chatsworth Settlement Trustees of the Bolton Abbey Estate would not appeal. “Why should anyone pour any more effort into a building which is absolutely no use?” she asked.

At present all that the public can see of it is the corrugated roof Mr Steel said. He explained that the Estate expected the cost of converting the barn into a two-bedroom holiday let, including using insulated dry lining for most of the interior, to cost just under half a million pounds.

The planning officer commented: “The internal finish …would have the appearance of a modern property. The proposed dry lining of this building would harm its heritage significance and could put the long-term survival of its fabric and features at risk of accelerated decay.” He stated that insulated lime plaster would be better as it was a breathable material.

The Estate, however, believed that if lime plaster was used the barn would not be fit for use as a holiday home, said Mr Steel. He added that the Estate had submitted seven sets of amended plans during its discussions with the Authority and Historic England. One of the biggest changes had been to agree to thatch the roof with ling (heather). “This will be sourced from the Estate as it would have been when the barn was originally built,” he explained.

The planning officer reported that the large threshing barn and adjacent walled-off cow house dated from the 17th Century or early 18th Century and was one of the largest surviving example of its type in the northern English uplands. It has partly reset cruck trusses, low eaves  and remnants  of heather thatching under the sheeting on the roof. The cow house, he said, had a particularly wide doorway which, it was believed, was widened in the late 18th C to accommodate the famous 1,132kg (312 stone) Craven Heifer.

Historic England assessed the barn and cow shed as a listed building in November 2017  about four months after the Estate applied to convert it. Some of the committee members agreed with the Authority’s  listed building officer that conversion to any domestic use, including holiday accommodation, would have a detrimental effect on the high heritage significance of the building.

The planning officer told the members that until a few weeks prior to the meeting the officers had hoped to come to an agreement with the Estate but then there were problems concerning what type of interior wall covering to use and the proposed car parking and curtilage area. He said that an alternative parking area had been suggested which the Authority and Historic England believed would have a less damaging impact upon the historic layout beside the barn.

“Because the applicants are not prepared to change [these] we reluctantly recommend refusal,” he stated.

Cllr Allen Kirkbride, the parish member for the Upper Dales, commented: “I am very disappointed there hasn’t been agreement between the two parties. It is a historic building [and] what has been done to the roof is criminal.”

He voted in line with Bolton Abbey Parish  Council which had not objected to the proposal but the majority of the members  accepted the officer’s recommendation.

Coverham– February

Middleham Town Council  did not object to Bell Barn being re-developed to provide catering facilities beside the Saddle Rooms but pointed out that this was yet another retrospective application, requested more conditions and suggested that the owner should be asked to pay towards the cost of repairing the road to this tourist attraction.

It stated: “Council notes that this is a further retrospective application and is unhappy that this appears to be an established practice by this applicant [Colin Armstrong]. The important contribution of the site to the local economy is fully recognised by the council, indeed we include the Forbidden Corner within our Middleham business forum and wish to support them as we do all other local businesses and enterprise.

“It is disappointing always only to be able to comment in retrospect, when construction has been undertaken without any permission. Planning rules apply equally to all businesses and residents.”

The council is also concerned about the road conditions around Forbidden Corner. It pointed out that there would be an inevitable increase in traffic levels along the narrow roads through Middleham and past the Low Moor racehorse training gallops. These, it said, were not maintained for heavy use and the surfaces deteriorated rapidly.

It added: “The council wishes the planning authority to consider placing a condition that the applicant should contribute towards the additional costs of retexturing the road, particularly from West End, Middleham to Tupgill Park entrance, including taking account of the surfacing needs for use by ridden, shod horses.”

It also asked for a condition which will protect racehorses on Low Moor. It stated: “Council asks the planning authority to take account that there is no vehicular right of access … across Low Moor to the northerly entrance to Tupgill Park. The Moors are  held in trust by the council and leased to Middleham Trainers’ Association. The route is clearly signed as a private road and Public Bridleway only.”

It was now, however, being frequently used  by large goods vehicles and delivery vans going to and from the Forbidden Corner. As a result it was very worn and damaged causing considerable risks to valuable racehorses and their riders.

It continued: “Council objects strongly to extending opening hours for the altered structure: business hours for the Forbidden Corner have been restricted on grounds of the potential danger to ridden horses and disturbance created by vehicles moving through Middleham at night and during the morning training hours from dawn to 1pm.”

The opening hours considered acceptable for Bell Barn by the planning officer are 12am to 11pm Monday to Saturday, and 12am to 9pm on Sundays and Public Holidays.

While the YDNPA’s visitor services manager commented that the re-development of Bell Barn was positive in terms of local employment, local services and produce, and the wider tourism economy, the senior  listed building officer was less impressed.

The latter stated: “The application has failed to adequately take into account or conserve the heritage significance of the site or of the recently demolished stable block. The replacement building includes details which imitate traditional features, but without any demonstrable historic context, and is likely to give a false impression of the site and its historic development.”

The planning officer’s recommendation to approve was accepted by the committee.

He reported: “The re-development of the  courtyard building which has occurred has created an additional indoor visitor facility at an existing visitor attraction and has potential benefits for the local community.

“Although the development has resulted in loss of part of an undesignated heritage asset the former stables are not considered as having been worth of retention for their own sake.

“The siting, design and appearance of the redeveloped courtyard building is considered to be acceptable and has not caused significant harm to the landscape, residential amenity or highways safety.”

Coverham – June

Yet another retrospective planning application for a site connected to Forbidden Corner at Tupgill Park, Coverdale drew an exasperated sigh from Cllr McPherson.

But a planning officer said that as most of the application site was hidden from view the work which had been carried out would have little impact upon the landscape. The committee, therefore, accepted his recommendation to approve the application for permission for grading and drainage channels on land to the rear of the Ashgill buildings, the provision of rear access, parking areas, construction of an oil tank compound, planting, landscaping an ancillary works. The application was described as part retrospective as not all the work had been completed.

Cllr  McPherson commented: “Whenever I see an application with Tupgill Park on it my heart sinks, simply because I know it’s going to be retrospective. I would like them to know we really have had enough.”

The planning officer explained that there had been a significant development in the working relationship between the owner of Tupgill Park and the YDNPA. The Authority had received one application (for the demolition of Ashgill Cottage) prior to work starting, and another for an extension to Ghyll Cottage where work had only just started. The application to demolish Ashgill Cottage and replace it with a building containing four self-catering holiday units had been withdrawn, he added.

The Ashgill complex, he reported, was on the hillside above the Forbidden Corner and consisted of the main  house, several cottages, stable buildings, yards and a  horse walker. It was, he said, a commercial race horse training and equestrian centre.

Middleham Town Council informed the Authority that it had several concerns about the application. These included the “piecemeal development on a large site with no coherent design strategy”, the consistent pattern of retrospective applications and the use of the private road to the north of the site.

The  Council stated: “There is ongoing vehicle traffic from the site across Middleham Low Moor owned by this Council and leased to Middleham Trainers’ Associaition. It causes undue wear on a private road and affects the horses under training and crosses a bridleway. The operators of the Forbidden Corner make no attempt to restrict this.”

In response the planning officer observed: “The proposal is a comprehensive solution to the access, parking and drainage issues affecting a definable area of the Ashgill complex.

“As the private road [is] owned by Middleham Town Council they would know who has the right of access and can control it accordingly. The National Park’s Access  Ranger notes that the right of way is indirectly affected but has not objected.”

Dent – November

A small barn next to the Stone Cross in Main Street, Dent, can be converted into a three-bedroom holiday let even though Dent Parish Council strongly objected.

The majority of the planning committee agreed, however, that it was better to let it be converted than for it to fall down.

South Lakeland District councillor Ian Mitchell told members that the parish council’s main argument was that converting the barn into a holiday let did not meet the YDNPA’s policy on sustainable development.

The parish council had stated: ‘Increasing the number of properties in Dentdale that are available as holiday lets does not contribute to the sustainability of the community. There are already holiday lets in the village which are under utilised (some being empty for many months including during the summer). There is a need for housing for local occupancy and the constant sale of property to be converted to holiday lets means there are less opportunities for local housing.

“If something is not done about this now, the community will die. The loss of the primary school would be a tragedy in this community and without housing for families this will happen. The Census revealed that the population has stopped growing for the first time since 1970.

“The existing open market housing stock remains very attractive to people wishing to retire to the National Park, while this external demand pushes up prices beyond the reach of many local families and first time buyers. The Census also revealed that 22 per cent of housing is now second homes or holiday lets.”

In response the planning officer said: ‘While the views expressed by the parish council are understood and it is recognised that there is an acute need for more local occupancy dwellings across the National Park generally, it is important to remember that the conversion of traditional buildings (acceptable uses) policy is a conservation orientated policy not a housing policy.

“The aim of the policy is to secure the long term future of traditional buildings in a manner that conserves their intrinsic value in locations able to accommodate the intensity of the new use.”

Embsay –April

The committee agreed with Embsay with Eastby Parish Council that a raised patio in Brackenley Lane would have an unacceptable impact upon the amenity of neighbours.

Embsay with Eastby parish councillor Judith Benjamin told the meeting that those standing on the 60cm (almost 2ft) high patio could look directly into the garden and a private room next door. She said that this would be a breach of the Authority’s own guidelines to avoid  any tall extensions along a boundary which would be overbearing or dominating if viewed from a neighbour’s window or sitting out space.

She added that the two metre high fence proposed with the approval of the planning officer would not remedy this, and that the fence would be overbearing and over-shadow the neighbour’s garden.  “The only logical solution would be a reduction in the height of the patio.”

She also asked that the width of the patio should be decreased so that it did not reach up to the neighbour’s boundary.

The planning officer had stated “The construction of the raised patio is unfortunate as it is an  un-neighbourly development which gives the neighbours a perception that their privacy is more greatly affected that would be the case if the patio was at ground level. Nevertheless it is considered that the patio does not afford a greater degree of overlooking … The proposed two metre high fence will screen views from seated patio users and will help to reduce the perception of overlooking.”

Cllr Heseltine agreed with the parish council that the patio was an un-neighbourly extension as people would stand there and so be able to see much more.

When the majority voted to refuse the application Mr Graham commented that this could lead to enforcement action. He said the decision would have to be ratified at next month’s meeting.

This decision was confirmed at the meeting in May. The members agreed it was high enough to have a significantly harmful  impact upon the privacy and residential amenity of a neighbour.

Fremington  – Dales Bike Centre

The new management plan for the Dales Bike Centre must be enforced Cllr Blackie told the committee.

Like the rest of the committee he fully approved of the plans put forward by Stuart and Brenda Price to double the size of the Dales Bike Centre at Fremington in Swaledale. But the committee had heard that some residents were unhappy especially as the Bike Centre had not complied with the planning conditions included with the original permission ten years ago.

Paul Evans, on behalf of the residents in Low Fremington, told the committee that, contrary to the original planning conditions, the café was not only being used by cyclists but by other day trippers who arrived by car. He said that residents had not complained about breaches in planning conditions and any disturbances because they had tried to be good neighbours.

He continued: “This new proposal will result in a much large scale 24-hour a day operation which we are told we now have to police by the way of a telephone number – and the impact will increase dramatically.

“Very limited steps have been taken to relieve our concerns. The best we are offered is a six-foot wooden fence that may be better than the previous screening which was never delivered.

“This is a huge development dwarfing the village and creating a tourism hub in a residential location. It has been claimed this will have no impact on either the landscape or local amenity. However, we would say this view has been influenced and skewed by the potential economic gain.”

He asked if the car parking area at the Bike Centre could be moved away from nearby properties and a high stone wall in place of the wooden fence.

Mrs Price said: “We have made every effort to minimise the impact and considered how to manage the expanded business. We are deeply passionate about our community and take an active part in it. “We felt our home village of Fremington was an ideal location to tackle the emerging cycle tourism market. It’s been an amazing time. We have been part of a huge explosion in cycling and cycle tourism in the Yorkshire Dales.

“Our development will provide the vital infrastructure to support the Swale Trail and capitalise on the legacies of the Tour de Yorkshire whilst allowing us to be at the forefront of cycling in Yorkshire.”

Cllr Blackie said how grateful he was for such entrepreneurs who supported the local economy and local communities as well as providing so much pleasure and enjoyment for visiting cyclists.

Cllr Peacock agreed stating: “This application is spot on. We have got to try and encourage people and this is a good way to do it. They [Mr and Mrs Price] have done a wonderful job.”When members asked about the original planning conditions not being kept they were assured that the new management plan would be secured with a section 106 legal agreement.

Grassington – March

There was a unanimous vote in favour of allowing New Dyke Barn on Hebden Road near Grassington to be converted into a three bedroom dwelling for either local occupancy or a holiday let.

Grassington Parish Council had originally objected to the application because of concerns about the safety of the access onto Hebden Road. “Traffic leaving the access is doing so blindly and this could cause numerous accidents. There was a fatality there a number of years ago and the concern is that if that access was opened and used again another could occur,” the parish council reported.

“The access to the site is currently to the east of the barn which has been identified as unsafe,” the planning officer said. She told the meeting that the proposal now included a new access and parking area on the western side and this had resolved the issues raised by the parish council.

She reported that if any new electricity supply to the barn was required it should be installed underground.

Hartlington Raikes – May

“I don’t want to see that again,” Cllr Heseltine told planning officers at the meeting.

He was referring to the second reason a planning officer had given for recommending refusal of an application by Matt Mason for a barn to be converted at Hartlington Raikes.

The officer had stated: “The applicant has not entered into a legal agreement that would restrict the use of the building to short term holiday lets and/or local occupancy use and as such, the proposal would not contribute positively to the economic/tourism benefits or to the housing mix of the National Park and would therefore be contrary to … policy.”

Both Cllr Heseltine and Cllr  Blackie said they had never seen such a reason for refusal like that before. Cllr Peacock pointed out that usually planning permission was granted first with a condition that a legal agreement was required.

The planning officer replied: “It’s simply a procedural matter. If it [the application] were to be refused today and it was appealed against, the inspector considering the appeal would see that there wasn’t a legal agreement entered into. When it goes to appeal the only thing that can be considered is what is on the reason for refusal, so the inspector wouldn’t be considering whether it would be a local occupancy at all. He would say the Authority hasn’t objected to a lack of a legal agreement, therefore, I don’t need to require one. That’s why it’s on the recommendation.”

Mr Mason was the first to compare his application with Tug Gill Lathe near Starbotton. In late March a planning inspector overturned the planning committee’s decision to refuse permission for Tug Gill Lathe to be converted into a local occupancy home. In the appeal decision summary the inspector disagreed that the converted barn would have a negative impact upon the landscape and also recognised that the Authority’s policy which allowed roadside barns to be converted required local occupancy or holiday  let legal agreements.

Mr Mason told the meeting that the planning officer had questioned the proximity of the barn at Hartlington Raikes  to a road. But this barn, he said, was closer to a road than that at Tug Gill. He explained:

“I submitted this application in  January 2017 to convert this roadside barn to a family home for my daughter. We would happily sign [a Section 106 agreement] and comply with all the regulations.” On his application he had written that the converted barn would be subject to either local occupancy or holiday let restrictions.

Julie Martin agreed with the planning officer that converting the barn at Hartlington Raikes would detract from the landscape character of the National Park and commented: “I was very concerned about the Tug Gill Lathe decision which, to me, didn’t seem to be the correct interpretation of our policy. In what circumstances can we actually refuse roadside barns?”

Cllr Peacock, however, stated: “It is a judgement as to whether we think that is a roadside barn or it isn’t. Tug Gill Lathe has now been passed so  I personally believe that our policies say that this is okay.”

At the June meeting the majority of members confirmed the decision to approve this application – see “Debate about barn conversions” above.

Hartlington – July

An application for a pay station machine and control barriers at the seasonal car park at Wharfe House Farm, Hartlington, was turned down due to the chairman’s deciding vote.

The members were equally divided between those who agreed with North Yorkshire County councillor Gill Quinn that it was a well thought out scheme which would enhance traffic management, and others who felt that the pay station and control barriers would be too intrusive within the landscape.

The applicant, Michael Daggett, explained that the field had been used for seasonal parking since the early 1970s and, on occasions, had provided a facility for up to a thousand visitors at a time, including young families who could then picnic beside the river.  This was especially important as there were so few car parking spaces in Burnsall.

The planning officer reported that the field was only open  when it would not be damaged by cars being parked  there. This temporary use of the land should be no more than 28 days in a calendar year. In 1974 permission was granted to build a toilet block there.

She stated: “The high visual quality of the landscape around Burnsall and the fact that it is unspoilt by unsightly modern development is one of the ‘special qualities’ of the National Park and the reason why so many people visit the area. Although this proposal is small in scale it is development of this nature which has a negative impact that erodes the visual quality and farmed landscape character of the area.”

Hartlington Parish Meeting told the Authority: “There have been some slight concerns about the impact of visible barriers in an agricultural field. Also regarding having a system where vehicles are backed up onto the road waiting to enter whilst collecting a ticket.

“Any system allowing cars freely into the car park and charging upon exit or at a discrete ticket machine would be a major improvement on road safety and congestion. Whether this could be achieved without visible barriers…does appear to appease more residents.”

Hawes – July

The likelihood of a 40mph speed limit being introduced on the A684 on the eastern approach to Hawes led to approval being given to a young local couple to convert a barn into a three-bedroom home.

The committee unanimously approved the application by artist Stacey Moore – and Mr Graham said that even though this was against the recommendation of the planning officer the decision would not have to be ratified at the August meeting.

Steve Calvert, Miss Moore’s partner, told the committee that both of them had been born in Hawes and most of their families were still living and working there. He worked full time in a local builder’s merchants and Stacey had returned from university to open her own business in Hawes.

He explained: “The house prices in Hawes are extremely high for first time buyers and I don’t believe that is an affordable option for us.” They could, however, afford to convert a barn which the Moore family owned. “It will make an ideal family home with three bedrooms and allow us to stay in Hawes for the rest of our lives. We love the Dales and can’t imagine living anywhere else.”

Cllr Blackie told the committee about the proposal to introduce a 40mph limit. Both he and Cllr Peacock emphasised the importance to the local communities of retaining young people and young families.

Julie Martin congratulated the couple on putting forward such good plans for a barn conversion.

The planning officer had pointed out that the barn could not be described as a roadside barn as its curtilage did not adjoin the road. But there was an unsealed track leading to it and the barn was already well screened, so there would not be a negative impact upon the landscape.

Hebden – November

A family home cannot be constructed at the Longthornes Haulage Depot at Hebden, because the site proposed would be too cramped for a modern dwelling, the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s planning committee decided on Tuesday November 13.

At the October meeting the application by Mr and Mrs J Longthorne had been approved but that decision had to be confirmed at the November meeting as it was against officer recommendation. During the following month several committee members, including Jim Munday who is the YDNPA’s member champion for development management, decided they could no longer support the application. Last week he was one of the nine who voted for refusal with just five supporting the Longthornes.

Mr Munday explained that the Authority had already approved a planning application to convert a listed barn beside the proposed site. That barn, he said,  would be totally dwarfed by a new four-bedroom house with the latter having very limited curtilage.

Mr Graham stated that the proposed new house would be on what would have been part of the historic curtilage for the barn conversion and would be an over-development of the site. Julie Martin asserted that this would create a new sub-standard family home with no garden.

Cllr Peacock, however, pointed out that the affordable houses near the YDNPA’s office in Bainbridge also had very limited curtilage. ”Nobody seems to mind that somebody on benefits lives in a house with very little garden.” She added that it would be in line with government policy to build as many houses as possible on a site with each having very limited curtilage.

“Here we have a local businessman in the National Park who employs people. Now that is something I wish we had more of,” she commented.

She reminded the committee that this would ensure that another family would remain in the National Park. The Longthornes had stated they wanted the house for a grandson who is required to be on the site so that he could respond immediately to requests to provide gritting and snow clearance during the winter. He would also be there to help ensure the security of the site.

Cllr Heseltine asked how the committee could ignore the public service that the Longthorne family was providing.

And Cllr John Blackie  pointed out that the family had requested a legal agreement that would tie the house to the business.

Mr Graham, however, said that such a legal agreement required evidence that the house was necessary to the business and that had not been provided.

Hebden Parish Council fully supported the application because of the local need for affordable housing so as to keep up school numbers.

Kettlewell – June

There were no divisions when members discussed the proposed alterations at Scargill House near Kettlewell – and members unanimously voted in favour of the application made by the Scargill Movement.

This includes demolishing several buildings including the Three Peaks complex which was carefully designed in the early 1970s to not only reflect the topography of the site but also to help provide a fitting setting for the Grade II* chapel designed by George Pace in the early 1960s. The complex was described by a planning officer as being a highly valued non-designated heritage asset.

English Heritage has stated, however, that the complex as well as the Aysgarth building and the dining room will not be listed.

During a site visit some members were told that the Three Peaks buildings had been poorly constructed and were in a bad state of repair. The high steps and different levels also made it unusable.

The Scargill Movement is keen to provide disabled access, en-suite accommodation and a more sustainable site. To do this the dining room and the Aysgarth building (a much altered traditional barn) will be demolished and new ones erected to allow easy access between them and the new Three Peaks as well as better facilities within well-built, thermally efficient buildings.

Dave Lucas, the operations manager, told the meeting: “Our intention with this scheme is to ensure the long term future of Scargill…so that it will continue it’s work [as a Christian centre] in a sustainable way and continue to contribute to the economic and social fabric of our local communities in the Yorkshire Dales. Also that the chapel will continue to be used for its intended purpose and to be properly looked after.”

English Heritage has given listed status to the distinctive Marsh Lounge, built in 1965, which was described as a rare example of Pace’s secular design. It’s roof will, however, have to be altered as it leaks.

A planning officer pointed out that most of these buildings were, and would be, well screened by the large area of ancient woodland, from which the steeply rising roof of the chapel with its large windows appears “to grow out of the dale”.

The present residential block, built  in the 1970s and 1980s, is less well screened. It is intended to demolish this and construct a new block with natural stone but using a contemporary design and having an undulating grass roof. The Scargill Movement no longer plans to construct a large building on the car park. It is expected that it will take 15 years to complete the scheme.

It was agreed to delegate authority to the head of development management regarding the ongoing discussions about such issues as the lighting schemes, the materials to be used, the hours of construction, a travel plan for the management of visitors’ arrival and departures, and a legal agreement to tie the woodland management plan to the development.

Kettlewell – November

The photographs shown to the Yorkshire Dales National Park  Authority’s planning committee did not give a clear representation of the parking problems in Sally Lane, Kettlewell,  Cllr Clark told the members on Tuesday November 13.

Both he and North Yorkshire County councillor Gillian Quinn asserted that converting a small barn in Sally Lane into a one-bedroom holiday let would increase car parking problems.  Cllr Quinn said that on many occasions vehicles were double parked there.

This amounted to a material consideration for refusal, said Mr Clark, especially as Highways North  Yorkshire (with the support of Craven District Council) had objected to the application because parking was already extremely tight there. Kettlewell-with-Starbotton Parish Council had also objected for the same reason.

The YDNPA planning committee, therefore,  confirmed its decision to refuse the application even though a planning officer had recommended approval. He stated: “Should the application be refused and the applicant lodge an appeal, officers consider that it would be difficult to demonstrate that the use of a one-bedroom cottage for holiday use would result in such a level of highway disruption that the impact on the highway network would make it unsafe for the users of the highway.”

Members were also concerned about the complete lack of any curtilage around the barn. Both Craven District councillor Carl Lis and Cllr Quinn queried that district council workers would, for a fee, empty an externally accessible bin store.

Long Preston – November

Approval was given for an agricultural storage building to be constructed at Megs Croft in Green Gates Lane, Preston.

Long Preston Parish Council had objected because it felt this would lead to over intensive use of the land as there were two agricultural buildings there already.

The applicant, Roy Newhouse, told the committee that he had been born on a farm and had worked for many years in agricultural services. “What I want to do [now] is build up a small farm for my son,” he said.

As he had amended the plans he submitted since last  year  the planning officer accepted that the timber-boarded building would serve the needs of the smallholding. One of the conditions is that when it is no longer used for the purpose for which it will be installed it must be removed from the site.

Malham – April

It was agreed that a mast on the National Trust’s Malham Tarn Estate should be capable of not only serving the Emergency Services but also provide mobile phone communications.

The application for a 15 metre high lattice mast was made as part of the Home Office’s Emergency Services Mobile Communications Programme. The planning officer reported that such masts are used to provide  voice and data reception for the emergency services as well as sending patient details to a hospital to enable staff to prepare for their arrival, video recordings of arrests from police officers’ body cameras and live streaming to nearby officers.

He said that for this one use a monopod mast would be sufficient. As this would have less impact upon the landscape he recommended that the application for a lattice mast should be refused.

Neil Swain declared a personal interest as he was acting as the landlord for the National Trust site. He had asked the committee to consider the application because, he said, mobile communications were at the very forefront of the needs of modern families and, therefore, a key element in trying to attract more families to live and work in the Park.

Eden District Councillor Valerie Kendal and North Yorkshire County councillor Richard Welch said that the mast on Malham Moor should be strong enough to be shared with commercial operators who could provide mobile phone coverage sometime in the future rather than having a proliferation of masts.

Cllr John Blackie pointed out that masts were proposed for Keld, Muker and Arkengarthdale. He wanted to ensure that these were lattice masts so that those Dales’ communities would have 21st century communications.

Jim Munday, however, commented: “This is is almost in the centre of the National Park. It is totally unspoilt.” He pointed out that in other parts of the National Park there was talk about getting rid of pylons rather than installing new ones. Julie Martin agreed with him that the lattice mast would be considerably more intrusive than a monopole.

This time, when the majority of members voted in favour of a lattice mast contrary to the officer’s recommendation, Mr Graham told the committee that the decision would not need to be ratified at the next meeting.

Malham – September

“We are  letting very good schemes go by the board simply because of dogmatic policies,” Cllr  Towneley angrily told the committee.

The committee had just – by one vote – refused permission for Cawden Barn at Malham Raikes, Malham, to be converted into a local occupancy or holiday let.

The members were told that the applicants wanted to use it for agricultural accommodation from January to March each year as the family had 500 sheep at Malham which lambed in the open. It would then be used as holiday accommodation. The agent, John Steel, said that although the barn was outside the village boundary there were dwellings within 25 to 40 metres of it.

Kirkby Malham Parish Council supported the application “in principle” as it wanted the barn to provide “local occupancy” living accommodation. It added: “It should  not be for the purposes of holiday letting and be restricted by a local occupancy condition.”

The planning officer reported that back in 2006 the historic barn had been in a ruined state. It was then heavily restored  using non-traditional construction methods, including a distinctive arch, and enforcement action was pursued. The planning committee had approved a retrospective application in 2009 for the barn to be used for storage but not all the conditions have been complied with he added.

He said the latest application did not comply with the Authority’s Local Plan and would be a new dwelling in the open countryside. The barn, he said, was not a traditional building of heritage significance as it had been erected in 2009.

Cllr  McPherson stated: “Unless we stick to our policies the whole thing becomes a lottery – there’s no certainty. This is contrary to local policy.”

Cllr Peacock, however, retorted: “If we cannot go against policies and put forward material considerations then it is just a waste of time for us sitting here. A planning committee  is here to judge a planning application and we cannot sit here and say ‘this is against policy so we are not doing  this’. We can say ‘Yes, we understand it is against policy’ …but we can put forward material considerations whether or not they are good enough. This is the reason we have a planning committee.”

Cllr Towneley agreed with her and added: “Policies are there but we are not here just to be ruled by policy.” She asked the members to consider the benefits to the community of having more young people living in the Dales and added: “Are we seriously saying that because of a dogmatic policy we are going to fail to allow this chance of use and to allow sustainability?”

Maulds Meaburn – November

Eight unauthorised changes to way Snow Drop Barn in Maulds Maeburn in Eden District was converted into a dwelling amounted to a shocking act of vandalism, the YDNPA’s member champion for cultural heritage, Mrs Martin, told the meeting.

She described the Maulds Maeburn as an outstanding village in landscape and historical environment terms. The barn, she said, was on its northern edge and played a key and very visible part in the setting of the village and the conservation area. She added that as it was so visible from both the northern and western approaches to the village the conversion had seriously damaged the historic assets of Maulds Maeburn.

Cllr  Peacock commented: “It makes a mockery of the planning committee. We’ve got to make sure that everybody realises that this is wrong.”

Cllr Blackie agreed and stated: ‘The applicant has totally ignored our concerns. Frankly, what they’ve done is nothing short of criminal. It does seem a very, very dramatic breach of planning regulations.’

The committee unanimously agreed that a retrospective application for the change of use of land to form a garden, retention of excavation of land and the construction of retaining walls should be refused and that enforcement action should be taken.

Members particularly commented on the way the appearance of the barn had been changed by sandblasting the exterior and re-pointing with pink mortar.

The other unauthorised works were: a much larger curtilage to the side and rear of the building; significant excavation works to the rear of the building and hard surfacing of that area; construction of a large blockwork retaining wall; conversion of the detached outbuilding and installation of roof lights; reconfigured internal arrangement; different window and door arrangements; different and larger roof lights in different locations to those approved and a new opening in the gable.

A Maulds Meaburn resident, Judith Fraser, told the committee: “Every day we are going to be looking at an inappropriate development.”

Members were informed that the applicant had been told in May this year to stop the works on the site, and was warned on several occasions that any works  carried out would be at their own risk. But the work had continued.

The enforcement notice will give the owner six months to secure the removal of the retaining walls and reinstatement of the land to the north and east of the building line, and the removal of all the timber sheds which have been installed on the site.

Permission was refused for the erection of a garage cum store, an incubator shed and four chicken huts.

Newbiggin-on-Lune – July

The committee refused to remove the local occupancy condition Hill Top Barn in Newbiggin-on-Lune even though they were told it was not fit for purpose and would not meet statutory legal tests.

The condition was imposed by Eden District Council in 1997 when it allowed what was known as The Stone Ban to be converted into a workshop and dwelling. Since the National Park was extended the YDNPA follows the Upper Eden Valley Neighbourhood Development Plan for that area.

Ravenstonedale Parish Council informed the Authority: “Current policy makes no provision for such a condition and it is noted that in recent months no less than three similar applications in the same locality of the extended National Park have had no such condition applied. It is considered that the re-application of this Local Occupancy condition is now unreasonable.”

The planning officer, however, maintained that retaining the local occupancy condition was consistent with national and local policies. “[It] forms part of the local planning authority’s strategy for tackling on-going challenges with regards to sustainability. To remove the condition would facilitate its sale as open market housing possibly as  second home thereby hampering sustainability,” he stated.

Cllr Peacock said that the Authority was trying hard to extend the number of houses available to local people so as to make Dales’ communities more sustainable.

Cllr McPherson (a retired solicitor) commented that the original condition should have been more precise and accepted that the applicant’s agent, Kayleigh Lancaster, had made a very strong case for it to be removed.

Due to the bad sound system it was not clear what else he said – nor was it possible to hear what Ms Lancaster told the committee. She has kindly provided a copy of the statement she read at the meeting:

I am a chartered Town Planner, with both Local Authority and Private Sector experience. We were asked by the applicant to consider this condition, and advise on the wording and criteria of the condition. This is application is a re-submission of an earlier application which was also recommended for refusal by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority earlier this year.

This application has been submitted on the basis that the occupancy condition is not fit for purpose and would not have met the statutory legal tests for a planning condition, nor would it today.

As you will be aware, the planning condition states that Hill Top Barn “shall only be occupied by a person or persons (including dependants, widow/widower) who in the opinion of the Local Planning Authority satisfy an identified local housing need”.

Whilst we do not question the aim of the 1996 Eden Local Plan at the time, we do question how this has been executed in the form of this poorly constructed condition. There is no definition of what is meant by ‘identified local housing need’, nor is there sufficient information provided to enable an occupier to establish whether they would comply with this condition.

As an example, I would draw your attention to the local occupancy conditions which are regularly used by this authority. Your approach is robust and clear for all to understand, both the criteria and the locality are clearly defined. In addition to this, the use of the phrase ‘in the opinion’ is not considered to be precise for the purposes of a planning condition.

In imposing this condition, Eden District Council have attached ‘Notes to the Applicant’ which refer to an affordable housing section of the Local Plan, despite the original application not being for affordable housing – we would therefore question its relevance but can only assume it was referred to in an attempt to provide some support for the condition – this has no legal standing.

We would question how reasonably the Authority could assess whether someone could comply with the condition. There is a significant amount of uncertainty created through its imposition and we would contend that it is unenforceable in its current form.

This point is further illustrated in a letter sent by EDC in 2002, in which they attempt to retrospectively clarify what was intended by this condition. I must stress that the contents of this letter and the note to applicant already referred to cannot legally be relied upon in the enforcement of a planning condition. The planning condition itself must be precise and enforceable, which in this particular case the condition is not.

Whilst we acknowledge the YDNP have been put in a difficult position in trying to defend a poorly worded condition which was imposed by another authority and we also acknowledge the importance of Local Occupancy Housing in the NP, the decision taken today must be based on an assessment of the legality of the existing condition and other such factors should not cloud your judgement.

In refusing this application the YDNPA must be entirely satisfied that the original condition, meets the statutory planning condition tests which are to be reasonable, relevant to the development, relevant to planning, precise, necessary and enforceable. As we have already stated, the condition is ambiguous and therefore cannot reasonably be considered to be precise or enforceable.

Finally, I would ask you, as Members of this Committee to consider whether you consider this condition to be fit for purpose and to consider whether you would be able to make a robust assessment of identified local housing need in the absence of a criteria and defined locality. If your answer to this is not a definitive yes, then the authority should grant approval for the removal of this condition.

Oughtershaw – March

How to define “a significant extension” and the difference between a holiday let and local occupancy when a farmer was trying to plan ahead for the day when his son would join the family enterprise became pivotal issues at the meeting.

Nigel Pearson had applied to convert a roadside barn at Oughtershaw to create a local occupancy dwelling or holiday let. The planning officer stated that Mr Pearson’s son might or might not become the local occupant in five years time and so the conversion had to be considered as a holiday let which did not require an extension.

Mr Pearson explained that it might take four years for the family to finance the conversion and that any use of it as a holiday let would only be until his son needed it.

He added:”The barn is on the small size and if you are a dual worker you need a place to take off your boots, shower and clean up. You also need space in the utility room for a large freezer and fridges for food and storage. In such an isolated place you can’t pop to the shops every day – you need ample supplies of food. An extension is needed so that we can accommodate this need.”

The planning officer, however, pointed out that the extension represented 47 per cent of the original floor space in the barn. North Yorkshire County councillor Robert Heseltine warned: “If we back this today it’s a coach and horses through a policy – a precedent that will come back to haunt  us.”

“The size of the extension is the main issue,”  he added.

Cllr Kirkbride, however, pointed out that there were numerous barns in the dales which had extensions and Buckden Parish councillor  Cllr Clark, who  lives at Oughtershaw, commented:

“What Oughtershaw needs is more vibrancy, more people and more families. Even though there is an extension I believe the barn will still  maintain its agricultural integrity. I think we should go for it.”

Both Cllr Blackie and Cllr Peacock reminded the committee of the need to encourage young people and families to live in the dales.

“If we can encourage this young man [Mr Pearson’s son] to finish his schooling, to go to agricultural college and come back to work this  land we should. Let’s face it, if we didn’t have the farmers working this land it would be an eyesore and tourists wouldn’t want to come,” Cllr Peacock said.

And Cllr Blackie added: “We need to put our money where our mouth is. If young people express a desire to continue in that industry they should be afforded that opportunity without having to push those who preceded them out of their homes.”

He said that although in the policies regarding barn conversions “significant” was not defined the proposed extension should be reduced in size.

The majority agreed and a decision was deferred to give Mr Pearson time to amend the plans.

Oughtershaw – April

A new bench mark could be set for the conversion of traditional roadside barns in the Yorkshire Dales if the plans for a small one at Oughtershaw  are approved. This was the warning given by a planning officer at the meeting on April 10.

And when the majority of the committee voted in favour of Nigel Pearson’s application Mr Graham said that the decision would be referred back to next month’s meeting as there were some fundamental points on policy to be considered.

He explained that there should be strong material considerations for deviating from the Local Policy and if there weren’t a precedent would be created.

In his report a planning officer stated: “If approved, the proposal would set a new bench mark for barn conversions whereby all applicants would wish to have a kitchen off the main building with a fully glazed screen wall that represented a 33 per cent increase in floor space.”

At the meeting he said that the extension could be half the size of that proposed and warned:  “Officers consider that to allow this proposal due to its size and function would result in a clear precedent that would seriously undermine the existing policy. It would be likely to generate numerous new applications.

“While officers would have to try and resist such proposals it would represent a green light for the addition of bright, modern fully glazed airy kitchen and dining rooms for all new barn conversions and applicants would ask to have these considered by the committee rather than by officers. Any such subsequent approvals would further erode the policy and efforts of officers to negotiate sensitive conversions schemes.

“The final and fundamental tenet of the planning system is that applicants should be able to expect consistency in decision making.”

Cllr Blackie expressed concern that the officer had over stepped the mark in his presentation – and for doing so Cllr Blackie was rebuked by both North Yorkshire County Councillor Robert Heseltine and the chairperson, Richmondshire District Councillor Caroline Thornton-Berry who stated after the vote : “I would ask members if they would respect officers who are doing their best – they have got very clear guidelines.”

Even so the majority accepted Cllr Blackie’s argument that the plans should be approved as it would provide accommodation for a rural worker in a very isolated area where  additional storage and utility space was required especially in winter. He explained that Mr Pearson had reduced the size of the extension as suggested at the March meeting and no longer wished to use the converted barn as a holiday let until his son wanted to live there.

The planning officer stated: “While officers would have to try and resist such proposals it would represent a green light for the addition of bright, modern fully glazed airy kitchen and dining rooms for all new barn conversions and applicants would ask to have these considered by the committee rather than by officers. Any such subsequent approvals would further erode the policy and efforts of officers to negotiate sensitive conversions schemes.

“The final and fundamental tenet of the planning system is that applicants should be able to expect consistency in decision making.”

At the June meeting the majority of members confirmed the decision to approve this application – see “Debate about barn conversions” above.

Rylstone – July

The application for an extension to Fox House in Raikes Lane, Rylstone, was refused because the applicant had decided not to go ahead with an amendment agreed with the planning officers.

At the planning meeting in May members had deferred making a decision so that officers could discuss amending the plans. The original application was for an extension above the existing kitchen to form a bedroom which would result in a dual-pitched roof. The officers felt that a mono-pitched extension with roof lights would have less impact upon what they viewed as a building (a former Quaker meeting house) of significant historic interest.

The applicant, however, decided against amending design partly, the officer reported, because the sound of rain on the roof lights would disturb those sleeping in the bedroom. A different amendment was discussed but then the applicant decided to stay with the original plans for a pitched roof, the officer said.

Stalling Busk – July

Cllr Blackie wanted an enforcement notice on a holiday let to go to appeal to clarify whether or not Hilltop at Stalling Busk had been sub-divided into two dwellings.

An enforcement officer said that a two-bedroom attachment to Hilltop was being run and advertised as a fully self-contained holiday let with its own kitchen  and bathroom. There were doors connecting it to the main property on the ground floor and upstairs but guests did not need to use these for access to the holiday let.

He argued that  Hilltop had been subdivided to make two separate dwellings contrary to the Authority’s housing strategy.

The owners were, therefore, advised  to either cease using it as a holiday let and make it part of the main building again; submit a planning application for a local occupancy dwelling for one of the dwellings; or operate a Bed and Breakfast business using two of the five bedrooms and remove the separate kitchen.

Cllr Blackie said: “There is absolutely no intention by these owners to want to create a separate dwelling. Our Local Plan is very strong on bringing visitors into the Dales to spend money in the local economy, to provide employment. My advice to [the owners] is that they should go to an enforcement appeal. I am going to ask the planning inspector what his opinion is… if it is, in planning terms, a sub division or whether it is an informal use of part of the property which is in no way self-contained because you can [get to] the property both upstairs and down.”

The majority of the committee agreed that an enforcement notice should be issued, with a six months compliance period of six months, for the cessation of the use of the building for residential purposes as a separate, self contained dwelling house for use as a holiday let.

Swaledale Telecommunication Masts – June

A 12.5m high lattice communications mast which could also provide mobile phone coverage in Upper Swaledale will be installed at Crow Tree Farm, Gunnerside, as part of the Home Office’s Emergency Services Mobile Communications Programme.

Muker Parish Council had strongly objected to the original application which was for a “telegraph pole” mast. It had stated: “The possible erection of this mast within an Upper Swaledale landscape is at best controversial. The erection of this mast without the potential facility for commercial network coverage for both residents of the parish and visitors alike is not acceptable to the Council.”

The planning officers, therefore, asked the Secretary of State if that application could be amended – and it was. The meeting was told that a monopole mast will, however, be erected at Crook Seal Barn on Birkdale Common 6Km west of Keld.

A planning officer explained: “There is no resident population included within its range. The light traffic on the road [B6270] and the small number of game keepers and seasonal shooters means it is highly unlikely there will be any commercial interest in providing a service to the public at this location. However, EE, the installing company for the Home Office, could switch on their apparatus system [for public use] but that would be their commercial decision.

“This is a completely different situation to that at Crow Tree Farm. The predicted coverage for that shows that there is a substantial resident and visitor population in Swaledale between Thwaite and Gunnerside. A lattice mast…would be capable of accommodating a number of commercial operators. That mast will be substantially bulkier than is needed at Crook Seal.”

Cllr  Blackie stressed the need for 4G coverage in such remote areas (see below) and said it was likely that, once lattice masts were installed as at  Crow Tree Farm, there would be campaigns to get mobile phone coverage in those deeply rural areas.

“This is an essential opportunity to bring communications up to the 21st century in the more remote areas,” he said.

Eden District councillor William Patterson told the meeting that there was a monopole mast on his farm erected by BT Cellnet and onto which Vodaphone had bolted its equipment to provide a public service. “Monopoles are far less obtrusive,” he said.

Jim Munday wasn’t so sure. He commented: “I am extremely uncomfortable with the alien poles on the landscape. It is wrong, it is out of place and it is horrible.” He emphasised the need to ensure that when the masts were no longer required that the owners of the equipment should remove them and reinstate the sites.

The planning officer had received the following advice from the Home Office via Entrust Services.

“A public user on an 800 MHz LTE capable device will be able to make a 999 call on the EAS (Emergency Alert System) network provided that the device is VoLTE capable. Users from other Operators with similarly capable devices will not be able to establish a connection.

A public user on a non 800Mhz LTE capable device will not be able to make a 999 call on the EAS network. As the only coverage available in the EAS areas will be 800 Mhz LTE, non 800Mhz capable devices, will not be able to establish a connection.”

There are  4G devices that do not support LTE 800Mhz and also 4G LTE 800Mhz devices that don’t support VoLTE.

Thoralby –April

Approval was given for a large  slurry store to be installed behind trees above Heaning Hall at the east end of Thoralby. This will be nearly 41 metres in diameter and five metres in height with a capacity of 6,005 cubic metres. According to the YDNPA this will be the largest  circular slurry store in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

Michael Lancaster told the committee that there had been detailed discussions with planning officers about where to locate it so that it would have minimal impact upon the landscape. He said its location will also mean that there will be a reduction in the movement of slurry wagons through Thoralby,  will allow him to store slurry for six months, and enable  him to increase efficiency and grass production on the farm.

It was a significant investment, he said, and was the next step in the improvements he had made since taking over the farm from his father 11 years ago.

Cllr Blackie commented: “If you want to see the Upper Dales continue in dairying you have got to recognise and give support to farmers.” He added that the site above Heaning Hall was much better than that originally proposed by Mr Lancaster. That had been at the west end of the village near the farm buildings but in a much more visible location. Mr Lancaster had withdrawn that application.

Threshfield – March

A new dormer extension on a house in Threshfield must be removed within three months the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s planning committee decided on March 13.

An enforcement officer reported that the dormer at High Winds, Threshfield, did not comply with the plans as approved by the committee in February last year. That approval  had been subject to several conditions to ensure that the roof, walls and window materials matched those of the existing building.

The officer found that the dormer was larger than had been approved and that the roof pitch was much flatter. The window arrangement had also been altered. She described the dormer as now being a dominant and unsightly feature.

Cllr  Heseltine asked if enforcement could be deferred to give time for the applicant, Andy Gould, to make a planning application for the dormer as it is now but this proposal was rejected by the other members.

In a letter to the committee the Gould family explained that they had sought not to spoil the appearance of the house any more than it had been due to other extensions being added prior to their acquiring it.

“We were determined to make sure the dormer was the best for the house and the best in the area. The dormer may have altered during build, but only due to circumstances  whilst it was being built.”

One of those factors was that building regulations dictated that an emergency exit had to be incorporated into one of the windows. The inclusion of a suitable larger window then had an impact  upon the slope of the roof, the family stated. They said they had chosen different but better materials to match the colour of the house. They added:

“The dormer is certainly not an unsightly feature. We don’t consider it to be visually prominent and don’t believe it is harming the character or appearance of this part of Threshfield.”

At the meeting Cllr Welch commented: “It is totally out of character. We are talking about setting an example.”

The committee gave authorisation for an enforcement notice to secure the removal of the unauthorised dormer extension and to reinstate the roof slope using tiles to match those on the existing roof. There is a compliance period of three months.

West Witton – May

The number of children at West Burton primary school might not have halved in six years if the housing development at West Witton had gone ahead earlier Cllr Blackie told the meeting.

He pointed out that the site had been listed as being available for affordable housing at the Local Plan inquiry in 2004.

“We’ve taken 14 years to get from a landowner wanting to contribute to the need for affordable housing to actually getting a scheme on the ground. Is there any wonder that young people are voting with their feet to leave the National Park?” he asked.

He told the meeting that the Authority had jibbed and jibbed about how many houses were needed on the site but recently had become more supportive. He added:“Houses on that site in West Witton are within the catchment area for West Burton primary school. The school has gone down in six years from 44 children on the roll to 22. It may not have been in this position if that scheme had come forward quicker – rather than having to go through the bureaucratic log jam that it has.”

Cllr  Peacock said the Authority’s planning officers had worked with the developer and the district council to make sure that the right application was made.

A planning officer reported that there will be 17 houses of which six will remain “affordable” in perpetuity by always being sold at 70 per cent of their market value. Two others will be affordable rental properties retained by the developer, Swale Valley Construction, and managed in conjunction with Richmondshire District Council as long as the latter provides financial support.

“We do need affordable housing to rent but we do now know we need affordable housing to buy as well. A lot of work has gone into this – we have actually got a perfect site and the perfect application,” Cllr Peacock said.

Cllr Blackie explained that when the Authority had approved the application for a second housing development behind the Rose and Crown at Bainbridge it had set a precedent for discounted market properties for sale in perpetuity at 70 per cent.

“I think this is the way forward if you are going to be able to provide houses to purchase rather than to rent, although there is still a need for housing to rent as well,” he remarked.

Cllr McPherson noted that some residents in West Witton had objected to the application but that West Witton Parish Council had supported it.

The parish council had accepted there was a proven need for affordable housing but was concerned that there was no provision for single person accommodation and about the potential for the future development of the field. It has asked if a matrix sign could be sited at the bend in the A684 at the western entrance to the village just before the entrance to the development.

Poppies for Aysgarth church

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I must make some paper poppies this week – but it won’t be half as much fun doing that on my own as it was when I went to photograph Sally Stone and her grandchildren, Alyssa and Jacob (above – all photos copyright Pip Pointon)

The aim is to create a ‘waterfall’ of 1,000 poppies to cascade over the altar of St Andrew’s Church, Aysgarth, during the community’s Festival of Remembrance from November 9 to November 12 to commemorate the signing of the Armistice in 1914.

People throughout the parish of Aysgarth (which includes Bishopdale, Carperby, Thoralby and Thornton Rust) have been making the poppies, ranging from a 96-year-old to a four-year-old. Local Knit and Natter groups and the WI and Penhill Ladies have added to all the poppies being made by Anglicans, Methodists and Catholics and many others. Many of the poppies will be dedicated to a member or friend killed during the 1914-1918 War or wars since then.

Those visiting the church during the festival  will be able to make their own poppies and add them to the ‘waterfall’.  The poppies are very easy to cut out and make thanks to Doreen Mason who designed them.  (Below – making poppies)

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The ‘waterfall’ will take a team of volunteers a couple of days to create just prior to the festival because each poppy will bee individually attached to a background made of  hessian – a fabric which references to the use of sandbags during WWI.

Andrew Hawkins of West Burton, whose great grandfather was killed at the Somme, is making the frame for the waterfall free of charge.

There will be a poppy dedicated to every soldier named on the parish war memorials plus some more which have been found by Penny Ellis for the new Roll of Honour which will be on show at the festival. It includes not just The Fallen but those soldiers who returned to the parish after the Great War, and also the women who served as nurses. There will be a Book of Remembrance at the festival in which the names of those for whom there are dedicated poppies will be recorded.

The chairman of the festival committee, Juliet Barker, told  me: “It was my idea to do the poppy waterfall but it was inspired by the Tower of London’s ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’ poppy installation for the centenary of the start of WWI.”

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Above: Alyssa, Sally and Jacob with the poppies they made

The festival organisers are very grateful to Richmondshire District Council’s Upper Dales Area Partnership and Aysgarth and District Parish Council for grants towards the cost of the Festival, and to RCP Parking Ltd for free parking at its Church Bank car park for all Festival visitors.

The Albion and our wedding blessing

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Above top: The Rev Martin Upton conducting the wedding blessing for David and Pip Pointon on August 18 2018. The second photo of the wherry Albion and the wedding blessing group was taken by Eddie Land using a drone camera. The Albion’s volunteer crew is on the foredeck. This could well be the first time that The Albion has been chartered for a wedding blessing ceremony. Click on the top picture to see more photographs.

A special flotilla set out from Thurne in North Norfolk on Saturday August 18 as four boats followed in the wake of The Albion  – the 120-year-old wherry we had hired for our wedding blessing.

Two of the boats – Jim Bondi’s Karina and David Bondi’s Quixote (below)– were dressed overall with flags. This gave me a wonderful opportunity to take some photos of four generations of the Bondi family.

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When we began our journey on The Albion from Womack Staithe the skipper, Roger Watts, kindly invited me to take the tiller – an honour I couldn’t refuse. But just as I reached the stern of the wherry I looked up and saw John Wayne very determinedly making his way carefully down the port side assisted by a crew member. John is the 94-years-old grandfather of David and Chris Bondi. Chris was with his wife, Emma,  and their three children on Karina – and another of John’s great grandchildren was on Quixote.

John was a very successful sailor when he was younger and was very happy to be at the helm of The Albion. It was so special to watch him do so in style all the way the Norfolk Wherry Trust’s base at Womack Water near Ludham to the site of the medieval abbey of St Benet’s.

Above: Karina following us, with John at the helm of The Albion and his daughter, Sally, in the foreground.

David and I were with nine family and friends  on The Albion with another 22 on the other boats. At St Benet’s The Albion went to the Bishop’s Mooring which gave us a private location for the wedding blessing. Karina and Quixote were moored beside us with the other two boats using the free moorings a short walk away. Originally we had planned to hold the wedding blessing at the cross which marks the site of the abbey’s altar. But it would have been very difficult for our two oldest guests, Marjorie Hawkings and John, to have walked there. Marjorie had also travelled with us on The Albion.

So David’s friend, the Rev Martin Upton, led the short but very special blessing service on the bank by The Albion with most of our guests (including one who had come by car) sitting on the wherry’s hatches.  David read the following from Quaker Faith and Practice for, as Martin said, it gave clarity on what is needed in an effective marriage:

“Marriage has always been regarded by Friends as a religious commitment rather than a merely civil contract. Both partners should offer with God’s help an intention to cherish one another for life. Remember that happiness depends on an understanding and steadfast love on both sides. In times of difficulty remind yourself of the value of prayer, of perseverance and of a sense of humour.”

For some (including David and I) the next half an hour of our blessing was even more moving thanks to Amy Bondi (David Bondi’s wife) as she sang Stand by Me and Hallelujah and other songs. There was also a  lovely duet thanks to Liz Burrage and Amy.

Then it was time to enter the hold of the wherry to fill our plates (belowphoto by Martin Upton) with the wonderful food made by Claire and Anita at The Galley in Horning. Several of our guests described the enormous homemade scotch eggs as the best they had ever tasted. David said the vegetarian quiche and  scotch eggs were also excellent.  And the sweet potato and spinach frittata were mouth-wateringly memorable. Claire and Anita had made sure there was a special platter of food for me (including a cheese-free frittata).  They had also ensured that their delicious tray bakes were free from cow’s milk products. We had collected this feast from The Galley that morning – with the help of my son, Eddie, and his girlfriend, Steph.

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We made sure that Marjorie and John received plates of food as neither could have got down into the hold. And thankfully it was neither too hot nor raining. After Amy had sung some more songs Chris Bondi took John back to Thurne on the day boat. This was driven for us by Mark Olive.

So, at last, it was time to cast off and head back to Womack Ferry. I peered down into the hold, saw the chaos left behind after everyone had eaten – and decided that tidying up would have to wait. I just wanted to stay up on deck and enjoy being on The Albion. The Bondis went ahead of us so that they could wave to us as we passed Thurne dyke. Then we had to lay on our backs while the sail was lowered. (Belowphoto by Martin Upton).

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When we were moored at the wherry station I looked into the hold again and was astonished to see that the long refectory table was spotless! Everything was so clean and tidy – thanks to David’s daughter, Alex, and Serena. That was a lovely wedding gift!

So many thanks to The  Albion crew that day: Roger Watts, Andy Brooks and George Blake with emeritus crew Ivor Stemp.

We were running late and had booked a table at The Lion at Thurne for 6.30pm, so the food containers were quickly packed into the back of David’s car. Ken and Pat and our family guests joined us for the evening meal even though most of us weren’t that hungry. As it was such a nice evening we could sit out in the garden which was fortunate as my nephew, Euan, and his girlfriend Lois,  had brought their dog, Dopey, with them.

For us the party didn’t end that evening. Next day we spent a lot of time with Jim, his wife Sue and her cousin, Hilary, and also with David and Amy Bondi and their son Dylan. We waved at The Albion as it passed us that morning with any group of volunteers crewing it. Quite late that afternoon I went to Thurne to return the food containers to The Galley. When I opened the boot at Horning I was very dismayed to find that the large salad dishes weren’t there. I apologised to  Claire and then went to the wherry station to await the return of The Albion. After about half an hour I saw a couple come out of one of the huts there carrying those salad dishes. Claire had phoned the Norfolk Wherry Trust and the Humphries had come to find those dishes. It was such a relief to see the bowls handed over to Claire’s husband when he came to collect them. The  Humphries told me that in all their years as volunteers with the Norfolk Wherry Trust they could not remember any other occasion when The Albion was chartered for a wedding blessing like ours.

Our party could then happily continue. David’s cousin, John with his wife Debbie, had their camper van at Thurne  and my brother Dave, with his wife Leigh, daughter Sian, with Euan and Lois and Dopey were camping at Obi Dyke nearby. On the Friday evening they had joined us for a BBQ on the moorings beside David’s boat, Edna May.

David had hoped to take them on lengthy boat rides on Edna May but during the week before the wedding blessing neither he nor Jim could find why the engine was overheating. So on the Monday after the blessing we took Debbie and John on a very slow boat ride to South Walsham Broad and to Ranworth . Even at three mph there was more steam than water pouring out of the exhaust and a Broads Authority inspector hailed us thinking we hadn’t realised there was a problem. It was a perfect day for boating – and after a pleasant walk to visit Ranworth church John and Debbie spent an hour of so together on the foredeck  relaxing, and enjoying the scenery and the wonderful skyscapes.

On the Wednesday – on yet another sunny day – we took Dave, Leigh, Euan, Lois and Dopey to South Walsham and found a mooring where the dog could be taken for a walk. Sian missed out on that trip because she had to return to north Kent for a teacher training college interview.

We had time on Thursday to take Edna May slowly to Potter Heigham to visit a boat-doctor: Harry May. David told him all that had been checked so far … and within 20 minutes Harry had found a pipe which had become blocked. It didn’t take long to clean it out – and Edna May happily chugged along with the temperature barely touching 70 degrees all the way back to Thurne. What a relief!

That meant that on the Friday evening we could take Dave, Leigh and Sian to Potter Heigham for a fish and chip supper. (Euan and Lois had left as they felt that Dopey was homesick!)

And finally, on the Saturday, it rained. But by then we could sit back and enjoy so many happy memories – thanks to all our wonderful friends and family who had helped us to make it such a very special week.

Loss of houses to rent

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The new national energy efficiency regulations for rented property will have a major impact upon Dales’ communities Aysgarth and District Parish Council was told at its July meeting.

The chairman, Cllr John Dinsdale, reported that when he contacted local estate agents he learnt that 14 properties which had previously been rented had now been sold, some probably for second homes.

“We can’t lose so many rented properties,” he said.

He had invited Bernard Spence to describe what it had been like trying to bring a rented property up to the required standard so as to obtain an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of at least band E.

Mr Spence explained that the new regulations had come into force in April this year and an estate agent had informed him that his property in Aysgarth (above) could not be advertised for let until it had been upgraded. Like many properties in the Dales this is an old stone-built house and so is especially difficult to upgrade to modern standards.

He did manage to upgrade it sufficiently but told the councillors:“Higher required EPC changes planned in the future will make it difficult for me to continue to let the property without increases in rent.”

District councillor Yvonne Peacock said she would discuss the issue with the legal department at Richmondshire District Council. “We need to keep young people living and working in the Dales,” she said. The issue will also be brought to the attention of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority by District councillor Caroline Thornton-Berry.

Reading Room. – The council was informed that at an extraordinary meeting of Thoralby Parish on June 18 it had been decided that a grant of £10,500 should be made from the Thoralby Moss account towards the cost of repairing the village Reading Room.

Cllr Brian McGregor also reported that at a Thoralby Parish site meeting it had been agreed that it was not feasible to create a car parking area in Low Green Lane as there was insufficient ground area.

Westholme. – The council received the following response from the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority concerning the trees that had been felled at Aysgarth Luxury Lodge Holidays (previously Westholme Caravan Park):“After checking that this isn’t a conservation area and that there are no TPOS in force, the matter [was referred] to our Senior Trees and Woodlands Officer who referred onwards to the Forestry Commission given the amount of felled wood.

“Apparently, it is permissible to fell five cubic metres per quarter and the FC feel that no offence has been committed. The FC will, however, contact park management to give guidance on tree felling requirements, although it may be that the work is now complete. There is no breach of planning with respect to tree felling.”

Thoralby – Cllr McGregor told the meeting that Low Green Bridge needed a hand rail and netting or chicken wire as its surface was slippery. North Yorkshire County Council’s highways department reported that following an inspection it did not consider that the railway sleeper-type bridge needed to be replaced at present.

Cllr McGregor reported that the new tarmac on the road from Aysgarth Garage to Thoralby was 50 yards short of Tom Gill bridge where the road surface most needed to be repaired.

Aysgarth. – The highways department had informed the council that the speed limit sign on the west side of Aysgarth was past its sell by date and needed to be replaced. A new vehicle activated sign will be installed during the present financial year.

The clerk will ask the highways department if it will install bollards outside Flatlands or if this could be done by a resident. The council agreed that bollards are needed to stop cars being parked on the grass verge.

The highways department will also be informed about the bushes which are overhanging Dyke Hollins Lane near the Doctors’ Surgery as these were scratching cars.

The chairman, Cllr John Dinsdale, was thanked for repairing and varnishing benches. He said that the bench by the bus shelter in Aysgarth was beyond repair and so the Coronation plaque would be moved to another one.

Next meeting. – will be in Aysgarth Institute at 7.30pm on Thursday September 13.

Our Quaker Wedding – 2

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Our wedding on Saturday July 21 was a joyful, relaxed event where we had time to meet and greet friends and family and, in the Friends Meeting House in Countersett, promised to be loving and faithful partners in marriage to each other. So now we are David and Pip Pointon.

Little did we think when we started planning our  wedding that it would be a historic event for many who regularly attend meetings of the Religious Society of Friends in Wensleydale and Swaledale. This was because the last wedding at Countersett was in 1841. (For more about that see Our Quaker Wedding – 1).

We are so grateful to all those who helped to make it such a special occasion. We wanted a simple Quaker wedding but nothing is ever that simple.  First there was the problem of getting 78 people to Countersett where there is very little parking.  We began to explore the idea of hiring coaches to bring our guests from Bainbridge to Countersett but there isn’t much parking space in the latter either. Thankfully the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority gave permission for its staff car park to be used and from there it was a short walk to where Fosters Coaches of Redmire collected them for the journey into Raydaleside.

Two days before the wedding David, Ken Nicholas, Phil Crowther and John Suggitt took some benches from Bainbridge Meeting House to that in Countersett using John’s trailer. When I entered the Meeting House on Saturday the first thing I noticed was the two lovely colourful posies provided by Liz Burrage who had acted as our Quaker supporter. These were in addition to the arrangement of autumn leaves created by John Warren.

We couldn’t have asked for better weather for the wedding for it was overcast (so not too hot) but not raining. This meant everyone had time to greet us before going into the Meeting House – and were there a lot of hugs! They were more formally welcomed by the Friends who were on duty: Hugh Dower, Judith Nicholls and Ian Hunter Smart.

The majority of us had never attended a Quaker wedding before and so were very grateful to Ian who, as an elder, explained to us what to expect. A Quaker wedding takes place during a specially arranged meeting for worship – so at the beginning we all sat in silence until David and I were ready to stand  up and make our declarations to each other. A few people then shared their thoughts or memories about us – all of which was very encouraging.

I very rarely speak at a Quaker meeting but this time I did want to share something. I mentioned that the couple who married there in 1841 were Oswald and Agnes Baynes who then moved to Poynton in Cheshire (See Our Quaker Wedding  – 1). And there beside me and Eddie at my wedding were my brother Les, his wife Beryl, their daughter Clare, and her husband Barry – all from Poynton in Cheshire. I do like a God who takes special interest in us and has a great sense of humour.

Before the meeting closed the Quaker Registering Officer, Richard Waldmeyer, invited David and I to sign the Quaker Certificate of Marriage. The first witnesses to sign were David’s daughter, Alex, and my son, Eddie. Alex and Eddie then went with us into the home of the Warrens next door to sign the registers. Philip and Lesley Warren had prepared the room so nicely for us but it was odd to walk back in there for the first time since John died. (Below: David and I signing the registers with David’s daughter, Alex, behind us.)

While we were doing that our guests were lining up to sign our Quaker Certificate of Marriage. What a wonderful way to remember our wedding! I only heard about that Quaker tradition a few weeks before our wedding and the only one I had seen before ours was that of Janet Leyland and her late husband, Peter. Janet kindly did the calligraphy on ours so it looks amazingly good (below).

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Once everyone was outside it was time to let Eddie do something very special for us – an aerial photo using his drone (above). We were very impressed (the small version used here doesn’t do it justice). But it wasn’t until later that we realised that the Registrar wasn’t included. (I am glad that Les did take one of him when the registers were being signed.)

By then the coaches were waiting for their passengers, and soon we were all on our way to Sycamore Hall in Bainbridge (near where all those cars were parked) for afternoon tea provided by the Corn Mill Tearoom in Bainbridge. And what a tea! Many  described the wonderful selection of food prepared and served by members of the Peacock family as excellent, including those who were vegetarians or who had food intolerances. I especially enjoyed the butter-free carrot cake – and the big welcoming smile from Yvonne Peacock as she gave me a refreshing drink as I walked in.

We had seen the facilities at Sycamore Hall Extra Care Home when the reception after John Warren’s funeral was held there and we were very impressed. Our guests were too as they were able to sit in comfort in either a large lounge,  the dining room or out on the patio. Our special guest at the tea was Judith Warren who is now a resident at Sycamore Hall.

We had told everyone that we didn’t want any presents as we have two full households. Instead we said that, if they wished, they could give donations to the Yorkshire Air Ambulance Service. When we got home from Sycamore Hall with Eddie, Alex and Serena we were amazed to find that the donations amounted to over £800 (with some more to come we are told).

So a big thank you to all who helped to make our wedding so memorable – even Oswald and Agnes Baynes!

West Burton CofE School – NYCC to be questioned

On Wednesday morning (July 18) the ‘Shadow Board of Governors’ for West Burton CofE School will present a question at the full meeting of North Yorkshire County Council. This follows the decision by the Bainbridge, Askrigg and West Burton Federation of Schools  (BAWB) governing board not to allow that at West Burton to defederate. Here is County Councillor John Blackie ’s full statement following that decision:

 

The BAWB Board of Governors are in flat denial if they consider they are acting in the best interests of the children who attend West Burton Primary School by refusing the request by their parents, the local community and a highly talented Shadow Board of Governors to de-federate the School, and return it to the stand-alone status under which it flourished for over 100 years.   How they can say this beggars belief, as their plans are to bus children as young as 4 years of age 40 minutes a day, on top of the travelling to and from their homes to West Burton, often in the hostile weather we have here in the Upper Dales.

Their decision has now put the School on a fast track to closure as they have blatantly ignored the strongest evidence that the understandable parental objection to travelling combined with the uncertainty around the future of the school will see between 7 – 10 pupils currently on its roll being registered at Leyburn Primary School next term, and those intending to start at the school in September, up to 7 pupils, doing the same.  This leaves West Burton School with just 13 pupils and very vulnerable to almost immediate closure.  If instead it had been allowed to de-federate then there would have been 30 pupils there next term, more than enough to keep it successful and sustainable in the future.

The suspicion is that the BAWB Board of Governors always had a hidden agenda to close West Burton Primary School, so it appears they have got their own way – this is simply closure by stealth disguised as “due diligence”.

Sadly the Leadership and Management of the BAWB Federation has form on record for not listening to the communities they serve as it was only 3 years ago when bussing arrangements were implemented between Bainbridge and Askrigg Primary Schools, just under a mile and a 4 minutes journey away from each other, that saw 14 pupils from Bainbridge transfer to Hawes Primary School.  If those pupils had remained in the BAWB Federation then there would have been more funding available to have all teaching undertaken at West Burton, and the unwelcome travelling avoided.

The Board of Governors does not feature one Governor from West Burton, so it is more than a pity it did not take seriously the issues raised by the Shadow Board for the School, many of whom live in the village,  and know the wishes of the parents and the community intimately, or we would not be facing the crisis and collapse we are today.

The Local Educational Authority appears to be involved in a conspiracy as the announcement to refuse the request for de-federation was sent to all parents in the form of a press release issued by North Yorkshire County Council, despite it steadfastly maintaining the decision was the BAWB Federation’s to make, and make alone.  This adds to the concerns and begs the question – was there always a shared agenda between them to close West Burton Primary School ??

The decision marks the end of the beginning, not the end of the end for a stand-alone West Burton School.  There is to be a Public Question asked by a Shadow Board Governor at next Wednesday’s County Council meeting.  And an appeal made to a higher education authority where the failure of the BAWB Board of Governors to recognise what is truly best for the children and the community in which they live amidst will be put to the test.

West Burton CofE School – defederation refused

North Yorkshire County Council issued the following statement today concerning the BAWB Federation of Schools and West Burton CofE School. And see below for the letter I sent to them on June 25 in which I pointed out that it had taken just two years for the Federation’s governing board to lose the confidence and respect of all the parents of children at West Burton CofE School.

Statement issued by North Yorkshire County Council on Friday, July 13:

The governing board of three Wensleydale primary schools has decided it cannot support the wishes of community members and parents at West Burton Church of England Primary School for the school to defederate.

Governors of Bainbridge and West Burton Church of England primary schools and Askrigg Voluntary Controlled primary school, which are federated as a single body, took a decision against West Burton’s defederation at a meeting last night.

This decision follows a period of due diligence when governors met with representatives of the West Burton community to explore their wishes to defederate.

The West Burton community started to push for defederation after the governing board decided in May to remodel the federation in order to address the challenges they face around lower pupil numbers and finances.

Governors believe that their agreed option – which followed two separate consultations and which involves nursery, reception and key stage 1 classes on the Bainbridge site with key stage 2 classes divided between Askrigg and West Burton – provided the best educational and financial advantages.

However, as many respondents from West Burton were unhappy with this decision, governors also agreed to explore the possibility of West Burton’s defederation.

“We worked very hard as a governing body to agree a sustainable solution which involves the least disruption and continues to offer a very high quality of education for the children of Wensleydale,” said Derek Walpole, the federation chair of governors. “It was a very tough decision for governors to make and was never going to please everybody.

“This subsequent decision against defederation has also been very tough. We recognise the concern of West Burton’s parents and have listened very hard to what they have had to say. But we believe it is better if schools work together and we must also consider the sustainability of all three schools and what is in the best educational and social interests of children.

“We respect the decision of the governing body” said County Councillor Patrick Mulligan, North Yorkshire’s Executive Member for Schools. “Governors have explored the possibility of West Burton defederating with diligence and thoroughness and have listened very carefully to what people have had to say. The county council will continue to work with the governing body in future to continue to tackle the challenges of sustainability.”

………………

On the website of the Bainbridge, Askrigg and West Burton Federation of Schools the headteacher, Charlotte Harper, states: “We work actively with our parents and community to ensure that we provide the best educational experience for our children. At Bainbridge and West Burton our Christian ethos underpins the life of the schools and is the basis of our excellent relationships with our parents, local communities and churches.”

I was so concerned that the Federation was not doing this that on June 25 I wrote the following letter to the co-headteachers and the governors:

I am a member of Aysgarth Parochial Church Council and, in the past few months, I have attended two meetings of parents of West Burton CofE School. The following are my personal opinions.

As I said to Heather Limbach (the West Burton school diocesan foundation governor on the BAWB Board of Governors) some time ago, I do not think that bussing the youngest cohort of children from West Burton school to Bainbridge each day as proposed in Option 3A is in accordance with any aspect of educational good practice.

I have read the documents on the BAWB Schools website concerning Due Diligence. I await with interest the budget projections drawn up by some parents of children at West Burton School to see how these compare with that of Sally Dunn, head of finance at North Yorkshire County Council.

I also read James Kilner’s report of 5th June following his Due Diligence visit during the summer term of 2018. I have several concerns about that report and outline some of these below. Some of that report was very general and was not specific to the BAWB Federation of Schools including Improving outcomes and the Summary. It did seem to paint a glowing picture of the Federation and its leadership but didn’t provide any evidence to substantiate this. Surely an important Due Diligence report should be based upon evidence?

At the top of page three Mr Kilner stated that the Federation was well led and managed and added: “The strength of leadership is at all levels including a well-informed, professional and forward thinking governing body of the Federation.”

Yet, at the meetings I attended in West Burton I was saddened to see that the majority, if not all, of the parents of children at West Burton school expressed the opinion that, within two years of joining the BAWB Federation, they had lost any respect and trust they had had in its leadership.

Has the leadership been well-informed about this erosion of confidence? And if those parents are so disillusioned how does that impact upon the expected benefits to families and children at West Burton school? For, as Mr Kilner stated (page 6) – the benefits to families and the children’s outcomes should be maximised.

Mr Kilner visited the three schools before Option 3A has been introduced. On April 19th the executive Headteacher outlined Option 3A to parents, carers and stakeholders (published on the BAWB website).

The “cons” listed included: “Only 17 children on site at West Burton – isolating”; “Only 1 class at Askrigg – isolating”; and “cohorts of children never being taught together.”

I cannot see how that fits with Mr Kilner’s statement under the heading Effective practice (page 6) : “Schools with large Integrated learning that offers a balance of free flow and structure learning demonstrate the most effective practice…. “ Or under “Summary” – “Therefor (sic), securing children’s personal, social and emotional readiness to learn ….. can best be achieved when children are able to interact with a large number of their peers wherever possible.” (For which Mr Kilner offers no evidence.)

This surely does not fit with an option which increases the isolation of children. Nor will pupils grow in confidence and learn to cope with stress when their parents don’t feel that neither they nor their children are being well cared for by the Federation.

I, therefore, question how useful Mr Kilner’s report is concerning Due Diligence. Please could you enlighten me.

(As yet I have received no response.)

For James Kilner’s Due Diligence Report  5th June 2018 go to BAWB-Community Engagement 

And for details of Option 3A go to the same page on the BAWB website and read Community Engagement Archive

For the response from the West Burton community and parents see West Burton documents produced by John Blackie 

NHS day

I’m wearing my NHS Community First Responder shirt today as I am logged on for duty. On this, the 70th birthday of the NHS, I am very aware of how much I and my family owe Aneurin Bevan and the post-War Labour Government for this amazing service.

Take my dad, for instance. He accepted being called up to fight during WW2 but he didn‘t want to kill anyone. So, he first joined the catering corps and then was transferred to the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC). He was fully prepared to go into the front line of battle unarmed to help the injured. But on the night he was celebrating finishing his training he was walking along an unlit road with a friend when he was hit by a lorry being driven without headlights on. That sort of accident was quite common in the days of the blackout.

My mum was told he would die but Dad was a stubborn man. He survived but his body was badly damaged. He knew that at the end of the war there would be many men listed as disabled so he refused to be put in that category. Instead he fought against the pain and did the job of an able-bodied man at Thames Board Mills near our home in Grays, Essex.

In the 1970s he was told it was at last possible to give him a replacement hip. I  will never forget the huge smile on his face when he could, for the first time in about 30 years, put his left leg in front of his right one rather than having to drag it along behind him.

How could we, as a family living on limited means on a council estate, have afforded that if the NHS hadn’t existed?

Or there was the day when I fell out of a tree. Dad wasn’t sure if my arm was broken, so he strapped it up and mum took me on the bus to Tilbury hospital (long gone now). My mum was told that my arm was too swollen for an X-ray to show anything so I was admitted. I don’t remember anything special for children in the ward and I felt very lonely and miserable. But at least my mum didn’t have to pay anything.

Both then and when I had my appendix removed there was that all-enveloping security blanket of the NHS. I was completely unaware that any other system existed – until I went overseas. In the Indian sub continent I became very aware of the problems people faced when they couldn’t afford medical care or insurance. For example – a young man with over 30 per cent burns was told by a hospital administrator that if he or his family couldn’t pay upfront he couldn’t be admitted.

So I don’t take our NHS service for granted – and am very aware of how easily we could lose it as bits get ‘sold off’ to companies which need to make a profit.

Let’s hope the celebrations today will encourage our rich politicians to protect the NHS for those who depend upon it so much.

Below – about six years separate these photographs of my dad. The one of him in  uniform was taken just before the lorry hit him. The other shows the impact of that accident upon him.

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Our Quaker Wedding – 1

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I sat in the Religious Society of Friends’ Meeting House in the hamlet of Countersett (above) on Sunday June 24 enjoying the peacefulness of an hour’s quiet contemplation and prayer when I suddenly thought: “Wow, the next time I will be in here for a meeting will be on my wedding day!”

For David and I have decided, after 13 years together, that we will get married – and we had no doubt where we wanted the wedding to be. Yes, St Andrew’s at Aysgarth is a beautiful church and all those I know there would be able to attend if they wished. But David and I were in complete agreement that we wanted the simplicity of a ceremony which centres on the essence of a marriage between two people.

George Fox, the founder of the Religious Society of Friends  (Quakers), wrote in 1669: “For the right joining in marriage is the work of the Lord alone, and not the priests’ or magistrates; for it is God’s ordinance and not man’s; and therefore Friends cannot consent that they should join them together: for we marry none; it is the Lord’s work, and we are but witnesses.

Some have asked why we wanted to go to Countersett when we could use Bainbridge Meeting House. In the past ten years, however, I have mainly attended Countersett Meeting House where meetings are held on the last Sunday of each month. I love the atmosphere there along with the opportunity to commune with God, usually in silence.

Countersett Meeting House for us also means remembering John Warren who died earlier this year. An arrangement of bronzed autumn leaves that he created is still on one of the window sills.

A Quaker wedding takes place during a specially –arranged meeting for worship and all who regularly attend local Religious Society of Friends meetings can attend. We are, however, asking them to let us know beforehand as we need to know how many coach seats are required and how many will be joining us for ‘afternoon tea’ afterwards. This will be at Sycamore Hall with the catering being done by the Corn Mill Teashop in Bainbridge.

So slowly we are sorting out the logistics but, at the beginning, we needed to make sure we could be married at Countersett Meeting House.

Preparing for a Quaker wedding

The first step was to meet with Richard Waldmeyer. The Marriage Act of 1753 explicitly exempted Quakers and Jews from the statutory regulation of all other marriages in England and Wales – and that has been reaffirmed by subsequent Marriage Acts in England. So, as the Quaker Registering Officer for our region, Richard explained what we had to do – starting with sponsors signing the necessary forms for me as, unlike David, I am not a member of the Religious Society of Friends.

A big thank you to Liz Burrage and to David Ladyman for being willing to sign the forms at very short notice for, after so long together, we were suddenly in a hurry.

Richard also explained that we needed to get certificates of marriage from a local Registry office as well as attend a Quaker Meeting for Clearness. So one morning we went to the Registry Office in Richmond to apply for those certificates which now take 28 days to process. The first problem was that the computer didn’t immediately recognise Countersett Meeting House. Thankfully the registrar resolved that problem and we managed to complete the paper work.

After that we definitely needed some sustenance so made our way to one of our favourite eating places: Duncans Teashop in Richmond. My food intolerances have multiplied and become more severe recently so it was wonderful to be so well looked after – and to have yet another slice of their utterly sumptuous walnut and coffee cake which contains no cow’s milk products or potato starch.  David, of course, treated himself to a slice of their wonderful treacle tart.

After a short rest we headed to Leyburn Meeting House for the Meeting for Clearness. I have to admit I was both intrigued and a bit nervous. I had read the guidance provided in Quaker Faith and Practice which stated: “A meeting for clearness can provide an opportunity for the couple and selected members of the meeting community to explore their intentions and hopes, the nature of the commitment that is being contemplated, and ways the meeting can support the marriage after its solemnisation. Consideration of a non-member’s acceptance of the Quaker understanding of marriage could also be explored. The small group of Friends and the couple will get to know one another at a deeper level. Prayerful consideration in a relaxed atmosphere is time well spent…”

So I entered the room with some trepidation. But there was nothing to worry about for the elder leading the meeting, Ian Hunter Smart, quickly put us at ease. It was a good example of a prayerful and loving Quaker meeting.  Within a day the meeting houses in Leyburn, Bainbridge and Countersett were informed that approval had been given for our wedding to take place at the latter.

An interesting history

Richard was at the Meeting for Clearness – and it was he that told us that the last wedding at Countersett was in June 1841! As one local Quaker said – ours will be a historic wedding at Countersett Meeting House.

So the next time I was on duty as a volunteer in the Research Room at the Dales Countryside Museum in Hawes I had a look at the transcript made by Jack Handley of The Births Marriages and Burials, Records of the Society of Friends for Wensleydale and Swaledale which covers period from the 1680s to the 1770s. The first Quaker weddings in upper Wensleydale were held in the homes of members and that was certainly true of the first four at Countersett, three of which were in Richard Robinson’s house, Countersett Hall. Where that in 1709 was held is not clear as the date on the Meeting House is 1710.

Sir Christopher C Booth wrote in The Quakers of C ountersett and their legacy  that the Norsemen who colonised the upper dales before the Normans came were individualists and did not tip their hats to the gentry. Richard Robinson, he said,  was such an independent-minded dalesman who, by the 1650s, was searching for a spiritual experience beyond  that offered by the institutional church. When he heard about George Fox he went to Westmorland to meet him and was convinced.

Like other Quakers at that time he was prepared to face considerable abuse and persecution to be part of this revival of the Christian faith. Booth noted: ‘It was undoubtedly through the influence of Richard Robinson and his friends that so many became Quakers in upper Wensleydale. At the same time, Richard’s extensive travels in Yorkshire and throughout the land, sometimes taking him as far as London, helped to spread George Fox’s teaching far and wide.’ Robinson died in 1693 and Quaker Meetings continued to be held at Countersett Hall until the Meeting House was built.

When reading the diaries of George Fox I was particularly fascinated by his radical approach to gender equality and the impact that had on the development of female education. 

I was curious, of course, to find out more about the couple who were married at Countersett in 1841. They were Oswald Baynes, a farmer from Carperby of ‘full age’, and Agnes Webster, a ‘minor’ who was described as a housekeeper at Carr End near Countersett. The profession of her father was given as Linseed Manufacturer.

When I searched for them in the 1851 census I had a surprise for I found they were living at Poynton in Cheshire. That’s where my eldest brother, Les, lives with his wife, Beryl. His daughter and son-in-law also live in Poynton. We often joke about the similarity of that name to David’s surname.

In the 1851 Agnes was shown as being 29-years-old who had been born in Thirsk. She had two sons and two daughters – and the help of a 20-year-old female servant from Sedbergh. Oswald (32) was a farm steward at Tower Farm Yard. Ten years later he  described himself as the farm bailiff at The Towers.  By 1861 there were three more sons and the girls were at a Quaker boarding school in Winscombe, Somerset. Oswald continued to do well and by 1871 he had his own farm of 130 acres. His eldest son (also Oswald) went on to become an auctioneer in Chorlton on Medlock.

I couldn’t find Oswald Snr or Agnes in the 1881 census and decided I would have to put aside any further research as there was so much to do with our wedding date fast approaching.

Confusion and Delay

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Anyone who has ever watched or read about Thomas the Tank Engine will know how engines can cause “confusion and delay”. Well, there was plenty of that on the road to Thornton Rust between June 25th and 28th. Even the Little White Bus service to Thornton Rust was suspended after the road from Aysgarth was suddenly closed. Part of the problem arose from the lack of communication between North Yorkshire County Council’s Street Works team and its Highways Richmondshire Area Office.

A resident, Gill Harrison, informed North Yorkshire County Council’s (NYCC) Highways Richmondshire Area Office on Tuesday June 26th that the road closure was causing mayhem. “Morrisons Utilities had dug a trench across the width of the road and placed an inappropriate and badly signposted diversion, “ she said.

She reported this had caused problems with the school bus service and for those trying to get to work, with the delivery of animal feed, and that a milk tanker was forced to reverse 500 yards back towards Aysgarth on Monday afternoon because there wasn’t a road closure sign at the junction with the A684.

Neither the villagers nor Aysgarth and District Parish Council received any warning that Morrisons Utilities, on behalf of Yorkshire Water, would dig a trench across the road just outside Aysgarth on Monday.

Several of us had difficulties getting to a meeting Thornton Rust that evening. We followed the diversion signs to Worton, navigated the confusing signage there to ascend Cubeck Hill but then there was a “road closed” sign before Thornton Rust. Most of us did keep going…

For the villagers, however, it was worse because there was no “road closed” sign at the east end heading towards Aysgarth. This meant that some had almost reached Aysgarth before they found the road was blocked.

“From what I have seen of the work, a couple of metal plates across the narrow trench would have provided access during non-working times,” Thornton Rust parish councillor David Pointon said.

He told NYCC Highways Richmondshire Area Office: “I must express my severe annoyance and disgust that such an unannounced and inconvenient road closure could be perpetrated. It seems inconceivable that a whole village and its supporters are forced into a ten-mile detour.”

When North Yorkshire County Councillor John Blackie reported the issue he was informed that Yorkshire Water did have a permit from the NYCC Street Works team to repair a burst water main with the work to be carried out from Monday June 25 to Wednesday June 27. The road was not re-opened until the afternoon of Thursday June 28.

Cllr Blackie was told that a notice about the road closure had been posted on the county council’s inter-active website. He commented: “The NYCC inter-active website does not replace the need for NYCC Area Highway Offices to inform the local County Councillor and the Parish Clerk in advance of a road closure, especially those implemented in an emergency situation, [as] communications with local communities remain very important so local people can make adjustments to their travelling plans. Nor does it replace the need for properly signed diversion routes.

“The NYCC Highways Richmondshire Area Office has not been informed by either Yorkshire Water or Morrisons of the road closure. However, the NYCC Street Works team has granted YW/Morrisons a Street Works Licence (this is a separate procedure from a Road Closure order) so I will be pursuing with persistence why they have not informed the Area Highways Office about it.”

He described the situation as a fiasco and feared similar situations could arise in the future.

Which happened sooner than he expected as he reported on July 1 – this time in Hawes.

In memory of Jim Cunnington

plaque_threeThere was a definite ‘Wow’ factor on Thursday June 7 when some members of the Association of Rural Communities‘ committee gathered at Winterburn for the delivery of a plaque in memory of Jim Cunnington.

The first surprise was to see  how well the lime tree had grown after it was planted in Jim’s memory five years ago.

Then I watched almost in awe as two farmers, the Association’s chairman Alastair Dinsdale, and Clifford Lambert, created a gap in the dry stone wall between the tree and the road and skilfully inserted the stone on which Alastair had attached the plaque. It was a short master class in dry stone walling.

Afterwards Jim’s widow, Jenny (pictured beside the plaque), invited us back to her home for a delightful afternoon tea.

At the committee meeting that evening it was agreed that the Association should plant two more trees – in memory of two more of its founder members, Tom Knowles and Stephen Butcher. This will be discussed with the families of Tom and Stephen.

Below: Alastair (left) and Clifford inserting the stone with plaque attached;  the plaque with the the lime tree behind it; tree planting in May 2013. 

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John Warren

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John Warren and his wife Judith on their 60th wedding anniversary

Architect John Cecil Turnbull Warren (86) was as happy using his remarkable skills and insights for the refurbishment of West Burton CofE School as he was restoring the Royal Crescent in Bath, advising on the conservation of the Al Gaylani Mosque in Iraq or as an UNESCO World Heritage inspector advising on the suitability of a site for the Terracotta Army in China.

John was a modest man who will be remembered for welcoming everybody to Quaker meetings at Countersett and Bainbridge, where he served as an Elder, Trustee and on the Council of the Wensleydale Friends. So it was no surprise that the Friends’ Meeting House in Bainbridge was packed for his memorial service.

He was born in Surrey, attended Collyers’Grammar School in Sussex, and won a scholarship from the National Coal Board to read Mining Engineering at what is now Newcastle University. After a year he changed to Architecture.

He divided his National Service between the RAF and working as a miner at the Rising Sun Colliery at Seaham Harbour.

“He never lost his love of the colliery experience and his admiration for the men who worked underground,” his daughter, Rebecca Brown said.

In later years he captured his experiences in an exceptional set of paintings of miners at work which were exhibited at Fairfield Mill near Sedbergh in 2012. As an artist using pen and ink, watercolour and oils his work was exhibited at the Royal Academy Exhibitions on several occasions.

He married Judith Kershaw in 1957 and, after a period travelling in Turkey studying Ottoman architecture, he set up his own architectural practice (the Architectural and Planning Partnership) in Horsham, West Sussex. Over the years the practice won numerous awards, expanded to having offices from Brighton and London to Baghdad and Mumbai and, during the 1980s, employed about 120 people.

In the 1960s and 1970s, when most Local Authorities were destroying historic architecture, he was consistently involved in the conservation of historic buildings and took this expertise to the Middle East, where he both designed new buildings and conserved historic houses and mosques.

He made annual explorations of remote and inaccessible desert regions in the Middle East and India recording and researching ancient churches and mosque, some of which have now been destroyed or damaged beyond recovery.

Back in England he was also involved in preserving the vernacular buildings of Sussex and he became the founding architect of the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum at Singleton. He was fundamental to its development as one of the most important museums of vernacular architecture. One of the books he wrote was about such vernacular buildings.

This led to a close friendship with surrealist artist Edward James on whose land the museum was site. He helped James to transform his house at West Dean into a college of teaching and conservation of the fine arts which it remains today.

In the 1970s John was the joint founder of the Amberley Chalkpits Industrial History Museum in West Sussex (now the Amberley Museum and Heritage Centre). He was the chairman of the trustees in the 1980s and 1990s.

His architectural and conservation advisory roles throughout the 1980s to the 2000s included with UNESCO, English Heritage, the Built Fabric Advisory Committee for Chichester Cathedral and Nominator for the Aga Khan Awards. He was also a Fellow of the Centre for Conservation Studies at the University of York, lectured at several British universities and supervised and examined a number of PhD theses in the field of historic buildings.

When he retired to Wensleydale in the late 1990s he continued to work on architectural projects whilst also lecturing, writing and painting. He undertook several projects in Wensleydale including the internal modernisation of West Burton CofE School and advising on the conservation of Nappa Hall near Askrigg.

He was a Member of the Royal Institute of British Architects, and a Fellow of the Royal Town Planning Institute, of the Society of Antiquaries and of the Royal Asiatic Society.

John leaves his wife, his two children, Philip and Rebecca and their spouses, and four grandsons, Christopher, Matthew, Francis and Alex.A Wensleydale Friend said: “John is missed by so many – in Wensleydale, in Britain and throughout the world.”

Judith died on January 17 2019. She will be buried next to John in the Quaker burial ground in Bainbridge on Friday February 1 at 11am followed by a memorial meeting in the Meeting House at 11.30am.

There were refreshments afterwards in Sycamore Hall, Bainbridge, where she lived and was cared for and supported over the last year of her life.

Below: The family think this was John’s selfie, in the days before mobile phones.

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Parents seek “independence” for West Burton school

The determination of parents to take back control of their school at West Burton was very clear at Thoralby village hall on Monday May 14. They voted unanimously in favour of seeking defederation from the Bainbridge, Askrigg and West Burton Federation of Schools (BAWB) because they believed that from September this would no longer provide the best form of education especially for the youngest children enrolled at West Burton school.

The parents of 21 of the 23 children at West Burton CofE school  confirmed that they preferred defederation from bussing the four to seven-year-olds from West Burton to Bainbridge each school day for lessons. The latter option was approved by the governors of BAWB on May 10 with the intention that it would begin in September.

Speaking for the parents West Witton parish councillor Dr Graham Bottley said that they believed the only route to long term stability for all three schools was for that at West Burton to de-federate. North Yorkshire County councillor John Blackie, who chaired the meeting, described it as the beginning of the campaign to save West Burton school.

“The only way we will save West Burton school and continue the wonderful educational experience that it gives is for it to defederate,” he said.

Burton cum Walden parish councillor Jane Ritchie described it as a local mini-Brexit. “You must get all the facts first before you jump – we owe that to our children,” she warned.

Cllr Bottley described how the instability about the future of the school had had a negative impact upon the children and their parents. “We want to let the governors of BAWB know that parents have had enough with the uncertainty of the past two years. We just want stability for the school,” he said.

Cllr Bottley said the bussing option would undermine the future sustainability of West Burton school. Parents did not want their young children bussed around the dales or siblings split between three schools, he explained. It was also likely that if children formed friendships at Bainbridge they would not want to return to West Burton.

He added that the instability had created a downward spiral with even less children attending West Burton school. He stated: “There won’t be a school at West Burton in two years.“If you’ve got a good stable school families will move into the area. If you’ve got stability at West Burton school it will grow. And if you’ve got stability at Bainbridge and Askrigg schools they will grow too.”

He believed all three schools would be stronger if that at West Burton defederated.

Some of the parents spoke of their frustration that they were not represented on the BAWB board of governors and that, as the budgets for the three schools had been amalgamated, they had no say in how the money was allocated.

“A positive point for defederation would be to be in control of our own budget and make decisions about what we can spend,” one parent said.

Cllr Blackie told them that they would have to make a compelling case for defederation. They also needed to set up a shadow board of governors. The latter would then form a sub-committee which would negotiate with that of BAWB.

Over eight people have said they are willing to take on what he described as the onerous task of being a member of that shadow board.

The decision to defederate or not would be made at a private meeting of the BAWB board of governors in July, Cllr Blackie said. He explained that if the BAWB governors agreed to defederation the shadow board would work alongside it for several months. He thought defederation could then be completed by January 2019.

He reported that he had been assured that if the BAWB governors agreed to de-federation that bussing the youngest children would not start in September.

Several councillors from Aysgarth and District and Burton cum Walden, agreed that the defederation of West Burton school was a better option than bussing the youngest children.

Richmondshire District councillor Yvonne Peacock was very concerned about maintaining the quality of education at West Burton school and the possibility of it being closed. She stated: “My worry is the impact upon the community.”

Cllr Bottley commented: “Losing a school has an impact on the whole village. It has an impact on the shops because you have less families and more holiday homes. You might lose the pub – everything interacts.

The schools at Bainbridge and Askrigg will remain in the federation and many of the parents at the meeting at Thoralby village hall said they hoped that the cooperation that had been built up between those and that at West Burton would continue if the latter left.

Cllr Blackie agreed that defederation didn’t need to be the end of collaboration and emphasised that as a county councillor he would work hard to ensure that all three schools remained open.

 

Stephen Butcher – a son’s tribute

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It was a shock to hear of Stephen Butcher’s death on May 1 aged 89. The leader of Craven District Council, Cllr Richard Foster, said that Stephen really cared deeply about the people and landscape of the area.

It was that which led him to be a founder member of the Association of Rural Communities (ARC)  and its chairman for several years.

James Butcher told those who attended his Dad’s funeral at St Peter’s Church, Rylstone, on May 18 that Stephen was born in Keighley and had a strong Christian belief throughout his life.

When at Sedbergh school he had developed a love for sport, particularly rugby and cricket, and academically had great talent for English and the Classics.

Stephen had moved to Fleets Farm when he was five-years-old, after his father (a solicitor) had bought it. He might have chosen another career if his father had not been so keen for him to farm. James said: “He embraced this with enthusiasm and committed himself to farming. He studied agriculture at Cirencester and was inspired by what he learned there.

“In 1962 Dad had met and married the woman who would stand beside him for 56 years. Mum and Dad made a wonderful team and provided a great deal of inspiration and support to us three children and their seven grandchildren over the years.

“We take comfort that he was still fully active in mind right at to the end although a life in farming had left his body jiggered, his knees, hips, back and shoulders worn out. But his wicked sense of humour, strong mindedness and integrity never faltered.

“He was a countryman to the core, he loved living and working in the Dales, and in return he gave a lot back. He cared passionately for the countryside, its wildlife, architecture and community. An over- riding theme for him was that the Dales must be a living and working place, it must continue to evolve.”

He said his Dad’s life had many facets. The first, of course, was as a farmer. He bought Throstles Nest Farm opposite Kilnsey Cragg and this became his and Moira’s first family home. He described his dad as forward thinking and progressive. He improved the farm, put up modern farm buildings, and embraced new technologies particularly silage making and the introduction of continental cattle including Charolais. James continued:

“His success with the [Fleets] herd was immense and the herd’s blood lines influenced Charolais breeding world-wide. His ultimate accolade was to breed both bull and cow – the Charolais pair that won the Burke trophy interbreed championship at the Royal Show, something unique. Nobody ever did that again.

“Dad was actively involved at all levels of society making great friends and travelling all over the world promoting the breed and buying cattle. He also imported other breeds – continental cattle and sheep.”

Stephen served on many farming committees both nationally and locally and was a member of Craven Cattle Mart for 40 years. As its chairman, James said, he had steered the Mart through its move from the town centre to a new site.

“After retiring from full time farming he came off the board of Craven Cattle Mart and we were worried about how he would cope with the transition. We shouldn’t have worried. It was really the start of a whole new positive era of his life. We were immensely grateful for his unstinting support and his continued interest in the farm.

“He was encouraged to stand as Craven District Councillor and was voted on as a councillor for Calton Ward. Dad always took his responsibilities seriously whatever committee or organisation that he represented. He refused to be a Yes man, was strong minded and principled, despising unnecessary red tape.

“He soon found his natural forte was planning matters firstly with Craven District and then the Yorkshire Dales National Park’s planning committee. It didn’t matter who you were – friend or stranger. If you approached Dad for help, he would listen to your case, investigate it diligently, and if he thought it was right, he would support you. It’s only in recent days, reading your letters, that I realised quite how many people of all backgrounds and situations Dad had helped.

“He continued to have an active interest in planning matters long after he stepped down from being a councillor. He was an active member of the Association of Rural Communities and campaigned vigorously for sensible planning decisions.”

Stephen had many other interests. He acquired his love of cars from his father and at Cirencester became friends with the racing driver, Jack Sears. He went on to race saloon cars at amateur level rubbing shoulders with the likes of Stirling Moss, James said. He never lost his love of fast driving or his adventurous streak. He liked skiing, sailing and travel, and went on a trekking holiday on the Everest base route. And back at home he enjoyed painting, wood turning and gardening.

He and his wife participated in all aspects of local community life. He played cricket with the Kettlewell team, was a regular performer in amateur theatre productions, and was an early member of the Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue providing support by using his four-wheel drive tractor and jeep.

James described him as a loving father and grandfather. “It is safe to say Dad led a full and an accomplished life. He will continue to inspire us for many years to come.”

To that Joanna Rycroft added: “Grandpa was a gentle giant and had a heart of gold. We are all incredibly proud of being his grandchildren and will miss him enormously.”

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Stephen first became a member of Craven District Council when he was elected for what was then the Calton Ward in 1994. He then represented the Gargrave and Malhamdale Ward from 2002 until his retirement from the district council in 2012.

He was chairman of the district council from 2001 to 2002, and served on various committees including planning, licensing, community services, economic development, regeneration and development, environmental services, and estates and leisure.

Stephen represented the district council on various bodies including the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority from 1998 to 2002, and again from 2006 to 2012.

We on the ARC committee will miss him greatly.

The future of West Burton school

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Leaving the Bainbridge, Askrigg and West Burton Federation of schools (BAWB) may be the only way of saving West Burton CofE School parents said on May 1.

They told Burton cum Walden annual parish meeting that the latest bussing option put forward by the governors of BAWB would lead to the closure of West Burton school.

In its newsletter on April 20 the BAWB Federation stated that “Option 3A” provided the best opportunities for all its pupils and would get the federation back on track financially. It asked parents to help successfully implement the changes which would, it said, benefit their children.

According to a letter sent to parents on April 19 by BAWB that option would involve bussing all the Key Stage 1 and Foundation Stage children (aged four to seven) from West Burton to Bainbridge for lessons each day. This would  leave only  17 children at West Burton school.

At the meeting in West Burton village hall parents said that after two years at Bainbridge school their children would want to remain with their friends and so not return to West Burton.

West Witton parish councillor Graham Bottley said: “If we don’t do anything the school will be closed. I don’t want to stand by and let that happen. If it is defederated and then closes the school can say it had control of its own destiny. It needs a period of stability to allow the school to thrive.”

“We have been asking for years to have a West Burton school parent on the governing board of BAWB. Because we have no representation we don’t know what they are talking about. We only get the final decision.”

He said that in the past two years there had been various proposals for bussing children between the three schools which had created uncertainty and instability. Some parents had, therefore, chosen to send their children elsewhere and so the numbers at West Burton school  had decreased.

Like other West Witton parents he was against an option which would lead to the youngest children travelling by bus to West Burton and then on another to Bainbridge each day.

He mentioned the proposed new housing development at West Witton where over 60 per cent of the applicants for the affordable homes were young families. If there wasn’t a good school nearby they were likely to choose to live elsewhere and this would affect the dynamics of the village as the community needed a range of age groups, he said.

North Yorkshire County councillor John Blackie reported that at a recent meeting at the Aysgarth Falls Hotel  21 parents of children at West Burton school had unanimously agreed that if Option 3A was approved the school should become independent again.

Cllr Blackie added: “My own view is that if 3A is adopted there won’t be a West Burton school by September next year.”

Cllr Bottley said he believed an independent West Burton school would be viable and could be de-federated by September this year. “It is quite a short process,” he said. He explained that if the BAWB governors rejected a proposal for de-federation the parents could then apply to the Department of Education.

Fran Cartwright said the parents would not decide on what action to take until after the BAWB governors reach a decision on Option 3A on May 10. She  added: “If we do de-federate we will get control of our own budget.”  The consultation period on Option 3A ends on May 3.

Cllr Bottley said that according to their provisional budget an independent West Burton school would make a small loss for a few years. “At the moment the federation is seeing very big losses which the county council is supporting,” he added.

Juliet Madden, who leads collective worship at West Burton school each week, reminded the meeting that when West Burton school joined BAWB it had £70,000 in the bank but that had now all gone.

She praised the teaching staff at West Burton who had maintained an excellent atmosphere even when there were so many  uncertainties. “We have two excellent teachers who do not know if they will be teaching in September,” she said.

Burton cum Walden parish councillor Rowland Dent told the parents: “You have had the experience of being in the federation and clearly you don’t like it. The school has had a good report in the past and good finances so there’s no reason why it can’t return to that – rather than this fickle system where you are being treated like children.”

Parents said that they would like to see the  collaboration between Bainbridge, Askrigg and West Burton schools continue and believed  that the future of Bainbridge and Askrigg schools would not be undermined if West Burton school left the federation.

Above: West Burton school (on left) is an important and integral part of the community.

Wensleydale Concert Series – Yasmin Rowe

yasmin_rowePianist Yasmin Rowe captivated her audience at St Andrew’s, Aysgarth, on April 21 with a memorable performance for the Wensleydale Concert Series which encompassed music by Bach, Bartok, Beethoven and Schumann.

She is well known for her eclectic performances and this was certainly true in the first half with the complete contrast between Bach’s Partita No 2 in C Minor to her commanding and dramatic rendition of Bartok’s Suite for Piano Op.14.

One of the most memorable performances of the evening, however, was the second movement of Beethoven’s Sonata No 7, Op. 10. She fluently used the full range of the keyboard to share the phases of melancholic depression offset by those fleeting moments of joyful, tingling highs.

She finished with an exuberant and thoroughly enjoyable performance of Schumann’s Humoreske Op. 20.

This was an excellent start to this year’s Wensleydale Concert Series (WCS). On May 12 Tanya Anisimova is presenting a solo cello recital at Aysgarth church which will include works by JS Bach, Marais, Kodaly and herself. Carol Haynes of the WCS has arranged Anisimova’s first visit to the UK.

Her itinerary includes leading a masterclass in Carperby village institute on Saturday May 12 and a cello workshop on Sunday May 13. Anyone who participates in the masterclass and workshop (costing £65) will receive a free ticket to the concert at Aysgarth church. Anisimova is also giving a solo recital at Ushaw College Chapel in Durham on Saturday May 19, followed on the Sunday by a Schumann Cello Concerto study day with the Cobweb Orchestra at Eldon Community Centre. For more details about her British tour see the Wensleydale Concert Series website.

The next three WCS concerts are all at Aysgarth church: the Treitler Quartet with pianist Nico de Villiers on Saturday June 16; a clarinet and piano recital by Peter Cigleris and Martin Cousin on Thursday July 12; and a recital for violin and piano by Martyn Jackson and Petr Limonov on Saturday August 11.

There are three more concerts in the series this year two of which being afternoon ones in Carperby village hall: The New World String Trio on Sunday September 9; and an afternoon of baroque instrumental and vocal music with the Eboracum Baroque on Sunday November 4.

Two favourites of the WCS series, pianist Daniel Grimwood and violinist Fenella Humphreys, return on Saturday September 29 for a chamber music concert at Aysgarth church. As part of a fundraising idea of the WCS (which is now a registered charity) they have agreed to participate in a concert with two amateurs – Michael Cave, a superbly talented flautist, and Carol Haynes (making her debut as a cellist in a chamber concert).

It is now possible to buy a season ticket for this year for £75 which is equivalent to a saving of two concerts on the advance booking price of £12.50 or three concerts at the door price of £15. See www.wensleydaleconcertseries.co.uk for more information.

Presentation at Thornton Rust

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A year-long project to renovate the area in and around the car park and to create a picnic area at the Outgang in Thornton Rust has come to a successful end with the installation of an interpretation board.

The board, which tells the story of how West Beck was used in the past to wash sheep, was included in a grant from the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s Sustainability Fund.

“These small projects are so exciting and so memorable,” commented YDNPA officer Andrea Burden when she was in Thornton Rust to celebrate with villagers.

The YDNPA’s Champion for Sustainable Development, Chris Clark, presented Aysgarth and District Parish Council with a cheque for £3,740 from the fund towards the cost of the refurbishment.

He said: “It is absolutely fantastic that communities like Thornton Rust have come together to improve this facility and the environment.”

In response Thornton Rust parish councillor David Pointon said: “I want to thank all those who have been so deeply involved in this and the YDNPA for its support.  I know most people in the village have contributed in one way or another – everybody has done their little bit which just shows that this village is the best one to live in in the Dales!”

The project began in March 2017 when the state of the Outgang car park was discussed at Thornton Rust Parish Meeting. Cllr Pointon commented that it was more like a patch of waste land,  very uneven, and with no proper surface for parking on.

A team of volunteers was formed, led by Mark Sheard, to organise and carry out the work. The initial clearance work was done with the support, on a voluntary basis, of Tim Kilvington with his digger.

During the summer of 2017 some of the villagers worked very hard not just within the parking area but also around West Beck and the lane leading to the moors. In doing so they revealed features of the village’s agricultural and social past including how a pool was created in the beck up until the beginning of the 20th century so that sheep could be washed before being clipped.

Eleanor Scar and her brother Owen Metcalfe provided information about that and had photographs taken by Dr Werner Kissling of a re-enactment in the early 1960s. Copies of some of those photographs are on the interpretation board.

The full story of that re-enactment is told in the November 2017 edition of Now Then which is available at the Dales Countryside Museum in Hawes, price £2.

Mr Sheard and Martyn Donno have also restored the old pots which were used for boiling up the dipping mixture used in the 1960s.

Mr Donno commented: “The [National Park] had the vision to see that it was worth doing and put their trust in us – we are grateful for that. It is quite interested in the sheep dip because there are few of those left intact. So we wanted to show how it used to work.”

The grant from the YDNPA also made it possible to install a picnic table and a bench beside West Beck.

From the car park there is a bridleway to Thornton Rust Moor and then, via a permissive footpath, to the site of an ancient settlement at the top of Addlebrough.

For those who don’t want to go so far there is a gentle walk up to the old lime kiln and into the Kennel Field where there is a seat overlooking the village.

For more about the Outgang project click here.

Below: Chris Clark (left) presenting the cheque to Cllr John Dinsdale (chairman of Aysgarth and District Parish Council)  and Cllr David Pointon.

Mark Sheard (left) and Martyn Donno with the interpretation board

Looking up the Outgang towards the car park and the moors beyond.

Three men on a bench: Chris Clark, Mark Sheard and Martyn Donno

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Tom Knowles – an obituary

TomThe rich family life of Tom Knowles was celebrated at the St Peter and St Paul RC church in Leyburn – and it was for his family and as someone who cherished and loved to share the beauty of the Yorkshire Dales that he founded the Association of Rural Communities.

“Grandad taught us family is an important support centre.,” Sarah Jayne Mitchell said in her tribute to him, during which his other grandchildren and some of his great grandchildren joined her at the front of the church to say their own quiet farewell.

She told a packed church that Tom had been born in Durham in August 1933 and baptised Thomas Henry. His family moved to Darlington five years later and after he left school he went into farming in Wensleydale with the Iveson family at Wensley.

He met Margaret Lambert at a National Farmers’ Union dance in Leyburn in 1953 and they married two years later. Tom commented after she died four years ago: “We loved working in each other’s company and we were a great loving team.”

When they moved to Westholme near Aysgarth in 1958 it was just a small dairy farm. Not long afterwards they were asked by the then Vicar of Aysgarth, the Rev John Benson, if they would let boy scouts camp there two to three weeks a year.

Soon after this they started catering for the parents of boy scouts and many others for Tom and Margaret certainly understood how important it was to encourage people on more restricted incomes to visit the Dales. Some of those people later came to live in the area.

Local people also enjoyed the food at the camp site restaurant and the discos. “Many of us were lucky enough to share those days. We now have some great memories of the beautiful place at the end of the rainbow known as the ‘wreck’”, said Sarah. But Yorkshire Dales National Park planning officers tried to close the campsite and eventually created a situation whereby the site could become a luxury lodge park where campers and touring caravans were not welcome. (see below)

After Tom and Margaret took over a bed and breakfast business with a restaurant in 1988, Tom became an Aysgarth and District parish councillor. He was remembered at this year’s Aysgarth Township meeting as being a generous man who bought the village its first Christmas tree with lights.

His experience as a parish councillor made him well aware of the growing anger towards what was then the Yorkshire Dales National Park committee and he poured out his frustration in a letter to the D&S in 1995. Even he was surprised by the huge response to that letter.

He spent the last part of that year attending large angry meetings from Askrigg and Garsdale to Kettlewell and the Association of Rural Communities was born. As the association’s president he summed up very clearly in 1998 some of the major problems facing the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority.

“The Yorkshire Dales should be a prosperous area with young people able to have families in thriving villages and towns, and able to earn a living without having to leave their local communities. The most important issue facing the YDNPA is how they can improve the local economy which is necessary to keep the younger generations employed in the area. Instead they are being driven out as there are too many second homes and holiday homes,” he said.

He continued helping to monitor YDNPA planning meetings for the association after he and Margaret moved to Spennithorne in 1996. Retirement also gave him time to indulge in cooking and baking.

Sarah explained: “Grandad had many hobbies which included painting, gardening and baking. This made him well known in [local] show circles for winning many cups and prizes.”

Tom and Margaret had three children – Carolyn Bowe (who died in 2003), Jacquie Dinsdale and Tony Knowles, as well as 13 grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren with one more due on what would have been his birthday.

Father James Blenkinsopp officiated at the funeral mass and the bearers were Tom’s grandsons: Paul Knowles, Stephen Bowe, and Keith, Stuart, Ryan and Chris Dinsdale.

The collection of £470 will be shared between St Peter and St Paul RC church and Yorkshire Air Ambulance.

Tom began writing to the planning department in 2007 asking about the basis on which the holiday park at Westholme was being remodelled. The Association of Rural Communities assisted him and after several letters it found out that the planning department had given approval for the remodelling on condition that the site could no longer be used for pitching tents, touring caravans, trailer tents or mobile homes. This, it was stated, would be for the “benefit to the natural beauty of the landscape” partly because there would be no brightly coloured tents. The site has now become a multi-million pound eco lodge site.

Communication masts in the Yorkshire Dales

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County councillor John Blackie has ensured that the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s planning committee will decide on what type of masts should be erected in Upper Swaledale in a bid to provide communities there with 21st century communications. (Above – looking across Upper Swaledale)

This is because, he said, a monopole mast has been approved for High Seal Houses in Arkengarthdale by a planning officer under delegated powers which will be solely for the use of the Emergency Services and can’t be shared with other mobile communications operators.

At the April meeting of the YDNPA planning committee a planning officer recommended that the application for a lattice mast on Malham Moor, which could be shared with other suppliers, should be refused. He said that as it was part of the Home Office’s Emergency Services Mobile Communications Programme a monopole would be sufficient and have less impact on the landscape.

YDNPA member Neil Swain, who acts as the landlord for the National Trust site on Malham Moor, had asked the committee to consider the application because, he said, mobile communications were at the very forefront of the needs of modern families and, therefore, a key element in trying to attract more families to live and work in the Park.

The majority of the committee approved the application because, as two said, the lattice mast will be strong enough to be shared with commercial operators and will not have a significant impact upon the landscape.

Following that meeting Cllr Blackie hopes that it is not too late to reappraise the decision regarding the mast at High Seal Houses in Arkengarthdale.

He has told Arkengarthdale Parish Council: “This may be a last chance for several years to secure mobile communications in Arkengarthdale and Upper Swaledale, which we all agree are both communications black spots of the highest order; but if the YDNPA is going to allow mast operators to get away with installing equipment that does not facilitate mast sharing then, given the huge importance of mobile reception in everyday life, it is consigning our deeply rural communities to a bleak future and an increasing spiral of ultimate decline.”

He has pointed out that in Keld and Langthwaite there is not only no mobile phone service but no terrestrial TV or radio signal either. When BT installed Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) to Keld in late 2017 it refused to put Angram on the circuit even though the fibre cable passes through it, nor will all properties in Keld be offered FTTP.

He added that in Langthwaite’s telephone exchange the aluminium underground wiring was so worn out that it was unfit for purpose and unsuitable for broadband via Fibre to the Cabinet. A resident there who lives 100 yards or so from the Dale road was quoted £29,000 by BT to be provided with a telephone line, he said.

He noted that the lack of such 21st century communications facilities means that primary and secondary school children cannot work at home on homework that requires them to have access to the internet; and that farmers cannot submit stock records and claims for subsidies online.

The largest employers in the local economy in Keld and Langthwaite, he said, were the accommodation providers. But they are losing trade due to the lack of internet connection, both for making bookings and because their guests expect to be able to communicate with the outside world!

“We have traditionally relied on a high loyalty factor…but the lack of modern communication provision is eroding this very important return visit source of business. It is especially important to visiting young families with children/teenagers to have a mobile phone service available so they can keep in touch with their friends whilst they are away on holiday,” Cllr Blackie added.

He has strongly urged Arkengarthdale and Muker Parish Councils to contact Rishi Sunak MP as they had been assured by him that the new communications masts would be capable of being shared.

The two masts proposed for Upper Swaledale are at Crowtrees and Birkdale Common in Muker Parish.

April 26 2018 – UPDATE

“Working together, and using the oxygen of publicity to highlight our plight, in six days we have turned monopole [telecommunication] masts, which will not accept any mobile service providers’ masts, into new planning applications by the Home Office for lattice masts that will accept equipment by all the mobile phone operators, should they wish to provide it. At least for the mast at High Seal Houses, Arkengarthdale, and Crow Trees near Muker. And there is every indication we can get the Home Office to change the application  at Birkdale Common near Keld to a lattice mast,” North Yorks County Cllr John Blackieannounced today.

He thanked the ARC News Service, Richmondshire Today and the Darlington and Stockton Times for helping to publicise the issue. He continued:

“All this stemmed from the planning committee meeting at the YDNPA last Tuesday week, where members (I seconded the proposal) overturned an officer recommendation for a monopole mast at Malham [Moor] only suitable for use by the emergency services in favour of a lattice mast capable of taking a number of mobile telephone service providers. This led on to my research of the policy and emerging permissions at the YDNPA for the masts in the Upper Dales,”

He was in contact with Arkengarthdale Parish Council which contacted Richmond MP Rishi Sunak as he had promised last September that the new masts being commissioned by the Home Office to provide coverage for the emergency services could also be used by commercial operators to provide 4G and broadband services to such remote communities.

Mr Sunak did take up the issue with the Home Office and the YDNPA and stated today: “In correspondence I had with the Minister last year, it was made clear to me that the company building the masts – EE – would be offering a commercial service given that the Government  was meeting the cost of building the structures in the most remote rural areas like the Dales. Further, the design of the masts would facilitate their use by other mobile operators where possible and commercially viable.

“So it is very important that we don’t close off that possibility by erecting masts capable of only meeting the needs of the emergency services.”

He said he would write to the YDNPA asking it to fully take into account the Home Office Minister’s guidance on mast shareability when considering any future mast applications.

The YDNPA reported today that the Home Office had applied to build five telecommunications masts in some of the remotest parts of the national park as part of a new “Emergency Services Network” (ESN) to be built by EE.

Those approved for  Malham Moor and land off the B6255 in Widdale were for lattice masts which can be shared with commercial operators, unlike the “telegraph pole” mast approved for High Seal Houses. The applications for “telegraph pole” masts on Birkdale Common west of Keld and at Crow Tree Farm have not yet been approved.

The YDNPA stated it had now asked the Home Office’s agents to amend the application for Crow Tree Farm to a slim lattice tower design. And Mr Sunak  said that the Home Office has confirmed it will make a fresh application for that at Seal Houses Farm for a mast which will carry commercial operators’ equipment.

YDNPA Head of Development Management, Richard Graham, said:  “The Authority’s policies recognise the masts as ‘essential infrastructure’.  It has been our job to work with the Home Office and EE to make sure the masts are designed and sited in such a way as to bring about maximum benefit while minimising their visual impact where we can.

“Much of the public debate is about whether the masts should be lattice towers or monopoles.  Towers have a clear advantage, in that they are big enough to be shared by other commercial operators.  But two linked considerations count against them. First, all the evidence suggests it is highly unlikely that other telecoms companies are going to want to step in to use these masts – because it just isn’t commercially viable for them to do so.  Second, lattice towers have a greater impact on the landscape than monopoles.

“The key point is that all the masts will be capable of doing the job for the emergency services and carrying a commercial service for EE customers – if EE choose to make that investment.”

He has pointed out that, due to its location, the mast at Birkdale would not provide coverage for the communities of Upper Swaledale.

YDNPA and the conversion of traditional barns

Converting roadside traditional barns was heralded as a vital element of the new Yorkshire Dales Local Plan in 2016 and has become one of the most successful ways of providing new homes for local people. But now it seems that policy is at a watershed. (The barn at Bouldershaw Lane, Arkengarthdale.)

The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) has reported that of the 79 proposals for new homes made between December 2016 and October 2017 50 were for converting roadside barns and other buildings.

Not everyone is happy about that. In his letter to the Authority’s chief executive, David Butterworth, last year Mark Corner, the chairman of the Friends of the Dales (formerly the Yorkshire Dales Society) stated: “The definition of ‘roadside’ barns seems to permit development along very minor roads or tracks into ‘open country’. In some cases this will have an adverse effect on the Dales landscape… We are concerned at the potential cumulative impact of barn conversions on the landscape and the attractiveness of villages.”

And this month a planning officer warned that if the YDNPA planning committee approved a proposal to convert a barn at Oughtershaw it would set a new benchmark for the policy.

In addition, the committee has to consider the implications of a planning inspector overturning its decision to refuse permission for the conversion of a barn between Starbotton and Kettlewell. The inspector ruled that converting the barn (Tug Gill Lathe) would not have a detrimental impact upon the character and appearance of the National Park.

At the planning meeting in May 2017 the chairman of the Authority, Craven District councillor Carl Lis, commented that if permission was granted for Tug Gill Lathe others could seek approval to convert barns in Wharfedale which were not as well hidden. “This is a step too far,” he said.

Another committee member, Ian McPherson, remarked: “Once we set the precedent of allowing roadside barns in that kind of landscape [to be converted] then, in my view we might just as well go home because we are not fulfilling the first statutory purpose that the National Park is basically all about.”

The planning inspector, however, stated: “I have considered the Council’s [YDNPA’s] argument that the grant of planning permission would create a precedent for other proposals. However, no directly similar sites were put forward and the particular characteristics and location of the site are readily distinguishable.

“In my opinion the proposed additions and alterations comprise the minimum necessary to enable the conversion to proceed and in other regards the external appearance of the appeal site would remain largely unaltered. The proposal would conserve the landscape and scenic beauty of the National Park and would also preserve the character and appearance of the existing building.”

Recently the Authority underlined the necessity of creating more homes for local occupancy. It stated that new homes will support the economy, Dales’ communities and the facilities they rely on, such as schools. Its objective, according to the Local Plan, is to increase the supply and range of new housing (including affordable and local occupancy) by 55 dwellings per annum.

It explained: “The target of 55 .. is almost twice the projected rate of household growth up until 2030 but still only half the estimated shortfall of affordable housing. It is, however, equivalent to the average rate of actual housing completion over the last 12 years, so is firmly rooted in deliverability”

In its draft Management Plan, however, the Authority states it will support the completion of at least 325 new dwellings in a range of tenures, sizes and types by 2023. It accepts that this is an ambitious target which is well above the “objectively assessed need”.

It notes: “Delivery will be challenging as developable land is almost wholly privately owned, is not freely available or commands unrealistic expectations of value. .. The focus remains on delivering housing that is affordable or satisfies local needs.”

The figures show that the one way that local needs are being met is by allowing more traditional barns to be converted into dwellings if they can be defined as “roadside” and without any “significant” extensions.

One of the barn conversions that the Friends of the Dales objected to was that at Bouldershaw Lane in Arkengarthdale last year. The chairman of Arkengarthdale Parish Council, Stephen Stubbs, told the planning committee:“We have to start protecting and developing the Dale now and we have to find affordable accommodation for tomorrow’s generations. Part of the remit of the Yorkshire Dales National Park has to be to assist us in resolving this difficult dilemma.”

The Association of Rural Communities (ARC) has supported and campaigned for the conversion of traditional barns for local occupancy since its inception in 1995.

Its late founder and president, Tom Knowles, stated in 1998:“The Yorkshire Dales should be a prosperous area with young people able to have families in thriving villages and towns, and able to earn a living without having to leave their local communities. The most important issue facing the YDNPA is how they can improve the local economy which is necessary to keep the younger generations employed in the area. Instead they are being driven out as there are too many second homes and holiday homes.”

YDNPA – Barn conversion appeal decision

Tug Gill Lathe between Kettlewell and Starbotton in Wharfedale can become a two-bedroom local occupancy dwelling following the Appeal Decision of a planning inspector who ruled that the barn conversion will not have a detrimental impact upon the character and appearance of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. In May last year the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority ’s (YDNPA ) planning committee refused an application by Margaret Rhodes to convert the barn.

The majority of the members accepted the planning officer’s assessment that the creation of a dwelling at Tug Gill Lathe would have a significantly harmful effect on the highly distinctive landscape of Upper Wharfedale due to its residential curtilage, car parking, external and internal lighting and other domestic usage.

The chairman of the YDNPA, Craven District councillor Carl Lis, commented then that if permission was granted for Tug Gill Lathe others could seek approval to convert barns in Wharfedale which were not as well hidden. “This is a step too far,” he said.

Another committee member, Ian McPherson, stated: “Once we set the precedent of allowing roadside barns in that kind of landscape [to be converted] then, in my view, we might just as well go home because we are not then fulfilling the first statutory purpose that the National Park is basically all about.”

Miss Rhodes’ agent, Robert Groves, told the committee: “A small respectful conversion as this one, occupied by the applicant who has a high respect for the landscape, can protect the environment and landscape better rather than, say, the barn reverting back to some other use or being derelict and the land slipping from being within the controlled schemes of Natural England to more unrestrained farming practices.”

The planning inspector stated: “I have considered the Council’s [YDNPA’s] argument that the grant of planning permission would create a precedent for other proposals. However, no directly similar sites were put forward and the particular characteristics and location of the site are readily distinguishable.“

In my opinion the proposed additions and alterations comprise the minimum necessary to enable the conversion to proceed and in other regards the external appearance of the appeal site would remain largely unaltered. The proposal would conserve the landscape and scenic beauty of the National Park and would also preserve the character and appearance of the existing building.”

He added that Natural England had stated that there would be no adverse impact upon the Upper Wharfedale Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in which the barn is situated, nor on the River Wharfe SSSI nearby.

There will be a legal agreement so that it remains a local occupancy dwelling, and the conditions include compliance with the plans and the removal of permitted development rights so that the YDNPA retains control over any future development.

Easter fun and a farewell at Aysgarth church

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The Easter Sunday service at St Andrew’s Church, Aysgarth has become a great family favourite and this year there was lots of fun for the children – and a special farewell to organist Richard Wilkinson.

He has been the organist for 20 years and many contributed to the farewell gift which was presented to him by John Foster (above – L to R, Rev Yeadon, Richard and John) .

John commented: “To be a church organist is a big commitment – much more than just playing on Sundays. Richard has brought to it an encyclopaedic knowledge of church and organ music. He has served us incredibly well.”

Members of Aysgarth Methodist chapel were at the service because Dr Wilkinson has been a local preacher in the Methodist circuit since 1987.

There were also many families because of the special Easter activities for children. They and the adults thoroughly enjoyed the Rev Penny Yeadon’s talk in which she used, with the help of some of the youngsters, Easter eggs to explain the Easter story and the importance of Christ’s resurrection. Then the children had gone into the Lady Chapel to paint hard-boiled eggs and create their own miniature gardens. Some members of the church had certainly put a lot of work into making it a fun service.

When it ended everyone accepted the Rev Yeadon’s invitation to sit and listen to Richard play the Chorale Improvisation for Organ No 65 by Siegfried Karg-Elert: Nun danket alle Gott (Now thank we all our God). He was warmly applauded – and then the children with their parents and grandparents went outside to enjoy rolling the eggs they had decorated.

Later Richard (who never accepted payment as an organist) said: “I would have very gladly paid the church for the privilege of playing at St Andrew’s because it’s a marvellous organ and they are super people there. I love playing at the services.

“It is a Victorian organ but it is, in fact, remarkably like the organs of the Bach day – astonishingly similar. So it is perfectly possible to play Bach satisfactorily on it.”

The organ was installed in 1880 by M Abbot of Leeds from a design by J M Bottomley of Middlesbrough.

Richard will be playing at a few more services at St Andrew’s before he and his wife, Ann, move to Warwickshire on June 1. Geoff Hirst is now the chief organist at St Andrew’s.

Below: Richard and Geoff chatting before the service

and a little boy concentrating on rolling an egg

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Community First Responder

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This month I have returned to the Carperby Community First Responder (CFR) team after a 10-week break. Our team owes a big thank you to David Brampton who remained on call for days on end in February when others were not available. We would love some more to join us…. I wrote this article for the Upper Wensleydale Newsletter to explain why community first responders are so needed. Above: our first responder kit complete with defibrillator and oxygen.

I’ve been a community first responder for 13 years and I have never been so aware of the need for more volunteers especially in mid Wensleydale.

I’ve never had many “shouts” since joining the Carperby CFR team but when I have been sent by the ambulance service to a patient I have always been surprised at how useful someone like myself can be. The only training I’ve ever had has been with the Ambulance service. Since July 2006 that has been with the Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS) which ensures we have the skills and knowledge to deliver emergency first aid and resuscitation until the arrival of a health care professional.

Sadly these days we often have to wait longer for an ambulance to arrive because slowly but surely the hospital facilities we require in our rural area have been moved further and further away from us. This means that the ambulance based at Bainbridge can be out on a shout for five hours or more if a patient needs to be taken to the James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough. While it is unavailable, ambulances have to be sent from Richmond, Northallerton, Harrogate, Pately Bridge or even further away.

As I found last year, for a patient living on their own the arrival of a first responder can be a great relief. A first responder can also take care of those little but oh so important jobs such as finding a neighbour to lock up the patient’s house and to make sure that their family knows what has happened. One of our team members has also sorted out care for pets while their owners were in hospital.

Last year I had a shout to assist a young couple parked in a layby somewhere between Aysgarth and Worton. They had started their journey in high spirits looking forward to a long walk up on the moors above Hawes. But then the man was struck down with severe chest pains.

I found them and gave oxygen therapy to the 25-years-old man until the ambulance arrived. He was then taken to hospital. But what about his partner? She didn’t know the area and was in no fit state to drive to Middlesbrough.

So I told her to follow me to my house. After an hour or so she felt able to travel to Middlesbrough safely. (Once there she learnt that he had pericarditis.)

On another occasion I was asked to attend even though the ambulance would arrive before me probably because the spouse of the patient needed help.

It is fulfilling serving our community in this way and I would encourage more to join us. Every little bit helps even if you can only be available a few days of each month.

The training course generally takes around 19 hours and may be held either in the evenings or at weekends. It includes how to use the automated external defibrillator and give cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and oxygen therapy, as well as an understanding of the various medical conditions one might encounter. We also have regular practical training sessions and six-monthly assessments with a very helpful and supportive Community Defibrillation Trainer.

(Sadly back problems forced me to retire as a CFR in November 2018.)

Wema – an inspirational centre in Mombasa

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One of Ann’s selfies – Ann is on the right, Esther on the left and me in the middle! For more of the photos she took on my iPad go to the  bottom of this article

A visit with my niece, Alex, to the Wema Centre Children’s Home at Bamburi in Mombasa where street children are rehabilitated was one of the highlights of my visit to Kenya in February. We were accompanied by Alex’s housekeeper, Martha Mwakio, who received a delighted welcome from several teenage girls at the centre because ten years ago she had been their housemother.

The girls were back home at the centre as it was the half term holiday at the boarding schools they now attend. Martha told us that they would have a home there until they were able to make a life for themselves elsewhere.

Wema means “well-being” and those girls are excellent examples of what is being achieved at the centre. They were full of vitality and confidence and were only too pleased to take us on a fun-filled two-hour tour of the centre.

First we had a delivery to make. I had brought some clothing and school equipment from England (below – photo by Alex), about half of which had been donated by Alison Kate Ofori-Atta, and Alex had bought some foodstuffs for the centre. To my surprise, some time later I was presented with an itemised invoice. This attention to detail and good housekeeping was obvious throughout our tour. Click on the picture below to see more photos on Flickr.

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That was so apparent in just how clean the whole centre was. Alex was astonished that when she gave the smallest boys lollipops they immediately put the wrappers in a waste bin BEFORE they began enjoying those sweets.

It wasn’t long before it was obvious that one of the girls, Ann, was probably more competent with an iPad than I was so I let her take photographs with mine. She and her friends had a lot of fun and I was very pleased with the results. The children at the centre are introduced to computers and modern technology very early.

The centre provides “work experience” at all levels. One group had donned tunics and were busy learning how to deep clean. In the next classroom a group of girls, under the guidance of Kathleen (one of Martha’s “girls”)  were learning to sew using treadle machines – a useful skill if later they don’t have access to electricity. Next door some were using electric sewing machines and fulfilling tailoring orders for local businesses.

We were then taken to see the dormitories. There the institutional nature of the centre was very apparent with tiers of beautifully clean and tidy bunk beds, each with their own mosquito net. Lockers along the walls provided the children with somewhere to keep their personal belongings. Even in such a regimented situation, however, one could feel the family atmosphere which was such an important part of the rehabilitation programme. (Below: Alex’s photo of a girls’ dormitory)

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The founder of the this charitable organisation, Kenyan businesswoman Lucy Yinda, wrote in her  MA (Sociology) degree thesis in 2009 (The Impact of Rehabilitation Approaches on the Education of Street Children in Mombasa Town) that parental love was one of the key factors in improving the children’s educational opportunities (p64). At the Wema centre which was founded in 1993 this is provided by housemothers although a lot of effort is also put into re-uniting children with their families.

Martha explained that the children at the centre were encouraged to remain in contact with their families and could return to them whenever they wanted. She described how one girl had been found under a tree with her aunt and her cousins. It was agreed that all the children would go to the Wema Centre. The girl’s mother, who was probably a prostitute, visited on occasions but the girl chose to remain part of the Wema family.

Mrs Yinda wrote: “Organizations that work with street children should ensure that children are rescued from the streets within the first two years of their entry into the streets. Such early intervention would give street children a much better chance of rehabilitation and/or continuing with the education system.” (Ibid p74) For that reason social workers from the Wema Centre are regularly scouring the streets to find children who have newly arrived.

Mrs Yinda explained: “Street children are orphans, run-a-ways, abandoned or neglected children for whom the ‘street’ including unoccupied dwellings, open fields, market places, have become their real home and/or source of livelihood. Street children characteristically exhibit anti-social behaviour such as theft, aggression and violence towards other people, and will usually occupy spaces in the city that are not fit for human occupation, such as abandoned buildings, under bridges and sewage holes. (Ibid p1)

“Kenya already has thousands of children living in the streets all over the country… They belong to an alienated social group of the poorest of the poor. The paradox is that street children need education in order to get out of poverty and on the other hand, it is a necessary pre-requisite to have a certain level of income in order to access education.” (Ibid p3 &6)

She has no doubt that street children in residential institutions have far greater opportunities for education due to residential care and provision of services such as food, clothing and medical care (Ibid ix) and that was why she took the first six girls she recovered from the streets into her own home in 1993 leading to the birth of the Wema Centre.

For many years the Wema Centre only took in just girls but now there is a boys’ dormitory as well. It was so evident from the girls that took us on that tour that by being rescued at a young age had given them the opportunity to look forward to a very different life to that they would have known if they had continued as street children.

They took us to see the “common room” which was equipped with a television and to the dining area with attached kitchen. In the latter a young man was mixing a large pot full of ugali (thick maize flour “porridge”) which was being cooked on a wood burning stove (Below – photo by Alex).

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Alex immediately thought of the big piles of wood at the bungalow which she rents from Bamburi Cement Limited (Photos on Flickr). (Alex is the Strategic Planning Officer at UN Assistance Mission in Somalia.)

Her garden is part of a conservation area and the company had recently had some old trees chopped down. She didn’t want those piles of wood left too long as they would attract rats, snakes and termites.

A quick chat with a Wema Centre staff member and the problem was solved. Within a day a team arrived from the centre to collect the wood which would fuel the stoves in the kitchens for maybe three weeks.

 

As we left the dining room we saw young girls filling buckets and bowls with water. Martha explained that even at such a young age the girls were expected to wash their own clothes.

We also visited the library, the small farm, the vegetable gardens and the fish pond.  And  we saw the boys’ dormitory which was just as clean – but with far fewer bunk beds as there are not many boys yet.

There are two Wema Centres (the other is at Thika) and both provide educational support for children who cannot leave the streets as they are helping to earn money for their families.

I’m definitely adding Lucy Yinda to my list of inspirational women! And the girls who took us around the centre were truly inspirational as well.

©Pip Land March 2018

Below: Two of Ann’s selfies, and one of Esther having fun. Do look at the photos of our tour by clicking on the photo of the boys receiving the clothes. 

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She can’t do that – she’s a girl

The suffragette movement definitely inspired me as a child. The fight for women’s right to vote made me believe that women could aspire to a more interesting and fulfilling life. But in the 1960s there were so many hurdles in the way.

The first time I heard someone say “She can’t do that – she’s a girl!” was when my mother was discussing my choice of secondary schools with the wife of my primary school headmaster. I had just got good grades in the 11-plus exam and had a choice between going to grammar school or to the technical school. Mrs Gray assumed my mother would send me to the technical school where I would learn some domestic skills. When my mother responded that I wanted to follow in the footsteps of my two brothers and go to grammar school Mrs Gray was  horrified. “She will only get married and become a housewife – what a waste!” she said.

Ever the rebel that just made me more determined. The first few weeks at the grammar school, however,  revealed more about the British class divide. My neighbours on the council estate where I lived decided that a grammar school girl was too stuck up to talk to – even if I was wearing a second-hand uniform and riding a bike which my father had created out of bits he had found on a rubbish dump. It took me years to prove to my working-class neighbours that I still wanted to be friends with them.

At the all-girls grammar school it took just a few days for many in my class to realise that I was from a council house estate. They didn’t speak to me for years. Some only did so on the memorable occasion when a female teacher announced that I was considering leaving school early.

I was in the second year of the sixth form and wondering what to do next. My first choice was to be a cartographer but I was told very firmly by the careers officer that women were not allowed to work in the field. All they were allowed to do, it seemed, was a nice little safe office job. I didn’t want to be a glorified shorthand typist. So I looked for a job I thought I would like where I could be on equal footing with men. I chose journalism – but how to get a foothold in that when I didn’t want to go to university first? That could be achieved, I was told, by getting to know local editors and to keep reminding them I wanted the next trainee journalist position that became available. (There were no diploma courses in journalism then.)  I was, however, a bit too successful because I got offered a job before my A-level exams.

So there I was sitting in a classroom being berated by the teacher and her sycophants about why I had to refuse that job. And guess what, someone said “You can’t do that – your a girl.” Even they thought journalism wasn’t a proper job for a woman.

I didn’t respond but, as rebellious as ever, I left the school within days and started work at the local weekly newspaper. Through the fog of cigarette smoke I could just about discern an office full of men – and it didn’t take long before I learnt that to them my role, as the only woman, was to make the tea.

About a month later I was delighted when I got a proper job – to report on the hearings at the magistrates court. When I got back most of the men were there and for once the chief reporter joined them. And why? Because they wanted me to report in full on a sodomy case. They thought they were in for a good laugh. I told them to b***** off and left. I returned to the office in the evening when they were gone to write my reports. The photographer was also working late and he earned my respect that evening for being kind and supportive.

Not surprisingly it turned out to be a long, hard apprenticeship but I did survive.

I’ve just celebrated my 70th birthday and that rebellious streak is still there. That’s why I regularly, on a voluntary basis, attend many meetings of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA). The Authority is a quango and has considerable power over the lives of people living from near Lancaster City in the south to part of Eden District in the north, as well as Wharfedale, Littondale, Wensleydale, Swaledale and Arkengarthdale.

These days local newspapers don’t have the staff to be able to cover its planning and full authority meetings. So when it comes to a big issue like whether the council tax on second homes should be increased by 500 per cent the press usually rely on what is given to them by the Authority, either by its press officer or its chairman. That did not include reporting that some members of the Authority did warn about the possible  undesirable consequences. Only the ARC News Service reported on that.

There have been so many occasions over the years when the views of local residents and even the Authority members would not have been reported if it hadn’t been for the ARC News Service.

Just some thoughts regarding the YDNPA:  For 11 years it was run  by just one man (Cllr Robert Heseltine). The Association of Rural Communities called for the Authority to have secret ballot votes when electing a chairman. In 1999, when the Authority did do that, it also decided that no-one could continue as chairman for more than four consecutive years. Now,  however, we seem to have a “revolving door chairman” because Cllr Carl Lis was elected chairman from 2004 to 2008 and  2009 to 2012, and has had a further two years in that post since 2016. Is he trying to equal Cllr Heseltine’s total?

What’s more – the  Authority has never had a female chairman.

YDNPA – Planning reports February to December 2017

ARC News service reports on YDNPA planning meetings in 2017. Issues discussed: Consulting parish councils; holiday lets or local occupancy; barn conversions and objections to these  by The Friends of the Dales (Yorkshire Dales Society).

There are reports on the decisions made on applications from the following towns and villages: Angram,  Appersett, Arkengarthdale,  Arncliffe, Askrigg, Bainbridge, Barbon, Barden, Bishopdale, Bolton Abbey, Buckden, Conistone, Cotterdale, Coverdale ( Forbidden Corner ),  Crosby Garret, Embsay, Tim’s Barn, Gayle, Grassington, Hudswell, Hawes, Kettlewell, Litton, Linton, Long Preston, Newbiggin in Bishopdale, Rylstone, Sedbergh, Stackhouse, Starbotton, Thoralby, Threshfield, and West Burton. And there was the apology made by Lancaster City Council concerning a barn conversion at Leck.

The villages and towns are listed in alphabetical order. (Above: Semerwater – see Countersett)

Pip Land attends the YDNPA meetings on a voluntary basis for the ARC News Service to ensure that reports are available to the public. No newspaper reporters attend these meetings and so the ARC News Service is the only independent source of information concerning those meetings. In doing so this service also provides an archive of more detailed reports than can be found in the minutes available from the YDNPA.  If you would like to support this service do join the Association of Rural Communities.

Consulting parish councils – February

Parish councils in the Yorkshire Dales National Park must give substantial reasons for either supporting or objecting to a planning application even when they don’t know what the planning officers will recommend.This was emphasised both at the YDNPA’s planning committee in February and  at Aysgarth and District Parish Council ’s meeting a week later.

At the latter meeting Pip Land of the Association of Rural Communities  reported that if a parish council did not give detailed reasons a planning officer could make a decision under delegated authority that was contrary to its recommendation. An application will only be dealt with by the planning committee if either a parish council has given substantial reasons for taking a different stance to a planning officer or if a member calls it in.

The chairman of the YDNPA’s planning committee, Richmondshire District Councillor Caroline Thornton-Berry, commented at the meeting of Aysgarth and District Parish Council that the problem was that a parish council did not know what a planning officer would recommend when asked for its opinion.

At the YDNPA planning committee members had called in three applications on the behalf of parish councils: the dormer extension at Wharfeside Avenue in Threshfield; Mystified Bungalow in Bishopdale; and for a new house in Barbon.

North Yorkshire County Councillor John Blackie had called in the Barbon application and explained: “It will demonstrate to the communities in the newly extended areas, unfamiliar with how planning application are decided at the YDNPA, the process of member call-in, and the importance of encouraging their parish councils to provide robust planning reasons to underline their replies to statutory consultations by the YDNPA.”

Holiday lets versus local occupancy – August

Richmondshire District councillor Yvonne Peacock pointed out during the meeting that two parish councils (Buckden and Bainbridge) had objected to converting traditional buildings for both local occupancy and holiday lets instead of for just local occupancy.

Bainbridge Parish Council was concerned about the proposed barn conversion at Countersett, and  Buckden Parish Council had objected to the conversion of the Village Tea Rooms.

She asked the members of the Authority to take note that parish councils in the north and the south of the National Park were very concerned as they knew how much the converted buildings were needed for local occupancy housing. She told them that there were now 34 holiday cottages and second homes in Bainbridge.

Buckden parish councillor Chris Clark  said that the parish councillors were not against converting the Village Tea Rooms into a dwelling but could only register their concern about holiday lets by lodging a strong objection.

Senior planning officer, Michele Clowes, explained that if traditional buildings like those at Buckden and Countersett were considered to be suitable for intensive residential use then it automatically followed that an applicant could apply for holiday let or local occupancy, or for both. If, however, the building was in an isolated  or sensitive location then the planning officers would recommend less intensive use – that is holiday lets.

NB: in Thornton Rust in Wensleydale 25 of the 50 dwellings are now holiday lets or second homes. And in Kettlewell in Wharfedale 19 of the properties which have been sold recently are now holiday lets or second homes.

“Our villages are dying,” commented a member of the Association of Rural Communities. But what can we do about it?

Debate about Barn Conversions (Appersett and Hawes) – November

Two decisions were deferred until bat surveys could be carried out in the spring because the wildlife conservation officer had recommended refusal as there was insufficient information that bats would not be harmed.  Both applications had been made by Myles Metcalfe for: Pike Hill Barn, Ashes, Hawes, to form a holiday cottage; and Mike Barn, Lanacar Lane, Appersett, for a local occupancy dwelling.

The only other objections were from the Friends of the Dales (formerly the Yorkshire Dales Society). It recommended refusal regarding Pike Hill Barn because of its location and adverse impact on the character of the local  landscape. And about Mike Barn its statement included: “There would be an unacceptable reduction in the special qualities of the National Park which would also adversely impact on its value to tourists.” The meeting was informed that the objection from the Friends of the Dales (FOTD) concerning Pike Hill Barn had been sent by its chairman, Mark Corner.

Hawes and High Abbotside Parish Council strongly supported that application but wanted to see the converted barn made available for long term lets for local occupancy.It also strongly supported the conversion of Mike Barn and stated: “This attractive barn will make an excellent home for a local family.” The planning officer recommended refusing both applications.

The objections from the FOTD were  in line with a letter Mr Corner recently sent to David Butterworth, the YDNPA chief executive officer. In this he said there had been a spate of applications since the introduction of the Authority’s new Local Plan which allows for roadside barns and those within groups of buildings to be converted.

Mr Corner stated: “The definition of ‘roadside’ seems to permit development along very minor roads or tracks into ‘open country’. In some cases this will have an adverse effect on the Dales landscape…We are concerned at the potential cumulative impact of barn conversions on the landscape and the attractiveness of villages. A case in point is the village of Thorpe. Five conversion applications have been made in the last year or so and we fear that such development will change the fine character of this location…

“We are aware that the Authority plans at some stage to review the impact of this policy and we would request, given the high number of applications coming forward and our concern regarding some of them, that this review takes place now.”

At the annual general meeting of the Association of Rural Communities it was pointed out that most of the applications for barn conversions in Thorpe were intended for local families who wanted to stay in that area.

Since August last year the Authority has approved the following conversions in Thorpe all with legal agreements: two barns and a coach house for local occupancy; one barn for either local occupancy or  holiday lets; and an agricultural workshop to become a holiday let. In addition permission was granted for a cottage to be re-occupied as an open market dwelling.

Angram – December

There was a very close vote when it was decided that an agricultural building should not be extended to under a metre from a neighbouring house. At present the agricultural building is 7.5m from Spion Kop in the hamlet of Angram in Swaledale.

By extending it to the east the building would be just 0.9m from that house and so very close to the ground-floor kitchen. The planning officer said this could mean the level of noise and smell associated with a building where there was livestock could go beyond what would reasonably be expected by residents even when living next to a farm.

The committee was divided between those who felt that a farming enterprise should be supported and those who felt that the close proximity to Spion Kop could not be ignored. Cllr Peacock argued that the area depended upon its farms and the agricultural building could already be clearly seen from Spion Kop. And Cllr Blackie pointed out that Muker Parish Council had unanimously supported the application.

But Jim Munday agreed with the planning officer and said: “We should support our farmers but in this instance there are alternative solutions.”

Six members voted to approve the application and seven were against it.

Arkengarthdale

It is often said that a picture is worth a thousand words – and that might be true about the photograph (above) taken by John Watkins of the barn off Bouldershaw Lane in Arkengarthdale. The slides shown by the planning officer did not include the view from the road, over the field gate, to the barn.

These days applicants are not allowed to distribute their own photographs to members at a meeting. This often means that members only see the views that the planning officers use to emphasise their own recommendations. At the meeting on March 14 Cllr Blackie asked if he could show Mr Watkin’s photo to members and the chairman, Cllr Thornton-Berry did give permission.

The planning officer recommended refusal because he considered that the work required to convert the barn for continuous occupation, including the new vehicular access with wide visibility splays, would have a harmful impact on the character and appearance of the Upper Swaledale and Arkengarthdale Barns and Walls Conservation Area and on the character of the building. He said it could, however, be converted for  holiday use.

In his speech the chairman of Arkengarthdale Parish Council, Stephen Stubbs, said: “Please don’t put another nail in the coffin of the sustainable future of Arkengarthdale as a thriving community.”

His plea was heard as the majority of the committee members voted to approve the application to convert the barn into a local occupancy home for Jack Stones.

As this was against the recommendation of the planning officer it will be discussed again at next month’s planning committee meeting. Some of the members emphasised that they wanted assurance that the supply lines to the barn would be undergrounded.

Cllr Blackie stated: “There is no way the Stones family would do anything to harm the Dale. Everything will be undergrounded to the property.”

He described this as a test case of the National Park’s new policy of allowing roadside barns to be converted into local occupancy homes. He, like several other members, felt that the barn was just close enough to a road and that, as only modest alterations would be carried out, there would be very little harm to the landscape.

Allen Kirkbride, the parish council representative for Wensleydale, Swaledale and Arkengarthdale, commented that the access to the barn was  similar to that at Burtersett which was approved in September 2016.

Cllr Stubbs told the committee:“Arkengarthdale is not just a community in the village as the restrictive, tightly drawn boundary suggests. The prescriptive boundary makes it virtually impossible for any developments in the Dale. Our community is actually widespread.

“I respect the Yorkshire Dales National Park and support them in most of their work and policies, although they do need to better represent and support sustainable local communities.”

He listed the facilities which had been lost such as the post office and the shops as it was so difficult for local young people and families to buy properties there.

One of those young people was Jack Stones whose grandfather (Clark) and father have undertaken the gritting and snow ploughing in Arkengarthdale since the 1970s, he said. But Clark Stones was no longer able to do that job anymore and Jack wanted to take over. If the gritting was not undertaken by a local contractor the roads during icy weather would not be treated until after 8.30am which was too late for the school bus.

“This has caused unnecessary risks to the children’s lives,” he added. He continued:

“Jack is fortunate to have employment in the Dale but he,  like other young people who have been priced out of the Dale, is struggling to find suitable, affordable accommodation. For example, last year, a three-bedroom semi-detached house near the barn sold for over £350,000. Rental opportunities are rare and a property not far from the barn costs £800 a month.

“Without young people and new families the Dale will not survive as a living, working Dale. It will become a museum for the privileged,” he argued.

“We have to start protecting and developing the Dale now and we have to find affordable accommodation for tomorrow’s generations. Part of the remit of the Yorkshire Dales National Park has to be to assist us in resolving this difficult dilemma.

“By proposing that this barn is suitable for a temporary tourist accommodation but has no viability as a permanent residence with a regulated local occupancy clause is deeply wrong ,” Mr Stubbs said.

The application was also supported by Reeth Parish Council because of the great need for local occupancy housing in the area and that this would be an appropriate use of such a barn.

The Highways Authority objected as it felt the access was unsatisfactory. And the Yorkshire Dales Society stated: “The Society is concerned about the precedent that would be set if this proposal for development of a field barn in open countryside, with the associated curtilage and access tracks, is permitted, and thus refusal is recommended. The small size of the proposed dwelling could lead to a future proposal to extend, and its possible use in connection with gritting operations could be disruptive to nearby properties.”

One resident also asked that the barn should remain undeveloped and stated: “If all the barns are slowly converted it will result in urban sprawl.”

(Another resident commented on Facebook that that would be difficult in Arkengarthdale.)

Arkengarthdale – April

The committee confirmed that a barn at Bouldershaw Lane in Arkengarthdale can be converted and extended to form a local occupancy dwelling.

The planning officer had recommended refusal because, she said, the application was not in accordance with the new policy which allows roadside barns to be converted into local dwellings.

The majority of the committee, however, agreed with Cllr Blackie that the barn was close enough to the road to be described as “in close proximity”. He also stated that, with the extension, the dwelling would be sufficient for a single person or a couple.

The head of development management, Richard Graham, warned about setting a precedent. “There will be a lot of barns in very similar situations to this one,” he said.

For this reason it was agreed that it should be made clear that approval was given on the basis that the barn was accepted as in close proximity to the road and converting it would not be detrimental to the landscape especially as the owner had agreed to underground all power lines and any other services to it.

The planning officer did argue that converting the barn would have a detrimental impact especially as it was in a conservation area. But several committee members believed this would be marginal in a dale where most of the dwellings were scattered and many had been converted from barns.

The decision was referred back to the committee for ratification as last month the majority had not accepted the planning officer’s recommendation.

Arncliffe –  February

As it was highly unlikely that a small domestic office at the bottom of  long garden at Rose Cottage in Arncliffe would become a separate dwelling the committee agreed that it could be converted into a holiday let.

The planning officer explained that it would be accessed through the garden of Rose Cottage and there was no realistic prospect of it becoming a separate permanently occupied residence. This material consideration made it possible to approve the application even though it was contrary to the Authority’s planning policy.

North Yorkshire County Councillor Robert Heseltine warned that the situation might change in the future. The chairman of the committee, Cllr Thornton-Berry, said that was why there would be a legal agreement tying the outbuilding to Rose Cottage and restricting its use to short-term holiday accommodation.

When converted the building will become a self-catering holiday let with a single living space with a bed, kitchenette and seating area, plus an en-suite and WC.

Askrigg – August

Cllr Peacock and Askrigg parish councillor Allen Kirkbride supported David Scarr’s application to convert part of his building at Beck Bitts near Askrigg into a three-bedroom dwelling which would allow a local plumber to live next door to the workshop. But the majority of the members accepted the recommendation of the planning officer that it would not be in accordance with policy.

Cllr Peacock agreed that it would be an exception to policy to approve the application but pointed out that the business employed local people who served local people. “To us it is essential that we keep these people.”

The danger was, she said, that they would give up and move to Leyburn to have more secure premises as there had been so many thefts from the workshop at Askrigg.

As a member of the local FarmWatch Cllr Kirkbride told members that the workshop had suffered the most break-ins of any premises in mid Wensleydale. The Police had stated that one way to reduce the problem was to have someone living at the site.

The majority, however, agreed with the planning officer that there was no justification for an exception to the “no dwellings in  the open countryside” rule unless they were required for workers in agriculture, forestry or other rural-based enterprise who had to live in a rural location.

“What is a necessary rural enterprise?” asked Eden District councillor Valerie Kendal. She argued that for rural communities plumbers were essential.

The planning officer had also stated that approval would be against the policies aimed at retaining the few commercial workshops in the National Park. He added that the creation of a dwelling would harm the character and appearance of the open countryside in a tranquil and visually attractive area.

Askrigg Parish Council had told the Authority that it was fully supportive of the application because it should improve the area and reduce possible crime.

Bainbridge – December

A decision concerning the application for five new affordable homes on land belonging to the Rose and Crown in Bainbridge was deferred because of the threat of legal action.

Mr Graham explained: “Officers have been working with the developer to produce a proposal which is considered acceptable and would deliver much needed affordable housing for local people. In assessing affordable housing proposals we rely upon the housing authority, the district council, to tell us whether they consider what’s being proposed is genuinely affordable. In this case what is proposed is housing for sale to local people at a price 30 per cent below the market value of the properties.

“The district council has confirmed that the discounted price … is similar to that for affordable houses just down the road. The district council had also confirmed that the discounted price may not be affordable to all people in housing in need but it would be to a proportion who cannot access the private market,” he said.

The Holmbrae 2016 Group of Bainbridge Residents had, however, disagreed. They had complained that residents had not had access to financial information relating to the discount to be applied to the sale price of the dwellings to ensure that these would be affordable. In their letter to the Authority they threatened that if the information was not released and the residents re-consulted on the proposal they would seek to quash any decision to approve by way of judicial review.

Mr Graham therefore recommended that members should defer the application to allow time for officers to consult further with the district council and to allow for a further period of consultation with residents. The members accepted his advice.

Barbon – February

The committee refused an application to construct a dwelling adjacent to Studds Hall in Barbon partly because it could lead to further housing development in a field.

Barbondale became part of the Yorkshire Dales National Park in August 2016 but the South Lakeland District Core Strategy still applies. This does allow for infill or the rounding off of an incomplete cluster of houses. The YDNPA planning committee, however, was not convinced that the application fitted either of those categories.

A former chairman of the Authority, Kevin Lancaster (a South Lakeland District Councillor who attended as a private citizen) explained to the committee that Barbondale was characterised by small clusters of dwellings. North Yorkshire County Councillor John Blackie compared this to the situation in Arkengarthdale.

Cllr Lancaster and the applicant’s agent, Anthea Jones, argued that the house would not disrupt this pattern of settlement. Ms Jones said that the application was different to that refused by South Lakeland District Council in June 2015 because the house would be built further back in the field to make it less visible.

She expressed surprise at the objections put forward by the Highways Authority concerning the access onto the main road as it  had not objected to the plans submitted in 2015. The house, she said, would make it possible for someone who has lived in the village all his life to continue living there.

It was pointed out that, in the past, permission had been granted for a small part of the field to be used for car parking.  Members Ian McPherson and Richmondshire District Councillor Stuart Parsons argued, however, that this had not disrupted the integrity of the field whereas the new house would.

The planning officer stated the green gaps between clusters of buildings was an important feature of Barbon and added: “To permit development of a section of an otherwise open field would result in a distorted building line opening up further land adjacent to pressure for future development, particularly between the proposed site and the highway.”

Barden – August

For the sake of animal welfare and to protect a farmer’s livelihood the committee voted to approve the erection of an agricultural building at Broad Park, Barden, beside Lower Barden Reservoir.

As that was against the officer’s recommendation the decision will have to be ratified at another planning committee meeting. The members were told it would not be referred back until the Authority had the information necessary for a Habitats Regulation s Assessment. The chairman of the committee, Cllr Thornton-Berry, told the applicant’s agent, Peter Williams, that it was up to him and the applicant (Gordon Banks) to provide that information very soon if the application was to be discussed at the September meeting.

Mr Williams had told the meeting: “The applicant did not feel able to attend in person today because of the magnitude of the occasion and the inevitable pressure he feels.

“I cannot stress enough the importance of the proposed facility to the applicant’s livelihood. This Authority has historically always been supportive of agriculture. In this case, despite strong agricultural need, the planning officer has refused from the outset to show any support to the applicant’s farming enterprise.” He asked the committee to support the development in its compromised form.

When the committee discussed the application in June this year it suggested that the proposed building should be smaller and built closer to other buildings at Broad Park. The applicant had new plans drawn up in accordance with this advice but had pointed out to the planning officer that the smaller building would accommodate only 30 per cent of his livestock at any one time and to reduce its size further would undermine his ability to provide the level of care required. The latest plans included an outdoor handling facility as the proposed building was smaller.

The planning officer, however, again recommended refusal. He explained that the land was owned by the Chatsworth Estate with most of Mr Banks’ tenancy being within a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). The buildings at Broad Park were not but were within the SSSI impact zone. The previous tenant, Mr Banks’ father, had had use of two traditional barns but these were no longer available to Mr Banks. It was stated that he lives about two miles from the farm and does need a building for his equipment and to care for the sheep during the lambing season.

The planning officer said: “The National Park policies would not generally support a new venture including a substantial new building in such an exposed location within the open allotment. It flies in the face of the landscape requirement and the purposes of the National Park and its Local Plan.

“Together with the lack of accommodation there has to be a concern as to the sustainability of the enterprise, but also the precedent of allowing such development in these particular circumstances.”

He had suggested an alternative site which, he said, had been dismissed out of hand on the basis that Chatsworth Estate might not agree to it as it was within the SSSI. “Without the Estate considering options they are dictating to us where development should be directed,” he added.

North Yorkshire County councillor Robert Heseltine said there was an absolute need for the building due to animal welfare and to support the farming enterprise. And Cllr Kendal argued that it was not a new enterprise as the applicant was already providing a service to other farmers as a sheep sheerer and shepherd.

Julie Martin told the committee that although she was not happy with the application for a variety of reasons which included the impact upon the landscape and the environment, she would not vote for refusal because a farming livelihood was at risk and that the new plans were a bit better than the previous ones.

“I don’t see that there is a realistic chance of a different location and a better proposal coming forward,” she said.

At the meeting in September the majority of the committee confirmed its approval of this application.

Bishopdale – April

An £850,000 redevelopment of Howe Syke farm in Bishopdale was given the green light by a large majority.

But that has to be confirmed at next month’s meeting because that decision was against the Authority’s policies stated the head of development management, Richard Graham.

One of the committee members, Chris Clark, warned that there might be problems with the agricultural element of the scheme proposed by Rob and Helen Brown due to Brexit.

“I admire hugely the entrepreneurial approach to this,” he said but explained: “Post Brexit there’s going to be a significant reduction of support …between ten to 40 per cent. No farm in the dales can manage without support. Our hill farmers are going to be in real trouble.”

Mrs Brown, however, told the committee: “Our goal is to build a viable dales farm that can survive the pressures of the post Brexit world using a combination of farming, shooting and tourism.”

Their planning application is for: the erection of an extension to the existing farmhouse which would incorporate the adjoining barn into the domestic accommodation; the erection of two semi-detached rural workers cottages; the conversion of a modern barn into five short-term holiday lets with associated garages; the extension of the existing site office to provide kitchen facilities; and the erection of two agricultural barns.

Mrs Brown explained that the holiday lets would be used by shooting parties during the shooting season and would then be available to other visitors. They not only needed good family accommodation for a gamekeeper, an apprentice gamekeeper and a farm manager, but also to improve the accommodation for themselves and their children, she said.

“It has taken three years of consultation with the Park’s officers and three pre-planning applications to put in this proposal,” she added.

But the planning officer recommended refusal. Two members of the committee agreed with him that it would set a bad precedent if the Authority did not adhere to the long-standing national policy not to approve any new housing development in the open countryside unless it met an essential need.

A consultant had reported that there was a need for just one gamekeeper to live on site. As there were so few sheep at present a farm manager could be accommodated in a caravan for a three-year period while the number was being increased to 1,000.

The planning officer said that the proposed conversion of the modern agricultural building would perpetuate the visual harm caused by it, and the new barns would cause further harm. He added that the proposed extension to the farmhouse and adjoining traditional barn would dominate and detract from the appearance, character and heritage of those buildings.

Several members, including Cllr Blackie, disagreed with all the reasons put forward for refusal. Cllr Blackie mentioned the declining population in Middle and Upper Wensleydale and pointed out that there were now only about 35 people living in Bishopdale compared to hundreds at the beginning of the 20th century.

The Browns, he said, were willing to put their time and effort and investment into regenerating the dale and already had a seven-year record of doing that through various green initiatives such as planting trees and installing hydro-electric power.

Ian McPherson was among those who agreed with him. He stated that the policies could be interpreted in various ways. “We could look at the detail and fail to take advantage of what could be a major source of employment. I think this is an adventurous project,” he said.

And Steve Macaré stated: “I think we should be bold and support this enterprise as the potential damage to the landscape [will be] minimal.”

Cllr Harrison-Topham in his final speech to the committee (he will not stand for election again) believed there was a functional need already for three workers and shooting parties would not want to stay there if there were caravans on the site.

Aysgarth and District Parish Council was praised by Allen Kirkbride for giving substantial reasons for supporting the application. “Without them this would not have been brought to this meeting,” he said.

Bishopdale – May

The majority of the committee again voted in favour of approving the application for the development at Howe Syke Farm in Bishopdale even though they were warned it could set a dangerous precedent.

Cllr Blackie told the committee that according to a business assessment the development had to be taken as a whole otherwise it wouldn’t work. “We need to be bold but not act blindly. It is an exceptional application because of the size of the investment proposed, the track record of the applicants [Rob and Helen Brown] who are willing to make that investment, and their past history which is very favourable.”

He argued that it was in accordance with the government’s National Planning Policy Framework because it would encourage economic growth and so help to sustain communities. This would regenerate a dale that has been dying, he said.

Richard Graham, the head of development management, warned that the application failed to comply with some of the fundamental principles in the Local Plan such as justifying the need for new agricultural buildings and staff accommodation. A consultant’s report had, he said, shown that only one dwelling for a staff member was needed at Howe Syke Farm.

He told the committee: “If members are still minded to grant permission I would be grateful if you could give clear reasons why this proposal is exceptional so that officers can explain to other applicants why this application has been dealt with differently.”

Julie Martin and Jim Munday warned that a dangerous precedent could be set. Mrs Martin agreed with Mr Graham that, if the application was refused, the Browns could still apply for permission to go ahead with the less contentious parts of the development.

But Brenda Gray commented: “I think we should be very careful before we turn down an opportunity like this.” And Cllr Heseltine added: “For future generations I will support this without reservation.”

Cllr Harrison-Topham believed that a consultant had not taken all the factors into consideration regarding the shooting business when assessing the need for staff accommodation.”He is wrong I am afraid,” he said.

This was his last planning committee meeting and the chairman, Cllr  Thornton-Berry thanked him for his long service on it. “He will be badly missed,” she stated.

The committee did accept Mr Graham’s recommendation that the development must be subject to a legal agreement to ensure that the buildings and holiday lets remained as a single interdependent enterprise by tying the land holding and farmhouse to the holiday lets, to control their occupancy for holiday purposes only, and to prevent any part of the development being sold off separately.

There must also be legal agreements regarding the conditions which include biodiversity enhancement, landscaping schemes, the specific use of the agricultural buildings and staff dwellings and the archaeological recording of the farmhouse and its adjoining barn. (It took about six months for these agreement to be prepared.)

Bolton Abbey – April

Approval was given for the unusual step of holding a site meeting before an application was discussed by the committee.

Mr Graham explained that the application was for converting the Tithe Barn at Bolton Abbey into a wedding venue. He stated: “It is a very important building in the Park. Hopefully we can find a suitable new use for the building.” The Tithe Barn is a Grade II* listed building and is within the Bolton Abbey Priory Scheduled Ancient Monument.

But before work can begin on the barn a new bat roost had to be constructed and that needed to be built during the summer, he said. As this was such a tight timetable he asked if the site meeting could be held at the end of April. The application will then come to the planning committee on May 9.

Bolton Abbey – May

Bolton Abbey could become one of the first places in Britain to have a bespoke bat house. When proposing that the committee should approve an application to convert the early 16th century Tithe Barn on the southern edge of Bolton Abbey village Ian McPherson, the Authority’s member champion for the natural environment commented:“I have not heard of a bespoke bat house being created before. It may not be the first time in this country but it’s an indication of the way the applicants seem to have approached this whole project.”

Will Kemp said the Trustees of the Chatsworth Settlement had worked with the Authority, Historic England and others, for five years to develop the plan for converting the Tithe Barn into a wedding venue.“The Tithe Barn is a very special building. It is 500-years-old and it has suffered during that time from weathering and, to a lesser degree, under  use. We want to conserve it for another 500 years.

“However, finding a use for the building which is very suitable to it and pays for its restoration has been a major problem for us over the last 20 years. We are absolutely sure that the wedding barn use is the way forward.

“It is a Grade II star listed building on a scheduled monument in a conservation park, in a National Park with a colony of bats, with residents nearby.” They had sought to ensure that no harm would take place to human health and the environment – and to protect those bats.

Bat surveys have shown that the Tithe Barn has conservation significance for roosting bats as 50 to 60 Natterer’s Bats use it in the summer. Five Common Pipistrelle Bats roost and hibernate there.The development scheme, therefore, includes the construction of a five metres by 10 metres stone and slate bat house linked to known foraging grounds.

The planning officer stated that once usage  has been proven, bats will be excluded from the Tithe Barn before hibernation starts. She added: “It is considered that a wedding venue would be a positive use of the building. [This] would require only minor internal division and would retain the open timber structure. The interior of the building is  highly significant with the original 16th century oak timber frame intact and visible.”

The renovation work will leave the timber frame fully exposed for the entire length of the Tithe Barn. “It is one of the best preserved medieval barns in northern England and a rare example nationally of a medieval tithe barn of this scale,” she said.

For this reason, all the work will be recorded under archaeological supervision. Historic England also  hopes that there will be greater public access once the work is complete.The application, which was unanimously approved, includes the creation of a wedding terrace with a gazebo; a car park for 67 cars;  a new access road and a service yard.

NB: This application was later withdrawn.

Buckden – August

The Village Tea Rooms can be converted for local occupancy or holiday let in accordance with the new Local Plan because they can be regarded as a “traditional building”.

A planning officer explained that although it had a modern appearance there was evidence that a building with a very similar footprint existed on the site in the late 19th century.

She stated that an earlier application to convert the tea rooms had been approved but the sale fell through before a legal document could be signed.  She said that no harm would result to community vitality or employment as the tea rooms were no longer commercially viable, and there were several other restaurants and pubs nearby. The new owners will have to sign a legal undertaking to ensure that the new dwelling would not be sold  on the open market.

The application was discussed by the committee because Buckden Parish  Council had strongly objected to the possibility of the tea rooms becoming a holiday let (see above).

Conistone – February

Altering a legal agreement made in May 2006 would allow the Trekking Centre at Conistone to make more flexible use of a converted barn, it was agreed.

A planning officer explained that the original legal agreement allowed the one-bedroom converted barn to be used only for local occupancy.  “Allowing  a choice between local occupancy or holiday let gives the applicant flexibility to use the building in a way which best supports their businesses. A holiday letting use tied to the trekking business would deliver …tourism and visitor benefits,” the committee was told.

Countersett – July

Concern about retaining the special qualities of the landscape around Semerwater  was one reason why the members did not accept the planning officer’s recommendation to approve converting a barn at East Hill Top, Countersett, into a one-bedroom dwelling for local occupancy or short-term holiday lets.

The officer argued that the barn was redundant and was within a loose group of buildings as it was near a smaller outbuilding and a barn which was being used as a residential workshop. She stated that it was almost unnoticeable from Semerwater and converting it would secure its future as a heritage asset.

She explained that the whole of the north-eastern wall of the two-storey barn would need to be re-built along with the corner of the south-eastern elevation, and the roof would be replaced. This, however, did not constitute replacing the building, she added.

Some members queried how the application fitted with the Authority’s new policy of allowing roadside barns to be converted and pointed out that the barn was still in agricultural use. The head of development management, Richard Graham, said that the policy included barns that were in groups of buildings and did not require a barn to be redundant.

Cllr Peacock was one of the members who maintained that the barn could be seen from Semerwater and, as a local parish councillor, said that residents in Countersett often raised concerns about light pollution.

One of those residents, Merrie Ashton, told the committee: “Semerwater is such an extraordinary national asset which should be protected and promoted. The location is dramatic and unspoilt. It needs very, very careful management. The light from this building would be a problem for wildlife.

“There is a species of bat – the long-eared bat – which is roosting in the barn, which is highly susceptible to light. Light pollution is detrimental to their feeding and breeding. Conversion from an agricultural building to a domestic building would most likely result in the roost being abandoned.”

She added that even if the height of the dry stone walls around the site were raised, it was likely that any cars parked by the barn would be visible from Semerwater. Besides its concerns about the height of the walls and the groundworks required, the parish council also noted that the barn was quite a distance from Countersett.

The majority of the committee voted to refuse the application but, as that was against the recommendation of the planning officer, the decision was referred back to the August meeting.  Mr Graham said this was because the issues were fundamental to the Authority’s local plan.

Countersett – August

The majority of the committee did a complete U-turn and voted to approve the conversion of a barn at East Hill Top.

Jim Munday told the committee: “After careful consideration I believe I was distracted by the actual or perceived shortcomings of the applicant rather than on the merits of the application itself. In my opinion the application is sound. It relates to a barn rightly described as an undesignated heritage asset. If left undeveloped it will become just another pile of stones. It’s well worth restoring and put to beneficial use.  The site is well concealed by the lie of the land and accessed by an existing two-wheel track which already has planning permission.

“The existing site is a redundant, former agricultural field barn. It is a building of architectural and historical importance which needs a new use to ensure its longevity.”

Mrs Martin agreed and said: “Like Mr Munday, having seen the update from the officer on this, I have changed my mind. I don’t especially like the proposal … but we don’t have a valid reason for refusing it.”

The new Local Plan allows for traditional barns to be converted if they are by the roadside, or within an existing settlement or a group of buildings.

The two members who live in mid Wensleydale, Cllrs Peacock and Kirkbride, disagreed. Allen Kirkbride commented: “I probably know this site better than anybody else. To my mind it is out of the way. It is not close enough to form part of an enclosed group. I think it is out of place.

Both he and Cllr Peacock maintained that there was likely to be a negative impact upon the landscape and particularly the area around the River Bain and Semerwater if the barn was converted and there were cars parked outside it.

Bainbridge Parish Council’s had objected and had stated that it would only support such buildings being converted for local occupancy. (See above)

Cotterdale – December

Permission was granted for a barn in Cotterdale to be converted into a two-bedroom local occupancy dwelling or for short-term holiday lets.

The applicants had originally intended to have the living area on the first floor of the building with the bedrooms below. They had also wanted to create an additional parking area in a field next to the barn. There had been objections to this because the first floor living area would impact upon the amenity of the neighbouring cottage and the parking area in the field would also cause access problems for the neighbours.

Following a site visit in November it had already been accepted that permission would not be given for a parking space in a field. The applicants had also agreed to have the living area on the ground floor.

Helen Shovlar, whose cottage is attached to the barn, explained to the committee that she was still concerned about the impact upon her access and amenity. She asked if the two doors and two windows overlooking the narrow alleyway to her back door could be blocked off.

The agent for the applicants, Peter Foskett, explained that they wanted to retain as many features of the original barn as possible and that had to include all the openings.

Cllr Blackie recommended that one of the doors should be solid wood but disagreed with Mrs Shovlar about the other openings. He added that Hawes and Lower Abbotside Parish Council would have preferred the barn to be converted just for local occupancy. “There are only six residents in Cotterdale and 14 properties so there are more cottages as second homes than there are as residencies,” he said.

Like the parish council Cllr Heseltine questioned the policy of allowing dual use of barn conversions (local occupancy and holiday lets).“If it’s a holiday cottage or whether it’s a second home it’s denying a family a permanent residence,” he commented. For that reason he would prefer that such dual consent was only given in exceptional circumstances.

Coverdale – August

The enforcement officer requested that enforcement action should be taken against the owner of Forbidden Corner in Coverdale. The 6.8 m “mock medieval castle” which has been erected there was not, he stated, screened by trees and could easily be seen.

“It is considered that the ‘castle folly’ causes harm to the significance of the historic  landscape and undermines the public understanding of the Special Qualities of the National Park,” he  said.

Mr Munday retorted: “It should stay in Disneyland” – and all but Cllrs Peacock and Kirkbride agreed with him.

“It reminds me of an abbey,” commented Cllr Kirkbride, and Cllr Peacock felt that the viewing platform at the top with its magnificent views across Coverdale would attract even more tourists to that dale.

The majority agreed, however, that an enforcement notice should be issued with a compliance notice of three months, requiring the demolition and removal of the “castle folly” and the restoration of the site to its previous condition with no structures  higher than three metres.

Crosby Garrett – July

The residents of Crosby Garrett near Kirkby Stephen did not want to fall out with the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority but they did want to see a home provided for the postmistress who has served the village for 34 years Dr Carl Hallam, the chairman of the parish meeting, told the committee.

He explained that Richard Harper, a local respected builder, wanted to build a two-bedroom dwelling  next to his own for his sister, Helen, and his elderly mother. “Helen was born, went to school and has worked in Crosby Garrett all her life. She is far more than our postmistress – she runs a small shop, she delivers our papers, is a friend to everyone, and the first to help when anyone is ill or in need. We are concerned that when she retires she and her elderly mother, with whom she lives and for whom she cares, may not be able to remain in the village,” he said.

He, like the rest of the community, disagreed with the planning officer’s statement that the proposed site was outside the village boundary. He argued that the site had been within the village for centuries – long before the railway viaduct. The planning officer reported that this formed the southern limit of the settlement.

“We will accept any conditions you may wish to impose on this site. We do not, under any circumstances, wish to fall out with the Yorkshire Dales National Park. We voted to be in your Park and all we ask is your advice – to guide us through this application to a successful conclusion,” Dr Hallam added.

Like Dr Hallam, Mr Harper’s agent, Rachel Lightfoot, said that neither the railway viaduct nor the cattle grid near the proposed site defined the edges of the village. The siting of the new house would, therefore, be in accordance with Eden District Council’s emerging plan which allowed local need dwellings to be built in villages like Crosby Garrett. Eden District Council’s planning policies still apply following the inclusion of the area into the National Park last August.

Ms Lightfoot also quoted the Authority’s policy on the social, economic and environmental aspects of the National Park’s sustainable development policy. She said: “This proposal is considered to meet these requirements. It will enable a long-standing member of the community who has lived in Crosby Garrett throughout her life and worked for the community to remain in the place where she was born.”

This was emphasised by Mr Harper who added that he would be happy to discuss the design, siting and other conditions with the Authority.

Eden District Councillor Valerie Kendal agreed with them that the site was within the village but she was surprised that the application was for an open market dwelling rather than for local occupancy. Like some other members of the committee, she felt there should be an archaeological survey of the site.

The planning officer reported that there was evidence of surviving earthworks south west of the railway viaduct including large banks and garths which would imply the medieval shrinkage of the village. The proposed site, she said, would intrude into the remnants of such earthworks. For that reason the Authority’s senior historic environment officer had advised an archaeological survey which would comprise of a small number of trial trenches covering the area of the proposed building work.

It was, therefore, decided that a decision should be deferred so that an archaeological survey could be carried out, plus the inclusion of a legal agreement covering local occupancy and possible amendments to the design of the house. The planning officer had described the design as poor and stated  it would have more of the appearance of a bungalow than a traditional barn.

Crosby Garrett – November

Even though 12 out of the 15 committee members voted to approve the application for a home for Crosby Garrett’s elderly postmistress so that she can continue living in her own village it is far from certain that decision will be confirmed at the December meeting.

After the vote – when one member voted against and two abstained – the head of development management, Richard Graham, said: “This application will have to be referred back. The main reason for doing that is that in granting permission for this  you are, in my mind, making a decision contrary  to Local Plan policy for a number of reasons. I would like to make sure you have proper advice to ensure that it is a lawful decision.”

The committee was told that the application should be assessed in accordance with the policies of Eden District Council. The planning officer argued that the new house would not be within the village boundary and, if it did, it would not fit the criteria of being either filling a modest gap between existing buildings (infill) or rounding off the village. If it did it should not have more than 150sqm of internal floor space compared to the 178sqm shown on the plans. Nor did the officer accept that a convincing case for housing need had been made.

Cllr Welch reminded the committee that a decision was deferred in July this year for three reasons: for an archaeological survey to be carried out; for the design to be improved; and to ask if the applicant would consider a local occupancy legal agreement. “As far as I can see, all the three reasons for deferral have been overcome,” he said and added that the Authority was 25 per cent below its target of seeing 150 houses a year built in the National Park. (The interior floor space was not mentioned at the July meeting.)

Several members agreed with Allen Kirkbride  that the new house would not have any detrimental effect upon the village. He added that within the areas which were added to the National Park in August 2016 the villages do not have boundary lines around them and said: “With the parish council having such a strong view I feel it is my job to support them.”

Cllr Gray agreed: “The government says we need more housing for local people. Sometimes it just needs common sense to say ‘Yes – we go ahead’”.

At the beginning of his report the planning officer stated that the application was for an open market house. When Cllr Kendal queried this he repeated that. When she asked again Mr Graham told the meeting that the applicant, Richard Harper, had offered to sign a local occupancy legal agreement.

Mrs Kendal did not accept the planning officer’s statement that the railway line defined the boundary of the village. She explained that two houses had been demolished when the railway line was constructed in Victorian times and to the residents the village still extended beyond it.  She added that there was a wide range of housing styles and of the 60 houses in Crosby Garrett ten per cent were beyond the railway line.

She told the committee: “The applicant has said he wanted it as a retirement home for his sister who was born in one of the adjacent cottages and wanted to retire as the postmistress.”

“The important point is that we actually get a house for local occupancy,” said Cllr Blackie. “The fact of the matter is that the policy is in a complete and utter tangle – and that is no fault of our own. If there is a way we can actually ensure that this is a local occupancy house then, to me, untangling the tangle isn’t necessary.”

Crosby Garrett – December

The committee unanimously supported a proposal which would allow Crosby Garrett’s postmistress to remain in that village when she retires.

The planning officer had explained that the reasons put forward by the committee in November for approving the application for a new house were not supported by either Eden District Council’s current or emerging Local Plans. He said that according to the emerging Local Plan the house would not fit the definition of being either infill within a modest gap between existing buildings or rounding off the settlement within a logical and defensible boundary.

The applicant had offered to sign a local occupancy legal agreement but the proposed house would have a floor area of 178 square metres in size as compared to the 150 square metres allowed under the Eden District Council’s emerging Local Plan for such dwellings.

Cllr Blackie, therefore, proposed that the application should be approved because of exceptional circumstances and the officers be given delegated powers to seek an amendment to the design so that the house had a floor area of 150 square metres.

The exceptional circumstances he said were due to parts of Eden District having been included within the Yorkshire Dales National Park last year. “There is a time warp between policies within that part of the Park which is new to us, and they [Eden District Council] are also moving forward with policies for the areas beyond the Park, and us incorporating their policies within ours. So these are very unusual circumstances,” he explained.

This decision will be advertised as a departure from Local Plan policy and so subject to no new issues being raised.

Embsay – February

Embsay with Eastby Parish Council was extremely disappointed that a planning officer had recommended approval of a dormer window contrary to the new Local Plan.

Parish councillor Vince Smith reminded the planning committee that according to that Local Plan dormer windows should not encroach on the wider street scene.

The planning officer accepted that the proposed dormer on a chalet bungalow in Rockville Drive, Embsay, would be conspicuous from Millholme Rise but argued it would appear as a subservient feature due to its size and siting. She added: “Although the dormer would be a prominent feature in the street scene, it would not be out of place in this context.”

Even though Cllr Smith warned this could lead to a proliferation of such applications the committee accepted the recommendation of the planning officer.

He told members: “The danger for the Park in allowing its own policies to be overridden… is that the fabric of the Park will be eroded from the edges inwards as the pressure on housing increases.”

He added that just because Embsay was on the edge of the National Park did not mean that its residents should be treated as second-class citizens and not be afforded the same protection against he wrong kind of development.”

Two members, North Yorkshire County Councillor Robert Heseltine and parish council representative Alan Kirkbridge agreed with him.

The approved application was for the enlargement of the garage to provide a kitchen, utility and store; the enlargement of the porch and alteration to access; and the insertion of roof lights as well as the new dormer.

Embsay – December

The chairman’s casting vote was needed to ensure that an application for an extension to a bungalow in the Rockville Estate of Embsay was approved even though that extension was described by North Yorkshire County Councillor Robert Heseltine as an unfortunate carbuncle.

The first proposal was for the application to be refused in line with the request made by Embsay with Eastby Parish Council. With a four-four split (there weren’t many members there that day) the chairman, Cllr Thornton-Berry, again cast her vote against refusal. Then a majority voted to approve the extension even though Parish Councillor Vince Smith had carefully explained that this would be against the Authority’s own Design Guide.

The Design Guide, he told them, stated that the extension should not be more than half the length of the original bungalow – but it would be. “Effectively it becomes a super bungalow with another front door facing the street, and incorporating bathrooms, twin bedrooms, a living room, a dining room, a kitchen, a study and a snug,” he said.

An extension, he pointed out, should be set back from and not dominate the original house. He added: “This extension is not set back. In fact it projects forward. It [will not be] subservient to the house.”

The fact that the extension roof would not be lower than the original was a blatant disregard of the rules, he said, and the proposed gable ends would dominate the street scene and overlook gardens. “The planning officer appears to be persuaded that the removal of a Juliette balcony rail would answer the parish council’s concerns about the impact upon residents’ amenity – it does not.”

Both he and Parish Councillor Judith Benjamin told the committee that it would be possible to look down from a room in the extension into a bedroom window of a nearby house. Mrs Benjamin said that local residents had no overall objection to the renovation of older properties, but were concerned that by increasing their size reduced the amount of smaller homes in the area and so made it difficult for local people to downsize.

The planning officer reported that the applicant had made amendments to the plans. These had included reducing the size of a sun room at the rear of the bungalow. She believed that the extension would not have such a harmful or overbearing impact for her to recommend refusal.

Gayle – March

As there are no permitted development rights within National Parks for cladding a wall to make it waterproof Michael Webster of Gayle had to apply for planning permission to add about four inches to the gable end of his house in Gayle.

Hawes and High Abbotside Parish Council informed the  planning committee  that it doubted that a planning application was required, but recognised Mr Webster was keen to demonstrate, as a sign of good faith, his wish to engage with the planning process.

Last year Mr Webster  was told to remove the insulation material he had begun to install or an enforcement notice would be issued.

His planning application was for an extension which included the solid wall insulation and water proofing system with a render finish, plus extending the stone work on the front and rear walls, as his objective was to ensure the house looked exactly the same as before.  This was approved by the planning committee.

Tim’s Barn, Gayle – June

Tim’s Barn at Gayle is unauthorised development and the subject of an enforcement investigation the committee was told.

This was in response to this statement made by the Association of Rural Communities:

“The Association is very concerned by what appears to be considerable inconsistency surrounding barn conversions at present. At the May meeting of the planning committee the application to convert Tup Gill Laithe near Kettlewell into a local occupancy dwelling was refused on the grounds that such a dwelling would have a negative impact upon the landscape. Compare that with the situation regarding Tim’s Barn near Gayle.

“Planning permission was granted in 2011 for conversion of what was a traditional barn into something similar to a bunk barn with very rudimentary facilities inside.  The conditions stated there should be no vehicular access track and no external lighting.  Earlier this year there were on-line adverts for ‘Tim’s Barn’ stating that it was fully equipped and beautifully furnished with en-suite shower cubicle, underfloor heating, a super king-size bed,  electric cooker, washing machine, a private car parking space for one car and much more.

“The planning department was informed about this in January following a very angry debate among Dales’ residents on Facebook. Some even suggested organising a protest march.

“Many feel that the way Tim’s Barn has been converted, contrary to planning permission, sets a very clear precedent. If it is allowed to remain as it is, it will completely undermine your policies concerning which barns can be converted. “How can you then, as a committee, argue that any barn conversion should be refused because it would have a negative impact upon the countryside?”

To this Richard Graham, the head of development management, made the following response:

“The statement from the Association of Rural Communities refers to ‘considerable inconsistency surrounding barn conversions at present’ comparing the refusal of planning permission for the conversion of Tug Gill Laithe at Kettlewell with the conversion of Tim’s Barn at Gayle.

“In reply, there is no inconsistency in decision making in relation to these two cases. Tug Gill Laithe was a planning application that Members considered against Local Plan policy L2 and decided to refuse permission.

“The conversion of Tim’s Barn on the other hand is unauthorised development and is the subject of a current, ongoing enforcement investigation. The Authority has not made a decision but will need to consider whether it is expedient to take enforcement action and in doing so will need to consider whether the unauthorised development complies with or conflicts with Policy L2.”

Policy L2 allows for the conversion of traditional agricultural buildings within existing settlements and building groups, or other suitable roadside locations.

Tim’s Barn, Gayle – October

Late last year some residents in Upper Wensleydale used Facebook to call for a march to the YDNPA office in Bainbridge to protest at the way Tim’s Barn at Gayle had been converted into a luxury  holiday cottage when its owners had only been granted approval in 2011 for a “stone tent”.

As Cllr Blackie told the committee at the October meeting: “It was the talk of the town in the Upper Dales – here was a stone tent, the most basic of accommodations, that  had been advertised on the internet as a five-star holiday cottage.

“I brought this matter in front of this committee on three occasions since January, since it was raised at the parish council of Hawes and High  Abbotside. It really undermines the credibility of this planning authority to have people simply run rings round it in this way.”

Residents were very concerned, he said, that the owners of the barn could get away with that while everybody else had to play by the rules.

He added that there were now no “sour grapes” about this as the parish council wanted to support Mr and Mrs Tim Crick’s retrospective application for a camping barn. He added:

“I think it is really important for the reputation of this planning authority and its integrity and credibility that we add a condition that there is no occupation of the barn as a stone tent until the internal fittings, which are of a luxurious class, are removed.”

The agent, Andrew Cunningham, told the committee that his clients were keen to work with the Authority and to remove the internal fixtures and fittings and the external hard landscaping at the barn. The barn would , he said, be returned to very basic overnight accommodation and access to it would be by foot.

The planning officer noted that the barn, which is in a field in the open countryside, was an appropriate location for a camping barn as it was easily accessible by foot from Gayle, is close to two public footpaths, and was within a half a mile of the Pennine Way.

He said that, following a complaint, it had been found that the barn  had been converted into a fully furnished holiday cottage.

The committee unanimously voted to approve the application for a camping barn.

Grassington – April

Permission was granted for an extension to a large steel portal framed agricultural building at Town Head Farm.

The committee was told that this would make an efficient use of the site and would mean that livestock would no longer be kept in a smaller, older building. The planning officer noted that the extension would also substantially reduce run-off from the current dirty yard.

Several members commented that the farm yard looked a mess and hoped the new structure would lead to an improvement.

Grassington Parish Council had been concerned that the extension was described as the first of three phases but no information had originally been provided about the next two phases.

The planning officer said further details had now been received. The second phase application was for the removal of the old timber barn and replacing it with a larger building which, as with the extension, would also cover part of the yard. The third phase will involve the covering of the yard between the two new buildings.

Grassington – October

John Webber told the committee that he had been in discussion with planning officers for 14 months concerning his application to make more use of the former farmstead at Halfway House for his tree and forestry business.

The problem was that his original application did  not fit with the Authority’s Local Plan. The committee did approve his amended plans which include converting a barn into a local occupancy dwelling and erecting a building to house his  business machinery.

The planning officer explained that whilst the Local Plan did support the provision of new buildings for business use it also sought to protect the open countryside from development. As Halfway House was in a prominent location in the open countryside it was, therefore,  difficult to support the construction of the new building or the creation of a new yard area there.

“It is considered that if part of the business were incorporated within one of the traditional barns within the site as is now proposed, there would be a good justification for locating the business on this site,” she said.

Mr Webber has also agreed to locate the proposed new building nearer to the existing buildings and to plant trees to the west of it for screening.

In addition he will demolish a modern lean-to extension that had been added to the barn which will become a dwelling and to remove an unauthorised static caravan from the site.

He said his proposal would enable him to keep all the business equipment in one place and also provide accommodation for his elderly parents.

He explained: “Most of our work is based in the National Park – the work of the Authority being fencing and tree planting, tree work and footpath work. We also work for the National Trust. We are looking to start work … on the Settle to Carlisle [railway] line. Because of this we need more staff but I need the security [of this] development to do this.”

The committee heard that Webber Forestry currently employs nine members of staff and three trainees and has plans for expansion.

North Yorkshire county councillor Gillian Quinn noted that Mr Webber had taken on board the advice of the planning officers. “We really do need to support the long term viability of this business,” she said.

Grassington Parish Council had withdrawn its previous objections to the application especially after being reassured by Mr Webber that the new building would not be  used for manufacturing purposes.

Hudswell – March

It was agreed that a unilateral legal undertaking must be made by the owner of Underbanks on the Reeth Road near Hudswell to carry out remedial work.

Retrospective planning permission to retain alterations and extensions to the Grade II listed building and the conversion of agricultural buildings to form additional living accommodation will be subject to the legal obligation to ensure that some heritage features are  re-instated within six months.

When driving from Richmond towards Reeth Underbanks makes a bold statement just inside the National Park (above), the members heard. This was because an appeal inspector gave conditional approval for a wrap-around extension with large windows to be added to a barn.

But a planning officer reported: “Following a number of site visits and a visit by the Listed Buildings Officer, it was determined that the development was so fundamentally in breach of the May 2015 consents, which were dependent on pre-commencement conditions, as to invalidate the previous permission. Since the submission of the current application, there have been extensive negotiations with the applicant despite the seriousness of the offence involved.”

The committee was told that Mr Davies was now proposing to take down the ashlar stonework on the wrap around extension and rebuild the north and east elevations with random rubble stonework to match the existing building.

The planning officer  stated: “The sawmill appears to have been demolished and rebuilt and the horizontal and vertical stepped stonework has been lost during the reconstruction.

“The sawmill was a very unusual building and the stepping of the wall seems to be a rare feature. The current plans show that the horizontal step would be partially re-instated with the windows being reduced in height.

“As the heritage significance has been lost through demolition of the former sawmill, it is considered that the re-instatement of part of the step would be acceptable.”

He added: “The stair tower into the courtyard is an important feature of the building, of 17th century origin, and consequently it is important that this is preserved in its original form.” The height, however, has been increased and it is proposed to reduce this. The Authority also wants to see a stone staircase and the courtyard cobbles replaced.

The following were accepted by the planning officer:

  • That the metal framed dark grey window frames in the wrap-around extension, the rebuilt sawmill and the north and east elevations of the outbuildings could remain. The planning officer commented: “Whilst this material is not usually considered acceptable for windows in either a barn conversion or a listed building, the style and colour of the windows are considered to work reasonably well.”
  • Although one of the conditions was that the original buildings on the site should be finished with natural stone slates it was considered that the Bradstone “Old Quarried” slates which had been used instead were not significantly harmful to the listed building.
  • A gable had replaced the proposed hipped roof on the southern tip of the wrap-around extension.The officer reported: “It is considered that whilst the Inspector approved a hipped roof, the simpler treatment of a gable is considered more appropriate…”

Committee member Julie Martin asked how they could ensure such a situation would not occur again and was told that the issue of compliance and monitoring was under review.

Kettlewell – March

The committee again approved the application to convert and extend Crookadyke Barn in Kettlewell into a local occupancy dwelling even though North Yorkshire County Council’s Highways Authority had again objected on the basis of highway safety.

The applicant had amended his application, which was conditionally approved in November 2016, by proposing to lower the dry stone wall on either side of the access, but the Highways Authority stated that this would not be sufficient.

The planning officer, however, told the committee: “The character of the road side boundary walls on the approach into Kettlewell from the north are an important wider landscape feature. The revised proposal would preserve the character of the traditional building and wider site.

“Overall the alterations to the access amount to an improvement in the existing situation, whilst not to the standards recommended by the Highways Authority they are, on balance, considered adequate for highways safety purposes.”

Kettlewell – and barn conversions – May

Tug Gill Lathe between Kettlewell and Starbotton was the centre of a debate about where to draw the line on roadside barn conversions.

The YDNPA’s new Local Plan allows for roadside barns to be converted “subject to the proposal’s impact on the landscape.”  The majority of the members accepted the planning officer’s assessment that the creation of a dwelling at Tug Gill Lathe would have a significantly harmful effect on the highly distinctive landscape of Upper Wharfedale due to its residential curtilage, car parking, external and internal lighting and other domestic usage.

The applicant, Margaret Rhodes, however, informed the committee: “I am working four full days 52 weeks a year improving the grassland at Tug Gill. I am really passionate about protecting the Yorkshire Dales for future generations. I continue to preserve the land to enhance the variety of native plants and wildlife.

“I’m battling to improve and secure the land, and by allowing this barn to be converted as my home would allow me to achieve more and keep the standard maintained.”

Her agent, Robert Groves, stated: “Allowing the barn to be converted to a dwelling will ensure that the asset is conserved in the appropriate form proposed which is almost unchanged externally from the character and form of the original barn.

“A small respectful conversion as this one, occupied by the applicant who has a high respect for the landscape, can protect the environment and landscape better rather than, say, the barn reverting back to some other use or being derelict and the land slipping from being within the controlled schemes of Natural England to more unrestrained farming practices.”

The chairman of the YDNPA, Cllr Carl Lis, commented that if permission was granted for Tug Gill Lathe then others could seek approval to convert barns in Wharfedale which were not as well hidden. “This is a step too far,” he said.

Another committee member, Ian McPherson, stated: “Once we set the precedent of allowing roadside barns in that kind of landscape [to be converted] then, in my view, we might just as well go home because we are not then fulfilling the first statutory purpose that the National Park is basically all about.”

Allen Kirkbride, a parish council representative from Askrigg, reminded the committee that Kettlewell-cum-Starbotton Parish Council was in favour of this barn conversion. “They are the people on the ground. They would not allow this sort of development to go ahead if it didn’t fit in with the surrounding area.

“I believe they are quite right. This one is set back in the hillside a little bit. I think it is the sort of barn that could be developed.”

Cllr Blackie maintained that, if converted, Tug Gill Lathe would still assimilate well into the landscape, and such conversions were needed to retain young families in the Dales.

“This is exactly what was in mind when members brought forward the roadside barn policy. We would do a great disservice to the community in Upper Wharfedale if we refuse it,” he said.

Cllr Heseltine told the committee: “Either we are serious about implementing our roadside barn conversion policy or we are not serious about it. Do we accept in our policy that these sporadic roadside barns close to the road can be approved or not approved? This is an important watershed in interpreting our barns policy.”

He, however, voted against giving approval.

Lancaster City Council and Leck

The September meeting was remarkable and memorable because: Lancaster County Council humbly apologised for its errors; the National Park Authority’s head of development management reported that there was a disagreement between officers; and the way an application had been dealt with was described as a “massive maladministration”.

The committee unanimously approved Andrew Redmayne’s application for the erection of a dwelling at Leck which incorporated the remaining walls of Fell Side Barn.

Lancaster City Council had humbly apologised to the YDNPA for the errors it had made when it gave Prior Approval to Andrew Redmayne in June 2016 to convert the barn. That Approval included a car parking and turning area which would be outside of the curtilage of the new dwelling. Mr Redmayne also assumed that the approval covered the proposed cellar as that was shown on the submitted plans.

Work did not begin on the barn until after Leck became part of the Yorkshire Dales National Park in August 2016. As Mr Redmayne was advised by a structural engineer that the western gable should be rebuilt both that and a section of the northern wall were demolished in early 2017, the latter to facilitate the construction of the cellar. Work also began on an underground garage for which no planning approval had been obtained.

In February Mr Redmayne was informed by YDNPA enforcement officers that, according to their estimate, about 37 per cent of the barn had been demolished and so it was no longer a conversion but a rebuild. He was also told that the cellar and the garage were not included in permitted development rights.

Richard Graham, the YDNPA’s head of development management, told the planning committee: “This is a contentious application. I will be open about this, there has been a disagreement between officers on the recommendations and the weight given to material considerations over against Local Plan policy.”

“The background to the case is quite important. Crucial to it are the national permitted development rights to barn conversions, barns and dwellings subject to a prior approval procedure. These don’t apply in National Parks.”

He explained that discussions were held with Mr Redmayne about how to apply for planning permission and added: “It was felt that such a solution was worth exploring as the alternative would be enforcement action that, at best, would leave the barn as a semi-derelict ruin on the landscape.”  This led to Mr Redmayne applying for permission for a “new build” even though both he and the City Council believed that it would still be a conversion.

Mr Graham said that this proposal was in accordance with the City Council’s Local Plan as it would “contribute positively to the identity and character of the area through good design, having regard to local distinctiveness.” The amended proposal represented a significant improvement on that originally submitted to the City Council, he added.

Mr Redmayne told the committee: “I would like to apologise unreservedly for the unauthorised work. The intention was to try and hide the residentialisation impact of this building. I have worked long and hard with the Yorkshire Dales [Authority] to improve the proposal. We have retained all the stones – everything that has come out of the barn is going back into it.”

Lancaster City Councillor Margaret Pattison commented: “I think once it’s done it will be beautiful.”

Other members of the committee accepted that the circumstances were exceptional and unlikely to occur again.

Sedbergh parish councillor Ian McPherson stated: “We can’t refuse it. Lancaster City has apologised for the mess. We either end up with a semi-derelict barn … or a dwelling house which is actually an improvement and clearly well designed.”

To that Jocelyn Manners-Armstrong added: “To me to even think about refusing it would just be compounding a massive maladministration.” She couldn’t see how the applicant should suffer because of the procedural irregularities and the complete failure of some people to do their jobs properly.

“I think we should actually commend the applicant for having the perseverance of trying to do a proper job.” And she recorded an apology to Mr Redmayne.

Ireby with Leck Parish Council had told the Authority: “The Council is not able to support this application but would support a revised scheme that is more in keeping with the original structure. The proposal involves too much disturbance of the natural landscape.

“The application goes significantly beyond what was granted originally in the permitted development and is now proposed as a new build.

“Whilst the Council is sympathetic to the difficulties the applicant has experienced with the proposals, the Council views the present application as setting a precedent and circumventing the rules of permitted development.”

Mr Redmayne will not be required to sign a local occupancy legal agreement as Lancaster City Council’s Local Plan still applies.

Litton – October

The Authority’s Local Plan policy that any traditional barn to be converted must be large enough to accommodate the new use without the addition of any significant extensions or alterations led to an application concerning Dubb Croft Barn in Litton being refused.

The planning officer stated that this policy applied to any additions after a barn had been converted. Since the conversion of Dubb Croft Barn it has become a family home with a holiday cottage letting business. The office for that business, the planning officer said, was in part of the master bedroom. “This is considered as being far from ideal as it requires access through the bedroom and requires the keeping of files, a desk, computer, telephone etc which cramps the bedroom space,” he explained and added that clients also had to enter that room to obtain keys and other information.

The application was for the erection of a single storey extension to provide a new bedroom so that the office could be separate. The planning officer stated that the extension would not be subservient to the present dwelling and would result in significant harm to the character and appearance of that building which is in a conservation area.

The agent, Robert Groves, disagreed.  “As the architect for this proposal I disagree as the [extension] has been designed to be very simple in its form. It [would be] essentially agricultural in appearance and provide no disharmony to the original. It is to a scale that is clearly subservient to the original and does not obscure any of the important features.”

He told the committee that the proposal was very important for the future of the business.

Litton Parish Meeting supported the application and stated: “Mr and Mrs Cowan are valuable members of our small community and their expanding business is a valuable asset bringing in much needed business and employment.”

Linton – February

Even though a resident told the planning committee that the proposed extension at The Minns in Linton would severely impact upon his residential amenity the majority of the members accepted the planning officer’s recommendation to approve the application.

Linton Parish Council agreed with John Ford that the extension would have a negative impact on his home. It stated: “The council still considers that the planning application does not adhere to the ethos of Linton as being a conservation village.”

The planning officer, however, argued that the applicant’s amended application was for a more modest, single storey side extension which would be subordinate to the main property. It had been designed to limit the impact upon neighbouring properties, he said. He added that the extension would not be a prominent addition to the street scene and would not detract from the appearance of The Minns.

Long Preston – February

The committee agreed that the planning application for 13 houses to be built of Greengate Lane in Long Preston should be approved as that granted in 2014 will expire on February 26.

One of the two sites was previously used for wagon storage and maintenance. The industrial building there has been demolished and removed.

The original planning permission, granted in February 2014, included a condition that a housing association would ensure that  six dwellings on the site would remain affordable homes for perpetuity. The applicant had confirmed this year that a housing association was no longer involved and he wanted to sell the site.

The new planning permission, therefore, requires that there will be a legal agreement to ensure that  two shared ownership units and four affordable rented units will remain so for perpetuity and be transferred to a Registered Provider prior to the occupation of any of the seven open market dwellings.

The owner of the site will need to check if Long Preston Water Trust will have sufficient supply to serve the development as mains water is not available in that part of the village.

Newbiggin in Bishopdale  – February

A legal agreement would not be sufficient to stop the two-bedroom annex to Mystified Bungalow becoming a separate dwelling Mr Graham told the committee.

The planning officer warned that the continued use of the annex as a self-catering holiday let would set an undesirable precedent for allowing the subdivision and conversion of any modern building anywhere within the National Park.

The majority of the committee accepted this advice and so refused the application, and agreed that an enforcement notice should be issued giving the owner six months to stop using the annex as a holiday let.

Andrew Cunnington, the agent, said the applicant was willing to sign a legal agreement tying the holiday let to the original bungalow and limiting the time it could be used as a holiday accommodation to 10 months each year.  His client, he explained, did require a mixed use for the annex, providing accommodation for tourists during the season and for his family at other times. Mr Cunnington argued that this would generate benefits for the local economy and so fulfilled the criteria for sustainable development as identified both nationally and locally.

He maintained that the new Local Plan set out competing priorities between the need for affordable housing and the provision of more facilities for tourists.  The planning officer, while acknowledging that there were competing priorities in the Local Plan, stated that the use of the large annex as a self-catering holiday let would prejudice the supply of local needs housing in an open countryside location as it had its own parking area, access and garden space. She added: “The annex could provide a viable, independent two-bedroomed dwelling.”

Cllr Blackie said that the Local Plan called for more overnight stays and accepted the provision of all types of accommodation including railway carriages.

He told the committee that a previous enforcement officer  had not told the applicant to remove the kitchen in the annex. This, however, was one of the options now put forward by the planning officer in order to turn the annex into B&B accommodation which would be acceptable. Cllr Blackie also pointed out that the present owner had installed a door between the original bungalow and the annex – something that had not been done when the annex was built.

Mr Graham stated concerning any legal agreement: “It would not be worth the paper it is written on.” When asked later about this in view of the decision made regarding Rose Cottage at Arncliffe he stated:

“The issue raised by the proposals at Mystified Bungalow and Rose Cottage concerns whether a separate ‘planning unit’ (a separate dwelling) would be created or not. With Rose Cottage the porposal was to convert a small domestic office at the bottom of a long garden. The building would not have a separate access or curtilage and, therefore, in the officers’ opinion, is highly unlikely to be sol off or used independently from the host property – in essence it is an annex. With Mystified Bungalow the proposal was for the accommodation to be used as a holiday cottage independent from the main house – with its own separate parking, access into the building and front/back garden space.

“A S106 agreement can be used to restrict how a building is used or occupied or to tie ownership but it must meet legal tests (including that it is ‘reasonable’) and it can be subject to appeal. A planning permission for an annex with a S10-6 agreement tying the annex to the host dwelling would be reasonable. A planning permission creating a separate dwelling with a S106 effectively saying the new dwelling cannot be used as a separate dwelling would not be reasonable and, therefore, likely to be removed on application or appeal. What I was trying to convey to the members [was that] such an agreement would be so weak as not survive a challenge and as such would not guarantee what they were proposing.”

Rylstone – February

An enforcement notice will be served on  the owners of Green Farm at Rylstone as they have not complied with several of the conditions included in the permission granted in 2013 for the construction of several large agricultural buildings.

“We are very disappointed that they have done that,” said Mr Graham. “It is a sad situation particularly as these are some of the largest buildings that we have given planning permission for in the National Park. We have been talking to them for quite a while now to try and resolve the situation. The only avenue we have got is an enforcement notice.”

The enforcement notice covers the removal of a yard to the south of the farm buildings,  the reduction in the number of roof lights and not providing sufficient landscaping

Cllr Blackie asked if it was necessary to “use the big stick” especially when it was so difficult for dairy farmers these days.

Mr Graham replied that when enforcement action was approved further negotiations took place to give the owners the opportunity to comply.

The enforcement officer, Martyn Coy, reported that the large yard which had been constructed without permission to the south of the farm buildings meant that a lot of activity took place close to neighbouring residential properties.

He stated that permission had been granted for four roof lights per bay but this had been increased to six without permission.  This did have an adverse impact upon the landscape and dark skies at night.

Cllr Harrison-Topham compared such farm buildings to large well-lit ocean liners.

Rylstone – November

The Authority should change its attitude towards communication masts, its planning committee was told by one of its own members.

South Lakeland District councillor Brenda Gray said: “We have to have communications, we have to accept man-made masts in the landscape for the people who live here and the people who visit. We must change our attitude.”

The majority of the committee agreed that EE Limited should be allowed to install a 11m high slim telegraph pole and ground base equipment in a farm field at Rylstone which would service voice calls, provide 3G and 4G data and network services for the emergency services.

As this was against the recommendation of the planning officer this decision will have to be confirmed at the committee meeting in December.

James Butcher, who farms at Rylstone, told the committee: “Communications are an essential local service. For an area to remain a living and working community it must have access to what most of the population takes for granted.

“It’s particularly important to the younger generation. We’ve attracted lots of young families and young people. We’ve got 15 children who go to local schools. This is an example of how to maintain a vibrant community. But if they don’t have a mobile signal they will be lost to the area.”

He described how one ambulance crew recently got lost trying to reach a child patient and couldn’t call in for directions because there was no mobile signal.

Cllr  Peacock said that people wouldn’t want to come and live in the National Park if they were concerned about the lack of communications and the ability to call for an ambulance.

Of the proposed site she commented: “It isn’t perfect where it is but you will have no countryside if you haven’t got people living and working here.”

“To make sure we don’t get left behind in the Yorkshire Dales we have to accept some compromises occasionally,” commented Cllr Blackie.

Cllrs Heseltine and Welch added that the wind turbine already in the farm field was not intrusive on the landscape.

The planning officer had argued that the pole and apparatus, equipment cabins and enclosure, viewed together with the existing wind turbine, would cumulatively dominate local views and be extremely prominent as an alien feature in wider views of the site, and so have a very detrimental impact upon a high quality landscape.

Jim Munday was concerned that EE Limited was going for the lowest cost option and felt that there could be alternative sites where a mast would not be so visible, such as beside trees.

The company’s agent, Carolyn Wilson, said that a mast beside trees would have to be much higher and bulkier. The company had to consider whether the cost of any alternative would make the scheme commercially unviable.

Cllr Peacock commented that for 20 to 25 years she had seen big companies walk away from projects in the National Park when the cost became too high. “We have an opportunity here to pass something that we don’t feel is intrusive and which benefits the whole area because it is a message – the message that we, the National Park, are here to help to promote our area and to encourage people to come and live and work here.”

After the vote Mr Graham said: “We have a wind turbine in this location. We also have another company which feels this is a suitable location for telecommunications and put up their mast without bothering to apply for permission. My great concern is that if we granted permission for this application we will be opening the door to further development [there]. For that reason I would say that this application should be referred back to the next meeting.”

He also explained that the Authority was working with Airwave to find suitable locations for 12 telecommunications masts to serve the emergency services. “We have planned suitable locations and designs for those masts that we feel won’t have a significant impact upon the landscape. The Park is being positive about these things,” he said.

Rylstone – December

All but three of the members agreed that a 11 metre high slim telecommunications pole would not make a major difference to the landscape at Fleets Laithe near Rylstone but would considerably improve the mobile phone service in that area.

Cllr Peacock agreed with Cllr  Heseltine that the impact upon the landscape would not be significant. She said: “To me it may not be a perfect site but … I believe we need to go ahead for the benefit of the communities. We have a business that is actually going to provide good mobile coverage in this area. We need good mobile phone coverage. We have got to take care of the future of our dales.”

Cllr Blackie agreed with her that it was not accurate to describe the mast and associated equipment as just a commercial enterprise especially in a deeply rural area. “This commercial mast will be serving both the social necessities of the population and [their] economic needs. We mustn’t put off those who are seeking to invest in essential community infrastructure,” he said.

He told the committee that 20 years ago the planning officers had regularly recommended that applications for telecommunications masts in Wensleydale and Swaledale should be refused. The committee had approved most of them apart from one in Swaledale. “Now, near Low Row [you] lose reception and only gain it again when you get to Gunnerside,” he added.

A planning officer maintained that the mast at Rylstone would have a harmful impact on the landscape as it would be at an exposed and prominent site. She and Mr Graham said they were not convinced that all alternative sites had been considered by EE Limited.

The planning officer stated:  “Areas of the National Park that tend to suffer from poor coverage do so not because of the restrictive planning policies but because commercial telecommunications operators choose not to invest in infrastructure in these areas.”

Three members abstained from voting when the majority approved the application.

Sedbergh – July

An application to build two houses on part of the former Baliol School site in Sedbergh was refused because that area has been designated for business development.

Mark Stott of Farmgate Vets and Edward Waller, who has a stone masonry and funeral parlour business, told the committee that they had bought land at Baliol School but needed to recoup some of the cost of constructing new premises on that site. “Although it is not essential for our financing, we are looking to sell a portion of the site for housing to offset some of the potential losses and to help to secure the business for the future,” Mr Stott said. Like Mr Waller, Farmgate Vets plan to have bespoke premises built on the site.

Sedbergh Parish Council had asked if it was possible to ensure that the business premises were built before the houses. The planning officer, however, told the committee that this was not legally possible.

She added: “As no case has been made that the previously approved scheme of two commercial units is unviable without the houses, it is considered that there is no justification to warrant a departure from a newly adopted planning policy.”

Committee members pointed out that there was a shortage of business sites within the Yorkshire Dales National Park and they did not want to set a precedent for introducing residential houses within them.

Stackhouse – May

The conversion of a Grade II listed coach house at Stackhouse  into two holiday lets was approved even though the county highways department and Giggleswick Parish Council had objected.

North Yorkshire County Councillor Richard Welch told the meeting: “The highways authority is against it, the parish council is against it and the residents are against it.”

The former had objected because, it stated, the access onto Stackhouse Lane was unsatisfactory and there was insufficient visibility splay.The parish council was concerned about that access due to the number of residents already using it.

The planning officer noted that the narrow lane to that access was not adopted by the county council and was not made up to the standards normally required by the highways authority.

She added:“Given that the lane is in a reasonable condition, is reasonably level and straight, and currently services at least ten other properties, it is considered that the road conditions are not so poor they would warrant refusal [of the application].”

The owner, who lives in the adjoining Old Hall, originally applied to convert the coach house into three holiday lets but then amended the plans.

The planning officer described the coach house as a heritage asset of high significance with many features that required protecting. This, she said, was better achieved by converting it  into two holiday lets. This is in line with the YDNPA’s objective to encourage more staying visitors as part of its tourism policy because of the economic benefits they bring.

Cllr Welch queried what economic benefits the holiday lets would bring to such a hamlet and said they would be unsuitable within such a small community.

Starbotton – June

Starbotton in Wharfedale has changed so much that it is has become far more difficult for a hill farmer to care for his livestock, Colin Lister told the committee.

Mr Lister has applied for permission to erect an agricultural building for the safe handling of sheep 100m above the north side of Starbotton. At present the sheep have to be herded down 395m to reach Bushey Lodge Farm on the south side of the village.

He told the committee: “The physical aspects and challenges of hill farming remain little changed, whereas the community at Starbotton has changed dramatically. En-route to our current sheep handling yard, with our sheep, we pass five holiday homes. These generally contain people who are unaware of what we are trying to achieve. This makes it unlikely that we ever have a clear path to our destination.

“Our second obstacle, and a relatively new one, is the increased number of dogs visiting and living in Starbotton. Sheep will not pass a dog on a single track road. The Starbotton Cam Road into Starbotton is impassable with sheep when meeting dogs being walked in the opposite direction. This is a common occurrence along this popular dog-walking route.

“Another major obstacle is crossing the main road in Starbotton. Traffic numbers and speeds have increased and safely crossing the road requires at least three people who are not always available.

“Even without the fore-mentioned, a considerable amount of effort is put into our farming day trying to ensure the safety of residents and tourists and also minimising disruption to their day. Basically this means early starts and late finishes way beyond the set working hours.

“Current environmental schemes are encouraging us to graze cattle on our higher pastures. We have been doing this for seven years and find it has been a most rewarding part of our current Natural England agreement, both economically and environmentally. However, the handling of the cattle… creates all the same problems previously mentioned but on a much bigger scale.

“I think one of the reasons cattle are not seen on the hills, prior to us being encouraged, was because they are difficult to handle on outlining pastures far away from any handling facilities.”

There would also be far less run-off of dirty water if the tasks of drenching, shearing, parasite treatments, tailing, marking and foot bathing were carried out in a roofed barn, he added.

The YDNPA’s farm conservation advisor, however, stated: “The argument relating to stress is not strong as [the livestock] will be herded/flocked to this point anyway which will undoubtedly cause them stress.

“The location of the site is very visible from below and above and the building will stick out quite considerably in an area that is lacking in field barns at that height.”

The planning officer agreed and recommended that the application should be refused.

Kettlewell-with-Starbotton Parish Council disagreed. It had informed the planning committee: “It is easier to care for sheep in a roofed building. The design and location are such that the building will be largely hidden.”

The committee accepted Cllr  Heseltine’s recommendation that there should be a site visit.

Starbotton – July

Animal welfare and efficient farming were two of the reasons why the majority of the committee decided that Colin Lister should be allowed to erect an agricultural building 100m above Starbotton.

Following the site meeting Cllr Heseltine told the committee: “This application primarily concerns animal welfare.”

He disagreed with the planning officer that the new barn would be situated on the high moors and said it would be on the limestone pasture. Conserving and preserving the landscape of the beautiful Yorkshire Dales was important, but they had to keep in mind that it was also a workplace especially for the farmers. “Without them we would be lost,” he added.

Several others agreed with him including one of the newest members, Lancashire County Councillor Cosima Towneley who said: “The terms of reference for the National Park is the landscape but what is the landscape without people? You can’t live without jobs or employment.”

She also argued that, as each application was considered on its merits, no precedent would be set. Cllr Peacock agreed and stated: “This is a unique situation because, at present, sheep have to brought across a busy road.”

The issue of precedence was underlined by the planning officer and Julie Martin. The latter commented: “I don’t want to make farmers’ lives more difficult but I do generally feel this will set a very bad example in terms of farm buildings at this sort of altitude.” She believed other options could be explored especially as the barn would be visible from high-level footpaths.

The planning officer reported that Mr Lister had submitted amended plans for the siting of the barn which would mean that it would  be hardly visible from the valley floor.

Fourteen out of the sixteen members voted in favour of the application and there was one abstention. Mr Graham announced that this decision would not have to be ratified at the August meeting even though it was against the officer’s recommendation.

Thoralby  – October

It would be wrong to send a negative message to Dales’ dairy farmers at a time when so many were pulling out of that business, Cllr  Blackie told the committee.

Mr Graham had supported the planning officer’s recommendation to refuse permission for a 40.5m diameter concrete slurry store to be constructed in a field above Thoralby. He said the slurry plant would be almost as long as the Authority’s office building in Bainbridge and similar in height.

Cllr Peacock, however, agreed with Cllr Blackie and said: “I know there are problems but to flatly refuse it would be wrong.”

The majority of the committee agreed with Cllrs Blackie and Peacock that it was better to defer a decision and give Michael Lancaster of Town Head Farm, Thoralby, more time to discuss the issue with the planning officers.

Thoralby parish meeting and Aysgarth and District Parish Council had suggested how to better screen the concrete tank but committee member Julie Martin warned that there might be no effective way of doing so.

The planning officer stated: “The construction of a large concrete tank situated by itself on a hillside is an industrial scale development that would have an adverse impact on the landscape.” He added that, if approved, it would set a precedent which could lead to a series of large slurry tanks along dale sides.

Like Thoralby Parish Meeting he was also concerned that the construction of the tank and the measures taken to try and screen it would lead to the loss of archaeological features.

Mr Lancaster, however, believed that the proposed slurry store could be effectively screened with bunds and trees. He told the committee: “As a resident of Bishopdale I am acutely conscious that the development needs to fit in with the wider landscape.”

He said the new store would have the capacity for six months storage compared to just four weeks at the present one within the farm complex at Town Head Farm. This, he explained, would enable him to run a more efficient dairy business, decrease the number of vehicle movements through the village, reduce the amount of chemical fertilisers being used, and increase grass production. “This store will represent the biggest capital investment made by the business in the last ten years and is an essential investment,” he stated.

He told the committee that, since he took over the farm from his father 11 years ago, he had continually invested in improving the condition of the land and the facilities at Town Head Farm, and that he had increased the herd to 300 cows and 300 followers.

The planning officer accepted that the proposed tank would reduce the risk of water pollution and would make the farm compliant with current legislation regarding slurry storage. But he added: “It is considered that these potential environmental benefits are outweighed by the harm caused.”

Threshfield – February

The proposed dormer extension at a house in Wharfeside Avenue, Threshfield, would be on the rear elevation in accordance with the Local Plan guidelines – but a planning officer recommended refusal.

He stated that the dormer would detract from the appearance of the house and could be seen from the B6160 across the fields.  The applicant, Andy Gould, pointed out that the road was half-a-mile away.

Threshfield Parish Council had informed the planning officer that it had no objections and stated: “We support the application as it is in keeping with many other properties in the area. Along this particular section of the avenue every other property has some type of dormer extension. Therefore, the proposed alterations at High Winds would be in line with surrounding properties.”

The planning officer responded: “Whilst it is accepted that there are dormer windows within the vicinity of the site, these relate to properties of varying styles and ages. In assessing this proposal, officers have taken into account the particular visual interest of the semi-detached host property, the appearance and impact of the proposed dormer windows and the fact that there are wider public views of its rear elevation.”

The reason given for bringing the application to the committee was that it was at the request of Cllr  Heseltine.

At the meeting Richmondshire District Councillor Stuart Parsons noted that although the front of the house was architecturally important there was nothing special about the rear because an extension had been added at sometime.

No one seconded the proposal to accept the officer’s recommendation, and the majority voted to approve the application.

West Burton – April

The cost of an application for a barn conversion at Sorrelsykes Farm, West Burton, could amount to £8,194 without any guarantee that it would be approved the  committee was told.

Over £2,000 of that would be the fee for a professional odour, noise and disturbance survey because the barn is five metres from a milking parlour. But the survey would not be necessary if the application was to convert the barn into holiday lets rather than into three local occupancy dwellings.

Adam Spence, the agent, told the committee that Les Bell, who owns the barn, believed that the provision of local occupancy properties should take priority.

Cllr Blackie agreed and said: “He has already clocked up well over £5,000 [in fees]. If we are not careful we will stifle barn conversions coming forward and this was the star policy of our new Local Plan.

“We have local residents who have been living for years on that farmstead [and] there have been no complaints about odour and smell.”

He argued that the main objective of allowing roadside barns to be converted was to provide more local occupancy housing, not more holiday lets.

The planning officer stated that the application should be refused because Mr Bell had not agreed to have a professional odour, noise and disturbance survey as recommended by Richmondshire District Council’s environmental health officer.

The planning officer reported that no information had been provided about the farming enterprise, including how many animals there were, when milking occurred and when slurry was collected. Without this it was not possible to ensure that there would be a good standard of amenity for the future occupants of the converted barn, she stated.

Mr Spence said that information could be provided but not at a cost of £2,160.

Allen Kirkbride pointed out that some years ago permission had been granted for a barn conversion at his dairy farm in Askrigg – and that barn was as close to the milking parlour as that at Sorrelsykes. He wondered if the planning rules had changed.

In response to questions about why an environmental survey wasn’t needed for holiday lets, the planning officer said that visitors would not have to live constantly with any odours or disturbances. This was emphasised by the Authority’s senior legal officer, Clare Bevan, who stated that any future statutory nuisance should be identified at the planning stage.

Jocelyn Manners-Armstrong said that they did need the information about the farming enterprise and her suggestion that a decision should be deferred to allow Mr Bell and Mr Spence to provide that was accepted.

West Burton – June

Permission has been granted for a barn at Sorrelsykes Park Farm near West Burton to be converted into three local occupancy dwellings.

At the June meeting the planning committee was informed that Richmondshire District Council’s Environmental Health Officer (EHO) had not repeated its objection to the planning application.

In April the planning officer told the committee that the EHO had requested that suitable noise and odour assessments should be made before the application was approved as the close proximity of the barn to the cow shed and milking parlour could have a detrimental impact upon those living in it once it was converted.

Cllr  Blackie said that a consultant would have charged at least £1,750, and that would be in addition to the £7,500 the applicant had already paid for surveys and other costs. His suggestion that the agent should carry out the noise and odour survey was accepted and he reported on Tuesday that the cost of that was £200.

Joceyln Manners-Armstrong commented: “I wouldn’t be confident on making a decision based on [the agent’s report] but the Environmental Health Officer has removed his objections so I don’t have a basis for refusing either.

“I can understand the point about surveys being expensive. If you want quality information you have to pay for it.”

The planning officer reported that there had been five letters of support for the application from those living close to the farm, and that the EHO had never received any complaints about odour or noise.

Cllr Blackie emphasised the need for local occupancy housing. He said: “A family or two with two or three children would make all the difference between keeping West Burton school open or the potential of seeing it close.

“If applicants are saying we can’t afford to take forward barn conversion applications then I do think we have a serious matter to address.”

A visit to Leyburn and Swaledale

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When our friends Jim and Sue  (with their elderly dog Monty) visited us  recently we took them to some of our favourite places: Tennants of Leyburn and The Garden RoomsDuncans Tearoom, Richmond, and Lower Swaledale. The wind was cold but otherwise the weather was perfect for some of the Dales views that we treated them to.

We do feel very fortunate to live in such a beautiful area where even the drive to the shops can be savoured – whether we go to Hawes or to Leyburn. I must admit that I do enjoy shopping in Leyburn. There’s a good mix of family run shops, medium sized supermarkets,  bakeries,  butchers, gift shops,  plus a variety of excellent places to eat or socialise.

As it was a Friday it was market day in Leyburn but this time we did not stop but headed for The Garden Rooms  as our friends had not seen how Tennants has developed  into a world-class centre. The multi-million pound extension which was completed in December 2014 made it it the largest auction house in Europe. It is a grand building which the Tennant family uses to promote and enhance the culture and tradition of the Yorkshire Dales. Jim and Sue were very impressed by the beautiful entrance to The Garden Rooms. As it was an auction day we decided to have a look at what was on offer before going to the cafe for coffee.

Jim, Sue and I  first browsed among the toys which conjured so many childhood memories for us oldies. Then we realised we had lost David in a world of his own for he was fascinated by a model of the famous 19th century racing clipper Lightning.

As we wandered off to admire the ceramics, jewellery, evening dresses and even fur coats David was obviously still thinking about it. In the cafe it was fascinating to watch the monitor as it displayed the rapid sale of items – 100 in an hour. That model boat wasn‘t due to be under the hammer until lunchtime and we wanted to move on. We were just leaving when David decided he would go and place a commission bid on Lightning.

Once Monty had had a chance to stretch his legs we set off back through Leyburn to Moor Road and along Whipperdale Bank. This took us past Metcalfe Farms, now famous following the TV series about its heavy haulage business.

After the crossroads Whipperdale Bank (otherwise known as Cote de Grinton during the Grand Depart of the Tour de France in 2014) is a road which commands attention not just because of  the awkward camber and the undulations but also for the moorland scenery. When Sue asked for a place to stop so that Monty could get out we immediately suggested waiting until we passed the imposing Grinton Lodge which was built in the 19th century as a shooting lodge and has been a youth hostel since 1948. Soon afterwards we came to the junction with the road to Redmire just before Grinton where there is an ideal viewing spot with space to park several cars. Jim and Sue were duly impressed by the view across Swaledale.

Reeth warranted a longer visit but we just drove round the village green and headed for the road to Richmond as it was almost lunchtime and we wanted to eat at Duncans  Tearoom. This has become one of our favourite places to eat not least because they have the most delicious gluten, dairy and potato starch free chocolate and walnut cake. Jim and David ordered eggs benedict (David’s with smoked salmon), while Sue enjoyed a leek and potato pie and I had one of their dairy free soups.

We were thoroughly enjoying our lunch when David made a telephone call and found out he was now the very delighted owner of Lightning.

It was soon time to find somewhere for Monty to have a brief stroll so we went to Hudswell and along the moor road which leads to Downholme.  That road (Hudswell Lane) provides some of the best views in the area and there is a good interpretation board at the small car park (above). From there we could see Hutton’s Monument which marks the grave of Matthew Hutton who died in 1814 when he was 35-years-old.  He had chosen that site because as a boy he had sat there enchanted by the beauty of that “mountainous country”.

We could understand his enchantment as we gazed on a vista which was not only very beautiful but also had so much to tell about the history of the northern Yorkshire Dales. To the west we looked across How Hill to Marrick. How Hill is the site of a large Iron Age defended settlement  (univallate  hillfort) which would have provided a commanding position overlooking the access to upper Swaledale as well as the route south to the Vale of York.

The Romans mined for lead in the moors above Swaledale and Arkengarthdale but they did not leave such a lasting legacy as the Anglo-Saxons and Vikings did for today many of their place names remain. The name of the river – the Swale – has Anglo-Saxon origins meaning whirling, swirling and swallowing. An apt name for one of the fastest flowing rivers in the country with its reputation for ‘swallowing’ incautious bathers.  Marrick and Marske are Viking place names.

In the 11th and 12th centuries it was the turn of the Normans to stamp their mark on the area with large  hunting forests for the noblemen and the foundation of religious  houses. Some Benedictine nuns chose a site near Marrick in the 12th century for its beauty and solitude and Cistercian nuns founded Ellerton Abbey nearby. That solitude was often rudely shattered between the 13th and 16th century when the nunneries were attacked by Border Rievers (robbers). In 1342 Ellerton Abbey was almost destroyed by Rievers. Bands of robbers continued to attack farms and villages in Northumberland, North Yorkshire and Cumbria until the border with Scotland became settled following the coronation of James I in 1603.

The  nunneries had gone by then. The dissolution of the monasteries during the reign of Henry VIII led to the closure of  Ellerton Abbey in 1536 four years before the nuns at Marrick Priory were evicted. The Priory chapel was the village church until 1948  and it was then used as a hen house.In the 1970s it was converted into an outdoor education and residential centre.  Ellerton Abbey was transformed into a Regency villa in the 1830s so that it could be used as a shooting lodge. For over 200 years the heather moors have been managed to provide grouse shooting for the wealthy and providing employment for many local people.

It is said that Swaledale has 75 per cent of the world’s remaining heather moorland – a habitat which is rarer than tropical rainforest. We could see smoke rising from the controlled burning of the heather and the patchwork pattern which that produces as well as the butts where shooters wait for the grouse to be driven overhead between August 12 and December 10 each year. The new growth provides the green, juicy shoots that the grouse love to feed on. It is argued that the management of the heather moors which includes predator control has led to the retention of so many curlews, lapwings, redshanks and some other ground nesting birds. It is always a delight in the spring to hear the curlews and lapwings calling as they return to nest among the heather.

Human management has stamped its mark on the Dales. The view so many people associate with Swaledale with its picturesque stone barns and small green fields enclosed by dry stone walls was created by the families who have farmed there for many centuries.

It was not just the heather moorland and the green swathe that surrounds the Swale which caught our attention but also the signs that this was once a heavily industrialised area. On Marrick and Marske Moors there are disused quarries and lead mines with the remains of smelt mills and soil heaps. When it was no longer commercially viable to mine for  lead in the area there was a mass exodus in the 19th centuries which is why there are so many in Australia, New Zealand, the USA and Canada today who are descended from Dales folk.

Sadly today Swaledale is an example of a new exodus as so many houses have become holiday lets or second homes. This has led to the villages becoming denuded of young families – the life blood of any community –  as they can’t afford the high prices that those coming from the cities and suburbs can pay. I can’t help thinking that the National Park’s drive to bring in more tourists might well backfire as more local young people are driven out.

In Downholme, the next village we passed through, has become a prime location because it has changed so little since the 1930s when the MoD began buying all the houses there. The MoD didn’t start selling the houses on the open market until the late 20th century. The Bolton Arms pub was the last to be sold – in 2013. Downholme is now a conservation area to protect the local vernacular style of the majority of the buildings which were built in the mid 19th century.

We travelled on hoping to reach The Garden Rooms in time to collect Lightning. The A6108 took us past the very distinctive Walburn Hall which dates back to the 15th century when it was fortified against the attacks of Border Rievers.  On the land around this working farm there are many humps and bumps – all that remains of a village which thrived there in Norman times.

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At Tennants we parked among many others who were collecting their newly acquired wares. David soon appeared proudly carrying Lightning.  The next problem was getting it safely into the car as it was  55 inches long  (140cm), 18 inches (46cm) wide and 35 inches (90cm) from the stand to the top of the main mast (above). Monty usually filled most of the boot. Thankfully he accepted being gently pushed to one side and a passenger seats was laid flat. Sue and I squeezed into the remaining passenger space and tried to keep the boat from rocking as Jim drove carefully back to Aysgarth.

Once Lightning was safely tucked away in the conservatory we could relax around a warm fire and enjoy some excellent cheese from the Wensleydale Creamery for light supper.

Epilogue

David and I returned to The Garden Rooms a few days later and had lunch in the cafe. I was delighted to find that there was no cow’s milk in the battered cod and even more so when the catering staff substituted baby root vegetables for chips. David was equally delighted with his beetroot and feta tart.

We certainly didn’t try to have a meal there on Saturday December 9 when the cafe was full to overflowing during the superb Christmas Fair. It is now attracting coach loads of visitors as well as many local people enjoying a day out. That was not surprising because there was a great variety of wares for sale with some stallholders having travelled miles to participate. My friend Rita Cloughton hadn’t  had so far to travel with her delightful  home-made crafts and was doing very brisk business.

For me the biggest surprise was finding mouth-watering Christmas puddings that I could eat thanks to Burtree Puddings. It is often very frustrating having so many severe food intolerances – but what a pleasure it is when I find something so good that I can eat.

Below: David’s new hobby is restoring Lightning.

Thornton Rust Outgang project

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The Outgang at Thornton Rust is the perfect place to start a walk along the bridleway to Thornton Rust Moor and then, via a permissive footpath, to the site of an ancient settlement at the top of Addlebrough.  For those who don’t want to go so far it is but a gentle walk up to the old lime kiln and into the Kennel Field where there is a seat overlooking the village. (Above: preparing the site for a picnic bench, with the bridleway on the other side of the beck. )

During the summer of 2017 some of the villagers have worked very hard to create a new car parking area at the Outgang and in doing so revealed features of the village’s agricultural and social past. (Click on the picture to see more photos of the work at the Outgang. )

They were grateful for a grant from the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s sustainability fund which will also cover the cost of preparing and installing an interpretation board. This will show how West Beck was dammed each year up until the beginning of the 20th century to form a pond where sheep could be washed to remove salve and lanolin before being clipped.

The salve, according to Eleanor Scarr, was a mixture of rancid butter and tar which helped to stop the sheep being struck by flies. In this year’s Now Then (the annual magazine of the Friends of the Dales Countryside Museum) there is an interview with her and her brother, Owen Metcalfe, about how farmers like their father, Sidney Metcalfe, used the beck – and how, on a hot summer’s day they would dam it so that the children could play in the water. Copies of the magazine are on sale (£2 each) at the museum in Hawes.

Below: the benches installed in December 2017

Ecologists congratulate the villagers

In November 2017 Deborah Millward wrote:

Last month I led a group of ten ecologists a short walk round the village. We discussed the West End Bank, which had just been cut and cleared, much to their approval.

I then showed them the new car park area up the Outgang describing the morass of docks and ground elder that had previously featured there. The consensus was that even if the “dreaded weeds” had not been defeated, the eventual increase in biodiversity was worth the effort. They greatly appreciated the improved facilities.

In East Lane I explained the problems we had experienced with water eroding the track. The new drain, funded by the Parish Wildlife Scheme, had gone in and the track could be restored. The Catchment Sensitive Farming Scheme was a possible source of funding for keeping silt out of the stream.

We discussed how best to manage the grazing to protect the flower-rich sections. Their advice was to graze in the autumn with cattle to remove the bulk of the year’s growth, then to follow this with sheep at some time in the winter months.

In the Kennel Field I showed them photos of the site before work started almost 20 years ago. The present day scene of trees and honeysuckle created a good impression, especially with the RSPB person. Sadly I had to report that black grouse no longer used the field’s hawthorn trees. The group were full of praise for the effort villagers were making to conserve and restore wildlife and wished us luck with East Lane.

Thornton Rust’s Kennel Field

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The chairman of Aysgarth and District Parish Council, John Dinsdale, was delighted in October 2017 when Thornton Rust ’s  Kennel Field Trust was highly commended at the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust awards ceremony. The award included £4,000 which, he said, would cover the cost of more environmental work at the Kennel Field.  My article (below) about the Kennel Field which was published in The Dalesman in 2014.

The Kennel Field

Above Thornton Rust there is a very special place to sit and enjoy the beauty of Wensleydale – and thanks to the hard work of many of the villagers there are no ugly blemishes on that landscape. Instead the Kennel Field is bedecked with wild flowers in Spring. (Above: Looking down from the top of the Kennel Field with the restored barn on the right, the mash house below it, and Thornton Rust in the distance. Click on this picture to see more photos)

Deborah Millward was so excited in November 2014 that she had to tell everyone connected with that field: “Hurray! Today a black grouse was feeding on one of the old hawthorn trees.” Deborah, who had just retired as chair of the Yorkshire Dales Biodiversity Forum, had a very different view of the Kennel Field when she first saw it in 1983. She and her husband, Ian, had walked up to field next to the lime kiln on the south side of the village. Looking back towards Carperby Moor she thought: “Wow – this is a beautiful place”.

But then she glanced downwards and saw the kennels which had been built as the summer retreat for the Wensleydale Hounds in the 19th century. “They were a real blot on the landscape,” she said. The other two buildings in the field – the mash house and a traditional barn – were also semi derelict.

When she studied the field more closely, however, as part of her moving from being a microbiologist in the food and water industries to a botanist, she realised that it was home to over 120 species of plants. “That is quite impressive. A lot of pastures are not as nearly as diverse,” she explained. “The field had never been improved and there is a wet bit with marsh marigold and meadow sweet. Probably the rarest thing in there is the flat sedge. That has declined nationally and the Kennel Field is a hot spot in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.”

She began dreaming of protecting the field and discussed her ideas with some of the villagers, including Aysgarth and District parish councillor and local farmer, John Dinsdale. As a child he had played there with his friends and so the idea of the field being special was a novel one.

What did concern him was that the old kennels were becoming so unsafe. “They were a danger to kids – because they used to play on the roof and that could have fallen through.” And they might then have been impaled on the old railings.

He added:“The barn and the mash house were going to fall down if they didn’t have something done to them. It’s a lovely spot now and it’s canny you can go up there and sit on the seat and enjoy it.”

That transformation came about because Deborah realised that funds might be available through the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust (YDMT) after it was set up in 1996. But first she needed the landowner’s permission to demolish the kennels. To her surprise the owner, Arthur Metcalfe, suggested they should buy the field. And so the Kennel Field Trust was born with John as its chairman. The many hours he, Deborah and other members of the management group spent working in that field counted as match funding.

Deborah put the project forward to the YDMT to be included in its application to the Millennium Commission. “The Kennel Field ticked all the boxes for the Millennium Commission,” explained David Sharrod, the YDMT director. “It came from the community, it was wild life and it was restoring historical sites. It was one of the first we managed to fund and certainly one of the first that we made work.”

The YDMT not only allocated some of the Lottery funds to the Kennel Field Trust but also obtained some European funding for the project. In addition to a small grant from the Yorkshire Agricultural Society the Kennel Field Trust also received a grant from the ESA Conservation Plan and that was used to purchase the field.

But back in Thornton Rust it wasn’t all plain sailing. There were some who were very suspicious and were worried that the Kennel Field would become a financial burden on the small community. One who expressed his doubts was Colin Day. “Afterwards I felt I had done wrong and I thought I would chip in and do a bit,” he said.

He certainly did chip in for he set himself the task of cleaning the lime mortar off of 100 bricks a day. “I chipped away at many, many thousands. It was snowing at times and it was jolly cold.” John would regularly drive a tractor to the field to knock down more of the roofing and Colin helped to demolish the walls. Others did help with cleaning the bricks and slowly they accumulated 8,800 which were sold to the builder who was restoring the barn.

That bit of extra money helped as Deborah hadn’t budgeted for buying good quality Northerly calcareous mix of seeds to restore the land where the kennels had been. The verges along the lane to the village were also reseeded as so much had been swept away by flooding before the new culvert was installed. The breeze blocks from the kennel runs were crushed and used to create the bridge over that culvert.

The rich mix of wild flowers in the Kennel Field had come about because Arthur Metcalfe had only grazed cattle there. Sheep would have damaged many of those plants explained John. Now a local farmer grazes her cattle there just twice a year the first period being for six weeks from June 1 – after that glorious display of wood anemones, marsh marigolds, cowslips and early purple orchids.

The cattle return after the summer flowering of plants like scabious and ox-eye daisies. “They graze it again in the autumn just to take all the growth off. It would just form a mass of dead material and the little seedlings wouldn’t be able to get through,” Deborah explained.

With so little grazing the field could easily become overgrown with hawthorn bushes if Deborah didn’t regularly weed out newcomers. Ragwort has no place there for the members of the management group pulled so many out in the first few years after the Kennel Field was officially opened in 2000. These were stored in the mash house until they were dry enough to burn.

The management group organises a maintenance day each Spring when woodwork is treated, injurious weeds like dock are pulled out and there is a general tidy up. Other jobs have included putting up a fence to stop calves going into the lime kiln and damaging it.

There wasn’t that much to do until someone realised a few years ago that a corner of the barn was sinking. John explained that the marshy area was increasing in size as it was being fed by a stream flowing down the field near the barn. So some of the villagers installed a drainage pipe.

“We do need a small steady income to maintain the two buildings, the gates and some fencing,” Deborah commented. That income has come from the ESA scheme since the field was bought but that ended in 2014. So now those on the management committee are looking for ways to cover this shortfall. For they are determined that many others in the future will be able to sit on that seat and share in that Wow factor.

 

Deborah reported in November 2017  that sadly the black grouse was no longer using the field’s hawthorn tree.

Enjoying Regent’s Canal

At Warwick Avenue Station we left behind the hurly burly of modern London and stepped into the dream world of a Prince Regent who wanted to create an elegant London with beautiful open spaces. So Warwick Avenue is broad and lined with large Regency white stuccoed houses which are as fashionable today as they were when built in the mid 19th century. The houses we passed in Warwick Place were not as large but just as elegant. Our destination was Little Venice and we couldn’t think of a better way to spend a beautiful sunny autumn day in London than going on a boat ride along Regent’s Canal.

We crossed the Westbourne Terrace Turnover Bridge where the Paddington Arm of the Grand Union Canal flows into Browning’s Pool (otherwise known as “Little Venice Lagoon” or just “The Lagoon”) to reach the Waterside Cafe where we rendezvoused with my son Eddie.There was a bit of a wait to get served but it was worth it for David and Eddie enjoyed their meals there  and I spoilt myself with a slice of orange polenta cake (minus cow’s milk products).  Below: Waterside Cafe. Click on this picture to see a photographic trip along Regent’s Canal.

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Surrounded by grand houses, modern flats and many visitors it was hard to picture the days when the area was in the open countryside. When the first houses were built in the 1840s they provided a haven for those who wanted to escape the thick, yellow London pea-soupers. Robert Browning lived there for a while in the 1860s before migrating to Venice. These days the Regency buildings he knew are overlooked by modern apartments but he has not been forgotten.

A gondola trip around the willow-draped island in the middle of the Lagoon was on offer while a group of novice paddleboarders made their way slowly past the Rembrandt Garden and the queue of tourists waiting for the London Waterbus.  We were heading for Jason’s Canal Trip moorings and so we crossed the Turnover Bridge again to await the arrival of the 109-year-old narrowboat.  Even though we weren’t the first in that queue we were allowed on board first because I had booked tickets in advance.

As we waited for the trip to begin we watched as a “working” canal boat delivered supplies to another narrowboat. We were reminded that British canals had come into existence in the 18th and 19th centuries and were essential to Britain’s industrial success because they provided an excellent way to transport millions of tonnes of heavy goods throughout the country before the advent of the railways.

Regent’s Canal was completed in 1820 to provide a link from the Paddington Arm to Limehouse. Architect John Nash was a director of the Regent’s Canal Company set up in 1812 and described it as “barges moving through an urban landscape”.  The bulk of the river traffic then served the industrial heart of the city but Nash and his assistant James Morgan ensured that there was much to enjoy and in the mid 19th century there were pleasure boats on The Lagoon. The beauty of Regent’s Canal is that for many miles even today it provides an escape from London’s urban landscape.

Canals began to fall into disuse and decay from the mid 20th century because the narrowboats could no longer compete with both railway and lorry transport.  Thanks to the efforts of many volunteers throughout the country hundreds of miles of canals have been restored. According to the Canal and River Trust charity, in 1969 Regent’s Canal was unused and unloved. That certainly can’t be said today. The Trust  has contributed a lot towards creating better and more open spaces as our journey along Regent’s Canal showed.

As Jason’s Boat pulled away our guide began his cheerful and informative description of the canal’s history and the sights along the way.  We left the Lagoon and passed under Bridge No 1 on the Regent’s Canal: the late 19th century grade II listed Warwick Avenue Bridge with its ornamental iron railings. Now we were gently travelling past Maida Avenue and Blomfield Road towards the 272 yards (249m) long Maida Hill Tunnel.

Brightly painted narrowboats lined the edges of the canal  on some of the most prestigious moorings in London. Ahead was the Cafe Laville in Edgware Road marking the beginning of the tunnel.  Our guide explained that when the 201-year-old tunnel was being built it cut through part of the outfield of what was the second site of the Lord’s Cricket Ground. Spoil from the diggings were used to level land to the north of the canal so that a new cricket ground could be created.

Our guide also told us about how men had originally had “legged” horse-drawn narrowboats through the canal by laying on top on their backs and using their legs to push the boats along while the horses were led to the other side of the tunnel. Jason’s boat had been a cargo vessel until it was fitted with a diesel engine and, in 1951, was the first he said to be used for tourist trips between Camden Lock and Little Venice.

Not long after leaving the tunnel we came to a wider section of the canal where the permanent narrowboat moorings are overlooked by modern apartment blocks and the very large St John’s Wood Electricity Sub-station. Once upon a time coal boats moored there to deliver supplies to a power station.

We were then embraced by trees in their autumn plumage as we entered Regent’s Park. Neo-classical mansions towered above us remindPaing us that Nash had originally planned to line the canal with grand houses. That dream was partly realised when Quinlan Terry was commissioned in the late 1980s to design those now on the south bank of the canal.

Our guide told us all about Macclesfield Bridge – or rather Blow-Up Bridge. It got that name after a narrowboat carrying gunpowder and petroleum blew up in October 1874. The three members of the crew were killed and the bridge was demolished. The Doric arches were put up again and the bridge was rebuilt.

Soon we were on our way through Regent’s Park Zoo, spotting some African wild dogs and the Snowden Aviary before coming upon the splendid  Feng Shang Princess (a floating Chinese restaurant) and turning towards Primrose Hill. At this point we were heading back into industrial London leaving behind that haven of tranquility.

The towpath along the canal is now part of the 37 mile Jubilee Greenway walk which came into being to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. The canal and its unique industrial heritage are protected by being in a conservation area.

Before long we were passing The Pirate Castle  which is the base for a boating and outdoor activities charity. As we headed for Camden Lock I thought it was so nice to see people sitting on the edge of the towpath , their legs dangling over the canal, eating their lunch. Behind them were the Lock House apartments in what had been one of the main warehouses on the 20 acre W & A Gilbey Ltd site in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

We could see the Interchange Warehouse (now the home of Associated Press TV News) and the 19th century Roving Bridge which was once used to move horses from one towpath to another.Then we understood how well those by Lock  House had escaped the crowds. As we disembarked near the Roving Bridge we were enveloped by a mass of people as we tried to make our way past the international choice of food on offer at various kiosks and the stalls offering a wide selection of clothes, music, art and so much more.

It is said that the  market is one of London’s most populated tourist destinations and it is estimated that over 11,000 visit it at weekends. David commented that all 11,000 seemed to be there that afternoon.  All David and I wanted to do was to get out. What a chaotic and noisy contrast to the tranquility and harmony of nature we had experienced on the way through Regent’s Park. Even outside of the market it was difficult to find somewhere to sit and have a cup of coffee.

David decided it was time to leave as quickly as possible and Eddie flagged down a taxi for us. We felt as if we were on a magical tour of London, sitting in comfort in a real taxi watching all the people and the traffic in comfort. It was fascinating to see not just what remains of the Prince Regent’s dream but also the new buildings, especially the skyscrapers.

With hundreds more skyscrapers soon to be built it seems London will become one large building site.  But sadly there seems to be very little coherent design as architects and developers compete to dominate London’s skyline. The London I knew as a child is fast disappearing – which made our journey along the Regent’s Canal even more special. Below: Passing through Regent’s Park.

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NE Mercedes-Benz Club Autumn 2017

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I always look forward to the two Autumn gatherings of the NE Mercedes-Benz Club  – at Whitley Bay and at Beamish Museum.

The Whitley Bay Classic Car Show started four years ago and at each  one we have seen the area being transformed thanks to the North Tyneside Council’s regeneration scheme for the town. The refurbished toilets at Watts Slope definitely have the wow factor.

The area to the south of those toilets has dramatically changed for the better with a wide promenade by the sea and the new Premier Inn. We did enjoy the view from our bedroom window (pictured above) at that hotel but were sad to find that we could not open the window and so let in the sea breeze.

We are looking forward to next year when the promenade beside The Links where the car show is held will be open again after refurbishment. The biggest attraction, however, will be the Spanish  City with its splendid white dome and statues of dancing ladies back once more atop the re-instated cupolas.

The restoration of this historic feature of Whitley  Bay could well make the town as popular as it was when Charles Elderton brought his dancing troop, the Toreadors, to the town in the 1900s and then had the Spanish  City built.

Before going to Whitely Bay I did quite a lot of research on the internet to find a restaurant that would cater for a vegetarian, those with severe allergies and food intolerances, and children. The result was that, after the car show, we went with Giles and Elaine Brown and their two children to The Astley Arms at Seaton Sluice. The carvery there provided a superb meal for each of us.

The car show, organised by North Tyneside Council, was once again a great success with over 500 cars  dating from the mid 1930s to more recent models.  The success is largely due to admission being  free both for those entering cars and for the public. Then there’s that great location which gets better each year. It always helps, of course, if the sun shines as it did during the morning at this year’s show.

We enjoyed meeting friends, catching up on club news, and browsing among the vintage and classic cars.

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Above: some of the members’ cars at Beamish – click on this picture to see more photos of the gatherings at Whitley Bay and Beamish.

A week later we met club  members again, this time at Beamish for the Classic Car Day organised by NECPWA North.

This is a very special location with so much to do and see. We went on tram rides while others explored the 1900s Town, the  1940s Farm and the 1900s Pit Village. Most of us took picnics because we knew that there would be long queues at the fish and chip shop and the bakery.

Among the friends who we met both at Whitley Bay and at Beamish were Bill Reid and Kate Workman. It was so sad to hear that they had died in a suspected carbon monoxide incident at their home in High Seaton near Workington on October 22.

They organised events for the Cumbria Mercedes Benz Club for many years. When they stepped down the NE Club took over and we met them at events  in Cumbria, and they began attending gatherings in the North East. We will miss them.

Footnote:

Details of how they died from carbon monoxide poisoning due to Bill reversing their Mercedes Benz into a large plastic bag were published in April 2019 following an inquest into their deaths.

English Music Festival at Aysgarth church

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The Yorkshire Autumn Festival at St Andrew’s Church, Aysgarth, was an inspiring and very enjoyable way to learn more about some of the finest of our British music composers.

The weekend of six concerts was organised by the English Music Festival. Its founder director, Em Marshall-Luck explained: “The EMF was founded to celebrate the music of British composers of all times, with a strong focus on the Golden Renaissance of English Music – the early to mid-twentieth century – and to reintroduce to the repertoire those many wonderful works and composers who had been overlooked for many decades.”

It began on the Friday evening with a remarkable performance of Stanford’s Piano Trio no.2 in G Minor by Rupert Marshall-Luck (violin), Joseph Spooner (cello) and Duncan Honeybourne (piano).

The following morning Honeybourne (above) gave a virtuoso solo performance ranging from Alwyn’s Sonata alla Toccata to Ireland’s Sarnia: an Island Sequence. He moved effortlessly from delicately caressing the piano keys to dramatic flourishes as he shared his love of the music with his audience.

During that concert several in the audience heard some of Robin Milford’s music for the first time. “We have learnt new things during these concerts,” author Juliet Barker commented. Like others, she found it difficult to choose any highlights for all the concerts were so memorable.

The other musicians who took part and who were so exceptional were: pianists Rebeca Omordia and Kathryn Mosley; and soloist Christopher Foster.

At the end of the weekend Barker said: “It has been a rare and wonderful privilege. Hopefully they [the English Music Festival] will come back.”

Em Marshall-Luck responded that they would like to. “It’s a beautiful church, it’s a beautiful location, and we absolutely adore the Yorkshire Dales. I wanted to create a family atmosphere in a beautiful place and this building ticks all the boxes.”

Shortage of ambulances

Aysgarth and District Parish Council report, September 2017: shortage of ambulances in dales; Bishopdale Bridge; future of Askrigg, Bainbridge and West Burton Schools; and proposed new slurry store at Town Head Farm, Thoralby.

The shortage of emergency ambulances serving the dales is causing considerable distress to patients, Aysgarth and District parish councillors were told at the September meeting.

North Yorkshire county councillor John Blackie stated: “The fact is that there simply are not sufficient emergency ambulances because so many services are being transferred to far distant hospitals like the James Cook [at Middlesbrough].

“The ambulances are completely and utterly overwhelmed. The front-line staff are brilliant but there’s not enough of them and they can’t be in two places at once.

“I am making a very determined attempt to get the CCG [Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group] to resource another emergency ambulance. As it stands now we can’t cope.”

The parish council heard reports that Community First Responders (who are all volunteers) are often waiting 35 to 40 minutes for an ambulance to reach a patient.

Repairs needed. – “There are several ambulances each day going up and down Bishopdale – and that’s why it’s important that the bridge is repaired,” said councillor Alison Sayer. She reported that nothing had been done yet to repair it and bits continued to fall off. (Below)

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Nor have any repairs been carried on the road between Thornton Rust and Cubeck. It was reported that recently an articulated lorry and a 7 ½ ton lorry had great difficulty passing each other on the road to Thornton Rust. The councillors wondered if a weight limit could be imposed, and traffic directed via Askrigg when the A684 was flooded.

It was noted that, yet again, some motorists had driven past “road flooded” signs and then got stuck in floods along the A684.

Local schools. – The council supported maintaining all three schools (Askrigg, Bainbridge and West Burton). There was concern that if a programme of closure began that the only one left in mid Wensleydale would be that at Askrigg.

It was pointed out that when West Burton school joined in federation with the other two schools in May 2016 it had about £27,000 in hand. And yet the federation is now expected to have a deficit of around £90,000. “Where has the money gone?” asked the clerk. Cllr Blackie said that the federation will be asked to give a full account.

Councillor Robert Walker said that any closures would mean the loss of social amenity and the ability of the villages to attract young families.

Cllr Sayer commented: “I was chair of governors [at West Burton] for eight years and we ran a very healthy school financially and educationally. West Burton school has produced a lot of very highly successful people as a lot of these small dales school have. And it doesn’t want to be lost.”

“They are taught to be autonomous learners and not to be fed information,” explained Jane Huntington.

Thoralby. – Mrs Huntington reported to the parish council the concerns expressed by villagers at the extraordinary parish meeting held two days earlier about the proposal by Town Head Farm to construct a 40.5m diameter slurry store above the west end of Thoralby. Photo: the slurry store to be located in the third field from the houses, just beyond the cows.

Slurry store

The parish council agreed that it wished to support local farmers. It also, in general, supported the principle and the agricultural need for a new slurry store at Town Head Farm. It did, however, feel that it was essential that the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s planning committee should hold a site meeting as there were a number of amendments to the scheme that the parish council and residents would like to see made to mitigate the impact of such a large slurry store upon the residents and the landscape. It was agreed that those concerns could be better explained at a site meeting.

Thornton Rust. – It was reported that the project to tidy up the Outgang car parking area was going very well thanks to the work of a small group of volunteers. The next stage is to install a picnic table and a bench.

For more about Aysgarth and District Parish Council see: www.aysgarthanddistrict.co.uk

Footnote: by late 2017 both the road and wall between Thornton Rust and Cubeck, and the bridge in Bishopdale had been well repaired by NYCC Highways. The application for the slurry store at the west end of Thoralby was withdrawn. This was followed by an application for a slurry store above Heaning Hall on the east side and that was approved by the YDNPA planning committee in April 2018.

Steam engines from Masham to the North York Moors

For our Enjoying Britain travels in July 2017 we watched the Masham Steam Engine road rally, and then had a a trip to Whitby,  which included staying at Ruswarp Hall, a picnic at Sandsend, a return journey on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway (NYMR), and a visit to Eden Camp at Malton.

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We were so grateful to Robert and Pru for again inviting us and other friends to join them for a grandstand view of the Masham Steam Engine road rally on Saturday, July 15. (Click on the photo above to see more steam engines and also some of the NYMR.)

Pru and Robert’s  house overlooks the market place at Masham where the steaming, clanking cavalcade was gathered in for a display of engines ranging from the big road locomotives such as the 1913 Burrell proudly displaying its Prestons of Potto livery and large steam rollers, to the “miniature” versions which were still capable of conveying several people. To add to the fun there were steam lorries plus vintage tractors and cars.

There was a great sense of community, not just around the town but also among the participants as they have got to know each other so well during the many years that they have met at the various steam rallies in and around Wensleydale.  That in Masham began in 1965 as a way of raising funds to maintain the town hall. It is held in  neighbouring fields over a weekend in July each year with many of the participants joining the road run late on Saturday afternoon.

Many of the drivers of those majestic engines can’t leave the market place without a loud whistle. Once most of them were gone Pru and Robert made sure we were well fed. None of us were in a hurry to leave!

Two days later we were on the road to Whitby as we had booked for a return trip on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway (NYMR) on the Tuesday – something we had been promising to do for several years. As we headed towards Masham we met another procession – this time of vintage and classic cars including Austin Sevens, a Daimler Dart, an Austin Healey and a Triumph Spitfire. We wondered if they were on their way home from the Historic Vehicle Rally at Newby Hall the previous day. The slowest vehicle returning home was the steam roller heading for Woodhall.

It was a glorious sunny day  and so it wasn’t surprising that Thirsk town centre was very busy with far too many pedestrians not checking carefully before they cross the road in front of us. Once we had  ascended Sutton Bank we decided we did not want to follow the main road. So just after Kirkbymoorside we turned off and headed for Hutton-le-Hole. Its picture-perfect green dissected by Hutton Beck, the pub and the cafes were very inviting, as was the Ryedale Folk Museum, but we did not stop but rather took the moor road over Blakey Ridge. Ewes and lambs provided a sharp contrast in colour against the purple heather blossom as we climbed towards the Lion Inn, the 16th century pub at the highest point in the North Yorkshire Moors National Park (1325ft).  There were glorious views over Farndale and Rosedale but yet again we decided to keep going.

As we dropped down into the Esk Valley the roads became much narrower and often full of the rich scent of hay making. By lunchtime we were in Lealholm. This is where the River Esk cascades from a steep gorge called “Crinkley Gill” to flow through the centre of the village and over the famous stepping stones. But what caught our eye was the Shepherds Hall tea room and craft gallery – and not just because it had been well and truly yarn bombed

The hall was built in 1873 as a meeting place for the Loyal Order of Ancient Shepherds. If shepherds have to be fit to follow their flocks then the waiters at this tea room have to be equally fit. The kitchen is on the ground floor, with the main dining area upstairs, and the two others out in the garden (one overlooking the river).  David thoroughly enjoyed his panini and I was so impressed at how the staff happily assisted me with finding something I could safely eat. They even telephoned the local bakery to find out if any cow’s milk/products had been used in the bread.

After our pleasant meanderings over moor and through dales Whitby came as a shock because it was overflowing with visitors. We did manage to find a parking space and wandered around the centre of the town so that we knew where everything was the following day. As it was so  hot David introduced me to the very refreshing Costa smoothies. I had done some research into where to eat at Whitby and had realised that we would have a major problem as almost every restaurant served shellfish – and David has a dangerously acute anaphylactic reaction to the minutest amount. For our first evening I had, therefore, packed a picnic.

My place of choice for that picnic was the parking area overlooking Sandsend. David had to wait for supper because, when we got there, the temptation of walking along that sandy beach (and a paddle) was just too much. When I returned he drove to Sandsend car park which was relatively empty by then. It was a great place to enjoy a picnic on a beautiful, sunny evening and we both thoroughly enjoyed it. (Below: Sandsend beach on that warm summer’s evening with Whitby Abbey in the distance)

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Then it was time to find our lodgings for the night. I had been seduced at the idea of sta