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YDNPA – planning committee November 2017

November 19, 2017 By: Pip Land Category: ARC News Service No Comments →

An ARC News Service report of the meeting of the planning committee of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority  (YDNPA) on Tuesday November 14 when the following were discussed:  a mast at Rylstone; a new house at Crosby Garrett; and applications for barn conversions at Hawes, Appersett and Cotterdale. The Friends of the Dales (formerly the Yorkshire Dales Society) objected to two of the barn conversion applications (see below).

Rylstone

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.

Richmondshire District councillor Yvonne 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 North Yorkshire county councillor John Blackie.

Two other North Yorkshire county councillors, Robert Heseltine and Richard 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.

Crosby Garrett

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.

North Yorkshire County Councillor Richard 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 Alan 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.”

South Lakeland District Councillor Brenda 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 Eden District Councillor Valerie 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 North Yorkshire County  Councillor John 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.”

Applications for barn conversions

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.

A site meeting will be held at Spring Wood Barn in Cotterdale to assess the impact of its being converted upon the amenity of those living next door.

YDNPA – planning committee October 2017

October 11, 2017 By: Pip Land Category: ARC News Service No Comments →

An ARC News Service report of the meeting of the planning committee of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority  (YDNPA) on Tuesday October 10 when the following were discussed: an application for a large slurry store at Thoralby; Tim’s Barn at Gayle; the development of a former farmstead at Halfway House, Grassington; and a proposed extension to a barn conversion at Litton.

Thoralby

slurryplant_field

Above: the site for the proposed slurry tank is in the field above where the cows are. In the foreground is part of Thoralby village.

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, North Yorkshire county councillor John Blackie told the committee.

The Authority’s head of development management, Richard 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.

Mr Graham told the meeting that the slurry plant would be almost as long as the Authority’s office building in Bainbridge and similar in height.

Richmondshire District councillor Yvonne 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.”

Gayle

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.

Litton

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.”

 

Grassington

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.

YDNPA – planning committee September 2017

September 16, 2017 By: Pip Land Category: ARC News Service No Comments →

The Association of Rural Communities has been monitoring the meetings of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s (YDNPA) planning committee for 20 years and that on September 12 was unique and truly remarkable due to an application concerning a barn at Leck near Kirkby Lonsdale:

Lancaster City 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.

Barden – The majority of the committee confirmed its decision at last month’s meeting to approve the application to erect an  agricultural building at Broad Park, Barden.

 

Pip Land attends on 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 them.  If you would like to support this service do join the Association of Rural Communities.

YDNPA – planning committee August 2017

August 11, 2017 By: Pip Land Category: ARC News Service No Comments →

An ARC News Service report of the meeting of the planning committee of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority  (YDNPA) on Tuesday August 8 when the following were discussed: the need for local occupancy homes in the dales; the conversion of traditional buildings at Buckden and Countersett, converting a workshop into a dwelling at Askrigg; the need for an agricultural building at Broad Park, Barden; and a “castle folly” at Forbidden Corner,Coverdale.

Holiday lets versus local occupancy

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?

Askrigg

BeckBitts

Cllr Peacock and Askrigg parish councillor Allen Kirkbride supported David Scarr’s application to convert part of his building (above) 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.

Barden

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, Richmondshire District councillor Caroline 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.

Buckden

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)

Countersett:

Last month the majority of the members voted against giving approval for a barn at East Hill Top at Countersett to be converted into a holiday let or for local occupancy. But this month most of them did a complete U turn.

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)

Coverdale

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.

 

Pip Land attends on 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 them.  If you would like to support this service do join the Association of Rural Communities.

YDNPA – planning committee July 2017

July 14, 2017 By: Pip Land Category: ARC News Service No Comments →

Semerwater_three

An ARC News Service report of the meeting of the planning committee of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority  (YDNPA) on Tuesday July 11. The following were included: the decision on the agricultural barn above Starbotton; the possibility of a new home for the postmistress at Crosby Garrett;  an application to convert a barn at Countersett;  and a request to build two houses on the site of the former Baliol School at Sedbergh.

Countersett

Concern about retaining the special qualities of the landscape around Semerwater (above) 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.

Richmondshire District Councillor Yvonne 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.

Crosby Garrett

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.

Starbotton

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.

At the June meeting Mr Lister had described the problems he faced as a hill farmer now that the road through Starbotton is so busy and there are so many more tourists staying in the village. This made it far more difficult to bring sheep down from the moor to his farm on the opposite side of the road.

A site meeting was held late in June and then, at the July meeting, North  Yorkshire County Councillor Robert 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. Richmondshire District Councillor Yvonne 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. The head of development management, Richard Graham, announced that this decision would not have to be ratified at the August meeting even though it was against the officer’s recommendation.

Sedbergh

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.

 

Pip Land attends on 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.  If you would like to support this service do join the Association of Rural Communities.

YDNPA – Planning committee June 2017

June 14, 2017 By: Pip Land Category: ARC News Service No Comments →

An ARC News Service report of the meeting of the planning committee of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority  (YDNPA) on Tuesday June 13. The following were included: the difficulties faced by hill farmers and the need for a new barn at Starbotton; a barn conversion at Sorrelysykes Park Farm. West Burton; and enforcement action concerning Tim’s Barn, Gayle.

Starbotton:

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 y ears 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 North Yorkshire County Councillor Robert Heseltine’s recommendation that there should be a site visit.

West Burton

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.

North Yorkshire County Councillor John 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.”

Tim’s Barn, Gayle

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.

YDNPA – Planning committee May 2017

May 13, 2017 By: Pip Land Category: ARC News Service No Comments →

An ARC News Service report on the meeting of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority ( YDNPA ) planning committee on Tuesday, May 9. The applications discussed were: the conversion of Bolton Abbey Tithe Barn; the major redevelopment of Howe Syke Barn, Bishopdale; a barn conversion at Kettlewell; and the conversion of a coach house at Stackhouse. The barn conversion application was described as a watershed in interpreting the new Local Plan policy.

Bolton Abbey

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.

NOTE: This application was later withdrawn.

Bishopdale

The £850,000 development at Howe Syke Farm in Bishopdale can go ahead even though the committee was warned that the decision could set a dangerous precedent.

Just like last month, most of the committee voted in favour of approving the application which included converting a barn to holiday lets and the erection of two new barns, plus extending the 18th century farmhouse and providing accommodation for staff in its adjoining barn.

At the April meeting Helen Brown informed the committee that the holiday lets would be used by shooting parties during the shooting season and would then be available to other visitors. They also  needed good family accommodation for a gamekeeper, an apprentice gamekeeper and a farm manager, and to improve the accommodation for themselves and their children.

Upper Dales County Councillor John 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 North Yorkshire County Councillor Robert Heseltine added: “For future generations I will support this without reservation.”

Roger 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, Richmondshire District Councillor Caroline 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 remain 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.

Kettlewell – and barn conversions

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, Craven District Councillor 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.”

Upper Dales county councillor John 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.

North Yorkshire County Councillor Robert 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.

Stackhouse

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.

 

Pip Land attends on 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.  If you would like to support this service do join the Association of Rural Communities.

YDNPA – planning committee April 2017

April 17, 2017 By: Pip Land Category: ARC News Service No Comments →

An ARC News Service report on the meeting of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority ( YDNPA ) planning committee on Tuesday, April 11. The applications discussed were: the major redevelopment of Howe Syke Farm, Thoralby; the possible conversion of a barn at Sorrelsykes Farm, West Burton; confirmation of the approval to convert a barn in Arkengarthdale; and an extension to an agricultural building at Town Head Farm, Grassington. The committee also agreed to hold a site meeting at the Tithe Barn, Bolton Abbey. 

Howe Syke, Thoralby

howe_syke

A £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 North Yorkshire County Councillor John 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.”

North Yorkshire County Councillor Roger 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.

Sorrelsykes, West Burton

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The barn which might be converted is to the right of the large, modern agricultural building.

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.

Arkengarthdale

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.

Bolton Abbey

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.

Grassington

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.

 

Pip Land attends on 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. Her ARC News Service reports are sent, free of charge, to local newspapers and websites.  If you would like to support this service do join the Association of Rural Communities.

YDNPA – Planning committee March 2017

March 17, 2017 By: Pip Land Category: ARC News Service No Comments →

An ARC News Service report on the meeting of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority ( YDNPA ) planning committee on Tuesday, March 14, 2017. The applications discussed were from: Arkengarthdale, Gayle, Hudswell (Underbanks) and Kettlewell.

Arkengarthdale

stones_barn

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 North Yorkshire County Councillor John Blackie asked if he could show Mr Watkin’s photo to members and the chairman, Richmondshire District Councillor Caroline 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.)

Gayle

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.

Hudswell

under_banks

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

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.”

 

Pip Land attends on 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. Her ARC News Service reports are sent, free of charge, to local newspapers and websites.  If you would like to support this service do join the Association of Rural Communities.

YDNPA – Planning Committee February 2017

February 26, 2017 By: Pip Land Category: ARC News Service No Comments →

An ARC News Service report on the meeting of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority ( YDNPA ) planning committee on 14 February 2017. The applications discussed were from: Arncliffe, Embsay,  Linton, Long Preston, Threshfield, Newbiggin in Bishopdale and Barbon.  Two important issues were when the opinions of parish councils would lead to applications being discussed by the planning committee and when a legal agreement  might not be effective (see Newbiggin).

Consulting parish councils

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.”

Threshfield Parish Council probably felt it had done so but it would seem that it was still depended upon a member to call it in (see below).

And then there was the story of two dormer extensions:

Embsay

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.

Threshfield

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 North Yorkshire County Councillor Robert 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.

Linton

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

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.

Conistone

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.

Barbon

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.”

Arncliffe

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, Caroline 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.

Newbiggin

A legal agreement would not be sufficient to stop the two-bedroom annex to Mystified Bungalow becoming a separate dwelling, the head of development management, Richard 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

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 rooflights 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.

North Yorkshire County Councillor Roger Harrison-Topham compared such farm buildings to large well-lit ocean liners.

 

ARC News Service: A representative of ARC attended this meeting on a voluntary basis making it possible for Pip Land to write this report.  No newspaper reporters attend these meetings and so the ARC News Service is the only independent source of information concerning those meetings.   If you would like to support this service do join the Association of Rural Communities.

YDNPA planning reports February to December 2016

January 20, 2017 By: Pip Land Category: ARC News Service No Comments →

ARC News Service reports on YDNPA planning committee meetings during 2016: applications affecting roadside barn conversions, Arcow Quarry at Horton in Ribblesdale, Appletreewick, Arncliffe, Askrigg, Austwick, Aysgarth, Bolton Abbey, Buckden, Burnsall, Burtersett, Casterton, Crosby Ravensworth, Dent, Drybeck, East Witton, Embsay, Gayle, Grassington, Grinton, Hardraw, Hartington Raikes, Hawkswick, Hebden, Horton-in-Ribblesdale, Howgill, Hudswell,  Kettlewell, Malham, Marske, Newbiggin in Bishopdale, Otterburn, Reeth, Sedbergh (and Millthrop), Skyreholme, Stainforth, Stirton,  Swaledale (Richmond Motor Club Three Day Trial and Swaleview Caravan Site) Thorpe, Threshfield, Weasdale, West Witton,  and Winterburn. These are listed in alphabetical order below.

An application from Forbidden Corner in Coverdale was also discussed.

outside_barn

This was an eventful year for the Authority as its boundaries were extended on August 1 and its policies were widened to include the approval of roadside barn conversions, like that planned by Kelly and Haydon Cooper near Askrigg (above).

Sadly, it also saw the retirement of Harold Brown.  At the beginning of the September  planning committee meeting the chairman, Richmondshire District Councillor Caroline Thornton-Berry paid tribute to him. After  20 years as a parish council representative he had resigned due to ill health.“He has made a very long and loyal contribution to the Yorkshire Dales,” Cllr Thornton-Berry  said. He was also thanked at the Full Authority meeting on September 27.

Barn conversions – Early in 2016  the committee began approving the conversion of roadside barns in accordance with the emerging Local Plan. This policy, approved in December 2016, permits traditional buildings to be converted into local occupancy homes or holiday lets, all with legal agreements.  After the Local Plan was adopted most barn conversion applications will be dealt with by officers under delegated powers.

In late 2016 an application to convert Tug Gill Lathe near Starbotton was refused by an officer under delegated authority and so was not considered by the planning committee. Kettlewell with Starbotton Parish Council had informed the planning officer that it supported the application.

The officer stated the domestic use of the barn would be discordant with the highly distinctive landscape character of Upper Wharfedale. The barn is within the Upper Wharfedale Site of Special Scientific Interest and near the River Wharfe SSSI. Natural England had advised the Authority that the proposal was unlikely to have an adverse effect given the small scale and nature of the development.

In August it was noted that those converting barns will be required to install boreholes if water was not already available at the site.

Among those approved by the planning committee in November were at Skirbeck Farm, Long Preston (holiday let or local occupancy); at Blackburn House, Main Street, Thorpe (local occupancy);  and  at Croft Farm, Arkleside, Coverdale (holiday let).

It was agreed at that meeting that applicants should be offered dual legal agreements covering holiday lets and local occupancy for barn conversions unless they requested only one type of use.

An amazing press release

After the meeting in May I was not impressed by an amazing press release sent out by the Authority.  It was amazing because it congratulated the planning committee for approving a retrospective application for a restaurant at Knight Stainforth Hall, Stainforth, that had been open for a year!

There was little said, however, about Horton in Ribblesdale Parish Council opposing plans to organise yet more Three Peaks charity events.

Retrospective planning applications – October

Anyone who makes a retrospective planning application should have to pay all the costs incurred by the Authority, Richmondshire District Councillor Stuart Parsons stated.

He said:  “Retrospective planning applications must carry a form of financial penalty – although it is not a fine, although we are not making money out of it – but people must understand that if they don’t apply the basic rules of planning then it is going to cost and that cost could be significant.

“People have to learn that they can’t just do what the hell they like and hope to get away with it.”

He said this following a statement by the Association of Rural Communities which gave an illustration of a recent retrospective planning application in Aysgarth.

The Association commented: “This National Park was extended to protect special areas of landscape. But your ability to protect the landscape is severely limited if it is possible to build without planning permission with no penalties being imposed.

“Our Association would suggest that there should be financial penalties on a sliding scale according to the size and cost of the construction carried out.”

It was pointed out, however, that as it was not a criminal offence to build without planning permission no fines could be imposed.

Richard Graham, the Authority’s head of development management, stated: “Developers who carry out work with the knowledge that it is unauthorised do so at their own risk and they are liable to enforcement action and may be required to undo the work.”

He said that the Authority will appoint a [full time] principle planning officer to manage planning enforcement. That officer will be asked to introduce a system to monitor new developments so that the Authority can pro-actively ensure compliance with planning controls. Up until now the Authority has had just two part-time enforcement officers.

Exemption caravan sites – October

In its statement ARC also commented on the ability of the Camping and Caravanning Club to accredit small camp sites even in National Parks without planning permission.  It reported that Aysgarth Township parish meeting had asked if the Authority could campaign to have this loophole closed.

Mr Graham responded that the exemption allowing such caravan clubs to accredit small sites had been in place for over 50 years and was re-affirmed by the government last year. “Given that, it’s considered unlikely the government would change such  well-established legislation.”

Cllr Parsons commented: “I accept the caravanning club explanation even though it is completely bonkers.”

North Yorkshire County Councillor John Blackie reported that a caravanning club had decided to close its sites in Hawes and in Wharfedale from January  until early July next year. That would mean the loss of 240 pitches in the Yorkshire Dales which would have a negative impact upon the local economies.

He said concerning caravanning clubs : “They have always been a law unto themselves and unfortunately the law allows them to be a law unto themselves on these small sites. Whilst I think we are tilting at windmills in terms of the legislation that has just recently been confirmed, I do think I would  like to see this National Park try and engage at a greater level than perhaps it has in the past with [organisations] that can mean make or break for local economies.”

From the ARC statement: “Twelve months ago residents in and around Aysgarth were very concerned when an application was made to the Camping and Caravanning Club for accreditation for a site at Townends for five caravans/mobile homes and ten tents. Parish councillors warned that the access was very dangerous due to restricted visibility. The decision to accredit the site was made on the advice of just one person.

“Those at Aysgarth Township parish meeting in March stated that this Authority should be campaigning to have this loophole closed – and the Association of Rural Communities agrees.

“At that parish meeting the owners of Townends stated that they would go ahead with making significant alterations to the roof of the bungalow and adding an extension without planning permission – and they did. There are several other examples of retrospective planning permissions within the Yorkshire Dales this year.”

AppletreewickFebruary

The decision on whether or not the timber-built Knowles Lodge at Appletreewick could be replaced with a modern building depended upon what the planning committee members did or did not like.

After reminding the committee that Appletreewick parish council fully supported the application, Ian McPherson stated:

“We’ve had quite a number of different views expressed and I think this is because refusal revolves around aesthetics – what we like and what we don’t like in terms of design.”

When asked what a decision to approve the application could be based upon the Authority’s legal officer replied: “The reasons are simply that the design is acceptable and the converse are the reasons for refusal.”

Cllr Blackie pointed out that in the Authority’s own Design Guide it was stated that it wasn’t always necessary to reproduce the vernacular style. “I think this is a really good example of where we can perhaps be a little bit adventurous. We can step outside the norm and bring something forward that celebrates the Park and celebrates the landscape.”

Julie Martin upheld the planning officer’s view that the proposed replacement would appear to be larger than the present lodge and would not respect vernacular architecture.

The architect, Ben Cunliffe, told the committee that the footprint of the new building would be 71 cubic metres less than the existing lodge. He added that there was another design option in the National Park and that was the Arts and Crafts style of the larger rural residences.

As Knowles Lodge stood on large plot with trees around it and was not overlooked by neighbours he believed the site lent itself to an Arts and Crafts style family home.

Jocelyn Manners-Armstrong agreed that the new building would appear less bulky, and would be more efficient and sustainable. She added:“I am concerned at the idea that the only kind of building we are allowed is the vernacular style which to me doesn’t seem to be appropriate. It would be a pastiche. It would be a lie. It should be a building of merit.”

The majority, however, disagreed with nine voting to refuse the application and six being in favour of it.

The applicant appealed and the application was approved by a planning inspector.

Arcow Quarry, Horton in Ribblesdale – November

The planning committee decided that more detailed estimates of the number of lorries leaving Arcow Quarry each day were needed before it could make a decision about the resumption of mineral extraction there.

The committee particularly discussed the increase in traffic from the quarry. Jim Munday said: “Quarrying has been part of the Dales scene for centuries and I have no objection to it continuing. However, the biggest problem is moving the product to the market. I congratulate Tarmac on putting in the rail link and I think that should be used fully.”

He was, however, concerned about that the increase in road haulage would amount to 18 heavy, noisy lorries per hour, ten hours a day, five days a week. “I feel there should be some limitation on the amount going by road,” he concluded.

David Parrish, the YDNPA’s minerals officer, said that Tarmac Trading Ltd had originally expected to move 250,000 tonnes by road each year but during negotiations had reduced this to 150,000 tonnes. That tonnage was being delivered to local councils for the resurfacing of roads.

It made no sense, he said, to take the crushed stone from the quarry by train, unload it at either Bradford or Manchester, and then bring it back by road.

Members agreed with Steve Macare that the company should provide estimates of how much local councils required each year.

Ross Hailey, the agent for Tarmac, said that the company had paid £5million for the construction of the railhead at the Arcow Quarry. This had reduced the amount transported by road from Dry Rigg Quarry by 60 per cent.

No stone has been extracted from the Arcow Quarry since June 2015 and Austwick parish council, the Yorkshire Dales Society and the Friends of Upper Ribblesdale had asked why the company had not been required to submit a new planning application rather than requesting an extension to an existing one. The YDNPA’s policy is to refuse new applications involving quarries.

Mr Parrish stated that there had been considerable work at the quarry while the railhead was being constructed and stone was now being transported from Dry Rigg Quarry to trains at Arcow. He said: “There has been continuous activity and employment at the site … and it is considered that, in the circumstances, it is appropriate to deal with the application as an extension (deepening) of the existing quarry.”

The company has asked for permission for resumption of mineral extraction at Arcow Quarry; retention of the existing processing plant until progressively replaced by a new mobile processing plant; retention of the railhead and the completion of the site restoration in accordance with an amended nature conservation and landscaping scheme during the following 12 months.

The material will be extracted from deep within the quarry and so will not have an impact upon the landscape, Mr Parrish said.

Mark Corner, the chairman of the Yorkshire Dales Society, told the meeting that the quarry was a blight on the landscape and so was inconsistent with the purposes of the National Park. He questioned that there was a national need for the stone extracted from the quarry. He asked if the proposed number of vehicle movements could be reduced and that the lorry drivers should avoid the centre of Settle.

In response to requests from residents and Horton in Ribblesdale parish council Tarmac has installed a wheel wash at Arcow Quarry and employed a road sweeper. It has agreed that all lorries will be sheeted at all times, laden or empty, and those transporting mineral to the railhead will be washed at the end of each working day. The decision was deferred.

December:

Tarmac has agreed to reduce the proposed number of lorry movements from Arcow Quarry at Helwith Bridge when quarrying is resumed there.

Last month the  planning committee deferred making a decision on Tarmac’s application because members wanted to see such a reduction. At this month’s meeting approval was, therefore, given for mineral extraction to resume.

Tarmac had asked to move 150,000 tonnes per year by road from Arcow Quarry in addition to the same amount already being transported by lorries from Dry Rigg Quarry. The company has now reduced the total to be moved by road from both quarries to 250,000 tonnes per year between 2017 and 2021 when Dry Rigg Quarry is due to close. This amounts to a drop in the number of lorry movements along the B6479 towards Settle and beyond from 90 to about 74 per day, with none on Saturday afternoons or Sundays.

The YDS also questioned the need for further quarrying. The Authority’s minerals officer, David Parrish, said that there were a limited number of sites in England that can produce the same quality stone for road surfacing. Much of it was delivered to councils in the North of England where there were no facilities to unload it from trains.

“The extraction of minerals is in the national interest and we should not forget that,” commented North Yorkshire County Councillor Robert Heseltine.

South Lakeside District Councillor Brenda Gray added that the stone had to be quarried where it was needed and the shortest routes taken for its delivery.

Julie Martin asked if anything more could be done to reduce the number of lorries travelling through Settle.

Mr Parrish replied that there had been several attempts to discuss this with the residents of Settle and Giggleswick but no consensus had been achieved. “I think the quarry company would really need to see that there was a strong consensus of opinion that one route or another was acceptable, and at the moment they aren’t getting that,” he explained.

Jim Munday said he was pleased with the reduction in vehicle movements and asked if there were any guarantees that the restoration work would be carried out after the quarries closed.

“Tarmac has always carried out its restoration commitments completely,” Mr Parrish replied.

In response to the concerns expressed by the committee last month Tarmac has agreed to retain the existing screen banks and trees around the margins of the quarry until work there ends and the full restoration is carried out.

Arncliffe – October

The size of a proposed extension to High Green Cottage at Arncliffe led to the planning committee refusing permission for it.

The committee heard that the application included a gabled first floor extension to the rear of the Grade II listed cottage which, the planning officer said, would be seen from the north side of the village green.

Arncliffe Parish Meeting had stated: “At our meeting… it was felt that old properties should, with careful and sympathetic plans, be brought in to modern day living standards. Those plans fit the criteria in the conservation area and there are no objections.”

At the planning meeting Lancaster City Councillor Margaret Pattison (the Authority’s first Labour member) asked if the owners could be given advice about  how to modernise the cottage.

Mr Graham, replied :”It’s the scale of the extension being proposed that is the problem.”

Mrs Martin, the Authority’s member champion for for cultural heritage, commented: “The character of the building would be significantly altered. The extensions would almost double the size of the house.”

One of the applicants, Gerard Simpson, told the committee that some aspects of the cottage were not, at present, suitable for a family  and that the first-floor extension would not be prominent when viewed from the village green.  The application submitted by him and his wife also included a single storey extension at the rear of the cottage.

Askrigg – October

It took just seven minutes for the committee to give its unanimous approval for a barn in Red Gate Lane, Askrigg, to be converted into three-bedroom home and so bringing to an end a seven-year wait  for Kelly Cooper.

Kelly Cooper and her husband, Haydon,  were overjoyed at the committee’s decision. “Just seven minutes – it felt like a lifetime,” commented Mr Cooper afterwards.

Cllr Blackie emphasised the importance of the emerging Local Plan policy which is making it possible to obtain permission to convert many traditional barns into  local occupancy homes.

He told the committee that Kelly had previously contacted the National Park about the barn. He said: “Seven years ago … it was almost heretic to suggest that [the barn] should be converted as we are proposing now. It didn’t help that along Abbotside there was a tumble down cottage which had been converted by an outsider into a seven bedroom mansion. It looked unfair and discriminated against local families.

“We have got a policy now that allows barn conversions into roadside dwellings which is all that we ever wanted – not the ones on the dale top.”

He pointed out that during the intervening years many young families  had left the Dales and this had led to a substantial drop in the number of children attending local schools.

Austwick –  July

In November 2010 a member of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s planning committee commented that a policy which stopped a barn in Austwick from being converted into a local occupancy home would not be in existence within five years. In fact, it took five-and-a-half years.

At the July planning committee meeting approval was given for Townhead Barn to become a dwelling. “This has been a long journey,” commented North Yorkshire County Councillor Richard Welch.

In December 2011 permission was granted for it to be converted into a bunk barn, following an appeal by the owner, Peter Taylor. The committee was told that, although the work was carried out, it was never used that way. This meant it could be viewed as a traditional barn beside the roadside and so approval for its change of use to a dwelling could be given in line with the Authority’s emerging Local Plan. Austwick parish council had queried this as that Local Plan has not yet been adopted.

The planning committee did agree that there should only be a small garden and that not all of the paddock attached to the barn could become curtilage. The converted barn will be subject to a local occupancy agreement and domestic permitted development rights will be removed so that the appearance of the building remains the same.

Aysgarth – September

A farming family in Aysgarth were given permission to go ahead with a two-phase re-development of its dairy farm.

David Spence and his sons wanted to erect a dairy cubicle house for 100 cows and later a milking parlour and dairy.

“At the current milk prices this is quite a brave move,” commented North Yorkshire County Councillor Roger Harrison-Topham. He was assured that the only time the herd would be inside the building 24/7 would be during the winter months.

Cllr Blackie, described the Spences as first class Upper Dales farmers who were prepared to run a dairy herd. “Farmers are the foot soldiers of conservation that is so important here in the Dales,” he said.

The planning officer explained that the Authority’s agricultural advisor had found that the facilities were required to meet rising welfare and space standards for cows and the changing regulations controlling the dairy industry. The existing sheds cannot house all the cows and calves, the hay, straw, silage and feed stuffs, the officer said. This meant that the dry cows had to be transported to fields owned by a family member at Thornton Rust and brought back when in milk.

The officer added:“This is a critical time for the milk industry and the proposed investment would allow the next generation to continue as dairy farmers with the benefits that that brings to the local economy.”

Although the new dairy cubicle house will be sited behind the present farm buildings and barely visible,  one of the planning conditions is that a bund should be built and then planted with trees to provide more screening.

Bolton Abbey – May

The possibility of losing a historic view not just of the Devonshire Arms but also of the landscape around Bolton Abbey led to the majority of the committee voting against an application by the Trustees of the Chatsworth Settlement to add two double-storey accommodation blocks on the north-eastern side of the country house hotel.

Simon Rhatigan, on behalf of the applicants, explained that the hotel needed to provide better, more modern facilities. They had been in discussions with the Authority for two years and believed that the proposed site was less obtrusive than the roadside one which had been suggested by the YDNPA.

The planning officer, however, agreed with Historic England that the sheer size and bulk of the proposed buildings, positioned within and almost entirely filling the north-eastern aspect of the hotel, would considerably reduce the important landscape views of the 18th and 19th century hotel complex. She added that the Georgian building had been deliberately designed to have an open aspect on to the Bolton Abbey landscape.

Buckden July

A site meeting will be held at Heber Farm in Dubbs Lane, Buckden, to evaluate the impact on the amenity of neighbours if permission is granted for the creation of a 22 pitch campsite. The application was made by the National Trust. The tenant farmer, Gary Schofield, told the committee that, given the situation of farming at present, such diversification was needed for a farm to be economically viable.

Burnsall – February

Permission has been granted for a roadside barn at Burnsall to be converted into a dwelling in line with the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s emerging Local Plan.

“This is the first test of the new policy,” commented North Yorkshire County Councillor Robert Heseltine.

Craven District Councillor Carl Lis added: “This is exactly what we are aiming to achieve in our Local Plan.”

The barn, Jerry Laithe, is on the B6160 road about half a mile to the north west of Burnsall and outside of any designated housing boundary. The conversion of it to a local occupancy dwelling is not in accordance  with the present policies of the Authority but the application had been made in response to the emerging draft Yorkshire Dales Local Plan 2015-2030.

The planning officer noted: “This draft plan is sufficiently advanced in its preparation that it can be afforded weight as a ‘material consideration’.”

The committee approved the application which will mean that the traditional agricultural barn can be transformed into a two-bedroom dwelling.

Burtersett – August

A small barn in Burtersett can be converted into a two-bedroom dwelling and be used for short-term holiday lets.

This will be in accordance with the emerging Local Plan which will allow some traditional agricultural buildings to be adapted for alternative uses.

The barn is owned by Jeff Huntbach and overlooks the front of his home, The Grange. It does not have a garden and off-street parking will be provided in the yard shared with The Grange.

For these reasons it was accepted that the building would be more suitable for short-term holiday lets but the s106 agreement will also include local occupancy.

Burtersett – September

A Wensleydale farmer has been given permission to convert a barn at Cubble Head, Burtersett into a three-bedroom home – even though part of the roof has collapsed. But it came with the warning that no walls should be demolished.

North Yorkshire County Councillor John Blackie commented that he had not been sure how far the planning team would go when considering which barns could be converted. The Authority’s emerging Local Plan allows for barns which are near the roadside or part of a group of buildings to be converted into local occupancy homes.

Cllr Blackie said that the roof of the barn at Cubble Head would have to be taken off and agreed with the planning officer that the walls were in good structural order.

The application was wholeheartedly supported by Hawes and High Abbotside parish council which stated: “It saves a redundant agricultural building for what will eventually provide a first-rate dwelling for a local occupant, in this case a local life-long farmer [Richard Metcalfe], from tumbling down through dereliction into a pile of stones and slates. This would have been a tragic and unnecessary loss.”

Julie Martin, the Authority’s member champion for cultural heritage, said there were inconsistencies in how barn conversions were being dealt with by the Authority and this needed to be rectified.

She warned that there had been problems in the past when it had been found that a barn was, in fact, structurally unsound. This had led to walls being demolished and cultural heritage being lost.

She said this could be prevented by ensuring that features were recorded, that there was a structural survey, and that there was a condition that no demolition could take place without the consent of the Authority.

This was also emphasised by Cllr Blackie, Craven District Councillor Carl Lis (chairman of the Authority) and Richard Graham (head of development management).

Mr Graham said: “The primary aim is to conserve these buildings in the landscape as a heritage asset.” He explained that if walls were knocked down it could no longer be described as a barn conversion and the owner would have to apply for permission for a new build which wasn’t covered by the incoming Local Plan.

Casterton – December

The committee gave permission for the former boarding school buildings at Casterton to be converted into apartments even though two of its members questioned the considerable drop in the off-site affordable housing contribution.

South Lakeland District Council sought a contribution of £340,852 but the developers, Eight Property Ltd, had not agreed. After Casterton became part of the Yorkshire Dales National Park in August the company submitted its application to the YDNPA.

The Authority obtained an independent valuation for the affordable housing contribution of £200,000 and that was accepted by Eight Property Ltd. That contribution will be given to South Lakeland District Council.

The company has opted to pay such a contribution because it believes it is not economically viable to provide some affordable dwellings within the site which comprises of Bronte House, Crookenden House and Garner House.

“I know these buildings well,” said YDNPA member Jocelyn Manners-Armstrong. “I am concerned that this (conversion) is incredibly overcrowded. Those flats will be so cramped. I think the developers are trying to capitalise on the location.”

Like another member, Jim Munday, she felt that £12,000 per unit was a very modest contribution to the affordable housing fund.

Mr Graham replied that, after being told by two sets of valuers that the contribution of £200,000 was entirely reasonable, the Authority would have to find very good reasons to increase it.

The application is to provide 17 additional dwellings on the site bringing the total to 20. Garner House and Crookenden House will provide eight houses with gardens.At Bronte House there will be nine flats with balconies.

Cllr  Harrison-Topham questioned the impact that the balconies will have on those living in the three houses to be provided in the annex to Bronte House. Mr Graham said that issue would be discussed with the developers.

The  committee was told that the South Lakeland Core Strategy had been used when considering this application.

Coverdale – February : Forbidden Corner

Crosby Ravensworth – December

A small bungalow cannot be built in the garden of a house in Silver Street, Crosby Ravensworth, even though the parish council believes it would be a useful addition to the housing stock in the village.

Crosby Ravensworth Parish Councillor Virginia Holroyd told the planning committee  that the parish especially needed smaller, energy-efficient and low maintenance dwellings which were adapted for the elderly.

“The proposed bungalow would be of benefit not only to the applicants but also to future generations, and it fits in with the council’s policy for increasing housing stock in Eden. This would stop the current trend of older members having to abandon their community, their family and friends, and seek more age-appropriate housing stock in market towns,” she reported.

The parish council believed that it would not affect the character of the street as it would be set well back from the road and would be screened by neighbouring properties.

The planning officer maintained, however, that the proposed development would be contrary to the Eden District Core Strategy and stated: “The introduction of a squat, single storey building in between two existing properties would result in a cramped form of development that would be harmful to views in and out of the conservation area.”

The applicants’ agent, Ian Smart, told the committee: “We believe that words such as ‘cramped’ and ‘squat’ are unjustifiably emotive and subjective, especially when applying for …outline planning permission with all matters reserved.”

He said that the applicants, Mr and Mrs R Morland, had decided not to spend any more money on the application given the planning officer’s negative appraisal and requests for a lot more information including a tree care plan and a bat scoping survey.

Some of the committee members argued that a district council planning department would have also requested more information.

Cllr Blackie said: “Sometimes there seems to be over-bearing requests for surveys and assessments – but not to reduce (the information) to zero. We haven’t the first clue what we might be approving in outline. We have to refuse this application until we know more about it.” The majority of the committee agreed with him.

Dent – July

Permission was refused for a section of late 19th century walling to be removed in order to create a space for off-road parking at Overdale in Deepdale Lane, Dent.

The Highways Authority had recommended that the access should be even wider but the planning officer said this would have led to yet more of the distinctive wall being lost. This, she said, would detract from the visual quality of the conservation area.

Robert Groves, the agent for the applicant, said they accepted that the wall did have a traditional and attractive character and for that reason wanted to remove as little of it as possible.

Dent – July

The committee members were amused to hear that the graveyard at Deepdale Chapel 2km south-east of Dent will be retained and used as a garden.

As there were covenants attached to the building when it was sold the graveyard will still be open to the public when the chapel is converted into a three-bedroom local occupancy dwelling.

The committee approved this conversion under the same policy (L2) in the emerging Local Plan as had been used for traditional barns.

The chapel was vacated by the Methodist Church in 1996 and, according to local residents, there are ample facilities for community groups in the area.

Dent parish council fully supported the application by what it described as a young and expanding couple with extended family connections in the dale. It is happy that many of the internal features of the chapel will be retained and that there would be sympathetic use of local materials.

The planning officer reported that the chapel, which dates back to 1888,  was an important undesignated heritage asset of architectural and historical interest. “Such chapel buildings are a limited resource within the National Park and they are important to understanding the cultural heritage of the area and, in particular, provide physical evidence of local social history,” she said.

Drybeck – November

Residents from Drybeck travelled over 30 miles to tell the  planning committee why they were opposed to a slurry lagoon about the size of a football pitch being created near their homes.

Along with Eden District Councillor William Patterson and Mike Dewis of Farm Systems Ltd they were the first members of the public to attend an YDNPA planning committee since the district was incorporated into the National Park on August 1.

Cllr Patterson, who is a member of the Eden District planning committee, commented: “We now find ourselves in Yorkshire!”

He explained that the applicant, Neil Sowerby of Town Head Farm, had applied over a year ago for permission to build the lagoon. “I will be having words with my own planning department because it was their fault that it has taken so long.”

Eden District Councillor Valerie Kendal, who became a member of the YDNPA in August, thanked the Authority’s planning department for acting quickly to complete the process. But the delay had led to construction being started this summer.

She was concerned both about that and that clay had been used to line the 4.5m deep lagoon. Clay, she said, could dry out and shift in dry weather and the underlying limestone was permeable.

This was one of the concerns listed by Pamela Barr on behalf of some of the residents. “We wish to ensure environmental protection and public safety. There have been recent problems…with slurry polluting the beck,” she said.

She added that the lagoon was only 250m from some of the garden boundaries. Residents had asked if it could be sited in a field where the prevailing winds would not blow the smell across the village.

Cllr Patterson explained that, as the dairy farm was becoming organic, it needed to make full use of the slurry it produced once fertilisers were no longer allowed. Nor could the slurry be treated with chemicals to stop the odour. Mr Sowerby has agreed to implement an odour management scheme.

Following several questions about the management of the slurry lagoon Mr Graham explained that the Authority could not duplicate the work of other regulatory authorities. Such lagoons, he said, had to comply with the regulations aimed at stopping any pollution from silage, slurry and agricultural fuel oil (SSAFO), and these were policed by the Environment Agency. The agency believed that the slurry lagoon was capable of complying with the regulations and would monitor it, he added.

The committee approved the application. The conditions included improving the access track to the lagoon and screening it with a bund and hawthorn hedges.

East Witton – December

Permission was granted for the Methodist chapel at East Witton to be converted into a two-bedroom holiday let.

Cllr Blackie queried the way this had been advertised. According to the present Local Plan any such community building should be advertised for sale for six months. If it has not been sold for community use during that time then permission can be requested for change of use.

The chapel at East Witton, however, was only advertised on the local Methodist circuit website. The planning officer explained that the emerging Local Plan allowed for more flexibility.

Cllr Blackie then asked how this would affect the sale of the chapels in Hawes and Arkengarthdale which are no longer in use.

“Could they be advertised on the Richmondshire Today news website?” he asked.

“Yes” replied the head of development management, Richard Graham.

Embsay – May

There have been so many extensions to homes in and around Hill Top Close in Embsay that it was hard to object to one more, the committee agreed.

The owners of the bungalow at 1 Hill Top Close had applied for permission to erect a two-storey extension to the east gable; a dormer window to the south elevation; a single storey porch at the front; and to put in roof-lights to both sides of the roof. The garage will also be converted to living space and there will be additional parking and pedestrian access at the corner plot. They had amended the plans after Embsay-with-Eastby Parish Council objected to some of their plans.

The committee accepted the officer’s recommendation to approve the application.

Embsay – August

The committee unanimously agreed that a bungalow can be built within the garden of 18 Millholme Rise, Embsay.

Embsay-with-Eastby parish council had asked for assurance that this would be a single storey building and that there would be no negative impact upon the neighbouring nature reserve.

It was reported that the Authority’s ecologist felt there would be minimal impact upon the nature reserve as the bungalow would be downstream from it. The applicant has proposed to install a sustainable surface water drainage system which would further protect the environment.

Mr Graham said there would be a legal agreement concerning the use of a shared access.

Cllr  Welch asked if it was time to change the rule that a planning applications had to be dealt with by the committee if a parish council did not agree with the officer’s recommendation. Ms Bevan replied that the policy had only recently been reviewed and the majority of members had been in favour of retaining it.

Embsay – enforcement notice – September

Chris Oxley was given 12 months to reinstate historical features at The Garth in Pasture Road, Embsay.

The committee agreed that an enforcement notice should be served calling for the restoration of the original floor level and flagstone flooring in the cellar at The Garth and to replace the structural walling, niches, stone shelving and stone tables which had formed a mid 19th century service room in this Grade II listed building.

The only committee member to vote against this was Cllr Blackie who argued that Mr Oxley’s planning applications should have been brought to the committee so that he could have explained why he had carried out the work in the cellar. The planning officer had, under delegated powers, refused those on September 1 and had then made the application for an enforcement notice.

Cllr Blackie commented that this was very hasty and had taken away any opportunity for the applicant to address the planning committee as that was not allowed when enforcement notices were being discussed.

The planning officer explained that the work had been aimed at solving the problem of damp in the cellar. “In times of heavy rainfall there is standing water there – the kind of condition you would expect within a cellar that is partly subterranean and its use was to store food.”

He added that originally Mr Oxley had wanted not only to dry line the cellar but also to demolish a cross wall and enlarge a window to provide another access into it so as to create an additional living space.

The head of development management, Richard Graham, commented: “There have been an awful lot of meetings, advice and correspondence [which] resulted in a failure to agree to a compromise solution.”

Richmondshire District Councillor Stuart Parsons said: “This was a very interesting space. It could have been turned into something absolutely fascinating and if we are not prepared to take steps to protect this sort of heritage we might as well just go home.

“Action needs to be taken. They’ve been given every opportunity to come back with a compromise.”

Gayle – August

Michael Webster stood outside the entrance to the YDNPA office in Bainbridge on Tuesday, August 9, with the sample panel illustrating what the render on the west wall of Garris House  in Gayle would look like if he was able to complete the water-proofing work.

As he was not allowed to speak during the discussion about enforcement action it was left to Cllr John Blackie to speak for him.

Cllr Blackie said that, as the recommendation for enforcement action included the possibility of a criminal prosecution, Mr Webster should not only have been allowed to speak but also to bring the sample panel into the meeting.

“Hawes and High Abbotside parish council is absolutely appalled. This is not democracy in action. This is simply a dictatorship,” stated Cllr Blackie.

Cllr Lis said that members of the YDNPA had, for the sake of fairness, agreed on the rule concerning enforcement hearings. It would only be fair, he explained, to allow objectors to speak as well as the appellant, but some objectors would feel too inhibited to do so. Members were free to reconsider that policy, he added.

The majority of the members agreed that if Mr Webster did not submit a planning application within three months an enforcement notice should be issued.

Cllr Blackie said that Mr Webster maintained that he did not need to apply for permission as, when the work was finished, there would be no noticeable difference to the original appearance of the rendered west wall of Garris House.

Mr Webster had planned to cover the metal panels with render that matched what had been there before but had stopped work when told to do so by the enforcement officer. He had, said Cllr Blackie, tried various ways in the past, including replacing render, to stop water egress on the west wall but with no success. Cllr Blackie proposed that Mr Webster should be allowed to render the metal panelling so that the finished appearance could be assessed.

Other members agreed with the enforcement officer that what Mr Webster had done constituted unauthorised cladding which did not match the rest of the traditional stone built house. The enforcement officer said that the gable end had already been extended by 12cm by the addition of wooden batons which had then been covered with metal insulation material.

He added: “It was difficult for officers to identify how the folded over edges of the cladding, where they meet the vertical walls and the roof slates, were going to be rendered or pointed in such a way that it preserved the traditional character of the property.”

Cllr Harrison-Topham commented: “The difficulty we have is that the operation has been halted half way through. We just don’t know whether it will materially affect the external appearance of the building.”

The head of development manager, Richard Graham, stated: “It is a breach of planning control. We need assurance that the render is not going to come off.” He added that a planning application would give them the opportunity to establish whether it was going to result in an acceptable appearance and enable Mr Webster to address the committee.

Cllr Blackie pointed out that, if Mr Webster did not submit a planning application, he could lodge an appeal against the subsequent enforcement notice. (In March 2017 Mr Webster’s application for the four inch extension to waterproof the wall was approved.)

Gayle – October

A local farmer should have been offered a legal agreement which included converting a barn into a local occupancy dwelling as well as a holiday let, Cllr Blackie told the planning committee.

Bruce Raw had applied for permission to demolish the modern extensions to a barn in Bands Lane, Gayle,  and to create a three bedroom holiday let in accordance with the Authority’s emerging Local Plan.

Hawes and High Abbotside parish council fully supported this application but had not been informed that the Authority had decided that a legal agreement would be required.

At the planning meeting the head of development management, Richard Graham, explained that following an internal discussion between the planning officers and the Authority’s solicitor it was decided that a Section 106 legal agreement would be required to ensure that anyone who might buy the property in the future would know what restrictions had been placed upon it.

Cllr Blackie, who is the chairman of Hawes and High Abbotside parish council, compared Mr Raw’s application to that for the Tithe Barn at Stirton which the committee had debated at length earlier in the meeting. That barn conversion will be restricted by a legal agreement to being either  a holiday let or for local occupancy.

He asked that Mr Raw should be offered the same type of dual agreement.

“Holiday lets are important to our local economy. We [at the parish council] are equally in favour of it becoming a local occupancy property.”

Cllr Blackie did contact Mr Raw the following day and said that the farmer was delighted to  hear the legal agreement could include local occupancy. Cllr Blackie said: “Having both options makes the development more sustainable.”

He explained that if there weren’t bookings for the holiday let it could be rented by someone who had been commissioned to carry out work locally for a few months – and that would be covered by the local occupancy agreement.

Grassington –  April

 A request to allow a converted barn near Grassington to be used as short stay self-catering holiday accommodation was refused because the application could not be supported by any YDNPA policies.

Mercie Kennedy told the committee that following her father’s sudden death in July 2015 no-one in the family had been able to carry on farming there. The land they owned had been rented to a local farmer who did not need an additional agricultural worker’s dwelling. An agricultural occupancy restriction was placed on Halfway House when permission was granted to convert it to a dwelling in 1997.

Mrs Kennedy said that she and her brother wanted to retain the house not just in case one of them wanted to return to the farm in the future but also so that they could have regular access to it now. This could be done by using it for holiday lets which would also bring in some income.

Both Mr Colley and Cllr Heseltine said they would like to support the family’s application but accepted that this would not be in line with any of the Authority’s policies.

Grassington – October

Grassington House Hotel finally has approval for a ventilation system.

The Authority first considered taking enforcement action against the hotel’s owners in 2008 when a large metal extraction flue fixed to the northern side of the premises could be seen from The Square in Grassington. The planning committee deferred formal enforcement action in October 2013 to see if a solution could be found.

That flue was then replaced with one deemed almost as bad and again without consent. The planning officer commented: “The existing ventilation system has a highly adverse impact on the character and significance of the Listed building and on the wider Conservation Area. The structure is a harsh contrast to the simple, elegant form of the Georgian Listed hotel building.”  She added that it also has a negative impact upon neighbouring buildings.

The approved replacement will still look incongruous, she said, but has been designed to reduce its size and so minimise its impact.

The Grassington Museum Society was still concerned,however, that there would be smells and noise from the flue which will overhang the museum. The planning officer reported that the flue would be fitted with an odour neutraliser and the ductwork would be lined with sound absorbent material.

The planning committee accepted that the hotel had to have a good ventilation system to meet modern standards and to retain its high star rating.

“There are similar issues elsewhere,” Cllr Blackie said, and added that the Authority needed to encourage the entrepreneurs who were trying to develop businesses in the National Park.

Grinton – May 

The main problem with the creating a second dwelling at Virginia Cottage in Grinton was the lack of parking spaces, Harold Brown told the committee.

He said that something had to be done to alleviate the parking problems along Leyburn Road especially as the traffic, including cyclists, had increased since the Tour de France. Grinton Parish Council was very concerned about this as the one-bedroom Wolf Cottage had already been created by dividing Virginia Cottage.

The planning officer said that those living at Virginia Cottage had agreed to use their off-road parking spaces so as to leave that on the highway verge for Wolf Cottage.

He recommended approving the retrospective application as the applicant had agreed to sign a local occupancy legal agreement and because the sub-division of Virginia Cottage had not done any significant harm to the listed building. This was accepted by the committee.

Hardraw – May

The committee members unanimously refused to approve the application by Mark Thompson to construct a micro-brewery near St Mary and St John’s Church at Hardraw.

Both Hawes and High Abbotside Parish Council and Hardraw Parochial Church Council objected strongly to the proposal for a small range of buildings to house a cycle hire, micro-brewery and garden store within the grounds of the Green Dragon Inn.

Parish councillor Tony Fawcett, who has lived in the village all his life, Told the committee that the application was an absolute disgrace, opportunist and immoral, and could make the area by the church look like an industrial estate.

Susan Foster, on behalf of the parochial church council, said that as the building would be outside of the village boundary it would be like creeping industrialisation and totally out of keeping with the peaceful environment.

The smell from the micro-brewery would not only be offensive to people visiting family graves but also to those planning to get married at the church, she added.

Like Cllr Heseltine, the parochial church council felt that a micro-brewery in that location would be disrespectful to the consecrated graveyard. Cllr Heseltine commented: “This application is, in my opinion, one of the most insensitive to ever come before us.”

Cllr Blackie stated that the churchyard provided a place of quiet contemplation where people could enjoy all that was special about the National Park. “It will be compromised by the clanking of barrels and the pong of beer,” he added.

He, like others, said that the large visitor centre beside the Inn was under-used and could accommodate the micro-brewery.

Cllr Harrison-Topham pointed out that there was no management plan for the micro-brewery and commented: “This is a somewhat specious excuse for putting up a new building.”

The planning officer had, however, recommended that the committee should approve the application especially as the emerging Local Plan would welcome and support the provision of new visitor facilities.

She added: “The siting and design of the proposed building is considered to be acceptable although the extension of the existing visitor centre would be a more favourable option that would have had less landscape impact.”

When proposing refusal Julie Martin said that people went to Hardraw to visit the spectacular falls and that, to her, the visitor centre provided a rather forbidding approach. As the vote went against officer recommendation the decision will have to be ratified at the meeting on June 14.

At the June meeting the committee again refused permission on the basis that it would be a new development outside the defined settlement of Hardraw and would be detrimental to the character of the open countryside and the visitor experience of Hardraw Falls. It was pointed out that Mr Thompson had not adequately demonstrated that the existing Visitor Centre beside the Green Dragon could not accommodate the new facilities  internally or with an extension.

Hartington Raikes – December

The application to convert Holes Beck Barn at Hartington Raikes, into a four-bedroom dwelling for either local occupancy or for use as a holiday let had originally included a large single-storey annex and a big garden in what was the farmyard.

The amended plans approved by the planning committee showed a timber clad lean-to on the northern side of the converted barn and a much smaller garden area. The rest of the farmyard will become pasture and a stable block of four loose boxes will be sited within the redundant sunken slurry pit.

Hawkswick

Permission was granted for a small barn at Hawkswick to be converted into a two-bedroom holiday cottage.

The planning committee agreed that the unusual rough arch over the door at what will be called Redmire Farm Barn should be protected.

When asked why an S106 agreement was deemed to be unnecessary the planning officer said that the curtilage was so small the converted barn would only be suitable for a short stay holiday let.

There was, she said, a large layby nearby where cars could be parked.

Hebden – February

The planning committee was asked to approve enforcement action which would lead to the complete demolition of a family home next to Cherry Trees in a small hamlet west of Hebden Mill Cottages.

The enforcement officer explained that an application by Andrew Whitham of Cherry Trees to convert a former water turbine house into an agricultural worker’s dwelling was refused in February 2014.

Permission was granted in February 2015 for the turbine house to be converted into an annex to Cherry Trees on condition that it would not become a separate household; that the roof height would not be increased; and that the building would largely retain its original form.

When the enforcement officer visited the site last month she found that the building had effectively been replaced by a much larger one. She reported: “The owner has verbally commented that it was always his intention to construct the building as it stands currently, as a means of providing a house for his family and that the raised height was necessary to provide a first floor as additional living accommodation.”

The chairman of the committee, Chris Armstrong, commented: “This is a shocking example of somebody completely disregarding the planning committee.”

And Craven District Councillor Carl Lis said: “What’s the point of a planning committee when anybody can come along and just do what they want?”

Peter Charlesworth agreed with several others that he would not like to see the whole house demolished, but added that such a draconian measure would have to be taken if a solution wasn’t found.

“It has to be regularised one way or another,” said North Yorkshire County Councillor Robert Heseltine. “To knock it down completely would seem to me a bit excessive.”

The committee agreed to defer a decision for three months to give the owner time to submit a planning application as this was the only way the Authority could impose conditions.

The committee was told that there was a lot of local support for the couple and two young children to continue living in the house as it is and a petition with 22 signatures had been delivered to the Authority.

Cllr  Blackie commented: “This has all the ingredients to become a cause celebre. To see that building knocked to the ground and seeing a home taken away from an agricultural worker and his young family will put us in the dock in the court of public opinion.”

He hoped that a resolution could be found which would not mean demolishing the house completely nor leave the owners with an open market house in the open countryside.

Hebden – July

Retrospective planning permission was granted  but not without a lot of soul searching. Several members warned about the dangers.

Cllr Parsons said: “If this is approved the message we are sending out to absolutely everybody in the Park is … build what the hell you like and then come in with a local occupancy story and they will have to give it to you. That is the precedent that this committee will set. The applicant knew that planning permission was required. He chose to not do things by the book because he had been previously disappointed by the National Park Authority.”

Cllr Lis asked: “I find it impossible that people do this without in any way considering that they might need planning permission. What’s the point in our being here to discuss it?” But he did  not want to take draconian action against the family now living in the converted building.

Cllr Thornton-Berry  commented that the issue had to be handled sympathetically.  And Cllrs Robert Heseltine and Harrison-Topham pointed out that the officer’s recommendation would lead to the complete demolition of what is now a home for a local young family with twin babies. The applicant’s father, Andrew Whitham, said that a local occupancy legal agreement would be signed for what was now an independent new dwelling in the open countryside.

Mr Whitham apologised to the committee and explained that the conversion work had gone ahead “partly out of necessity and partly me being naive about the ways of planning laws.”  His son works locally in agricultural contracting and as a part-time game keeper. “How would he find somewhere affordable for someone living on a minimum wage with an area where he can keep all his equipment?” he asked.

The work had included partially demolishing the old turbine house, adding a significant extension, and raising the roof ridge and eaves. This, the planning officer said, could not be considered to be a ‘conversion’. Other alterations had significantly eroded the simple vernacular character of the former building, he added.

Horton in Ribblesdale – May

Large-scale charity events are causing such untold stress and pressure regarding parking, litter and noise pollution in the village that the parish council decided it was unethical to support the applications by the Authority to put up banners supporting the “Day in the Dales” on June 18.

Horton in Ribblesdale parish council has now set up a working party to combat the negative effects of so many “Charity Events” in the parish.

The planning committee was told, however, that the only basis on which to refuse the applications was in the banners had an impact upon amenity or public safety. “Amenity” she said, related to the visual impact of the banners.

It was, therefore, agreed that banners could be placed for a temporary period at the Horton National Park toilets and also on the field gate at the entrance to the car park which serves the pavilion and playing field. The “Day in the Dales” is a charitable event for Heart Research UK in partnership with the Authority’s Three Peaks Project. The aim is to raise sponsorship money for Heart Research UK, as well as improving and maintaining the Three Peaks path.

Beck House, Howgill – March

Permission was granted for camping pods and the creation of a new camping area at Beck House.

One camping pod will be erected beside the two static caravans which are already there. In addition there will be three pods, two tent pitches and a facilities building along the beck nearby.

Cllr Harrison-Topham abstained from voting because, he said, he was concerned about the wide definition of a caravan. Camping pods fall within the statutory definition of a caravan.

The planning officer had recommended that the conditions should include restrictions on the camping pods so that they could not later be replaced with any other structures or caravans without approval.

He told the committee: “Once the landscaping is established and if the site is successful there may be opportunity to support more tent pitches in this location.”

He said that the camping pods would help to fill a recognised gap in the tourism market in the National Park and would be assimilated better in the landscape than caravans.

He assured members that the planning officers would make sure that the lighting on the site would be at an appropriate level and that suitable arrangements were made regarding effluent.

Mr Brown agreed with him that this would be a good form of farm diversification.

Hudswell – March 

Hudswell Community Charity, which was founded about 300 years ago, applied for permission to build three more affordable homes to rent. It already has three houses in the village which it rents to those with a local connection and in housing need.

The new houses will be built on part of Thompson’s Field which the charity has owned for 100 years. This is at the eastern end of Hudswell with part of it creating a gap between some bungalows and modern detached houses –  a gap which the charity wants to fill with two three-bedroom semi-detached houses and a two-bedroom single storey dwelling.

A Housing Need Survey last year identified five more families with a local connection who needed rented accommodation.

Martin Booth, the secretary of the charity, told the committee that they had worked for two years on the plan to provide more rented accommodation. He explained that they had considered a partnership with a Registered Provider but that would have meant losing some control over the ownership of the properties and how they were allocated.

He said: “We had the funds, and we own the land – so we had the means to do it ourselves. We don’t need to draw any money from government sources. So we didn’t need a Registered Provider.”

This means that the new houses will be exempt from the government’s proposed extension to the Right to Buy scheme.

Mr Booth added: “We did go to great lengths to consult with the village. Being a local charity we all live there. We had two public meetings and spent a lot of time with the immediate residents  – trying to accommodate all their concerns about how it would impact on their lives.”

For this reason there were no objections to the application nor had any of the committee been lobbied about it.

Harold Brown pointed out that Hudswell was unusual in the National Park in that one side of the linear development was within the YDNPA area and the other was not. He added: “This seems to me to be a very good scheme.”  All the other members agreed.

In accordance with the YDNPA policy for affordable housing the rents will be at 80 per cent of market rent and the charity has agreed to sign local occupancy legal agreements on the houses.

Hudswell – August

It was agreed that the local occupancy agreement for three new houses in Hudswell could be amended so that it was in accordance with the aims of the charity which will own them.

Hudswell Community Charity has, for over 200 years, sought to provide affordable rentable housing for those who have a connection with the village and need the support and assistance of their family members there. These people, however, might not fit the definition of “local” as defined by the YDNPA’s housing policy.

The charity had, therefore, asked that the s106 agreement should include a paragraph stating: “A person in housing need who has an immediate relative who is a resident of the relevant parish and who would benefit significantly from the support and assistance that this relative would be able to provide through close proximity.”

Cllr Blackie said that this compromise would mean that the three houses would remain available at affordable rents unaffected by the government’s policy on “right to buy”.

KettlewellFebruary

A concrete barrier at Brightwaters in Kettlewell can be retained as it is protecting the walls of the converted barn from water damage.

It was reported that structural surveys had shown that the concrete barrier would help to stop further bulging and cracking of the walls which could then be repaired.

The planning officer, however, recommended that the retrospective planning application for the concrete barrier beside Kettlewell Beck and the railings around the patio created by it should be refused. He argued that the extent of the railings should be reduced and that a more sensitive way of protecting Brightwaters could be found.

The majority of the committee, however, disagreed. Cllr Blackie said that the barrier was supporting the structural integrity of the converted barn. He added that during the past few months the water in the beck had risen to almost the level of the patio at the top of the concrete barrier.

He added: “I wouldn’t want to stand on that particular patio without some sort of railings. A number of other places in Kettlewell have railings.”

Mr Graham said that even though the committee had not accepted the recommendation of the planning officer the decision would not need to be confirmed at the next meeting.

KettlewellApril

It didn’t take long for the committee to give its unanimous approval for a barn near Kettlewell to be converted into a two-bedroom house for local occupancy.

Cllr Heseltine commented: “This is a fine example of our emerging roadside barns policy. It is ideally situated for a young family as it is near the school.”

Kettlewell – September

Plans for an extension to a modern end terrace house in the centre of Kettlewell had to be considerably modified before the Authority would consider approving them.

Originally it was proposed to build a two-storey extension at 1 Orchard Cottages but the planning officer felt this would adversely affect the neighbour’s property.

Kettlewell and Starbotton parish council still believed that the amended plans for a one-storey sunroom would be intrusive but the committee  did give approval for that.

It was pointed out by a neighbour that the proposed use of white uPVC for the door and window frames would not be in keeping with the original planning consent and would change the character of the terrace of three houses. At the committee meeting Cllr Parsons observed that white uPVC patio doors had already been installed at 1 Orchard Cottages.

He also asked if the houses, that were built in 1984, had any permitted development rights. The planning officer said this would be checked.

There had been no objections to proposed change of use of the garage into a study and that was approved as well.

Kettlewell – November

A young couple was  given permission to convert a barn at Kettlewell into their family home.

David Hillam, the applicants’ agent, told the committee that Anthony Robinson and his wife and children lived in a rented house in Starbotton. “They have a strong commitment to the area and want to live in a barn [conversion] that they own,” he said.

Kettlewell with Starbotton Parish Council strongly support the application because Mr Robertson works locally and his children attend the village school.

The barn, which is near the school, will be converted into a three-bedroom local occupancy dwelling.

Malham – December

A young couple, Louise and Andy Macbeth, can go ahead with adding two contemporary single-storey extensions at Beck Hall, Malham, even though the parish council stated that these would be out of keeping with the style of the hotel.

The planning committee approved the glazed extensions which will form a new reception area and bar, and an additional dining area. These will be sited on either side of the large 1980s two-storey wing that is behind the original 18th century house which forms the frontage of the hotel.

The planning officer told the committee that the extensions had been amended following objections by Kirkby Malhamdale Parish Council to being simple glass box designs with flat grass roofs.

The parish council, however, felt these were just modest alterations and that the extensions would still have a detrimental and negative impact upon such a significant property in Malham.

Cllr Parsons commented that the extensions would improve the appearance of the rear of the 1980’s building which he felt was quite ugly.

Cllr  Gray said: “We should look at modern building (materials) as useful tools and glass is one of those things. In the day time it reflects the surroundings and the skyline. It actually reduces the heavy impact of the modern building.”

Marske – December

The emerging Local Plan means that the 18th century Stable Block and Coach House at Marske in Swaledale can now become apartments for local people as well as holiday lets. Permission was granted in 2012 for the buildings to be converted into nine holiday lets. The same plans were submitted by Roger Tempest of the Rural Concepts Group to the committee this month so as to include local occupancy.

At the meeting  Cllr Blackie commented that this was an excellent way to save such a fine building from dereliction.

“This is an outstanding building. It is wonderful to see it being brought back into use,” said Cllr Parsons.

Newbiggin in Bishopdale – July

There are only five businesses in North Yorkshire which provide suitable independent or assisted wheelchair accommodation. But soon the Yorkshire Dales will have its first now that the planning committee has approved the change of use of an outbuilding at Eastburn Farmhouse at Newbiggin in Bishopdale.

Andrew and Diane Howarth have developed a high-quality five-star self-catering accommodation business in the village. Mr Howarth told the committee that this application would provide an opportunity for the National Park to provide flagship accommodation to national accessibility standards for those with mobility, hearing and visual impairments. He pointed out that the Peak District had 40 such types of accommodation.

The outbuilding was constructed in 2002 as a warehouse and office building and the planning officer stated it could be assessed according to the policy in the new emerging plan which allowed for the conversion of modern buildings to new business or employment uses. Since the Haworth’s bought Eastburn Farmhouse it has been used as a domestic store.

The Senior Listed Building officer recommended refusal of the application on the basis that the overall size and shape of the extensions would have a negative impact upon Eastburn House which is Grade II listed.

The planning officer, however, stated that the building would not be readily visible from the street or have a significant impact on the character of the village.

Cllr Harrison-Topham said: “I am slightly startled that we are treating the Senior Listed Building officer’s comments in quite such a cavalier fashion. After all she is the advocate for one of our prime national purposes in respect of the cultural heritage.”

Mr Graham, responded that the extensions would not lead to the building dominating the farmhouse. The planning officer’s recommendation to approve the application was accepted by the majority of the committee. The application included a garage for the farmhouse.

Otterburn – July

The new policy which allows roadside traditional barns to be converted into dwellings was applauded by John Steel, the agent for the owners of Crane Field Laithe on the Hellifield Road near Otterburn.

He described it as a welcome and progressive initiative which will allow many barns to be restored. These, he said, do contribute to the National Park’s historic environment.  If permission was granted the 200-years-old barn would be restored to a high standard so that it would again have a beneficial use. “It will ensure the life of this undesignated heritage asset well into the future,” he added.

Both he and the planning officer assured the committee that it was possible to restore and convert the building without the demolition of any walls and the owners were willing to sign a S106 legal agreement. The owners propose to use the converted barn either as a short-stay holiday let or as a local occupancy dwelling.

Initially the planning officer had recommended refusal because the Highways Authority had pointed out that the access onto Hellifield Road had severely restricted visibility. An alternative access was suggested and Mr Steel confirmed that the applicants did own the land adjoining the barn.

It was agreed that planning officers could work with the Highways Authority and the owners to find a satisfactory solution.

Otterburn – December

The committee agreed that the proposed glazed garden room at Grove Farm in Otterburn would be too big and have a detrimental impact upon the Grade II listed building.

Otterburn Parish Council had informed the Authority that the village fully supported the application and considered that the proposed garden room would be a delightful addition to the house, in keeping with and sensitive to the property, its history and its garden.

Cllr Roger Harrison-Topham also believed that the conservatory was well designed. He said: “It fits in very nicely with the newer extension and provides a missing element of symmetry to my mind.”

When another committee member described the proposed conservatory as being far too big, another asked who was going to see it.

The Authority’s member champion for cultural heritage, Mrs Martin, agreed with the planning officer that it would be inappropriate in scale and form, and would detract from the character of the original 17th century farmhouse and its 18th century extension.

She pointed out that the planning officer had advised the applicants, Andrew and Annabel Haggas, that a smaller extension to the side of the property would be more acceptable.

Mrs Martin wondered about the future of the four yew trees in the garden if the conservatory was built. One of the yew trees is over 300-years-old.

She was also concerned that the proposed access to the cellar could lead to the loss of potentially important historic features. The cellar is thought to be the oldest part of the house.

Reeth – December

The committee gave approval for The Little Barn, the annex to Bank House in Silver Street, Reeth, to become a separate holiday let or local occupancy dwelling.

SedberghFebruary

Sedbergh will gain three local occupancy dwellings and one commercial unit in the Main Street.

Ian McPherson, who is a Sedbergh parish councillor, said: “This is good news for Sedbergh. There are no local objections and it is supported by the parish council.

“It brings the advantage of providing employment opportunities on the site which the existing building does not provide at the moment. And it very effectively tidies up what is at the moment a very messy site – indeed an eyesore.”

At present the site is used for storing building materials and equipment and no-one is directly employed there. The proposed two-storey commercial building with living accommodation above it will front onto Main Street. The workshop on the site will be converted into a two-bedroom dwelling and another local occupancy house will be built.

The site has been identified as an area of high archaeological importance and the open yard there has existed since the 1850s. The planning department will seek to ensure that the courtyard and other historical features will be protected and that an archaeological evaluation will be carried out.

SedberghFebruary

An application to build a two bedroom house in a builder’s yard at Millthrop, Sedbergh, was refused by the committee.

Sedbergh parish council had supported the application, but as a member of the YDNPA, Sedbergh parish councillor Ian McPherson explained that he could not do so as that would be contrary to five of the Authority’s planning policies.

The planning officer reported that the builder’s yard behind The Spedding was outside the development boundary of Millthrop and the proposed building would have an impact not only upon trees on the site but also on a listed building. He told the committee that the proposal would result in the loss of existing employment land and would undermine the viability of the adjoining builder’s workshop and storage business run by the applicant’s brother.

Cllr Blackie commented that employment sites in the National Park were likely to become an endangered species and the policy to protect them should be maintained.

In October – Permission was granted for a builder’s workshop and store at Millthrop to be converted into a live work unit. The application was partly retrospective.

The committee agreed that this would be an acceptable way to provide accommodation without losing an employment site.

Sedbergh –  April

The new chairman of the planning committee,Cllr Caroline Thornton-Berry, described the proposed re-development of Kings Yard in Sedbergh as very exciting.

The committee agreed that it should support what Cllr Blackie described as a wonderful scheme which would help to rejuvenate Sedbergh. Approval was given to demolish the existing buildings and replace them with five local occupancy houses and a two-storey commercial building.

Ian McPherson, who declared a personal interest as he lives near Kings Yard, reported that the parish council fully supported the application and there had been no significant local objections.

“In fact there has been a lot of support because the site at the moment is a terrible shambles. Almost anything would be an improvement,” he said.

He added that the agent had made a great deal of effort to consult with local people, the parish council and the planning officers. The disused workshop and garage buildings were described by the Economic Development Team at South Lakeland District Council as being not fit for purpose and did not provide a quality environment to attract jobs.

The owner, Richard Mathers, had fulfilled the YDNPA’s requirements by advertising the whole site from September 2014. This showed that there was no current demand for such employment use in that location and this meant that Mr Mathers could include housing in the re-development plan.

The new commercial building will provide units for six independent service-sector businesses. The committee agreed that the application could be considered in accordance with the emerging Yorkshire Dales Local Plan 2015-2030 which will allow for 100 per cent local occupancy housing with no affordable units.

Following a request by Sedbergh Community Swifts, swift bricks and boxes will be provided in the buildings. Andrew Colley asked if permeable surfaces for the car parking areas could be considered as well as the provision of solar panels.

Sedbergh – May

Sedbergh School can go ahead with the construction of a new multi-courts sports centre at Busk Lane in Sedbergh.

Several members of the committee emphasised the need for the work to go ahead as soon as possible. For this reason the committee refused requests from Ian McPherson, on behalf of the parish council, for the decision to be deferred or for a legal agreement concerning the car parking arrangements to be drawn up at this time. One may be considered later the legal officer said.

Sedbergh Parish Council objected to the application mainly on the basis of inadequate parking arrangements, with just seven spaces available for cars at the site and with no parking restrictions along Busk Lane which is the main route through the town for heavy vehicles. It had told the Authority: “The parking of cars and coaches on Busk Lane during sporting events is already causing obstruction of footways, difficulties for the free flow of traffic and damage to pavements and grass verges.”

The parish council asked for additional parking to be provided within the school estate, particularly for coaches, and for a robust car parking management plan.

Martin Smith, the school’s Estates Bursar, said: “The car parking issue is a sore point and something we are trying to get a better handle on,”

He explained that the school had arranged for marshals to enforce a car parking plan at the last big sports event.

Cllr Welch commented that the main problem was that people were lazy and didn’t want to walk far from where they had parked.

Mr Smith explained that the school was in an extremely competitive market and needed such a modern facility especially as, in the North of England, there could be extreme weather. The school, he said, not only provided employment but supported many local traders.

Peter Charlesworth stated: “This is quite clearly a well-designed building which fits well into the landscape. To say that we should refuse it because they haven’t got a big enough car park is, I think, quite misguided – because to make a big car park would be detrimental to the landscape. The management plan for the car parking has to be enforced.”

Mr Graham said that the parish council would be consulted on the car parking management plan.

Both Mr Charlesworth and Jocelyn Manners-Armstrong stressed that the new sports centre should also be available to local people.

The single storey stone pavilion at Busk Lane will be demolished to make way for the new centre which will have courts for badminton, basketball, netball and volleyball plus cricket nets and seating for 488 spectators. There will also be changing rooms, an office, two multi-purpose studios and a hospitality suite.

Sedbergh – June

The re-modelling of Ingmire Caravan Park  at Marthwaite, Sedbergh, would make the site much more attractive the committee was told.

The applicant’s agent, Jeremy Lambe, said this could reverse the trend of  decreasing numbers of touring caravans at the site.  All the touring caravan will now be located near the entrance rather than being scattered throughout the site.

There will be three fewer touring caravan pitches but the planning officer said this would not affect the overall provision for these in that area.

Ian McFarlane reported that Sedbergh Parish Council welcomed the provision of improved facilities but did want a condition imposed that would ensure that all static “units” would be for holiday purposes only. It also wanted the assurance that the touring pitches were genuinely available for short term use. Mr Graham said such conditions could be included.

At present the site has 12 holiday caravans and 18 touring pitches. The committee approved the plan to alter this to 15 holiday caravans or lodges, 13 touring caravan pitches and two camping pods. The Nissen hut and two toilet blocks will be replaced with a new washing facility together with landscaping.

Sedbergh Parish Council and Cllr Blackie would have liked to have seen pitches provided for tents. Mr Graham pointed out that, at present, there weren’t  any tent pitches at the site and the provision of camping pods did increase the types of holiday accommodation on offer.

Mr Lambe said that campers could use the grassed areas among the trees.

Skyreholme – July

There was another case of “A Call for Justice” – this time by Simon and Sue Newbould who live at Skyreholme.  This, as Cllr  Harrison-Topham reminded the committee, recalled the “Wild West” days of planning in the Yorkshire Dales National Park when there were glaring inconsistencies concerning the imposition of local occupancy legal agreements.

During the discussion about the informal request to lift the S106 local occupancy agreement on Croft House at Skyreholme  Cllr Harrison-Topham said he had previously characterised the period between 1985 and 1990 as being rather like Wild West country. “An awful lot of subjective judgements were made,” he commented.

In 1985 permission was granted by the planning committee for the construction of Bracken House in Skyreholme without imposing any local occupancy agreement.

A planning officer stated at this month’s meeting (July 2016) that there was no detailed record as to why that was done as in 1985 officers had again recommended refusal. Two other applications for the same site had already been refused, with both of those decisions being upheld at appeal.

In 1990 permission was granted for the construction of Croft House subject to a local occupancy agreement. This was done under an Interim Housing policy which was subsequently not accepted by the government.

The owners of Croft House, Simon and Sue Newbould, have now asked for the legal agreement to be lifted as there had been inconsistency in planning decisions. Their agent, Andrew Moss, told the committee that both Bracken House and Croft House had buildings on three sides of them. “There is a clear inconsistency in relation to the approach to Bracken House and my clients’,” he said. He reminded the committee that in May 2013 it had lifted a local occupancy agreement on Top O’T’Hill at Feizor due to inconsistency in decision making in 1990.

Cllr Heseltine said that the Interim Housing Policy was the first attempt to provide local occupancy housing in the Dales. He mused that the committee should accept the planning officer’s recommendation that Mr and Mrs Newbould should seek to modify the legal agreement to allow the more flexible local occupancy criteria set out in the Authority’s emerging Local Plan.

The officer stated that the removal of the legal agreement would undermine the basis for granting planning permission which had been to meet an established local need.

Committee member Ian McPherson asked that a decision should be deferred as the legal background was quite complicated. “I don’t think we have had sufficient legal advice,” he commented. The majority of the committee agreed with him.

Skyreholme – Croft House – August

Simon and Sue Newbould were deeply disappointed when the committee, after a very short discussion, decided not to lift the local occupancy agreement on Croft House in Skyreholme. They were told instead to apply for it to be amended.

Ian McPherson argued that the committee should accept the recommendation of the Authority’s senior legal officer, Claire Bevan, that such local occupancy restrictions were still relevant and served a useful purpose.

If such an agreement had not been offered to the Newboulds in 1990 it was likely, he said, that more onerous conditions would have been imposed on a new build within what was defined as the “open countryside”. He quoted the legal officer’s report that such agreements remained of value in controlling housing development in the National Park and ensured the provision of housing to meet the specific socio-economic needs of the area. These were, he said, still an important aspect of the Authority’s housing policy.

Cllr Blackie described the planning policy in the National Park between 1980 and 1997 as being very unstructured with decisions being made “on the hoof”. “It was an absolute dog’s breakfast,” he commented. He pointed out that in 1991 the Government instructed the Authority to call a halt to its short-lived Interim Housing Policy (IHP). It was in accordance with this that the local occupancy agreement for Croft House was made.

That policy, he said, had led to some glaring inconsistencies. The Authority had acknowledged some of them and he believed it should do so concerning Croft House.

Mr Graham responded that the Authority had been consistent in restricting development in the open countryside and imposing local occupancy agreements.

On the issue of inconsistency and unfairness the legal officer stated:“The Authority has previously acknowledged in relation to the case at Holme Barn and Hawksnest, Hawkswick that there has been an element of unfairness in the use of S106 Agreements having regard to the inconsistencies in applying evolving housing policies at that time. This was an uncertain period, during which the IHP was eventually set aside, and until the adoption of the 1996 local plan, there was a clear inconsistency between some dwellings in the wider National Park which were approved under the IHP and restricted to local occupancy and others granted consent after the IHP was discredited and before the adoption of the 1996 local plan which were not.”

She maintained that the basis of making decisions was fair regarding the planning permissions for two houses in Skyreholme between 1985 and 1990. She said that the key difference was that “the planning committee determined not to impose an occupancy restriction on what is now Bracken House [in 1985]. There is no record of the considerations taken into account by planning committee and it would be mere speculation to suggest what they may or may not have been.”

SkyreholmeSimon’s Seat – August

The government has now introduced a regulation which will mean that many barn conversions will require their own water supply.

In response to a question from Cllr Blackie Mr Graham explained that bore holes would have to be sunk and the water assessed for its quality. “I would agree that would be another burden on the applicants but we have to satisfy ourselves that there will be an adequate water supply,” he added.

Local council environmental health units expect to see a water assessment before giving approval for any barn conversion. Such an expensive demand would rack up the cost of a barn conversion before an applicant knew if planning permission would be granted, Cllr Blackie said.

The planning committee gave approval for a barn at Simon’s Seat Farm, Skyreholme, to be converted into a three-bedroom house so long as a local occupancy legal agreement was signed. A chicken hut by the roadside will be replaced with a garage and the modern farm buildings will be removed.

Appletreewick Parish Council was concerned about the impact of such barn conversions on the already limited local water supply in Skyreholme. The owners of the barn at Simon’s Seat had confirmed that there was already a bore hole there.

Ian McPherson asked if provision could be made for birds such as swifts, as well as for bats.

Stainforth – May It looks as if the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority is now celebrating approving retrospective planning applications!

Immediately after the planning committee meeting a press release was issued announcing that the Knight Stainforth Hall caravan and camping park in Ribblesdale was set for a facelift after a retrospective application to convert agricultural buildings into a new restaurant and other facilities was approved.

But according to the restaurant’s own Facebook page it opened on 16 May 2015.

Mrs  Martin asked how the buildings could have been rebuilt and converted without planning permission and how further cases could be prevented in the future. In response Mr Graham said: “Sometimes these things happen.”

Cllr Heseltine commented: “I am just surprised that such a large development in that location wasn’t brought to the attention of any of our officers.”

And Cllr Harrison-Topham, pointed out the need for the planning department to liaise with building control. He said that a normal local authority had building control and planning departments whereas the National Park didn’t.

The latest application was for the part re-building and conversion of a traditional barn and a range of modern farm buildings so that they could be used for the restaurant, toilets, offices and store rooms as well as a new caravan site reception cum shop and a games room. Solar panels have also been installed.

An application for the conversion of the buildings was approved in August 2012 but when work commenced in February 2013 the applicants found that some original walls were unstable. The planning officer reported that, in consultation with building control and the building contractor, it was decided to rebuild these. This constituted re-construction and was not covered by the original application, one of the criteria for which was that substantial rebuilding was not required.

He stated: “The carrying out of works to demolish and reconstruct significant portions of the traditional buildings that previously existed at the site has been undertaken without any recording of their interest or features, and their loss is to the detriment of the cultural heritage of the National Park.” He added that the development did reflect the traditional character of the buildings by using reclaimed materials and retaining some of the original walls.

Stirton  – June– When the plastic sheeting covering a building at Stirton was removed it was revealed that the conversion of the traditional barn had not gone according to the approved plans.

Stirton-with-Thorlby Parish Meeting reported that the roof had been raised, some quoins had been removed, and at least one window needed re-positioning.  These and other changes had led to the Authority considering enforcement action.

The committee agreed with the planning officer that the east gable window should be re-positioned within three months. This, the planning officer said, would reinstate the former building line and quoins.

Following discussions with the planning officer the applicant had amended the retrospective application. The planning officer reported: “The amended proposal also includes a more gradual grading of land levels across the site from north to south. This would remove a recently formed terrace created in part by excavated soil and would mean there is a more continuous gradient that relates to off-site land levels to the north. The reinstatement of the earlier ground level would restore some of the building’s earlier character.”

Stirton with Thorlby – October

The committee agreed that the 400-years-old Tithe Barn at Stirton can be converted into either a local-occupancy dwelling or a holiday let.

The Trustees of Roman Catholic Purposes had  been given permission in 2014 to convert this Grade II listed building for office use. Its latest application is in line with the Authority’s emerging Local Plan which allows for traditional roadside barns to be converted for local housing or holiday lets subject to legal agreements.

During the debate there were two queries: if the access to a neighbouring field would be protected; and if an archaeological watching brief would not only be kept on the barn during conversion but also on  the area around it.

Cllr Parsons explained that tithe barns always had other buildings around them. This meant there could be important archaeological remains under the hard standing used for car parking. He was assured that the archaeological watching brief would extend outside to the barn.

The planning officer reported that although no internal fixtures or fittings now remain in the barn the building still had features of historic significance. The members accepted his argument that there would be clear conservation benefits from allowing it to be converted.

Stirton with Thorlby Parish Meeting had also been concerned about the access to adjoining fields. The planning officer stated: “Although this is a civil issue, the application has been amended to ensure that the existing agricultural access can be maintained.”

He added that the plans included the provision of a nesting box for barn owls.

Update – In August 2017 a planning officer, under delegated authority, gave permission for the Tithe Barn to be converted into offices. The parish council had generally approved of the application but did ask that the roof timbers should be protected.

Stirton-with-Thorlby – December

The committee agreed that the planning officers could grant planning permission for High Barn in Sour Lane, Stirton-with-Thorlby, to be converted into a three-bedroom local occupancy dwelling and a one-bedroom holiday let once amended plans have been received.

An archaeological assessment had shown that the roof timbers in the stone barn had been reclaimed from a much earlier cruck framed timber building. The planning officer has, therefore, requested that the amended plans should include the retention and visibility of the roof structure.

Swaledale – November :  Richmond Motor Club Three Day Trial

The Richmond Motor Club had £6,000 less to give to local charities following this year’s Scott Trial due to the cost of fulfilling the new conditions imposed by the YDNPA, Cllr Blackie told the planning committee.

The same conditions will now be imposed upon the Reeth Three Day Trial held by the Richmond Motor Club in July each year.

Cllr Blackie said: “This is a very important trial for the economy of the Upper Dales and particularly for young people. The archaeological and ecological units have gone rather over the top in demanding baseline information well beyond what was ever demanded before.”

Cllr Parsons agreed with him and stated: “You are expecting the [club members] to have a huge area of specialist knowledge. Expecting them to identify archaeologically sensitive sites when we can’t identify them ourselves is expecting a little bit too much.

“You are expecting 20 to 30 people to carry out what is a fairly professional survey and also to have a huge understanding of bio-diversity.”

Mr Graham, responded: “In terms of how the trial is managed, how the riders and spectators are managed, and what mitigation measures will be put in place to prevent damage to the environment – [that] is the same as with the Scott Trial. So there is no need to duplicate the work. I don’t envisage that there will be a significant amount of extra work.”

The planning officer told the committee that whilst the Authority did accept that the Three Day Trial was a long-established, nationally recognised event that contributed significantly to the local economy, it was held over Arkengarthdale, Gunnerside and Reeth Moors where there were special sites of conservation and scientific interest as well as a number of unscheduled monuments.

Ian McPherson stated that if the conditions, which were aimed at limiting and repairing any damage to the environment, were not imposed he could not vote for the Club to continue staging the Three Day Trial.

“This is a National Park and the overriding purpose of the National Park is to conserve and protect the environment. I think that there is adequate evidence to show that, because of the different areas and aspects of the natural environment involved, that protection is necessary,” he said.

Swaledale – November

Permission was granted for ten camping pods to be placed between the two rows of trees which separate the 30 touring caravan pitches from the rest of Swaleview Caravan Site near Reeth.

Mr Graham assured Cllr Blackie, that the conditions on the approval were sufficient to ensure that the camping pods could not, at some time, be replaced with caravans.

Approval of the camping pods is in line with the Authority’s emerging Local Plan which aims to expand and diversify the supply of more modern forms of “camping” accommodation within the National Park.

The owners had agreed to plant more trees at the entrance to the site. Cllr Parsons asked that even more should be planted so that the site was not so visible from the Reeth Road as visitors entered the National Park.

Thorpe – November and December

At the November meeting the committee agreed with the planning officer that the proposed extension to Mitchell House was not in keeping with the existing building.

An amended application to convert the agricultural workshop  into a two-bedroom holiday let was approved at the December meeting. The extension was not included in the amended plans.

Threshfield – July

The committee agreed that a compromise was needed to find a way to turn Toft House in Threshfield into a comfortable, modern farmhouse, without losing even more of its original 17th century features.

The chairman of the committee, Cllr Thornton-Berry, commented: “I think we are all in sympathy with what needs to be done and we want to help local people as much as we can. But our job is to maintain the historic heritage.”

Toft House was described as an important heritage asset and a fine example of a vernacular Dales farm house. All the proposed alterations would be at the rear of the farmhouse but Cllr Thornton-Berry pointed out that it was not a material consideration that they wouldn’t be seen.

On the side where there are modern windows and a door it is proposed to construct a two-storey extension to provide an additional bedroom and also a large kitchen cum farm office. On the other side it is proposed to move a 17th window to make room for a door into a new cloakroom where outdoor farming clothing could be removed. Another window would be enlarged to provide more light to a staircase.

The senior listed building officer had objected to the extension but at a site meeting the planning officer accepted the principle of its construction.

At the planning meeting the Authority’s member champion for cultural heritage, Julie Martin, stated that the key issue was to retain the 17th century windows. It was agreed, therefore, that instead of accepting the planning officer’s recommendation to refuse the application, a decision should be deferred so that a compromise could be found.

A compromise agreement was approved by the committee at the August meeting.

The majority voted to approve amended plans which included the retention of the original stairway window and the scullery window, but allowed the new garage to include a cloakroom.

Weasdale – November

A barn at Lane Farm in Weasdale which dates back to 1767 can now be converted into a two-bedroom holiday let and so ensure its long term.

Weasdale became part of the Yorkshire Dales National Park on August 1, and so planning decisions are now made by the YDNPA and not Eden District Council.

Mr Graham told the committee that, as the application was contrary to Eden District Council’s current policies, the Authority’s planning department evaluated it according to the objectives for sustainable development outlined in the National Planning Policy Framework.

“It is a very sensitive conversion,” he said. “We feel that it is right for holiday accommodation rather than residential because of the quality of the building.”

He explained that this less intensive use of the building would mean fewer changes and less likelihood of affecting historically important features.

Cllr Kendal had been to see the barn and told the committee: “I was quite knocked over by the beauty of it and I feel it would be criminal not to bring it into use.”

West Witton – July

Permission was also granted for a traditional barn at Home Farm in West Witton to be converted into a local occupancy three-bedroom home.

Winterburn – November

There were gasps of admiration when a photograph of the magnificent Friars Head – a late Tudor gentry house – was shown. The late 19th century single storey outbuilding is also historically and architecturally significant.

The owners had applied for an outbuilding to be converted for short term lets or for local occupancy directly related to the farm.

The planning officer reported: “The proposal provides an opportunity for a new use for the building that should ensure its future survival without significant alteration to its external appearances or the loss of its most important features.”

This was accepted as being in accordance with the emerging Local Plan concerning the conversion of traditional buildings.

ARC News Service

Pip Land attends on 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. Her ARC News Service reports are sent, free of charge, to local newspapers and websites.  If you would like to support this service do join the Association of Rural Communities.

YDNPA – Local Plan and affordable housing

December 23, 2016 By: Pip Land Category: ARC News Service No Comments →

ARC News Service  report by Pip Land: The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) was delighted when its Local Plan 2015-2030 was “approved” by the Planning Inspector (see its press release at the end of the ARC News Report). But the Inspector did raise serious concerns regarding the provision of affordable homes. And the Authority members decided that an Article 4 Direction should be made concerning the conversion of offices to dwellings.

 

The need for affordable homes in the Yorkshire Dales National Park cannot be met according to Simon Berkeley who inspected and approved the YDNPA’s new Local Plan.

Following confirmation that the Plan was sound and legally compliant the members of Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority unanimously voted on Tuesday, December 20, to adopt it. This Plan does not include the areas added to the National Park in August this year.

Mr Berkeley noted in his report that there would be a degree of dependency on “windfall sites” to fulfil the Authority’s target of 55 new dwellings each year. Of those only 15 to 17 would be affordable homes which would not meet the shortfall of around 117 that were needed each year.

He stated: “I consider the Plan’s shortcomings in relation to affordable housing should not lead to it being found unsound. It will be better to have this Plan in place than none at all.”

North Yorkshire County Councillor John Blackie warned, however, that it was very difficult for small affordable housing developments in the Yorkshire Dales to gain the support of Housing Associations due to the problem of economic viability.

He explained that Richmondshire District Council had offered a site free of charge in Langthwaite, Arkengarthdale, for the construction of four affordable houses. But without the support of a Housing Association there was no chance of the development going ahead, he said.

Peter Stockton, the head of sustainable development, assured the leader of Richmondshire District Council, Cllr Yvonne Peacock, that the Authority would continue to try and find a solution.

After the meeting, she said: “The district council is working very hard to ensure we do have some affordable or local need houses for Arkengarthdale.”

The Authority members made it very clear that any solution for the housing problem had to be “Plan-led”, and so were unanimously in favour of requesting an Article 4 Direction to ensure that the owners of office buildings in the National Park will have to apply for planning permission to convert them into dwellings.

This is because from October 2017 until October 2020 the Government will allow office buildings of 500sq m or less to be converted under general permitted development.

The Authority’s planning policy officer, Thomas Harland, described the target of 55 new homes a year as ambitious and added: “There will be increasing pressure on the supply of land and buildings for housing in the National Park so, in that sense, any source of additional housing supply is to be broadly welcomed.”

He did note that this had to be balanced with the need to retain employment – and it was that which Cllr Blackie and Jocelyn Manners-Armstrong emphasised.

Contrary to Mr Harland’s recommendation Cllr Blackie called for the Authority to ask for an Article 4 Direction so that, within the National Park, planning permission would still be required.

He pointed out that 60 jobs could be lost at the Upper Wensleydale Business Park in Hawes and he stated: “We lose these [offices] at our peril.”

Mrs Manners-Armstrong said: “We have only a few light industrial sites and it is important that we protect them. We have just approved the Local Plan and this [Government) policy will contradict it. If we are serious about our policies we should defend them. We have to protect the economic future of our communities.”

The request for a non-immediate effect Article 4 Direction will need to go out for consultation and then be approved by the Secretary of State. It will come into effect 12 months after that approval.

From October 2017 until that time the Authority could still block the change of use on the basis that an office was within an area providing important industrial services and residential dwellings there would have an adverse impact upon its sustainability.

 

Yorkshire Dales National Park Local Plan Adopted – YNDPA press release

 

Bainbridge, December 20, 2016.

 

Following a final positive report from the Independent Planning Inspector, Authority Members today unanimously adopted the new Yorkshire Dales National Park Local Plan.

Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority Chairman, Carl Lis, said: “This is a very important day for the Yorkshire Dales National Park and the people who live and work here. The new Local Plan has been developed to meet the long-term social and economic challenges being faced by the communities in the Park and will guide planning decisions for the next 15 years.

“It will help the Authority implement the development objectives that we and our partners first set out in the National Park Management Plan. For example, the Plan provides more flexibility for the reuse of traditional buildings.

“In fact, we have already started using the new Local Plan to permit roadside barn conversions for new local occupancy housing or to support the local economy as visitor accommodation. We are already getting a positive reaction from the early applicants who are seeing some of the new benefits.”

“It is excellent news that we have now reached the stage of being able to adopt the Plan. We look forward to fully implementing it to shape the future of sustainable development in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. It contains a positive strategy for new housing, stronger businesses and support for local services, all of which are vital for sustainable communities.

“One of the first things we will do will be to promote the development of the allocated sites, particularly in Sedbergh, Hawes, Grassington and Reeth. The new policies in the Plan make these existing sites more economically viable for development.”

The adoption of the Local Plan is the culmination of a process which began in 2013. After rounds of consultation with local communities and other stakeholders, the Plan was submitted to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government in January of this year. Since then an Independent Planning Inspector has carried out a thorough examination of the Plan, including holding public hearings during July.

Last week the Inspector confirmed that the Plan is sound and legally compliant, and that it provides an appropriate basis for planning development in the National Park.

YDNPA – Yore Mill, Aysgarth

December 19, 2016 By: Pip Land Category: ARC News Service, In Wensleydale No Comments →

yore_mill

Yore Mill towers over the famous Aysgarth Falls, and the craft shop and teashop beside it. The original cotton mill was built there in 1784 but was heavily damaged by fire in 1852. It was rebuilt in its present form a year later. The mill was used by knitters during the late 19th century with corn grinding on the ground floor. The latter continued until after the 2nd World War, running alongside the flour-rolling plant which was installed 1912. Flour production ceased in 1958 and the mill was used as a cattle food depot for ten years. It became the home of George Shaw’s Carriage Museum from 1969 until 2003.

 

The poor state of the roof of Yore Mill has led to the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) even considering compulsory purchase as a means of conserving this important, Grade II listed building.

At the full Authority meeting on Tuesday December 20 at Yoredale in Bainbridge the members will be asked to attend a site meeting with the owners at Yore Mill.

The two options they will consider are: to work with the current owners to secure roof repairs by negotiation and with direct financial backing; or for the Authority to take a more forcible approach using its legal powers.

The latter would require a Repairs Notice to be served on the owners which will give them at least two months to take reasonable steps to carry out a prescribed set of repairs. If that is not done the Authority would then consider compulsory purchase even though that would represent a major commitment.

In a report to the Authority Thomas Harland, its planning policy officer, stated that Yore Mill was at risk.

He reported: “The extent of the water damage is such that some of the structural roof timbers are beginning to be compromised, meaning that at least partial roof collapse is becoming increasingly likely. The fact that so many slates are no longer secured in position means the building also presents a risk to public safety.

“The owners have ambitions to use the mill as a paid-entry visitor attraction, with retail facilities for handcrafted goods, some of which would be produced in workshops on the premises, alongside displays relating to the heritage of the Dales.

“They submitted a planning application for a similar use in 2003 but this was refused due to a lack of detail of the exact nature of the use and a lack of consideration of traffic and visitor management implications of such an attraction. The lack of any on-site parking facilities remains a significant constraint.

“The Authority has been in discussion with the owners since 2010 and has offered advice on potential funding streams and suitable uses. The owners have stated that they do not have the resources to finance any repair scheme.

“They still believe that fundraising from various charitable trusts, attracting a development partner to invest in the Mill, together with a proposed ‘crowd funding’ appeal, are capable of yielding enough money to realise their proposed end use.”

YDNPA – Full Authority meeting September 2016

September 29, 2016 By: Pip Land Category: ARC News Service No Comments →

Rural communities and the need for affordable housing are not on the government’s radar it was stated at the full  meeting of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority  (YDNPA)on Tuesday, September 27. The heavy impact of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Extension on Authority’s staff was also described.  The Authority said farewell to two long-standing members: North Yorkshire County Councillor Shelagh Marshall and Harold Brown.

Harold Brown

The chairman, Craven District Councillor Carl Lis, told the meeting that Harold Brown was one of the original members having started on the  shadow authority in 1996.

“Since that time he has made an outstanding contribution to the National Park Authority and to the National Park and the Swaledale communities. He has held quite a number of positions within the Authority including serving as an excellent chairman of the planning committee and I [want to] acknowledge his time as my deputy chairman for four years from 2011 to 2015.

“We had an excellent personal relationship. Harold was always a man of great integrity and he brought that to our many conversations. I particularly want to highlight his invaluable advice and guidance to me on all matters to do with farming. That was so valuable, it really was. We have new members now who won’t get that same guidance. I think this Authority will miss him sorely.”

North Yorkshire County Councillor John Blackie described Mr Brown as an absolute authority on farming. “He was always loyal to those communities that he proudly presented. He was also very highly regarded by his fellow members of the National Park including those who disagreed with his staunch local community view. He was a brilliant planning committee chairman. We are going to miss him.”

Cllr Shelagh Marshall

The Chief Executive, David Butterworth, reported that she had missed several Authority meetings this year due to a close family member being ill since Christmas 2015 and had decided to resign as of September 30.

Cllr Lis, told the Full Authority meeting: “She has been a very long serving member of the Authority although it has been in three separate terms, the first one of which started prior to the independence of the Authority in 1999.

“She then served from 2005 until 2009 and finally from 2013 until the end of this month. Shelagh has a massive amount of experience in local government at county and district level over the last 30 years.

“Not only has she been a passionate advocate for all matters in her local area but also on the national stage representing fairly recently the issues surrounding older people.

“This Authority has benefitted from all of that experience, bringing a depth of knowledge on a wide variety of subjects as well as a large amount of simple, plain common sense. We will miss that input.”

He thanked Cllr Marshall for all the time and effort she had invested in the Authority.

Housing

The Chief Executive, David Butterworth, commented that housing policy in this country was determined at national level which meant that rural areas were dealt with in the same way as those in the cities.

“So what we have is no government interest in affordable rural housing,” he said.

Both he and Cllr Marshall quoted figures from the 2001 census and that in 2011. These showed that 1,000 homes were built in the Yorkshire Dales during that decade but the population went up by only 100.

Mr Butterworth continued: “The reason behind that is that the amount of second homes and holiday homes in the National Park is going through the roof – from 15 per cent to 23 per cent and climbing. But nobody is interested in doing anything about it.  Let’s not go away with the idea that the National Park Authority can fundamentally solve the housing problem in this area because we don’t live in that kind of country.

“Until there is recognition that housing matters in rural areas like this and the  control of them should be given to local communities we are going to be like this for the next ten to 20 years.”

Richmondshire District Councillor Yvonne Peacock said that landowners were holding back from selling land for affordable housing because the government kept announcing different plans. The landowners, therefore, felt that they  might get a better deal if they waited a bit longer.

The YDNPA has inherited an example of how government directives undermine attempts to provide affordable housing. When a  developer applied to convert the former accommodation buildings at Casterton School into 17 dwellings, South Lakeland District Council negotiated a financial contribution towards its affordable housing fund.  But in May this year the Government introduced the Vacant Building Credit which reduced affordable housing contributions.

As this meant that there would be no contribution from the Casterton School development the planning application was refused. The developer has now appealed. Although this development is now within the National Park the YDNPA has delegated that appeal and any costs involved to South Lakeland.

The National Park uses local occupancy agreements to try and stop new dwellings becoming second homes or holiday homes.

North Yorkshire County Councillor John Blackie told the meeting that another three couples had left Arkengarthdale because they couldn’t find housing and the school now had only 14 pupils. “There is a lot of worry amongst the local communities that we will not have any local young families left,” he said.

He pointed out that in the Defra “Eight-Point Plan for England’s National Parks” there wasn’t one single use of the word “community”. “Community doesn’t seem to be on Defra’s radar. The contribution [communities] make to the work of the National Park is not recognised in London,” he said.

Local Plan

Peter Stockton, the head of sustainable development, reported that when the YDNPA’s proposed new Local Plan was examined by a Planning Inspector during public hearings in July one of the main issues was whether the Authority would be able to meet its target of 55 homes being built each year. (This includes barn conversions.)

The Authority had told the Inspector that it preferred a flexible approach and  did not want to specify the locations where those homes would be built.  Mr Stockton said: “It’s a big step for us to set a housing target and it does come with some risks.”

In his report he stated: “We anticipate that the Inspector will ask the Authority to undertake an early review of its housing supply to ensure we can maintain a rolling five-year supply of housing land, to meet the target of 55 new dwellings per year.”

The Inspector had suggested some modifications to the proposed Local Plan and within a few weeks details of those will be on the Authority’s website. There will then be a six-weeks consultation period. Mr Stockton said it was hoped that the Local Plan could be adopted at the December meeting of the full Authority.

Planning

The extension of the National Park has led to the YDNPA inheriting 42 planning applications from Eden District Council, 12 from South Lakeland and one (plus one appeal) from Lancaster City. It also has at least 12 enforcement cases to deal with nine being already received from Eden DC and three from South Lakeland.

The YDNPA workload has been further increased by the need to update the planning and enforcement register. On August 1 over 10,000 planning records for the extension area were transferred to the YDNPA from four local authorities. The head of development management, Richard Graham, reported that this has become a difficult, expensive and complicated task as the records had come in different formats. The amount of work, he said, was in excess of that predicted.

In addition the YDNPA inherited something it had never dealt with before – a Neighbourhood Development Order (NDO).

It was accepted that the NDO for Carr House, Mallerstang, was procedurally compliant. The Authority will, therefore, publish it for public inspection and representations over a six week period, and then appoint an independent examiner with the consent of Kirkby Stephen Town Council.

It will be up to the examiner if there should be a local referendum to decide if Carr House, an unoccupied former dwelling in the open countryside, can become a holiday let or a local occupancy home. No planning application will be required but the Authority may well question if the reinstatement of Carr House conforms with the Eden Development Plan.

Coast to Coast

It was agreed that the Authority should support the campaign to make Wainright’s Coast to Coast walk a National Trail.

Upper Dales Area Partnership – September 2016

September 24, 2016 By: Pip Land Category: ARC News Service No Comments →

The impact of the Better Health programme on the Upper Dales, the possible increase in distances ambulances will need to travel, and condition of the roads in winter, especially the Buttertubs pass, were the main items discussed at the Upper Dales Area Partnership at Reeth on September 21.

Better Health programme

Edmund Lovell, the communications and engagement lead for the Better Health programme, said that this was aimed at providing a sustainable service by the hospitals which were participating in it. These originally were the Darlington Memorial Hospital (DMH), the James Cooke University Hospital at Middlesbrough, the South Tees Hospital and the University Hospital of North Durham.

Under the government’s Sustainability and Transformation Plans for the NHS that at Durham will not now be included. This change meant that the public consultation on the Better Health programme would not take place until next year, Mr Lovell said.

Compared to the meeting at Hawes his presentation this time did include “travel impacts” – something which greatly concerned residents in the Upper Dales.

North Yorkshire County Councillor John Blackie said that when the maternity and paediatric units at the Friarage Hospital were downgraded in 2013 residents had been assured by the Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group (HRWCCG) that the DMH would provide these consultant-led services as well as a full A&E department. Residents were very concerned that the Better Health programme could lead to these services no longer being available at the DMH.

Cllr Blackie pointed out that this would mean that most patients from the Upper Dales would face a 60-mile journey by ambulance to a hospital. He also asked if this would cause over-crowding at the James Cooke University Hospital in Middlesbrough and even further delays in ambulance response times. Mr Lovell assured the meeting that these issues will be included in the consultation.

Dr Derek Cruikshank, one of the doctors involved for several years in the planning for the Better Health programme, explained that developments in medical care had not only led to much better outcomes for many patients but also to an increase in specialisation by doctors. There could be a 30 per cent better chance of survival if a patient was taken to a hospital with the specialist skills even if it involved a longer journey, he said.

“We have got to keep up with the pace of the changes that are available. But the cost of these services and the expertise that is required means that we can’t have all of them in every hospital.” Specialists, he added, needed to see enough patients to maintain their skills.

Mr Lovell described this as “critical mass” and that hospitals with sufficient patients would attract such specialists. If hospitals had specific specialisations there would be fewer cancellations of planned operations, he added.

Dr Mark Hodgson of the HRWCCG told the meeting that additional resources were now available at the Friarage Hospital to provide for planned care and to give a better service for those who were critically ill.

Both he and Dr Mike Brookes of the Reeth GP Practice reported that there had been an improvement in ambulance response times. Dr Brookes said this was partly because ambulance crews could now seek the advice of local GPs rather than take all patients to hospital.

But those living in the Upper Dales were still very concerned about the amount of time it can now take for ambulances to return from the long journey to Middlesbrough and felt that the Better Health programme could make the situation worse.

Gill Collinson of the HRWCCG supported the objective of the Better Health programme to bring medical services closer to the patients and so reduce the number of delayed discharges from hospital. As part of this there has been a trial of the “Step-up/Step-down” scheme at Sycamore Hall in Bainbridge (*see below).

“This is a brilliant initiative,” said West Burton parish councillor Jane Ritchie.

Highways

The Buttertubs pass will not be upgraded to a Priority One road for winter gritting Richard Marr, the new NYCC Richmondshire Area Highways Manager, told the meeting.

He was introduced by North Yorkshire County Councillor Don Mackenzie whose remit as a member of the county council’s executive included highways and transport. “You should blame the councillors who create policies and not the managers who carry them out,” Cllr Mackenzie said. “The problem is the budget cuts – we’ve had a 40 per cent cut. We are the biggest county in England and have 6,000 miles of roads.”

Mr Marr quoted the government legislation which stated that highways authorities had a duty to ensure safe passage along roads in times of snow and ice “as far as reasonably practical.”

The Priority One roads in the Dales were those running from east to west providing access between the main centres of population to the A1.

“Buttertubs doesn’t fit the criteria for a Priority One – you can’t look at it in isolation compared with similar roads across the county. Budgets are limited and we have to do what we can within the limits that we have and we can’t do everything,” Mr Marr said.

Cllr Blackie argued that the Buttertubs road was a very important link between Upper Swaledale and Hawes and when it was closed residents had to drive an additional 30 miles.

Others at the meeting pointed out that there were times when the A684 did not need gritting but the Buttertubs road was impassable due to snow or ice. So would it be possible to grit the Buttertubs road at such times and so keep access open for ambulances as well as residents?

Mr Marr replied: “The procedure is that if the Priority Ones do not need treatment then we can do the Priority Twos. We would not do that if the forecast said the temperature would rise before 10 o’clock. If there are certain days that the part of the Priority Two network which needs treating is just the Buttertubs then I am expecting that will get done.”

He was also asked why the grit store at Hawes was not used regularly instead of the grit wagons having to return to Leyburn to be re-filled.

“Hawes will be used but only when we are running continuously [in very bad weather]. For routine morning treatments we can still operate from Leyburn,” Mr Marr said. He added that it didn’t make sense to have a man and a machine at Hawes to load grit for routine gritting.

Geraldine Coates, the vice-chair of Grinton parish council, told Mr Marr that the road between Grinton and Redmire was, like the Buttertubs road, an important north/south link for residents but this also had Priority Two status for winter gritting. She repeated the request made by the parish council last November for a barrier to be placed along the side of the road at Grinton Bank so that cars could not topple over the edge in icy conditions.

About  repairing roads Mr Marr stated: “We are looking for ways to keep road closures as short as possible. We also have to keep in mind the health and safety of our workers. Some drivers whiz past them at 60mph. Three [workers] were hit by vehicles in the last few months, one deliberately.”

It was reported that part of the road through Swaledale which was recently resurfaced is already showing signs of wear.

 

*Step-up/ Step-down beds at Sycamore Hall, Bainbridge and Kirkwood Hall, Leyburn:  This would allow Wensleydale patients to have up to six weeks nursing care locally either on coming out of hospital, or to prevent them from going into hospital.  Patients will be looked after by their GP, District Nurses and others depending on their needs

Harold Brown retires from the YDNPA

September 06, 2016 By: Pip Land Category: ARC News Service No Comments →

HaroldandKathleenS

Harold Brown, the longest serving parish council representative on the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA), has resigned due to ill health.

In 1996 Brown was among the first group of parish council representatives to be appointed to the Authority by the Secretary of State. By then he had been chairman of Grinton parish council for 11 years following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather not only as a parish councillor but as a respected hill farmer.

During his 20 years as a member of the YDNPA he has been the Authority’s deputy chairman and also chairman of its planning committee. Following a stroke in January 2015 he was only able to attend Authority meetings thanks to the assistance of his wife, Kathleen. He continued as deputy chairman of the planning committee until August this year.

He said: “I have represented the beating heart of this community for 20 years. It is with some regret and with some reluctance that I have had to stand down.”

North Yorkshire County Councillor John Blackie commented:  “In Harold Brown standing down from the YDNPA, and particularly from the Planning Committee we have lost, at our peril, a wonderful advocate for the deeply rural Upper Dales: unswervingly loyal to the very best interests of all of us who live and work here; to the prosperity of our local businesses, never forgetting this category includes our farming enterprises; and to the very well-being of our local communities.

“Harold was highly respected by both officers and his fellow members on the YDNPA, even those who perhaps did not share his instinctive passion for securing the very best for all the local people here in the Upper Dales, and beyond in the remainder of the National Park.  He was incredibly well-informed on farming issues, and ever ready to stand up to be counted for us all.

“Sadly ill health has prevented him carrying on his excellent work over very nearly 20 years of his membership of the YDNPA but the memories of his various contributions to debates and discussions at the Park, and the many achievements in both planning and policy-making that he, along with others who shared his view of the huge importance of vibrant local communities, helped shape will live on for a long, long time to come.

“I personally will miss him dreadfully as we worked so very well together. He was always very supportive of me, and at times he could exert a steadying influence when I was intending to move into over-drive! 0

“In our heyday James Kendall, Harold and I were nicknamed by a well-known member of the YDNPA at the time as The Swaledale Mafia (me because as a County Councillor I represented both Swaledale and Wensleydale) – mainly because we made the Planning Committee offers it could not refuse! Like the Camms Barn on High Abbotside, like the Sports Centre at Reeth, like the renewal permission for The Scott Trial, like so many more – all planning applications recommended for refusal by planning officers but overturned by the compelling arguments and the powerful advocacy that we put forward on behalf of our local communities.

“I very much hope that Harold’s health issues can be resolved so he can enjoy his retirement, resting in the knowledge he has done his very best and achieved a great deal at the YDNPA for our local communities here in the Upper Dales.”

Garris House, Gayle

August 05, 2016 By: Pip Land Category: ARC News Service No Comments →

Michael and Elaine Webster of Garris House, Gayle, sent the letter below to all the members of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s  ( YDNPA ) planning committee.  On Tuesday, August 9, the  committee will consider a request for enforcement action to be taken against the Websters. The letter explains their situation as they will not be allowed to address the committee on Tuesday.

Mr Webster will not even be allowed to have a sample featuring the existing render and the new render with him when he sits with the audience at the meeting on Tuesday. Cllr John Blackie commented that Mr Webster will be forced to sit in silence and be dispossessed of the very evidence to support his case.

Below: The sample Mr Webster wants to show the members of the planning committee.

Garris House 02

……………………………………………..

Mr and Mrs Webster’s letter to the planning committee members:

We have lived in Garris House for just over 30 years and the west facing wall has been subject to damp / water ingress for most of this time due to the elevation being exposed to the prevailing driven rain from the west which is a constant fact of life here in the Upper Dales, particularly in these recent times of significantly higher rainfall.

The wall in question has been covered with a cement render which dates back to the early days of construction of Garris House in the 19th Century, so the need to prevent water ingress has been there from the earliest time.  To combat this problem I have applied various proprietary damp proofing materials over the years in the property.  These damp-proofing agents have been well applied but sadly have had no lasting protection.  The materials used were always of a nature as not to change the appearance of the building.

The problem has now developed to a point where significant structural problems are self-evident to the main supporting roof timbers, which show clear signs of wet rot where they connect into the wall, so it now has become urgent to stop this process of damp ingress to prevent a roof failure.  It is also evident that a vast area of the whole wall is holding a high moisture content and does not fully dry out even in the summer months before the wet autumn / winter periods return.  We have even experienced dripping water down the inside bedroom wall adjacent to the outside wall, and the downstairs adjacent room has not been used for living purposes for several years due to these conditions, and can only be used for storage.

With the need for a permanent solution  to these problems, in the summer of 2015,  I started work to re-cement render the wall and in the process of doing so, incorporated an insulative waterproof member as a sub-surface underneath the final render coating.  The work in progress had reached the point where the sub-surface waterproofing element had been applied to the upper half of the wall when I was visited by the YDNPA Enforcement Officer, Robert Bissicks, who asked for details of the work due to a complaint that had been received by the Authority.  I explained the problem and what I was doing to address it, and he said he would reply in writing to me.

The reply I received described my solution as “wooden cladding” and that planning consent was required.  I felt Mr Bissicks had not fully understood the information I had given him, so I wrote to him to emphasise the sub-surface now in view was not a finished surface, which would be a cement render to match the original, and all edges would also be made-up matching the original so that there would be no perceivable difference to the original appearance.

After further exchanges of correspondence it was established that if the surface was finished with an appropriate render, then it could result in a satisfactory finish, but Mr. Bissicks maintained that planning consent would be needed in any case.  I would challenge that opinion and this would be one of the grounds (along with other grounds) should this matter go to an Enforcement Appeal Inspector, which I sincerely hope that it does not.

I trust the above account and the photographs give some insight into this situation to aid your judgement in this matter. I respect the purpose for planning controls, but it is my honest belief that the work that I have in progress is a normal building repair not requiring planning permission, which when complete will look exactly as its original appearance, is of sound construction, and it will not look or ccould possibly be described as “cladding”.

I would have continued to finish the work last year but Mr. Bissicks insisted I stopped what I was doing there and then, and I have obeyed his instructions.  As I say I respect the need for planning controls.  As one of the original group of 4 managers who established the Wensleydale Creamery after buying the site from Dairy Crest in 1992, and since then the Creamery’s Director in charge of buildings I always ensured that any new works there that needed planning permission obtained it before the commecement of the works.  I still work at The Wensleydale Creamery one day a week.

However in view of the Report you are considering at your meeting I have affixed a sample slab of render temporarily to the wall to demonstrate what the finished rendered surface will look like.  Obviously it will weather down to a finish, colour and texture akin to the original.  I will also bring a sample panel of the new and the existing rendered surface to the Planning Committee, and I hope you will take the time to look at it before you consider the item on your Agenda.

Just on the other side of Gayle Beck to Garris House is a cottage which clearly has suffered the same problem of damp ingress from the prevailing west wind.  The owner, whom I know very well, slated the whole elevation over 25 years ago, and it has cured his damp problem.  He has been fortunate to enjoy a damp free interior in his cottage over all these years.  However you may consider his solution stands out more than what my solution will do, that is when I have finished.  There are a number of other properties in Upper Wensleydale that I could highlight where similar solutions to damp ingress have been applied with success but they are visually obtrusive, unlike my solution when I have finished will be.

I ask the Planning Committee considers deferring the proposed action in Mr.Bissicks’ recommendation for 9 months, until next May, to allow me to finish the work,  and then if it is wishes, or needs to, re-examines the situation.  During this period I will complete the work Mr. Bissicks stopped in its tracks a year ago, and I know you will find then a rendered wall that will be no different in appearance to the existing wall.  However the difference this will make for me and my wife if my solution is successful will be that living at Garris House will be much more comfortable, and hopefully damp free, and therefore conducive to us remaining in good health, given we are both of retirement age.

I would say courteously and without any rancour that if you chose to serve an Enforcement Notice I will go to appeal.  I do not see why we should have to tolerate unhealthy living conditions when they can be rectified with no harm, or difference made, to the built environment or street scene in Gayle.

Below: Existing rendered wall surface on the lower part of the west wall, and a sample panel of new rendering temporarily affixed to the upper part of that wall. 

DCF 1.0

A&E services in the Upper Dales – Hawes meeting

August 02, 2016 By: Pip Land Category: ARC News Service, In Wensleydale No Comments →

It is not much use having excellent specialist consultants available at a hospital if patients die before they get there, or a woman has to endure a complicated birth in the back of an ambulance.

This message was repeated again and again at the meeting at The Fountain Hotel in Hawes on Monday evening (August 1) at which Edmund  Lovell  outlined the objectives of the Better Health Programme envisaged by the NHS in Darlington, County Durham and Tees.  Mr Lovell is the associate director of marketing and communications at County Durham and Darlington NHS Trust.

He emphasised that they had not yet reached the consultation stage but did want feedback on the various issues raised by doctors working in the hospitals in that region.  These issues, he said, included the provision of high quality 24/7 services at a time when fewer junior doctors and consultants were available and the financial restraints within the NHS.

There had also been a considerable move towards specialisation in the past few years and consultants wanted assurance that there would be sufficient work for them to maintain their specialist skills, he said.

To meet national guidelines by having consultants available 24/7 the Trust had already been centralising some specialisations. An example of this is that most heart, stroke and trauma patients with life-threatening symptoms are now taken to the James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough.

He accepted that this caused problems for those who lived furthest away from Middlesbrough. Local residents reported that in Wensleydale this had led to long waits for ambulances to arrive.

There was considerable concern about the possibility of losing not just the 24/7 A&E unit at Darlington Memorial Hospital but also the consultant-led maternity and paediatric services there. Residents in North Yorkshire had been assured that those services would be available following the downgrading of facilities at the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton.

One woman told Mr Lovell: “You don’t know what it feels like to be in labour in an ambulance.”  She added that in some parts of the Dales there was no mobile signal so it was quite possible that an ambulance crew would not be able to contact anyone who could advise them if there were complications.

There was also concern that the JCUH was already under pressure with ambulances having to wait in queues until patients were admitted into the hospital. This increased the time that the ambulances were unavailable.

It was reported that in Wensleydale this had led to patients waiting between 20 to 40 minutes for an ambulance. In one case there was a 90 minute wait during which the patient died.

“This is why the air ambulance is so important,” said Gill Collinson, the chief nurse with the Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group (HRWCCG).   She told the meeting that the two new air ambulances would be able to fly at night.

“And that’s why landing lights are needed at the James Cook hospital,” said Burton-cum-Walden parish councillor Jane Ritchie, who is a member of the HRWCCG.

Both Ms Collinson and Mr Lovell said that one of the solutions to the problem of overcrowding at the JCUH was to move planned treatments such as hip and knee surgery to non-A&E hospitals. This would also ensure that such operations were not postponed due to emergency patients requiring surgery.

Friarage Hospital

Ms Collinson discussed some issues in more depth with those of us at her table. She explained that the HRWCCG had initially declined being involved in the discussions about the Better Health Programme because it had just completed a lengthy consultation concerning services at the Friarage Hospital. At that time the HRWCCG was assured that the consultant-led maternity and paediatric  services at the DMH would continue.

“If there were now proposals about any changes to the midwifery [and paediatric] services at Darlington we would object,” she said.

“We are trying to bring things back to the Friarage,” she added. Thoracic surgery was now being carried out there, more outpatients were being seen, and more cancer patients were receiving chemotherapy.  She said there were experienced physicians at the Friarage who were taking care of patients very well and enabling them to return home quickly. (This is  one of the key objectives of the Better Health Programme.)

Local residents emphasised that there was still a problem with ambulance transport even to the  Urgent Care Centre (for non-life threatening emergencies) at the Friarage. “We need more ambulances,” said Miss Ritchie.

Everyone agreed with Ms Collinson when she stated that one of the key issues was equity of access no matter how deeply rural a community might be.

Footnote: Mr Lovell said 700 clinical care standards had been collated for the Better Health Programme by doctors in Darlington, County Durham and Tees in accordance with national guidelines.   It is interesting to note that not one of those mentions equity of access.

The first two are:

A trained and experienced doctor (ST4 and above or doctor of equivalent competencies) in emergency medicine to be present in the emergency department 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

A consultant in emergency medicine to be scheduled to deliver clinical care in the emergency department for a minimum of 16 hours a day (matched to peak activity), seven days a week. Outside of these 16 hours, a consultant will be on-call and available to attend the hospital for the purposes of senior clinical decision making and patient safety within 30 minutes.

For  more information see A&E services in the Upper Dales – a danger alert

A&E Services in the Upper Dales – a danger alert

July 29, 2016 By: Pip Land Category: ARC News Service No Comments →

North  Yorkshire County Councillor John Blackie has issued a health warning for the Upper Dales as he believes there is a serious threat to the emergency services at the Darlington Memorial Hospital (DMH) due to a consultation being carried out by the NHS in Darlington, Durham and Tees entitled “Better Health Programme”. The loss of 24/7 full scale A&E services at the DMH, including the consultant-led maternity, paediatrics and children’s services there, could mean that people living in Hawes would have a 60 mile journey for emergency care.  Cllr Blackie has provided the following information:

SOME FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)

Where will the nearest hospital to Hawes be for emergency care if the DMH loses these Emergency Services ?

To be decided but most likely at the James Cook University Hospital (JCUH) or University Hospital of North Durham (UHND), both 60 – yes SIXTY – miles away from Hawes.

Weren’t we promised by the local NHS when 24/7 Consultant-led maternity / paediatric services were closed at the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton that  they would be available at the DMH, no further than the Friarage from Hawes ?

Yes

So this was a hollow promise, wasn’t it ?

Please make your own mind up. I know what I think.

Doesn’t the Friarage have a 24 / 7 A&E service ?

Yes but in name only as it has been run down by the local NHS to what is called an Urgent Care Centre. Emergency ambulances from the Upper Dales head for the DMH, bypassing the Friarage, and the local NHS has publically stated that children under the age of 16 will not be seen at the Friarage but sent to the DMH (!) or the James Cook UH.

So isn’t it important that the DMH retains its A&E service, it is a very long way to the JCUH or Durham if you have had an accident, an emergency healthcare event, or one of your young children are very unwell, or your partner, daughter or grand daughter are having complications giving birth?

Yes, retaining these emergency services at the DMH is hugely important to us here in the Upper Dales.

The JCUH, an excellent hospital for complex healthcare treatments, is now at full stretch for A&E and maternity. If the DMH and the North Tees Hospital lose their emergency services, won’t it become overwhelmed by the demand ?

Yes, this has already happened when mothers-to-be booked at the JCUH were sent to the Friarage.

We would all lose out then, and there could be very long queues at the JCUH formed by those existing patients needing emergency care services and the new patients diverted by the closures ?

Yes

And this is what they call the Better Health Programme, are they joking ?

Yes this is what the local NHS tell us it is all about. And No, they are not joking.

When did all this start ?

In January 2016 but we in North Yorkshire are only just being consulted now, and only after I prompted the County Council to demand a seat on the Joint Scrutiny Committee of 5 local Councils challenging the Better Health Programme, given that we in the Upper Dales rely on the DMH for these services to save our lives, or the lives of our loved ones.

What can we do about it ?

Spare two hours of your time to attend a Better Health Programme consultation at The Fountain Hotel, on Monday August 1st between 6.00 pm and 8.00 pm. There is no need to book a place – please just turn up on the night. And let the BHP promoters know what you think of their proposals.

This news is so bad I simply do not believe it.

THE WORKING ASSUMPTIONS OF THE BETTER HEALTH PROGRAMME:

  • Balancing clinical standards, better outcomes and workforce requirements means emergency care for adults and children should be provided from fewer sites.
  • James Cook University Hospital to remain the designated major trauma centre for Darlington, Durham and Tees.
  • Key clinical services provided alongside ach other to provide comprehensive emergency services for adults and children.
  • Consultant-led maternity based in the emergency hospitals, to manage high risk deliveries. Midwife-led care for low risk deliveries provided at other hospitals.

POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS ACCORDING TO THE BETTER HEALTH PROGRAMME:

  • Status quo – James Cook UH as major trauma and heart attack centre and three other specialist emergency hospitals: Darlington Memorial, North Tees (Stockton), and University Hospital of North Durham (UHND)
  • James Cook UH and two out of Darlington Memorial, North Tees and UHND
  • James Cook UH and one of Darlington Memorial, North Tees and UHND as emergency hospitals.
  • Bishop Auckland and Hartlepool and one other hospital out of Darlington Memorial, North Tees and UHDN as planned care centres. The additional planned care centre would be at a local hospital with an integrated urgent care service.

CLLR BLACKIE: THE STORY SO FAR – A SAD CASE OF NORTH YORKSHIRE BEING COMPLETELY OVERLOOKED BY THE LOCAL NHS:

The Better Health programme (BHP) started in January 2016 and there have already been two sets of consultation meetings but North Yorkshire was not included in the venues where these were staged.

I was very concerned to read for the first time in May about the BHP, and that the threats to the DMH had not reached the MP for Darlington. Dr Mike Brooks from the top-rated Reeth GP Surgery attending a meeting I was chairing at this time, and he also had not heard of the BHP.

I asked a Question at the May meeting of North Yorkshire County Council (see below), and demanded we at the County Council were given a seat alongside the five other local authorities already appointed to scrutinise the proposals for change. This demand was taken on board, and there are three County Councillors now on this Scrutiny Committee, including myself representing all those in Richmondshire District who use the DMH or the JCUH. County Councillors representing communities using the DMH and the JCUH strongly support retaining the Emergency services at the DMH, as does unanimously all Councillors at Richmondshire District Council.

Now that we in North Yorkshire have forced ourselves onto the scene – rightly so given that all of Richmondshire and most of North Hambleton rely on the Emergency Services under threat at the DMH, and are frequent users of them all, and we are all along especially with communities in the Whitby area already making very extensive use of these Emergency Services at the James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough, where they are under pressure now and might be overwhelmed in the event of the proposals for closures at the other hospitals mentioned in the BHP presentation being implemented – suddenly we are being given our first consultation meetings, here on Monday August 1st at The Fountain Hotel in Hawes (6.00 pm – 8.00 pm) and at the same times at the Catterick Leisure Centre on Wednesday August 3rd.

Unbelievably the Chief Officer and Senior Management at Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group, representing 21 local GP Practices and part of the local NHS, chose not to take a full part in the NHS Officers / Medical Practitioners group on the BHP because it had just completed the review of 24/7 consultant-led maternity and children’s services at the Friarage, and did not think it was necessary to take part in this new review. This decision is highly questionable as the Friarage review removed the very services at the hospital which are now under threat at the DMH, on the grounds they were available at the DMH !

My contact details are shown below if you wish to get in contact with me. The Joint Scrutiny Committee is meeting every two weeks and please be assured it is now hearing loud and clear the voice and concerns of all of us living here in the Upper Dales. Please help me to ensure these essential Emergency services remain available at the Darlington Memorial Hospital by attending the meeting on Monday August 1st between 6.00 pm – 8.00 pm at The Fountain Hotel in Hawes. You do not need to book – just please turn up and let the BHP know what you think of their “Current thinking” and “Possible solutions”.

Question to Cllr Carl Les, leader of North Yorkshire County Council, on May 18:

“The review of Critical Care services, including Accident & Emergency and Consultant-led maternity and paediatrics services at the Darlington Memorial Hospital (DMH) is causing great concern in the Upper Dales.  If these services were cut then communities I represent could be 60 miles or more away from potentially life-saving healthcare provision or a complex birth of a baby.  Some of these services were removed from The Friarage Hospital on the assurance they would be available at the DMH, this despite the deep concerns of 4,000 local residents who marched from County Hall 4 years ago in May in an well-conducted but eventually unsuccessful campaign, fully supported by NYCC, to try to save them.

“Consultation with the public on the review by the NHS has been a low-key back-door affair with none of the events being properly advertised.  I note the Scrutiny of Health Committee is monitoring the situation closely but I do not believe that is a sufficiently robust response to the serious threats posed to both residents of Richmondshire and Hambleton who are increasingly extensive healthcare customers and in-patients at the DMH.

“I (Cllr Blackie) ask for the Leader’s assurance that there will be engagement by him and his Executive at a higher political level, including with leading members of Darlington Borough Council,  who are alarmed at the potential for the dismantling of immediate, urgent & unplanned healthcare services at the DMH their communities depend upon as much as we do here in N. Yorkshire”.

Contacting Cllr Blackie:

email: cllr.john.blackie@northyorks.gov.uk

Telephone: 01969 667 123

mobile: 0796 758 9096

Upper Dales Area Partnership – May 2016

May 14, 2016 By: Pip Land Category: ARC News Service No Comments →

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An ARC News Service report on the meeting of the Upper Dales Area Partnership on May 11, 2016 at the refurbished Hawes National School building. The issues discussed included: health projects based at  Reeth GP Practice;  problems for Aysgarth Surgery; concern about the future of A&E and the maternity unit at the Darlington Memorial Hospital; travel to the James Cook University hospital, including the shuttle bus from Northallerton; bringing superfast broadband to more villages; winter gritting; local schools including Hawes Primary and the sixth form at the Wensleydale School; LEADER grants; and the Richmondshire Rover bus service.

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The Upper Dales Area Partnership had the honour of being the second group to hold a meeting in the newly refurbished Hawes National School building. Two days previously Hawes and High Abbotside Parish Council met there.  Above, Cllr John Blackie preparing for the Area Partnership meeting.

North Yorkshire County Councillor John Blackie commented: “This has been lovingly refurbished, sometimes single-handedly by Andrew Fagg and Emily.” He said that the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) had ensured that the building had to be initially advertised for community use and this had saved it from becoming a five-bedroom holiday cottage.

The refurbishment was partly funded by Richmondshire District Council’s Communities Opportunity Fund and the parish council had also given £1,000.  “What we have got out of it is a wonderful meeting venue,” Cllr Blackie added.

Andrew and Emily want it to be used by the community in a variety of ways including children’s parties and Saturday matinee film shows. Below: the refurbished Hawes National School

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Health projects based at Reeth – Dr Mike Brookes gave an update on the projects based at his GP practice at Reeth.

The patient transport project started six months ago and will run for two years. This is a collaboration between the Richmondshire, Hambleton and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), his GP practice and Reeth District Community Transport. It provides a door-to-door service for house-bound patients to the surgery at Reeth so that they can receive treatment without going to hospital. On the way home they can  use the transport to do such things as visiting the post office or attending luncheon club meetings.

“We’ve had really encouraging initial results,” Dr Brookes said.

He added that the service had made it possible for district nurses to take on other jobs such as providing more end-of-life care for patients who wish to remain at home. The pilot transport scheme is also being used to deliver medicines to people who would otherwise struggle to get to the surgery, he said.

Cllr Blackie described the transport scheme as a beacon project.

Dr Brookes reported that they were working on a community resilience project. “We’ve had our first joint workshop with the Red Cross for emergency care training in the community.  The practice was also working with the North Yorkshire Joint Strategic Assessment Board regarding end-of-life care. In this way it would make a contribution to the whole of the county.

Defibrillators. –  Cllr Blackie commented that almost all the villages in the Upper Dales now had defibrillators. There was concern, however, about how villagers could remain up to date with the skills required to help someone suffering from cardiac arrest.

Dr Brookes said the surgery staff were retrained each year in basic life support. He  added that Ambulance Control would tell people, step by step, how to use a defibrillator.

Jane Ritchie said that parish councils had been reminded that there was a resuscitation dummy at West Burton which could be used for re-training.  She reported that the defibrillator at Preston under Scar had been successfully used.

Central Dales Practice. – Cllr Blackie reported that it had now been confirmed in writing that patients from the Central Dales Practice would be admitted to The Friary at Richmond for after-hospital care.

But the problem of a dedicated, secure NHS broadband connection with Aysgarth Surgery had not yet been solved.  (The BT cabinet at Aysgarth was fibre enabled for superfast broadband in March.)

Dr Brookes described the situation at Reeth Practice when they lost both their main line and back up line for this service. “For about three days we were absolutely crippled because we couldn’t call up any records. All our prescribing is done through the computer reference system. We were at a stand still. It is important to have that connection.”

“So Aysgarth Surgery is operating in the dark ages then,” commented Cllr Blackie.

It was agreed that the Area Partnership should write to NHS England not only to ask for an explanation for the delay but also  for a date when this service will be available at Aysgarth Surgery.

Darlington Memorial Hospital– There was concern that the A&E and maternity services at the Darlington Memorial Hospital were being reviewed.  It was pointed out that when the 24/7 consultant-led maternity and paediatric services at the Friarage in Northallerton were downgraded Dales folk had been been told they could rely on the Darlington Memorial Hospital.

“The Friarage doesn’t have an A&E which is worthy of the name – it has an urgent care centre,” Cllr Blackie said. “There’s this awful fear that one by one these key immediate urgent health care provisions are being taken away. Ambulances don’t go to the Friarage anymore with an A&E case. If they are going to be taken away from the Darlington Memorial hospital we are being left high and dry – well and truly isolated.”

District Councillor Richard Blows emphasised that they should be feeding in comments before the consultation stage which, he had been told, should begin in November.

There was also concern about the future of the shuttle bus service from the Friarage to  the James Cook hospital.

Cllr Ritchie said that the CCG would keep its commitment to ensure that transport was provided for those needing to access the maternity and paediatric services at Middlesbrough even though further large financial cuts had to be made. She added that many others were using the shuttle service, including those going to work.

Cllr Peacock said that it was difficult both driving to and also parking at the James Cook hospital. And Cllr Blackie commented: “The James Cook is a fabulous hospital – I have nothing but praise for it, but it is a long way away.” He felt that there should be better signage to the James Cook hospital along the Middlesbrough section of the A66.

Cllr Blows suggested that more use should be made of webcams so that people did not have to go to the hospitals. Cllr Ritchie wondered if a “Friends of the Dales “ project should be started to buy up-to-date tele-medicine equipment for the surgeries.

Superfast broadband – Chloe Lewis reported that more money had been allocated to enable more villages to receive superfast broadband at different times during the next year. These include Keld, Askrigg, Low Row, Castle Bolton, Downholme, Catterick, Newton le Willows, East Witton, Spennithorne and Bellerby.  She warned that this would mean more road closures.

She also reported that the Dales area had a very high level of take-up on superfast broadband even though it didn’t have any commercial cabinets.  She said: “The Aysgarth cabinet went live in October and the take-up was fantastic straight away.”

Cllr Peacock explained that a lot of people in the Dales were running small businesses from their homes.

Cllr Blackie thanked Chloe and the others who had worked tirelessly to ensure superfast broadband was available in many dales villages. But he pointed out that nothing was being done yet to bring superfast broadband to Arkengarthdale. The Area Partnership agreed to support him in trying to achieve this.

Winter gritting. – The Area Partnership also agreed to support Muker Parish Council and Hawes and High Abbotside Parish Council in their request to have the Buttertubs recognised as a Priority One route for winter gritting. Cllr Blackie described this as a lifeline road as the ambulance drivers based at Bainbridge used it to access Swaledale.

He explained that although there was a salt pile at Hawes the drivers of the frontline gritters were not allowed to reload there by the contractors. This meant they had to return to Leyburn to reload after having gritted the main roads through Wensleydale, adding one-and-a-half hours to their schedule. If they could reload at Hawes the Buttertubs could become a Priority One route rather than a Priority Two.  The only time they can reload at Hawes is when 72 hours of continuous freezing weather was expected, Cllr Blackie said.

Local schools. – Cllr Blackie reported that he had met Don Parker, the lead  for the multi-academy trust of which Hawes primary school is now a part. The three other schools in the trust are at Harrogate, Skipton and South Craven. He was pleased that the trust was now advertising for a head teacher for Hawes even though, initially, it had stated that it wouldn’t. There was also a guarantee that there would be parent governors.

Cllr Peacock was pleased with the way the federation of Bainbridge, Askrigg and West Burton primary schools was developing. She was especially impressed by the new system for teaching Maths that had been introduced by the head teacher. She said that each school was retaining its own identity. The children begin and end each day in their own school, and are taken by bus to Askrigg for any  united classes.

There was relief that the government had decided not to go ahead with forced Academies especially as it was felt this would lead to the closure of many rural schools.

There was concern about the sixth form at the Wensleydale School. Both Cllr Blackie and Cllr Peacock pointed out that students were voting with their feet and going to the Queen Elizabeth school in Darlington. There were now only about 40 students in the sixth form at Leyburn, which was barely enough for two courses to be run each year.

Cllr Blackie felt that it was time to consider improving the transport to Darlington especially as the head teacher at the Queen Elizabeth school was willing to organise buses. Cllr Ritchie suggested that over-night accommodation in Darlington should be considered.

Grants. – Chloe reported that LEADER grants were available for tourist development, farm diversification and micro and small enterprises. She accepted that it was a complicated process and offered to help anyone with filling in the forms.

See http://www.richmondshire.gov.uk/community-and-living/funding-grant-schemes/841-business-funding-scheme for more details about LEADER grants.  Chloe’s email address is: chloe.lewis@richmondshire.gov.uk. She can also give advice about other grants which are available.

Richmondshire Rover. – Cllr Blackie said that a new bus service – the Richmondshire Rover – had been launched by the Little White Bus to run between  Northallerton, Catterick and Richmond four times day. This will continue if enough volunteer drivers can be found.

“Self reliance is the name of the game. It is under test,” he said.

YDNPA – Full Authority March 2016

March 26, 2016 By: Pip Land Category: ARC News Service No Comments →

An ARC News Service  report on some of the issues discussed at the YDNPA Full Authority  meeting on March 22. There were discussions about the extension of the Yorkshire Dales National Park on August 1, how members are selected, and how planning decisions will be made for the areas which will become part of the National Park.

 

More money and more members have been allocated to the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority when the area it covers is increased by 24 per cent on August 1.

Even the Chief Executive, David Butterworth, did not expect to receive so much additional funding and he commented:“That’s down to a range of factors not least the chairman’s persistent lobbying, publically, formally and informally on behalf of the National Park and its communities – coupled with the fact that we now have a minister for the National Parks who is very understanding and supportive.”

The chairman, Peter Charlesworth reported that the Authority would receive, in effect, an extra million pounds compared to what they had anticipated. The Authority had expected a cut in its grant from Defra and the staff had prepared for that.

Craven District Councillor Carl Lis pointed out, however, that the Authority would still be receiving less money than it had five years ago. He believed that one reason they were given such a favourable settlement was because the Authority had built up its own income generation. This had to continue he said.

Mr Charlesworth had also lobbied hard for the existing membership of the National Park to be increased so that all areas could be represented.

The government has decided that there will be three new members representing Eden District Council, the City of Lancaster, and Lancashire County Council. Mr Butterworth told members that if the Government’s proposal was accepted the new board of 25 members could be in place by August 1.

“For me this is absolutely critical because the board will be taking decisions on the new area – planning and other decisions. If we do not have representation from that area I think that would be a pretty horrific state of affairs.” Members agreed with him that the Authority should  request that the size of the board be re-evaluated after three years.

About the extension Mr Butterworth commented: “I really do think this is a fantastic opportunity for the National Park, the National Park Authority and the new communities. There is the opportunity for those communities to learn from the existing work that has been done within the current National Park, but also an opportunity to look at how things are done differently in the extension which hopefully will lead to better results in future for the whole of the National Park.

“I think it’s important that as a National Park Authority, we treat the new area the way we would expect to be treated. There’s a number of existing organisations, individuals, companies and local authorities which are operating in that area – operated well for some considerable time. So we’ve got a real period of learning. It’s not a question of going in there wearing a pair of size 15 boots and saying ‘we know best’, because we don’t.”

He said they would need to create the space so that they had time to understand the issues, the hopes and aspirations of the people that live and work in the new area. He was especially excited about the Westmorland Dales Hidden Landscapes (HLF Landscape Partnership). This, he reported, was an ambitious programme of activities being developed by an informal partnership of organisations led by the Friends of the Lake District.

“For me it’s a really good opportunity to have a flagship project involving a whole range of communities and organisations in the area, to show the difference being in a National Park can make,” he said. The members agreed to support this Partnership. This means that if the Partnership’s bid for Heritage Lottery  funding is successful the YDNPA will allocate £20,000 to the development phase and £120,000 to the implementation phase.

Questioning the Powers that Be:

Both Mr Charlesworth and Mr Butterworth had complained to the government about the selection process for choosing new members of the Authority. Mr Butterworth had even used the phrase “bordering on the corrupt”!

Mr Charlesworth and several other chairmen of National Park authorities had met with a senior civil servant to discuss how the Secretary of State appointees were selected.

“One of the complaints we had was that we were not allowed to say who we preferred and who we thought were the best candidates – which we thought was nonsense.  My main concern was that until this week we were faced with having members from Cheam in Surrey and from Peterborough.” It was not just a problem of their expenses but also their ability to attend meetings, he explained.

The civil servant had reiterated that these were national appointments and would not be chosen according to location. This week the YDNPA was informed that its two new members will be Jim Munday from Bentham and Neil Swain (of Swain Estate Management Ltd) from Upper Dunsforth near York. They will replace Chris Armitage and Mr Charlesworth. (Mr Armitage’s place on the planning committee will be filled by Steve Macare until the annual general meeting in June.)

Mr Butterworth reported that he had also complained about how member appointments were made. He told the meeting that when he was filling in a questionnaire for the National Audit Office he had described the process as “bordering on the corrupt”.

He explained that this was because those involved in the recruitment and selection of members didn’t make the final decision. They have to pass the list to someone else who then makes the decision. “That just strikes me in terms of even reasonable HR practice to be an absolute nonsense. I got a phone call yesterday summoning me to a meeting with the National Audit Office to explain why I described the process as bordering on corrupt,” he said.

Planning:

From August 1 the YDNPA will become the planning authority for the areas within the new extension.

Gary Smith, the director of conservation and community,  told the meeting that the YDNPA would try to minimise the disruption for those who had already made applications to their local authorities and is already working in a spirit of co-operation with those authorities.

Those local authorities are already viewing designation as a National Park as a material consideration when dealing with any applications that will be affected. Richard Graham, the head of development management, stated: “For that reason they are consulting us on all planning applications they receive in the extension areas up to 1st August so that we can give an opinion.”

Any applications made to Eden and South Lakeland District Councils which have not been determined by August 1 will be transferred on that date to the YDNPA. Lancaster City officers will continue to deal with any “live” applications but will then pass them to the YDNPA for final determination. After August 1 all applications will have to be made to the YDNPA.

Any existing Local Plans for Lancaster, South Lakeland and Eden (including the Upper Eden Neighbourhood Plan) will continue to apply and the YDNPA will use them to make decisions. The YDNPA’s own new Local Plan, once adopted, will only apply to the National Park area which existed before August 1.

Mr Smith reported that it was logical for the YDNPA to adopt the new Eden Local Plan once it had completed its examination. Eden District Council has been asked to remove the area north-east of Great Asby from its policies map as that will become part of the National Park. This is because it had been identified as suitable for medium- to large-scale wind energy and that would be in conflict with national park landscape designation.

For the areas joining the National Park on August 1 a number of permitted development rights will lost, including the conversion of farm buildings, warehouses and retail premises into dwellings. This includes any permission already granted under permitted development rights but not yet implemented. It will not be enough to start work on a barn conversion – it will have to be in use as a dwelling.

Mr Smith reported: “The difficulty is that, whilst the Authority would have the discretion to decide it was inexpedient to pursue enforcement in individual cases, it would be unlawful for the Authority to declare some sort of fixed period of ‘amnesty’. Unavoidably, therefore, relying solely on Authority discretion would create uncertainty. Discussions are, therefore, on-going between all the planning authorities, Defra and the DCLG (Department for Communities and Local Government)  to ensure that impacts on those living and working in the extension areas are minimised.”

He added that the YDNPA’s Article 4 Direction which removed permitted development rights for the conversion of agricultural buildings to certain commercial uses would be limited to the existing National Park and would not apply in the extension area. This might be reviewed later.

Mobile phone masts:

Members were disappointed that the project by Arquiva to erect masts to ensure good mobile phone networks would not continue. “This is holding back the National Park areas,” commented Richmondshire District Councillor Yvonne Peacock.

Mr Smith told the meeting: “It’s the same story across the country. I think the plan originally was for 600 sites across the country and I think they’re going to do 25 maybe in four years. So it’s pretty disastrous. It had nothing to do with us as a planning authority.”

Recognising the work of volunteers:

Frances Bland, who has been a Dales Volunteer for 11 years, has received national recognition within the individual category in the National Parks UK 2015 Volunteer Awards.

Mr Butterworth commented: “She is an absolutely outstanding individual. She has walked pretty much every footpath in the existing National Park and has just been asked to lead the condition surveys for the footpath network in the extension area in Cumbria and Lancashire. To see that recognised at national level is absolutely fantastic.

“What it represents to me is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the enormous and frankly wonderful volunteer effort that goes into making this National Park what it is.”

YDNPA planning committee and the Forbidden Corner

February 16, 2016 By: Pip Land Category: ARC News Service No Comments →

An application to extend the opening hours of the Forbidden Corner in Coverdale was refused by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s planning committee on Tuesday, February 11.

The planning officer told the committee that one of the conditions of the Appeal Decision in 2000 when retrospective permission was granted for opening Forbidden Corner to the public was that the opening times from Monday to Saturday should be from noon to 6pm (or dusk if earlier). There can be a maximum of 150 individual tickets issue for any one-hour period and it can be open from 10am to 6pm on Sundays and Bank Holidays.

North Yorkshire County Council Highways Authority had stated that, on safety grounds, the Forbidden Corner should not be open from 10am every day. Middleham Town Council and Middleham Trainers’ Association (MTA) had also objected.

“The steep narrow road often leads to dangerous confrontations between horses and vehicles that are not reported. The town council does not want the number of visitors to be detrimental to the racehorse training business which is Middleham’s major employer,” the planning officer explained.

He said that the town council was concerned that overall traffic numbers had increased since 2000 due to the establishment of The Stables Restaurant, the provision of holiday accommodation and Tupgill Park Estate becoming a wedding venue. The town council had reported that coaches were already travelling through Middleham to the Forbidden Corner during morning hours.

Malcolm Tempest, the agent for Forbidden Corner, stated:  “The proposal seeks to meet the changing expectations of our visitors. There is now more a demand for morning visits than late afternoon visits.

“We did two counts of horses using the road and that showed that two thirds of the horse movements took place between 10 and 11 and one third between 11 and 12. Bearing that in mind we are happy to amend the application to open at 11, therefore not affecting two thirds of the horses.

“Further we have agreed for a timed access to be on the quarter hour basis rather than on the present hourly basis. This is to avoid any surge in cars on the hour that Highways was concerned about.”

He argued that the National Planning Policy Framework stated that development should only be prevented or refused on transport grounds where the residual accumulative effects of the development would be severe. He said that Highways didn’t have the facts to back up its concerns and added: “We haven’t had any problems. How can we move from no problems to severe problems with a maximum of seven vehicles per quarter of an hour seems to me incredible.”

In his report the planning officer stated that extending the opening hours could generate some 80 to 100 extra car movements each day. The applicant (Colin Armstrong) had proposed that 100 instead of 150 tickets could be issued for each of the additional morning hours reducing the extra car movements to 24 to 33 per hour.

The Highways Authority had indicated it would accept two coaches per hour during the extra morning hours as these would be sufficient to take up all of the 100 ticketed visitors suggested by Mr Armstrong.

North Yorkshire County Councillor Roger Harrison-Topham, who lives in Coverdale, remembered that in 2000 all the racehorse trainers had supported the Forbidden Corner application. He thought it was significant that all the trainers in the MTA now opposed the application to extend the opening hours.

He added: “I am not sure that horse accidents actually manage to feature in the records to which the applicant and his agent would have access.

“Training is a very serious business (in Middleham) and anything that puts that industry at risk is a very serious matter.

“There is a letter that suggests that the applicant is already in breach of this condition.” There was, he said, a history of a little change all the time and that built up to a very considerable change.

Ian McPherson commented: “It seems to me that at the moment a reasonable accommodation has been reached. I see no reason why that equilibrium should be disturbed by increasing the possibility for accidents.”

The only member who voted to approve the application was North Yorkshire County Councillor John Blackie. He didn’t think there had been a single recorded accident between a horse and a car heading towards Forbidden Corner.

Cllr Blackie said that the idea of opening from 11am could be considered. The vote was on the application to open Forbidden Corner to the public from 10am every day.

ARC News Service

February to December 2015

December 17, 2015 By: Pip Land Category: ARC News Service No Comments →

ARC News Service reports on YDNPA planning committee meetings during 2015: applications affecting Airton, Appersett, Appletreewick, Arncliffe, Aysgarth Station, Beamsley, Carperby (fishing hut), Clapham, Coverhead, Dent (Risehill Mill), Grassington, Hawes, Healaugh, Ingleton, Kettlewell, Kirkby Malham, Langcliffe, Low Row, Malham, Millthrop, Reeth, Sedbergh, Spout near Sedbergh, Stainforth, and Threshfield. See separate post concerning telecommunications masts at West Witton.

John Roberts:

John Roberts, who died on March 8 aged 70, had represented Craven District council on the Authority and so, at the meeting that month, the chair where he usually sat was empty. Referring to that the chairman of the Authority, Peter Charlesworth, stated: “As far as planning is concerned it will be a void that will be difficult to fill. It reminds us of the valuable contribution he made to our community. He showed great respect for the views of others and to all the members, and in return he received great respect from us.”Before the meeting began North Yorkshire County Councillor Shelagh Marshall told me: “He always put people first – that’s what I admired about him. He was a very active councillor in Upper Wharfedale. He will be very badly missed.” There was a minute’s silence in his memory.

Airton – May – Enforcement

The present occupant of Dykelands Farm Cottage at Airton was given three months to comply with an enforcement notice to find alternative accommodation. Planning permission was granted in 2006 for the cottage to be an agricultural worker’s dwelling to meet an identified need for a farm worker to live on site to serve the farm. But the present occupant is involved in engineering and pest control, neither of which the Authority accepted as fulfilling the definition of an agricultural worker.

Appersett – November

North Yorkshire County Councillor  Blackie asked if there could be a protective mechanism for residents when the Authority wrongly sought an enforcement action – a protective mechanism which would hold those involved to account in public.

He quoted the example of Stable Cottage at Appersett. Hawes and High Abbotside parish council had sent the following statement about this to the Authority:“It considers the YDNPA’s handling of the application of the Lawful Development Certificate … for Stable Cottage, Appersett, was unreasonable, lacked the balance of fairness due to her (the applicant) when making her application, and caused her unnecessary and avoidable stress while awaiting nearly 12 months for the appeal decision in her favour.

“It considers clear and unchallengeable evidence for granting the LDC was presented with her application, and this should have led to it being granted without the need for an Appeal. The parish council notes that once the Appeal was made, there was no challenge to this evidence by the YDNPA, and no interest shown by the YDNPA in defending its position to the Appeal Inspector.”

At the meeting Cllr Blackie stated: “My own view from the outset …was that it was very wrong to refuse this application in the first case. I was incredibly disappointed.  The Appeal Inspector says that none of the evidence that was put forward, which clearly and unequivocally described Stable Cottage as an independent dwelling, was challenged by the Authority.”

But last year an officer had, he said, painted a picture of absolute doom and gloom when advising the applicant that her application was unlikely to succeed. “An applicant can end up simply complying with all that the enforcement officer is saying because they don’t know where to turn,” he added.

Cllr Blackie also questioned how the Appeal Inspector had travelled so far only to find that no arrangements had been made for her to view Stable Cottage and no-one was there from the Authority.

He had been told by the Authority that the Appeal Inspector’s email had gone into the spam filter. He observed: “This particular inspector would hardly set off from Bristol without knowing that the arrangements had been made.”

Appletreewick – December

It was agreed that three shepherd huts can be sited on the embankment at the rear of The Craven Arms at Appletreewick.

Peter Charlesworth, who is the chairman of the Authority, said that this was an unobtrusive site and added:“This will provide guest accommodation at the pub in a sustainable, suitable and sensitive way.”

The planning office told the committee that the huts will provide open plan living, with a sleeping area, a wood burning stove and an enclosed toilet cum shower sufficient for a small family.She explained that there was no provision in the present Local Plan for such new types of visitor accommodation but there will be under the new Local Plan, and has already been included in the National Planning Policy Framework.

Arncliffe –  April

The fate of the conservatory at Prospect House in Arncliffe still hangs in the balance after a close vote. There were seven votes to five to allow it to remain as built but as that was against the planning officer’s recommendation that will need to be confirmed at the meeting in May.

The planning officer told the committee that an old conservatory, for which planning permission had been granted, had been replaced with a new one. In his opinion the height of the roof especially with so much glazing made it much more visible and so it had a harmful impact upon the Arncliffe conservation area and the surrounding countryside.

He also stated that the roof of the new conservatory detracted from the architectural style and appearance of Prospect House which is a mid-19th century Grade II listed building.

The owner, artist Kitty North, told the committee that the conservatory did not affect the fabric of Prospect House and it’s ridge was 70cm higher than the old one. She explained:“The need for the steeper pitch (was) to ensure that any snow would not cause damage to the structure. The new conservatory follows the pitch of the house roof.”

She said that her new studio and the conservatory worked very well together which was a reflection on the standard of work involved. She added: “One of the jobs of an artist is to create beauty for others to enjoy. The conservatory succeeds in this and hopefully for future generations to enjoy.”

North Yorkshire County Councillor Richard Welch commented that as the difference in roof height was marginal he felt the committee should have a chance to discuss the retrospective application.Several members agreed with North Yorkshire County Councillor Robert Heseltine that the new conservatory was acceptable and did not “offend the eye”. It was pointed out that no residents or the parish council had objected to it.

But Mr Charlesworth stated that the application should be refused. “This is a conspicuous addition (to) a key building in the Arncliffe conservation area. It is too high. The planning officer is saying that something with less visual impact would be acceptable. It’s for the applicant to produce a design which is thought to be acceptable.”

May –  Mr Charlesworth repeated his objection at the meeting in May.

The alternative argument was made by North Yorkshire County Councillor Roger Harrison-Topham who pointed out that the conservatory was barely visible and would soon be hidden by bushes.

When it came to the vote there was deadlock and Chris Armitage’s casting vote as chairman went in favour of the planning officer’s recommendation to refuse permission.

December – The promise of a yew tree helped to save the conservatory from being significantly altered or removed.

The committee agreed by a slim majority that the mitigating measures proposed by artist, Kitty North, were acceptable. These included planting a semi-mature yew tree so as to screen views of the conservatory from the village green.

Neither Arncliffe parish meeting nor any of the residents had objected when Ms North replaced an old lean-to conservatory with the present one.

After the vote  the head of development management, Richard Graham, said that it would not be necessary to refer the decision back to the committee again even though the officer’s recommendation had not been accepted.

Aysgarth – March

Permission was granted for a shop in the centre of Aysgarth to become a residential property even though the parish council had objected.

The planning officer explained that the owners of the clothes shop had more than fulfilled the advertising procedure required by the Authority to prove that it could not be sold as a commercial business, as it had been on the market at a reasonable price for two and a half years rather than the required six months. The Authority’s Local Plan does allow for the loss of a village shop only if there are exceptional circumstances.

The officer reported:  “The policy allows consideration to be given to the importance of the shop to the community; the financial viability of the business; the demand for the premises (established by the advertising procedure); the length of time that it has been advertised; and the length of time it has been in operation.”

He added that the business in Aysgarth had not been operated as a village shop and post office for more than 10 years and as a clothes shop it had not had sufficient customers to be commercially viable.

Cllr Harrison-Topham remarked that insufficient information had been provided to substantiate the claim that the business was unviable. “I am totally baffled as to why, given the long discussion we had about hotels which were in my mind far more clearly way below the line, we should so rapidly come to a conclusion that this application should be granted. To my mind this sort of marketing business (the advertising procedure) is a cock handed way of going about it.”

Speaking In support of the parish council’s objection, Cllr Blackie commented that it was a shame to lose a village shop. He said that when he first became a county councillor it had been a thriving little village shop with a post office.

The parish council had argued that there had been no attempt to make a successful business that would be attractive to a would-be buyer. It did report that there was now a very good village store at Aysgarth garage.

It asked that if permission was granted for the change of use that the property should be subject to a section 106 local occupancy agreement. The planning officer, however, stated that as there was already living accommodation at the premises and that a separate dwelling would not be created a section 106 agreement could not be imposed.

Aysgarth Station – April

Permission was granted for Wensleydale Railways Plc to develop its visitor attraction and car park at the former Aysgarth Station.

Nigel Park, the company’s general director, told the committee that the development would be carried out in phases. This year a railway carriage will be installed to be used as a café and a meeting place, and the the car parking will be extended to provide for 49 cars and two small buses.

By 2017 a short stretch of railway track will have been laid so that visitors can enjoy five-minute train rides for a maximum of 24 times a day. A small diesel engine will be used and this must be switched off between rides so as to limit the amount of pollution.

Originally the company had applied to have the visitor centre open 200 days a year and with spaces for 90 cars. But the Environment Agency objected to this as it did not feel the existing facilities for drainage were sufficient and that pollutants could affect the surrounding Freeholders Wood which is a site of special scientific interest.

To overcome such problems the company will install portable toilets and the diesel engine will be fuelled by a road tanker rather than through the storage of fuel on the site. One of the conditions is that the engine will be stabled over a drip-tray fitted with absorbent sheets.

The centre can be open for 100 days each year with a legal agreement to ensure that the visitor attractions are available after the provision of the additional car parking.

Carperby cum Thoresby parish council was concerned that some of the proposed car parking spaces would be too visible. The company has, therefore, agreed to organise the car parking so that the least visible areas are used first.

Mr Park commented: “We want to be a part of the local community hence our willingness to alter the objectives.”

This, he said, also applied to the buses that would provide a pick up and drop off service from Redmire Station to Aysgarth Station. The parish council had pointed out that the road from Carperby to the station was unsuitable for large coaches.

Mr Park assured the committee that only 30-seater buses would be used and that the company hoped to work closely with the Little White Bus service. “We have no intention of bringing large coaches down Church Bank,” he said.

In response to questions about the impact on the tranquillity of Freeholders Wood, the head of development management said that it was felt that an acceptable balance had been found.

In her report the planning officer noted that the Authority does support the reinstatement of the Wensleydale Railway from Redmire to Aysgarth Station by 2020.

Of the development at Aysgarth Station Mr Park said: “It is a precursor to the return of the railway and that represents an element of our strategy which is to produce some islands along the route.” The objective of the islands is to generate income and interest in the railway and so support the restoration of the rail service.

Mr Park added: “The economics of the site at Aysgarth are such that they are a drain on the resources of the company. That is a serious issue for an organisation that is supported by volunteers and subscriptions so we have to manage the operation carefully. We are looking at ways in which the economics of the site can be improved.”

Beamsley – February

Permission was not granted for a building to be constructed which would be used to restore and maintain nine historic cars.

Cllr Heseltine said the parish meeting supported the application for such a functional, domestic building which would include log and garden machinery stores. He argued that it was a reasonable application as the garden was secluded and screened by trees. The owner had offered to plant additional native shrubs and raise the height of a boundary wall.

The majority of the members, however, agreed with the planning officer that the timber clad building, and especially the two aluminium roller shutter doors, would have a detrimental impact upon the character and appearance of the area.

Mr Charlesworth commented: “I do have concerns about the size of this building. Its use of materials doesn’t seem to me as anything like appropriate, especially those large doors. I don’t think this would be anything other than an incongruous building in a lovely landscape.”

August –  This time the planning officer did recommend approval as the owner had agreed to amend the plans. These included moving the building two metres further into the garden and reducing its frontage by a metre. There will be vertically boarded doors instead of roller doors. The majority accepted the officer’s recommendation.

Cllr Blackie disagreed as the dual pitched double gabled building would have a larger footprint that The Cottage. “This is not a domestic application,” he said.

“I had to fight long and hard to get a simple garage in Gayle rebuilt,” and he asked the committee to consider the troubles that normal people living in normal houses went through to get applications approved.

He said that by describing the building as domestic rather than commercial there would be no restriction on the hours that anyone could be working there. He was concerned that there could be “planning creep” especially if the use of the building changed sometime in the future. “It will be a Trojan horse,” he added.

The planning officer said that the owner would have to apply for planning permission for any change of use.

Mr Charlesworth told the committee: “I voted against the application earlier this year because I thought it was out of scale and inappropriate.“In a sense I think we can congratulate ourselves because we did oppose (that application) and that has led to co-operation and a much, much improved result with this building not being as incongruous or as prominent.”

He added: “There are no objections from local people and it’s not going to harm the landscape.”

Carperby – June

It was agreed that an enforcement notice should be served on the Bolton Estate to have a fishing hut removed from a field to the west of Carperby  close to the stepping stones over the River Ure.

In a late submission to the Authority the Hon Tom Orde-Powlett of Bolton Estate stated that a stone flag base had now been removed. He asserted that the fishing hut did not amount to a change of use of the land.

The committee, however, accepted the enforcement officer’s advice that the siting of the hut in the field, even if it was mobile, constituted a change of use from agriculture to fishing.The officer explained that the Authority had become aware of the hut on the stone flag base in June 2014. By January 2015 the hut had been fitted with wheels and had been moved a short distance from the base.

Cllr Harrison-Topham asked if there was a gap in policy concerning fishing huts. He pointed out that salmon were once again coming up the River Ure as far as Aysgarth Falls.He said that in Scotland some were paying £500 a day to fish for salmon and for that they expected decent facilities. A fishing hut provided them with somewhere to have lunch, to change into waders, or to take shelter from bad weather.

When the Ure became a proper salmon river that would be the main economic factor of the land alongside it and would be of far greater value than the grazing, he stated. “We need to put our minds to developing a policy which enables people to have fishing huts and enables us to control the way they look,” he added.

Mr Graham explained: “We are quite happy to talk to landowners about proposals for fishing huts and any development which might encourage visitors to the National Park. The process is – talk to us first, to discuss the right design and (to ensure) that it doesn’t harm the landscape.”

The officers and most of the committee felt that this particular fishing hut did harm the landscape.

The appeal against this decision was withdrawn.

Clapham – August

Parish councils must give planning reasons when they either object or support any planning application.

At the planning committee meeting Craven District councillor Carl Lis reported that Clapham cum Newby parish council did support the proposed alterations to Deighton House at Clapham but hadn’t explained why.

The application to replace an uPVC glass conservatory with a stone built and natural slate roofed lean-to garden room was refused because the committee agreed with the planning officer.She had stated that the extension would significantly increase the mass of the dwelling and alter its form considerably, unbalancing the well-proportioned square building form that defined the character of the property.

Garth Jones told the committee that when he and his wife bought the house in 2008 it was covered in pebble-dash and quite ugly.

He said: “We have been very sympathetic to the development of the property and restoring it in such a fashion to bring out the highlights of it.

“We care very deeply about the appearance of the property and commissioned our architect carefully to ensure that we protected the important contribution that this property makes to Riverside and to Clapham as a whole.”

The committee accepted that there would be a planning gain if the conservatory was replaced but felt that Mr and Mrs Jones needed to work with the planning officer to find a better solution.

Coverhead – February

The water supply to those living at Woodale, Coverhead,  at the south-western end of Coverdale was a key issue when deciding whether to approve a large development at a farm there.

When proposing that the application for a 36.5m by 28.7m building for a suckler beef herd at Wooddale Farm should be approved Cllr Harrison-Topham said that the animals would use an enormous amount of water. “The existing water supply (at Woodale) is apparently barely satisfactory and I think somehow we need to protect it. The residents should have continuing exclusive use of the existing water supply,” he said.

He was told that the applicant, Mrs Eileen Mawle, had confirmed that the water to the new building would be harvested from roofs and brought from springs not used to supply Woodale, and was assured that the river would be protected from pollution.The cattle building will have under floor slurry tanks so that there should be no uncontrolled run-off to pollute water courses or springs and to reduce the likelihood of smells and flies.

One of the conditions is that internal lighting should be switched off between 7pm and 5am except when a cow is calving. Cllr Harrison-Topham asked that the orange safety lights could be movement triggered rather than being on all night. “Even one of those is pretty unpleasant,” he said as he does live in Coverdale.

He congratulated the officers on bringing a major agricultural application to the committee and hoped they would continue to do so.

Permission was granted for the cattle building, formation of yard areas and a new site access, and for the erection of a general storage agricultural building.

Dent – December

There has been great relief in Dent that someone has come forward to re-develop Risehill Mill and so provide more jobs, Ian McPherson told the committee.

Jocelyn Manners-Armstrong also fully supported the application by Chris O’Connor and Associates to create a microbrewery at the mill with office accommodation, a visitor centre with a café, and a workshop and warehouse unit.

The committee unanimously agreed with them and delegated responsibility for defining the conditions to the head of development management.These will include the times when construction can be carried out and also the hours of working so that there would not be any harmful impact upon residents. It is expected that the microbrewery will be in operation from 8am to 6pm Mondays to Fridays, and that the visitor centre would be open from 11am to 8pm Thursdays to Sundays.

Grassington – February

Springroyd House in Station Road, Grassington can be converted into a dental surgery even though the parish council is unanimously opposed to this change of use due to the lack of space for parking cars.

Grassington parish councillor, Andrew Colley, told the planning committee: “Grassington parish council wants to make available to all residents in the locality the services that they need and amongst the obvious ones is the dental practice. It is very, very important to us. It is however in the opinion of Grassington parish council that parking in the village is extremely limited.”

He added that Grassington Dental Care surgery had over 7,000 clients and he calculated that there could be 20 or more visiting it every hour. The surgery will be just 20 metres from a very busy junction.

Other members of the planning committee, however, said that many dental surgeries provided no spaces for car parking. There will be space for parking three cars and a turning area at the rear of Springroyd House.

Dr Thomas Songhurst assured the committee that annual passes would be bought for the staff so that they could park in the YDNPA car park.

He said that the number of services available at Grassington Medical Centre had grown considerably and more space was required. At Springroyd House there will be rooms for four dentists, a waiting room, staff toilet and changing room, an office, reception and a toilet suitable for those who are disabled.

Grassington – August

The committee agreed that an empty ground floor premises in The Square at Grassington can be used for both retail and as a café.

The majority of councillors at Grassington parish council had objected to the application as they felt the addition of a café would be inconsistent with the nature of other businesses in The Square.

Some business owners believed there were sufficient eating establishments in Grassington already and that another café would saturate the market.

The planning officer noted that there will be no alterations to the external appearance of the Grade II listed building and that the ground floor premises had been vacant for eight months. The objective, he said, was to create a “vintage” tearoom serving afternoon teas, cakes and sandwiches in 40 per cent of the floor space.

The new owners, who intend to have a “baking theme” throughout the premises, had confirmed that no additional waste bins would be required.

Mr Colley asked what would happen if there was a problem with waste bins. The planning officer replied that would be an issue for environmental health.

Grassington – September

A housing association which was due to take the 20 per cent share in a recently built affordable house at Grassington has withdrawn due to the uncertainty surrounding Government policy a planning officer told the committee.

Cynthia Colley, who owns the house with her husband, Andrew, stated: “Following our experience it’s doubtful if any of the other small two unit size (developments) – including those in the National Park’s housing development plan – will be developed. It is just not financially viable.”

Mr Colley, who is a Grassington parish councillor and a member of the planning committee, left the room during the debate.

After he and his wife had offered a site next door to their home in Grasswood Lane, Grassington, the two houses built there were among the first to be completed under the YDNPA’s 2012 housing development plan. There are Section 106 legal agreements on both houses to ensure that they remain available to local people. But on one there is an additional S106  agreement requiring that the sale price does not exceed 80 per cent of the market value of the property, with the remaining share being transferred to a housing association.

The Colleys had taken the unusual step of making an informal request to modify this additional legal agreement in order to get advice because they had not been able to sell the house since it was completed in October 2014 and no longer had the support of a housing association.

Several committee members pointed out that they had not been given sufficient information to make a decision and this led to the application being refused.

One of the questions they had concerned the legal agreement. Jocelyn Manners-Armstrong, who is a board member of a housing association, stated: “If the 20 per cent property holder has withdrawn then the Section 106 agreement cannot be fulfilled. I think it has to go back to the drawing board.”

Senior legal officer, Clare Bevan, explained that the Authority would need to explore other ways to secure it as an affordable home.

Cllr Marshall warned that there were others who wanted such legal agreements to be lifted. “We need to be exceptionally careful. I think far more time should be given before an application like this comes before us. If we were to give way on this… it would set such a dangerous precedent for us and for our local development plan.”

Cllr Roger Harrison-Topham, commented: “I find this an almost incomprehensible mess. There isn’t sufficient information. I don’t feel the planning committee is a good place to sort out a very difficult situation.

“We as an Authority have been trying to persuade people to make land available for affordable housing and when someone does I think we have a responsibility towards them. And the responsibility is particularly acute when the provider is an individual.”

He was supported by Cllr  Blackie who said: “People who invested in the ideals we put forward in our local plans in 2005 and 2012 are trying to deliver local occupancy. They played along with our rules and it is not their fault that the Government’s position now has left them completely in the middle of nowhere.

“I think the circumstances are unique. The uniqueness is in the absolute dog’s breakfast that current housing policy is as promoted by the Conservatives.”

He reported that, if the Government went ahead with new Right to Buy legislation without providing any exemptions for small rural communities, over 60 houses for rent in perpetuity in Askrigg, Bainbridge and Hawes could be sold. As it would not be possible to replace them such communities would never again see houses available at affordable rents for local people he added.

In December the Colleys made an informal request to the  Authority to modify the S106 agreement on one of the two houses next to their home in Grasswood Lane. Mr Colley again left the room while this was discussed.

The agreement required that the house, West Ings, would have been either let or sold at an affordable price to someone who fulfilled the local connection requirement. This was to be organised by a Registered Provider.

Mrs Colley told the committee: “We are legally unable to sell West Ings because the Registered Provider dropped out.”

One of the problems was the Government’s intention to extend the Right to Buy scheme to housing association tenants. Craven District Councillor Carl Lis commented that the government’s housing policy was a complete mess at the moment and this had led to other developers being unable to find housing associations (Registered Providers) to take responsibility for affordable houses.

Cllr Blackie agreed and said:  “I think Mr and Mrs Colley …are victims of adverse circumstances in many ways not of their own making.”  Like others he pointed out that, with S106 agreements, there would still be two local occupancy houses for perpetuity.

Cllr Harrison-Topham felt that the Authority should take some moral responsibility for the way such development schemes were run. “We are in effect sponsoring these schemes and we are not accepting any responsibility. As a result I think we have to take a more pragmatic view.”

Even though Councillors Marshall and Welch warned about how the decision would be perceived the majority agreed to the request to modify the original agreement.This was against the recommendation of the officer but the decision was not referred back as it was an informal request and not a planning application.

Grassington – September – Enforcement

The committee agree that enforcement action should be taken against the owner of a caravan at Fletchers Brow near Grassington.

“This is an absolute flagrant breach of development control,” commented Mr McPherson after hearing how a caravan which was capable of residential use had been sited on a newly created raised surface and a fence had been erected so that there would be a private area around it.

The enforcement officer reported that a substantial amount of earth had been excavated from the hill to create a level surface. A stone retaining wall had then been erected to retain the earth embankment and an area covered by aggregate.The access from Mill Lane had been covered with aggregate along with the formation of a new track 22.5 metres in length and 3.5 metres in width leading part way to the caravan.

As all this had been done without planning permission the enforcement notice will be for the removal of the caravan, a container, and the fence within one month and the removal of the track and embankment and the infilling and reseeding of the excavated area within six months.

(An appeal has been made.)

Grassington – November

Planning permission has been granted for a car parking area within the garden of Ellesmere in Garrs End Lane, Grassington, even though the parish council believed that the new entrance would not be wide enough.

Mr Colley asked if the planning committee could hold a site meeting to get a better understanding of the narrow lane in relation to the proposed entrance.“There is not room to manoeuvre on that road – it is only wide enough for one car,” he said and added that the parish council believed that the entrance should be made wider by removing more of the stone wall.

But the committee decided it did have sufficient information to make a decision without holding a site meeting – and decided in favour of the applicants.

Grassington  – December – Enforcement

An extraction flue at Grassington House Hotel in Grassington was described as an abomination by Cllr  Heseltine.

The committee unanimously agreed that a listed building enforcement notice should be served on the owner for the removal of the extraction and air intake units and repair the stone masonry within three months.

The YDNPA enforcement officer reported that the owner was aware that planning consent was required for the installation of a new extraction system because negotiations concerning another flue had been on-going since November 2008. That flue was replaced with the present unit in January 2015.

“It is apparent following discussions with the owner and the engineers responsible for fitting the flue that there are much more sensitive solutions available,” she said.

Gunnerside – December

A garage can be built to replace a tin sheeted lean-to building attached to Stotter Gill Cottage adjacent to Oxnop Gill.

The committee heard that the owner of Stotter Gill Cottage no longer objected as the applicants who live at Oxnop Gill had agreed to reduce the size of the garage. They had given assurances that although the building would also be used to store tack no horses would be stabled in it.

Hawes – June

After a lengthy discussion about the design of the proposed new signage at the Dales Countryside Museum the majority of the committee approved the application for eight fascia signs and two free standing signs.

Hawes and High Abbotside parish council had objected to the application and especially to the proposed large white lettering across the long wall of the museum.

Hawes – October

The parish council and several businesses also objected strongly to there being a café at the Dales Countryside Museum. But approval was given and it is likely that there will be one there by the spring of 2016.

This will be a franchise arrangement with the YDNPA and the café will be large enough to cater for a coach party. There will be free access to the café via the museum’s main entrance and the shop.

Richmondshire District Councillor Carolyn Thornton-Berry commented that although she approved of the idea she felt that the Authority had to be careful as it was so close to the issue. A YDNPA staff member had made the application and the argument for having the café was put forward by Kathryn Beardmore, the Authority’s director of park services.

Local businessman, Bob Belton, was not convinced that the Authority had been transparent in its handling of the application. He told the committee that when he asked for a copy of a survey of visitors at the museum in September he was told it was not in the public domain. Richard Graham, head of development management, agreed with Cllr Blackie that Mr Belton should have been allowed to see the survey.

Mr Belton said he was speaking on behalf of four businesses, three young people who thought their jobs were at risk, and six residents who felt the café would be detrimental to Hawes. Like Hawes and High Abbotside parish council they feared that it would become a town of two ends with both the Wensleydale Creamery and the Museum offering sufficient visitor attractions and hospitality at its extremities to make it unnecessary to visit the centre.

Mr Belton explained that in the half mile from the Museum to the Creamery there were 22 places selling hot and cold drinks of which seven were cafés and tea rooms. Although he was critical of the figures provided by the planning officer he did agree that there had been a considerable drop in the number of people visiting Hawes and the Museum since 2009. He argued that a café at the museum building would lead to even fewer people walking into the town centre.

He pointed out that neither the James Herriot Museum at Thirsk nor the Green Howards Museum at Richmond had cafés and added: “The Green Howards said that a tea room would be detrimental to their town.” He also cited the example of Aysgarth where he had witnessed that most visitors used the cafés at the car parks on the north and south side of the river, but very few went to the tea room at the bridge.“

I strongly believe that opening a café at the museum will be detrimental to the businesses in town and some may end up ceasing to trade,” he said.

Cllr Lis, however, stated: “In my experience the majority of reasonable size museums do have a café.”

He agreed with Ms Beardmore that the café would increase the financial viability of the National Park Authority. She described it as a new business opportunity and said that there had been local interest in the franchise.

Both Mrs Beardmore and Ruth Annison told the committee that some of the elderly visitors who came with coach parties were not able to walk into town from the Station Yard.

Mrs Annison asked the Authority to ensure that nothing was done to hinder the railway business as it was hoped to re-open the railway line sometime in the future. There will be some seating for the café on the platform.

She added that many of the comments at the parish council concerned how the café would compete with businesses in the town. Mr Graham agreed with her that competition between businesses was not a planning consideration.

He explained: “The issue is about whether (the café) will have a significant impact upon the vitality and the viability of Hawes as a service and retail centre.” He added that the café could be open from 8am to 6pm each day, or even until 9pm if there was an evening function, because it was sufficiently distant from residential properties.

Other businesses could apply to extend their hours and each application would be considered on a case by case basis to assess the impact upon the amenity of neighbours, he said.

Cllr Blackie told the committee he would abstain from voting as he owned a café in Hawes. He went on to present the arguments made by the parish council of which he is the chairman. In addition to the points made by Mr Belton the parish council was concerned that the new café would have an unfair advantage due to elements of subsidy.

These included being next to the YDNPA’s large car park and not having to provide toilets. Its customers could either use the public ones at Station Yard or have access to those in the building if they had paid for access to the Museum. The parish council had also pointed out that many years ago the Authority had promised that there would be no catering facility at the Museum.

Several committee members said that if the application had been made by anyone not connected with the Authority there would not have been any problem with approving it. The majority agreed with Mrs Beardmore that the café would not only increase the viability of the YDNPA and visitor satisfaction at the Museum, but also lead to an increase in the number of people visiting Hawes as a whole.

At the November meeting Hawes and High Abbotside parish council presented this statement to the Authority:

“It was very disappointed to note the unanimous decision (other than Cllr John Blackie) to approve the application for a café at the Dales Countryside Museum, contrary to the response of the parish council, and to hear that results of a rushed survey purporting to be of visitors to the DCM were only available the day before the planning committee meeting, were not circulated to members of the planning committee, or copies made available to members of the public attending the meeting itself, and to hear that an objector (Mr R Belton) who took up the opportunity to speak at the planning committee was denied access by the YDNPA to these results ahead of the meeting. It understands Mr Belton has complained to the Chief Executive, David Butterworth, and supports wholeheartedly his complaint.”

Hawes – October

An application for an extra care housing scheme at Turfy Top near the Wensleydale Creamary was unanimously refused by the committee.

One of the reasons Cllr Blackie gave for turning down the application was that a new site for an extra care home, close to the Medical Centre, had become available.

“We want an extra care housing scheme but we want it in the right location, and the right location is not Turfy Top. It is a huge hill for elderly people or even sprightly middle aged people to ascend from the town centre,” he said.

He added that there was a gap in the footpath along that route, and that the site at Turfy Top was only large enough for single bedroom apartments. “All new extra care housing schemes need two bedroom facilities – that is the latest standard,” he explained.

He told the committee that Hawes and High Abbotside parish council was unanimously opposed to the Turfy Hill site. Its reasons included that Turfy Hill was too far from the Medical Centre, the flood risk at the site, the possibility of further overloading the sewage system, and the detrimental impact upon the landscape and neighbouring properties.

Cllr Blackie also argued that the county council’s health and adult services division would not support an extra care home at Turfy Top.

In his statement to the committee 92-year-old Graham Watts said that he and his wife Mary, as the applicants, had had an on-site consultation with the county council’s head of extra care and its project coordinator. Both had confirmed that the county council would be happy to undertake an elderly person development at Turfy Top.

The Watts’s plan for a 40-unit extra care home with all necessary ancillaries was supported by the predominant neighbour – the Youth Hostel Association. The home would have had its own medical consulting room.

Mr Watts  said that residents of Lancaster Terrace would have been offered sufficient land, free of any land cost, to provide off-road car parking and enough space to enlarge their back yards to make gardens. The former would have contributed to road safety by reducing the number of vehicles parked along the road.

He argued that there was adequate space for tree-planting on both the north side and the entrance area, and that the building would be on a similar scale and alignment as the Youth Hostel.

Mr Watts added: “The site is readily accessible to the town – the excellent Little White Bus service would get even partially disabled people to the town centre in three to four minutes. There is no flood-risk. All storm water can be absorbed into the site by adequate design.

“This is a major opportunity to provide the town with a facility already urgently required by many elderly folk and their families and would release many homes to the market.

“The site is secluded but a natural part of the urban area. It is capable of offering residents quiet enjoyment of a location they can be proud of. I submit that a better site than Turfy Top does not exist. The need is urgent and, as we are all living longer, becomes more urgent than ever.”

Healaugh – July

Harold Brown, who had just returned as a member of the Authority after suffering a stroke in January, supported Cllr Blackie in an attempt to life the S106 local occupancy agreement on the one-bedroom Martin’s Cottage at Healaugh.

The committee saw a photograph which showed that the bedroom was  hardly big enough for a double bed plus the small bed for the two-years-old son of Ian and Charlotte Pybus. Cllr Blackie argued that policy of one size fits all should be put to aside when there were such  exceptional personal circumstances.

The couple had told the committee that there had been no viewings since the converted barn had been put on the market one and a half years ago as the S106 local occupancy condition had put people off. If they reduced the price further they would be in negative equity and would not be able to continue living in Swaledale and supporting the local school.

“They are prisoners in that cottage. We must have compassion and understanding,” Cllr Blackie said. He added: “This isn’t a money making exercise – this is a life changing opportunity for the Pybuses.”

Some of the committee questioned whether such a one-bedroom cottage was suitable for a local occupancy condition. But Mr Graham stated that in 2007 when permission was granted for the barn conversion a survey had shown that 12 people in Swaledale were interested in one-bedroom accommodation. To that Cllr Blackie asked where was the precedent if there were very, very few one-bedroom properties with S106 agreements.

The majority of the committee, however, believed that they should adhere to policy, especially as the legal officer had advised that no legal weight could be given as yet to the emerging Local Plan. That plan will allow people to choose to have a S106 local occupancy agreement on a new barn conversion, or pay a commuted sum so that it could be sold later on the open market.

Mr Charlesworth said that the present policy of having all new conversions restricted to local occupancy was because they were desperate to keep young people and families in the Dales. Cllr Robert Heseltine argued that they had to be consistent and that if they lifted the S106 on Martin’s Cottage it would deny another young family an opportunity of having affordable accommodation.

Neil Heseltine, a Malham parish councillor, agreed. He stated: “I have every sympathy with the Pybuses. But I think what is very important is that generation after generation of local families also get the opportunity and I think if we remove the S106 then it reduces the likelihood of any subsequent occupants whose children will attend the local primary school.”

Mr Brown, like Cllr Blackie, felt that the S106 agreement on Martin’s Cottage had served its purpose and was likely to lead to a young family leaving Swaledale. Cllr Blackie pointed out that Gunnerside School now had only seven pupils, and Reeth had 37 – a drop of over 50 per cent in 15 years.

Charlotte Pybus was as tears as she, her husband and son left the meeting following the committee’s refusal to lift the S106.

Discussion of the application was deferred at the June  meeting because there were no representatives of Richmondshire District Council at the meeting following the recent elections. This meant that appointments to the YDNPA committees would not take place until the end of June.

For that reason, in line with what had happened in previous years Cllr Blackie asked that any decision about Martin’s Cottage should be deferred.

But Secretary of State appointee Jocelyn Manners-Armstrong stated: “We are all here in our capacity to act in the best interests of the nation for the Park and it is not a representative role as such.”

Cllr Heseltine agreed with her and added: “We do not represent – we are appointed.”

He said that if that decision was deferred then all the others would have to be as well. “In my opinion the proper procedure is to proceed,” he stated.

It was pointed out by Cllr Richard Welch that members would not be able to get legal advice on the issue as no legal officer was present.

Mr Graham advised: “It’s up to members to decide whether you feel you’ve got sufficient information in front of you to allow you to make a decision – or whether you take the view that you should include the representations from members who have greater knowledge of the local area and issues.”

Both Cllr Blackie and Cllr Harrison-Topham argued that it was important that the applicants, Ian and Charlotte Pybus, felt that they had been given a fair hearing.“We need to have a fair balance of representation given the importance of the decision to their future,” Cllr Blackie said.

When it came to the vote three voted for deferral and three were against, with three abstentions. The chairman, Chris Armitage, then voted for deferral stating that he felt it was an unusual case and that he accepted what Cllr Blackie had said about lack of representation.

Mr Colley told the committee that he had to declare an interest because he had applied for a variation of the S106 agreement on a recently built property that he owned.

Ingleton – September  – Enforcement

Enforcement action must be taken swiftly to stop an unauthorised “settlement” at Storrs Common, Ingleton, becoming even larger, Cllr Lis warned the committee.

The enforcement officer had asked for approval of an enforcement notice with a compliance period of two months for the removal of a caravan cum cabin in the disused quarry adjacent to the B6255. The quarry is in a very visible location and is used as a car park by walkers as it is close to a route to the summit of Ingleborough.

Both Cllr Lis and Craven District Councillor David Ireton questioned giving the owner two months to move the cabin which he is using as his permanent home.

Cllr Lis said: “We need to stop it as soon as we possibly can. The ‘settlement’ – if you may call it that – it is getting bigger and bigger. There is evidence of further buildings going up. There’s no sign of him doing anything other than staying there.”

In support of reducing the compliance period to one month Mr Charlesworth pointed out that on June 4 the occupant had been given 28 days to remove the caravan. At that time he was advised that Craven District Council’s housing services could assist with finding him somewhere to live.

On July 2 a 21-day deadline had been agreed with the occupant for the removal of the cabin which had, by then, been separated from the truck. And in August a letter was delivered in person to the occupant offering seven days for the removal of the cabin and associated equipment.

The committee unanimously agreed that the enforcement notice should be complied with within one month.

Ingleton Quarry – November

The committee agreed that extraction work at Ingleton Quarry can continue until May 2020. But no-one knew whether or not Hanson Quarry Products Europe Ltd might later apply for another extension.

When asked if the gritstone being extracted from Ingleton Quarry was of such national importance that the Authority should grant an extension until 2020 David Parrish, the Authority’s minerals officer, said:“I would argue that it isn’t a national need but the company would disagree and that would have to be tested at a public inquiry with both sides expressing their views.”

He explained that due to technical problems on the south west side of the quarry extraction of gritstone would cease in 2016, two years earlier than planned. By moving waste from a tip and placing it in the base of the quarry the south west side could be re-aligned allowing for extraction to continue until 2020.

Planning permission was required to allow that and also the re-alignment of the quarry boundary wall as the existing permitted extraction area would be exceeded. All the work would, however, remain inside the quarry footprint.

Ben Ayres, representing Hanson, told the committee that 17 jobs would be secured by allowing work to continue at the quarry until 2020. He said the gritstone was used principally by Lancashire and North Yorkshire county councils for surface dressing of roads.The company would discuss with Ingleton parish council the development of a sleep zone to ensure that heavy goods vehicles (HGV) didn’t pass through the village before 6.00 and that it would contribute towards highways improvements such as a new footway and repairing manhole covers.

It would also set up formal quarry liaison meetings to improve communications with residents. Those living nearby have raised concerns about the impact of blasting upon their homes.The company agreed with the parish council that starting vehicle movements later each morning will have a detrimental impact upon the community at the beginning of the school day.

As there will now be no HGV traffic on Saturdays the planning committee agreed that the parish council should be re-consulted about the starting times for transport movements on weekdays. “The key issue here is to minimise the disturbance to Ingleton village,” said Mr Parrish.

There will be no change to the working hours at the quarry as the company had argued that any reduction would have a disproportionately harmful impact upon the business. The recommended working hours are between 6.30 and 17.30 on weekdays and from 6.30 to 12.00 on Saturdays.

When asked about the amount of gritstone that would be transported by rail Mr Parrish said this would remain the same, and explained that the problem was not loading it at Ribblehead but distributing it from the depot at Leeds.

He added that the company did want to discuss with the National Park the possibility of moving from the Ingleton quarry to that at Horton. There were considerable reserves of the gritstone at Horton quarry and rail haulage could be increased. The level of employment would also be retained, he said.

Mr Colley commented that the efforts of Threshfield Quarry Trust to attract other businesses had shown that the closure of a quarry did not always mean a loss of employment.“It is a change of employment – and when quarries finish they can be regenerated and can be wonderful for wildlife and can have an awful lot of benefits,” he added.

When extraction at Ingleton Quarry does finish it is intended that a deep lake will be created with the remainder of the site being restored to grassland and woodland. The site is already screened by trees and a bund.

Kettlewell – April

Ponies can be kept on an iconic field in Kettlewell and a field shelter can be erected there even though many residents and the parish council appealed to the planning committee not to give permission.

The chairman of Kettlewell with Starbotton parish council, David Belk, told the committee: “There has been such an overwhelming response from parishioners in the last week – they do not want anything built in this field.”

He added that until such time as the field – Maypole Croft – was designated as an important open space the application for the change of use of the land should be denied. Another resident, Jack Heseltine, said that the field could be destroyed by over grazing.

He pointed out that the owners had stated at a parish council meeting that the field was not big enough for their two ponies. According to the Equine Trust these will need 2.5 acres whereas there is just 0.825 of an acre at Maypole Croft.

There was concern that the field was next to the village playground used by both local children and visiting school parties. He asked:“What will happen when children kick the ball over and go to retrieve it and they are confronted by unknown ponies which are unsupervised by the owners? Will the next move be that a dwelling will be needed on the site so they can supervise the ponies?”

Cllr Harrison-Topham also wondered if there was a “Trojan Horse” element to the application.

Andrew Colley reported that the late John Roberts supported the parish council’s view. Mr Colley added: “I can’t think of a worse place for horses and ponies. It is iconic. It is right next to the maypole near the centre of the village and it’s the view that everybody gets when they walk down the village. Let’s not spoil it.”

The planning officer’s report was quoted by Cllr Marshall as she felt it made the case for refusing the application. This stated that the field provided an open backdrop to The Green and the maypole as well as making a significant contribution to the wider quality of the conservation area, affording important views into and out of the historic core of the village.

The planning officer, however, told the committee that the owners did not need planning permission to graze ponies on the field. The application for change of use and to erect a field shelter, therefore, gave the Authority the opportunity to have more control.

When the majority voted to approve the application Cllr Marshall asked that strict conditions should be imposed. These will mean that no jumps, old tyres or any other equipment can be placed in the field, cars cannot be parked there, and there must be no muck heaps. There can be no outside storage except behind the shelter.

Kettlewell – April – Enforcement

An enforcement notice will be served on the owner of 2 Town Head in Kettlewell for the removal of hard standing for parking and for the area to be re-grassed.

The committee was told that the area had been registered by the owner of 2 Town Head as in his ownership. But until the autumn of 2012 Kettlewell with Starbotton parish council had paid contractors to mow the grass there on a monthly basis. Until that time the area had the character and appearance of a village green or common land.

The enforcement officer had been negotiating with the owner of 2 Town Head since late 2012 after the parish council complained about a hard standing surface being laid to create a parking space. The owner claimed that the area was part of the curtilage.

The enforcement officer noted that such permitted development could only take place if the area had been used for residential purposes by 2 Town Head for ten years.

As there was evidence that this had been a communal area until 2012 the creation of the hard standing for car parking for 2 Town Head had, she said, triggered a material change in use. She stated: “Both the use of the land for ancillary residential purposes and the creation of the hard standing are unauthorised.”

She added: “To date no evidence has been submitted to the Authority to demonstrate that this land has either a functional or historical connection to 2 Town Head for it to be considered to form part of the curtilage of the dwelling.”

The land had also been included in an area of Important Open Space in Kettlewell and so development was not permitted if that would result in the loss, or significant harm to, the character of it.

“The arrangement of the pre-1851 buildings around an open ‘green’ at Town Head produces an attractive and characterful space within the village. The open quality of the space, its undeveloped (grass), informal appearance and communal character are important elements of an important part of the village,” she said.

(The applicant has appealed this decision)

Kettlewell – Brightwaters

At the May meeting approval was given for an enforcement notice for the removal of a patio and railings at Brightwaters. In 2006 planning permission was granted for a barn beside Kettlewell Beck to be converted into a local occupancy home with limited curtilage so that there would be little impact upon that part of the village. The patio was constructed in 2012.

The owners subsequently made a planning application which was discussed at the December meeting. That application was deferred to allow time to obtain an independent report as to whether the concrete barrier and patio was providing protection from flooding.

Matthew Koslow, on behalf of his parents, told the committee that the structure was a retaining wall which did protect the building, and that the railings were need to ensure the safety of anyone there, especially children. The Koslow’s had lodged an appeal against the enforcement notice.

See the February 2016 YDNPA planning committee report.

Kirkby Malham – September

Approval was given for a single storey rear extension to West Bank Farm at Kirkby Malham, despite a Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority planning officer maintaining that it would undermine the character of the Grade II listed building.

South Lakeland District Councillor Brenda Gray, stated: “I do think it’s a bit nit-picky to say that it isn’t suitable.”

And Ian McPherson commented: “Prior to the site visit I was inclined to refuse permission. I had the impression from the officer’s report that this was a substantial addition to the property. In fact it’s really quite small and so not overly dominant nor incongruous as the planning officer suggested.”

The applicant’s architect, Barry Birch, told the committee that the single storey link from a family room to the rear hall of the house would be only an extension of five per cent to the existing building. As it could not be seen from any public views there would be no adverse impact and no distinguishing features of the house would be obliterated.

He added: “By comparison a property in West Burton was granted an extension the size of a moderate house in front of the original vernacular longhouse which although not listed is a significant piece of architecture in the dales landscape.”

Cllr Harrison-Topham said that 25 years ago permission had been granted by a YDNPA planning committee for a similar extension to his own house. “If I was to do anything other than recommend acceptance of this I will be one of the world’s greatest hypocrites,” he told the committee, and added:“I think the argument against this is overdone. I don’t think there’s detrimental visual harm to the building.”

Mr Charlesworth agreed with him but was concerned that there were two procedures running in parallel – the planning application and a listed building application which had been refused under delegated authority and which was now the subject of an appeal.

Mr Graham explained: “If members grant planning permission for the extension then one would hope that the applicant would withdraw the appeal because you are always in danger of the inspector taking a different view to the planning authority. We would assume they would then resubmit an application for listed building consent which would be taken in light of the committee’s decision.”

As the majority voted in favour of approving the extension Mr Graham said that the decision would not need to be referred back even though the planning officer had recommended refusal.

Kirkby Malham – October

Dark anodised aluminium rather than wooden doors can be installed in the summer house at Clock Cottage in Kirkby Malham. The committee agreed to this even though Kirkby Malhamdale parish council had objected.

The parish council opposed this variation to an existing planning approval because it felt that aluminium bi-fold doors were not in keeping with the Grade II listed building. It stated: “All existing windows and doors on this historic property are of timber or wood construction.”

The planning officer, however, said: “Aluminium is in keeping with the distinctly contemporary design.”

He reported that the summer house was low key on the site and little was visible close to the original cottage. He added: “This finish to the framework would ensure that the sunroom would remain a visually understated modern addition to the building group, which would not detract from the character of the host property or the village setting.”

Langcliffe – February

The owners of a house in Main Street, Langcliffe have three months in which to screen the lantern roof of an extension – and the work must be carried out in strict accordance with the plans approved by the planning committee.

In February 2012 the owner was unsuccessful in an appeal against an enforcement notice for the removal of the extension. The planning officer told the committee: “Since that date the Authority has delayed taking further formal enforcement action in an attempt to resolve the matter amicably.”

This, he said, had been achieved by agreeing that a road side wall should be raised by 80cm using matching local limestone to screen the lantern. A large planter box which had been placed on top of the present wall will be removed.

Cllr Welch proposed that the retrospective application for the extension should be refused and stated: “This has been turned down, appealed, turned down, enforcement to remove – it goes on and on. In my opinion the fresh application hasn’t changed anything. This is a conservation area (and) it’s next to the village green. The whole point is – it should never have been there in the first place.

“The planning policy seeks to promote and reinforce local distinctiveness. Any extensions should respect the architectural integrity (of the area). Are we in period when any developments can have high walls to hide developments?”

The majority,however, agreed with Mr Colley that as the application was the result of negotiation between both parties they should accept the officer’s recommendation to approve.

 

Low Row – December

Approval was given for a barn near Low Row to be converted into a bunk barn to be used by school groups and DofE expeditions no more than 24 times each year.

The committee had refused a similar application in October 2014 because it was felt that it would have a negative impact upon those using the adjoining Turnip House and that there was insufficient evidence that any groups staying there would be effectively supervised. There were also concerns about unmanaged car parking on the common land outside the barn.

The planning officer this time recommended approval because:the number of group bookings had been considerably reduced; the length of stay limited to no more than two nights with a member of Hazel Brow Farm staff always there to supervise any group; and that sound insulation would be installed on the wall adjoining Turnip House.

The committee was told that any minibus bringing the groups to the Dales will park in Low Row and the school children will walk to the barn.

Alistair Lewis, speaking on behalf of the owners of Turnip House, asked if all the children would be able to walk up such a steep track. He argued that the application by Cath Calvert of Hazel Brow Farm was still contrary to the Authority’s existing and emerging policies which allowed for the creation of bunk barns if they were within a group of buildings and beside a road.

He also felt there was still the likelihood that groups could be at the barn when members of the family which owned Turnip House were there. Mrs Calvert, however, stated that groups would be there on educational visits during school time and not during school holidays.

She told the committee: “We are not doing it because we are going to make lots of money – we are doing it because we feel passionate about sharing that special environment.”

Cllr Blackie was fully in support of the application. His amendment that DofE groups could also, under the same supervision, use the bunk barn was approved.

Harold Brown reminded the members that many of the traditional barns, which are such an iconic feature of the Yorkshires Dales, were falling down as there was no use for them.“This is going to protect this barn and give it another life,” he said and added that it was good for the barn, good for the young people who would stay there and so be in line with the National Park’s policy to encourage people to visit the Dales.

He explained that very few farms in Swaledale and Arkengarthdale now had dairy herds and were only just getting by. But it was the farmers who were maintaining the landscape and the walls.

The chairman of the committee, Chris Armitage, stated he wanted more children from the cities to have the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the countryside and to understand how farming contributed to their lives.

Malham – May

A plea by Kirkby Malhamdale parish council to protect the village from what it described as an inappropriate development was not accepted by the committee.

Pat Wherity, on behalf of the parish council, told the committee: “I have heard today that the National Park Authority has a duty to conserve and enhance. I heard you say that if nobody else will protect it you have to.”

On that basis both he and Stuart Gledhill felt that the committee should reject the application for five houses to be built at Cherry Tree Croft. Three will be rural discount homes and the other two will be affordable rented homes.

Mr Wherity and Mr Gledhill were disappointed that the committee did not accept the request by Cllr Marshall to hold a site meeting at Cherry Tree Croft. “I don’t think you can really get an impression of what this place is like from the slides,” commented Mr Wherity.

He argued that the scale and size of the development was too large compared to the buildings nearby and explained that it was the green spaces which gave Malham its distinctive character. “This will remove one of the key green spaces and replace it with a domineering pattern of ribbon development along Finkle Street with housing more suitable for an urban environment.”

This, he said, would be exacerbated by having the houses too close to the road and so creating a tunnel effect disproportionate and contradictory to the style of the village.

The parish council and almost all of the residents were united in their objection to the application, he added. Their reasons included the substantial increase in traffic along what to them was already a dangerous, narrow road.

Mr Gledhill compared putting five houses on that site to sardines in a tin. This, he said, was a totally inappropriate development which would set a precedent for spoiling iconic villages in the National Park. “This is one of the most iconic villages – you are the custodians and guardians – you should not let this happen,” he told the committee.

The planning officer had recommended approval of the development as a rural-exception site. The parish council did not agree with her that the development would fulfil the requirements of the National Planning Policy Framework.These are that it should respond to the local character and history, and reflect the identity of the local surroundings and materials as well as being visually attractive as a result of good architecture and appropriate landscaping.

Mr Gledhill also argued that the site did not fulfil two out of three of the criteria for such a rural-exception site as it was not adjacent to the development boundary, and there was no longer sufficient evidence of the need for affordable housing in Malham.

Over two years ago the parish council with Craven District Council had surveyed the village and found there was a need. But since then that need had diminished, he said, leaving just one local couple wanting such housing.

Caroline Sunter, speaking on behalf of the agent, told the committee that they had spent a lot of time with planning officers and had made changes to the design as requested. The development had the support of both the highway authority and the district council. She added that it was the only site at present available for affordable housing in Malham.

Cllr Marshall, however, stressed that Malham was one of the jewels in the crown in the National Park and, like the parish council, she believed this development would be inappropriate. She said that the design of the houses was urbanised and they would become a dominating feature in an area of old cottages.

“I don’t believe this would be considered for approval if it wasn’t being viewed as an exception site. I think the approval of local housing for a need is leaving a legacy of a totally inappropriate design of housing in that village in perpetuity,” she said.

Mr Charlesworth observed that the committee was in a no-win situation. “We are desperate to do what we can to keep young people and young families in the Dales and indeed to attract them by providing low cost affordable housing wherever possible.

“It is clear that the parish council and local residents do not want this development. But we do have this need for affordable housing for local young people.” He added that he felt it was a sensitive design and would be highly appropriate.

Mr Colley disagreed and stated that the development would be like the modern-looking houses which had recently been built at Grassington that failed miserably to blend in with the surrounding countryside. He was one of the three who voted against approving the application.

At the November meeting the committee heard that the registered provider – Home Housing – had pulled out from an agreement to take ownership of the two houses for rent and to be responsible for the three others described as affordable intermediate houses.

The Authority therefore needed a fall-back mechanism to ensure that the houses would remain affordable for local people in perpetuity. This mechanism, approved at the meeting, will be that all five can be affordable intermediate houses verified by Craven District Council through the National Park Authority, if no registered provider can be found.

Andrew Colley asked if the Authority could have a valuation carried out at the planning stage to ensure that the construction cost of a housing development was not more than its end value. “We as a planning authority require houses to be built to our high specification to fit in with places like Malham. But these houses are very expensive to build. So we don’t want any developer falling into the trap… of building something which ends up not being affordable. I know we have no legal obligation.. to do a viability study – but I think it is morally right that we should,” he said.

Cllr Marshall quoted the example of a builder who went bankrupt when constructing affordable houses in the National Park as neither he nor those interested in buying the homes could get mortgages.

But the head of development management, Richard Graham, replied: “Development is a risky business – that is their responsibility.”

Cllr Marshall, like North Yorkshire County Councillor Roger Harrison-Topham and Ian MacPherson, believed that permission should not have been granted for the housing development at Cherry Tree Croft as the parish council and residents had so vigorously opposed the application.

“We got it wrong. I hope any members who voted in favour of the application last time will have second thoughts,” said Cllr Harrison-Topham.

Cllr Blackie warned that the Government’s proposal to extend the Right to Buy scheme to housing association tenants could mean that there will be far fewer new affordable rented houses in rural areas.  He said that housing associations were walking away from new developments in rural areas due to the Government’s plans and guidelines.

He said: “The local community looks to us to provide the planning permissions and because of the emerging Government policy they are not being implemented and we are not getting the houses that we need. It is a very serious situation.“This is a real concern that we will not find housing associations prepared to develop in the National Park. They just don’t want to lose money – and the losers are the local communities here in the Dales.”

Millthrop – May

The committee also refused permission for an affordable local occupancy house to be built in Millthrop near Sedbergh. This application was supported by the parish council but the committee accepted the planning officer’s argument that it would be contrary to too many of the Authority’s policies.

Graham Milburn told the committee that his plan was to build a two-bedroom house on land which at present forms part of the family’s builder’s yard and use the capital to refurbish Spedding House. Several generations of Milburns have lived in Spedding House which is a grade II listed building. He, his three brothers and his mother all live in that part of Millthrop.

The planning officer recommended refusal because the new house would be so close to Spedding House that it would a detrimental impact not only upon this listed building but also on the amenity of anyone living there. The trees which screen the builder’s yard would either have to be severely cut back or removed altogether, and there was no space to plant any more.

In addition the site is outside the building development boundary and the house would not provide accommodation for someone involve in agriculture or another rural-based enterprise. And employment land would be lost which, the officer stated, would undermine the viability of the remaining employment site.

See also the February 2016 YDNPA planning committee report.

Reeth – July

The committee took under ten minutes to decide unanimously that this time an application to re-develop Orton Works at Reeth could be approved.

This application was for full planning permission for the erection of a guest house and demolition of some existing buildings on the site, and the extension and conversion of the existing office building to form manager’s accommodation.

Reeth, Fremington and Healaugh parish council fully supported the application subject only to the comments of the immediate neighbours. The concerns of the latter included being overlooked, the overbearing and overshadowing impact of the guest house, and the close proximity of a laundry room and kitchen to some homes. The latter will be created by the conversion of an existing garage.

The planning officer reported that there had been three previous applications for the redevelopment of the site since Orton Works closed in 2011. The third – for the erection of a guest house – was refused by the planning committee in June 2014 having been deferred on two occasions for the submission of amended drawings but still deemed to be a poor design.

He said that the latest application was for the guest house to be built on the southern part of the site over the footprint of existing buildings and so avoiding the sewer and the most sensitive part of the site in terms of impact on those living in Hill Close.

“Overall the proposal is a significant improvement in terms of its siting, and general arrangement, from the previous submissions,” he added.

Scott Trial – July

Richmond Motor Club has accepted responsibility for surveying the 70-mile route of the annual Scott Trial across Arkengarthdale, Gunnerside and Reeth Moors and for carrying out any mitigating work afterwards.

The club’s agent, Robert Halstead, said that it had set up a sub-committee which had already begun to research the baseline level of data requested by the Authority. Photographs of the route would be taken immediately after the trial in October and these would make it possible to identify vulnerable areas which should be avoided in the future.

He added that previously the burden for all that had fallen on the Authority and he felt that it was right and proper the onus should now be on the motor club.

In these circumstances the committee agreed unanimously to a five-year extension so that this internationally recognised motor bike trial could continue.

Cllr Blackie and Mr Brown pointed out that “The Scott” as it was known gave a tremendous boost to the local economy and supported both employment and tourism in the area. In addition it raised about £10,000 a year which was donated to good causes such as The Friarage Hospital at Northallerton and doctors’ surgeries in the Dales.

Mr Brown said The Scott had the full support of all the parish councils and added:“It only operates with the goodwill of the farmers, the game keepers and even land agents as well. It has local support all round and that is the reason it is so successful. They are a very well respected and responsible body. It is a motor cycle trial conducted under the heaviest supervision.

“They train the youngsters from something like the age of six or seven years – even the girls. You will see from reports that we have some fantastic girl riders – Katy Sunter and Harriet Peacock to name a few.”

He added that he believed the damage caused to ancient monuments like the disused lead mines was minimal and that some tourists had inflicted more.

Sedbergh – February

A traditional building in Sedbergh, which is at present used for storage, can be converted into a two-bedroom house.

The majority of the committee members agreed that it would make a very good local occupancy dwelling even though Sedbergh parish council had objected to the application.

Sedbergh parish councillor, Ian McPherson explained that the parish council was very concerned about the loss of one to two roadside car parking spaces when the vehicular access was created for the house, or for possibly creating a precedent for turning gardens along Highfield Road into car parking areas.

The parish council was also concerned about the impact of the dwelling upon the Grade II listed Palmers Hill (the Widows’ Hospital), or the possibility that in the future there might be more noise emanating from the businesses adjourning the new house.

Sedbergh – October – Removal notice

It was agreed that a double-sided sign at Café Nova in Sedbergh must be removed as it significantly exceeds the limit for permitted development.

The committee gave approval for the Authority’s solicitor to serve a Removal Notice to be complied with within 28 days. If the Notice is not complied with the Authority can remove the sign and charge the proprietors of the café for the costs incurred.

The enforcement officer told the committee that not only was the sign too big and so having a harmful impact upon the conservation area, but it was also attached to the corner of the building. This, he said, was not a traditional method of sign display and hid the distinctive quoin stones.

Spout, Sedbergh – August

The committee approved an application by Susan Woof to convert a traditional barn at Spout near Sedbergh into a bunk barn capable of accommodating six people.

Sedbergh parish council and others who own properties at Spout had questioned how the bunk barn could be effectively managed and supervised when those nominated to do that did not live close to it. Ms Woof and her partner live ten miles away, and a relative is two miles away.

The parish council had, however, also pointed out that there was little difference between a small-scale bunk barn and a holiday cottage which could accommodate six or more people – and the latter did not require a management plan.

Dr Barron, who owns a holiday cottage a few metres from the barn, told the committee: “This is the wrong development in the wrong place.“

He added that a bunk barn would dominate such a small hamlet of seven residential properties and have considerable impact upon the tranquillity of the area. The increase in traffic he said would also cause problems along the narrow, winding road. “It will create a precedent for intrusion on the landscape and for traffic on a substandard road,” he told the committee.

Ms Woof said that she had worked closely with planning officers for 18 months to prepare an application that would be in accordance with the YDNPA’s policies, including how to safeguard the amenities of neighbours.

Cllr Blackie and Jocelyn Armstrong-Manners agreed with her that those who booked such places for a holiday enjoyed and respected the tranquillity of the area.

Ms Woof commented that 20 years ago there would have been more traffic on the narrow, winding road because her family were farming the fields more extensively. Now the barn was no longer suitable for agricultural use and they wanted to find a way of ensuring its future and to provide her with a job. She told committee she intended to make sure that the bunk barn would not cause problems for the neighbours.

Mr McPherson acknowledged that the decision was finely balanced but still felt that the application should be refused for the reasons put forward by objectors.

Mr  Charlesworth said that the site meeting had convinced him that the conversion was entirely appropriate and acceptable. And several members reported that there had been no problems with so many cars being there for that meeting.

Harold Brown commented: “A lot of hill farmers are going out of business because they can’t get a proper price for their produce. So I am in favour of this support for a hill farm.”

Stainforth – October

Stephen Raine won the sympathy of the committee when he explained that he was the full-time carer for his elderly mother and was travelling each day to his farm at Stainforth to care for the animals there and to complete some walling for Natural England.

He said he had not intended to do anything illegal by again siting a caravan at the farm. He explained that he was not living in it but instead was using it as a shelter and somewhere to make hot food and drinks.By January the work for Natural England should be completed and he will move the livestock away from the farm. “I would be more than happy to move the caravan at that time because there is no reason for me to take shelter and have meals,” he said.

The committee agreed with Cllr Heseltine that prosecution proceedings should be put off until March.

As Mr Raine had said he might start work on building a farmhouse in March the committee accepted the recommendation of the legal officer, Clare Bevan, that the decision to prosecute or not should the caravan still be there after March 31 should be left with the solicitor.

The enforcement officer had asked for prosecution proceedings to begin now because by siting another caravan at Garth Nook Farm Mr Raine had failed to comply with an enforcement notice served in August 2008.

The deputy chairman of the planning committee, Harold Brown commented: “I have every sympathy with the position of Mr Raine as a fellow (uplands) farmer struggling to keep walls up, to keep the livestock in good health, and on top of that to be carer for an elderly person – and a building thrown in. Jack of all trades we are known as.”

Stainforth – November – Enforcement

At the October meeting members gave David Parker a month to submit a planning application for an agricultural worker’s dwelling at Bargh House, Stainforth.

If this had been done it was likely that the committee would have allowed him to continue having a caravan at that site. As he hadn’t, it was agreed unanimously that an enforcement notice should be issued for the removal of the caravan.

Last month the committee heard that planning permission had been granted in 2007 for the conversion of a building to form a preparation area for meat and game, a chiller room and a store, as well as the erection of an agricultural building. Permission was also given to site a caravan there for three years until January 2010.

Since then Mr Parker has been repeatedly advised to either apply for further permission to have the caravan there  or to make an application for a dwelling. If he did the latter he could ask for permission to retain the caravan until the house was ready to live in. Mr Parker now has six months notice to remove the caravan.

Threshfield – June

The application to re-develop Threshfield Garage, including the provision of a Spar convenience store, replacing the motor vehicle workshop and reconfiguring the filling station forecourt, gained the unanimous approval of the committee.

Grassington parish councillor Andrew Colley said: “Up and down the dale it’s going to be absolutely invaluable. But it has to remain a filling station and a garage workshop as well as a convenience store.” He told the committee that both Grassington parish council and Chamber of Trade supported the application made by James Hall & Company.

The company’s agent, Graham Love, assured the committee that it had carried out everything that had been asked of it by the planning officer, including reducing the proposed height of the buildings.He added:“It does have the potential of improving local convenience shopping in terms of the range of choice and availability of goods and products. This will allow a greater number of people to carry out more of their shopping locally so less will travel to Skipton for their main shopping.”

John Midgley, whose company, Midgley Motors, will continue to operate the vehicle and MoT facility, told the committee that since 1965 seven local garages had closed.“We have seen the demise of the country filling station. Petrol is no longer a stand-alone product. The reality is that unless Threshfield Garage follows this business model there will be no fuel or car repairs, MoT servicing or car sales,” he said and added:“The current building is beyond its useful lifespan. It was hard to make a profit throughout last winter because of the extra heating costs. I can’t expect my staff to work in that dungeon of a workshop – the rain comes in, the electric fuses on a regular basis, and there is a lack of heating.”

But Rob Crolla of Indigo Planning, representing some concerned retailers in Grassington, stated: “We consider there is no substantial or reasonable justification for why the existing buildings cannot be re-used from a commercial perspective.”

He said that the housing policy had been misapplied to justify the retail proposal and that the applicant had not provided a detailed assessment of the retail impact, as compared to need. “There is a real danger that this proposal will kill a number of businesses in Grassington to the detriment of the health of that centre.”

He argued, therefore, that the application was fundamentally flawed both in terms of the strength of the support information on retail matters provided to justify the scheme and the proposal itself in terms of the proper planning for retail services in the area.

Cllr Marshall said it was known that only three traders in Grassington were against the application and that the majority of residents in the area were supporting it.

Threshfield parish council also supported it especially after the applicant  had agreed to reduce the hours that the store and filling station would be open to 7am to 10pm. This. it was stated, will reduce the impact upon the amenity of the neighbouring properties.

West Witton –  See the March 2015 report for the report on the discussion about telecommunications aerials at West Witton.

YDNPA – an extension too far

October 30, 2015 By: Pip Land Category: ARC News Service No Comments →

My  personal comment on the decision by the Environment Secretary, Liz Truss,  to extend the boundaries of the Yorkshire Dales and Lake District national parks followed by North Yorkshire County Councillor John Blackie’s comment.

Miss Truss’s decision is a theatrical flourish which underlines the fact that the Conservatives are not the ‘party of the countryside’.

The democratic deficit that will be created in August 2016 when the Yorkshire Dales National Park is increased by 24 per cent just shows that the present government cares little for rural voters.  The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority had asked that if the extension went ahead that the membership of the Authority should be increased to include local authority representatives from the newly designated areas. As Cllr John Blackie, pointed out the YDNPA has come away empty handed.

It has also come away empty handed on the financial side for Ms Truss has made no provision for the cost of these extensions. That is a big blow to these two National Parks when they are waiting in fear and trepidation for the next cuts in their grants.

In September the Chief Executive of the YDNPA, David Butterworth, agreed that if there was a 40 per cent cut in the Authority’s budget it would not be able to carry out its statutory responsibilities. The extension alone will probably absorb 30 per cent or more of the Authority’s current budget, before any probable reduction in the 2016/17 DEFRA grant.

And yet Ms Truss believes that the creation of a mega national park will lead to more beautiful countryside being protected. If she wants it to be protected she must take a truly professional approach and make sure that the two Authorities have the money to do the job properly.

I feel very sorry for those living in the areas about to be requisitioned for this piece of political gamesmanship. At present planning decisions affecting their homes and livelihoods come within the remit of district councils. A former National Park planning officer, Mike Warden, pointed out:

‘As a planning authority a National Park is completely devoid of all the other functions that a responsible District Council administers. Any council outside of a National Park has to take into account the matters of  building control, of environmental health, of pollution. of economic development, and most importantly local councils are housing authorities for their areas, which a National Park is not.” National Park planning officers are often more focused on conservation than on the economic and social well being of residents, he said.

Costly planning decisions

This was very apparent when a planning application for a replacement camping site at Kettlewell was turned down in November 2011.  This meant that in 2012 there was no campsite at Kettlewell and the drop in trade had a serious impact upon the village. One pub closed and the village shop came close to closing as well. The situation has improved since a new campsite opened in 2014.

Then there was the case of the farming family in Littondale which, having bought enough land to develop its own farm wanted permission to convert a barn into a farmhouse. But the planning officer recommended that not only should that barn be tied to the farm but also a farmhouse that the family was renting and did not own, and a house that was mortgaged. Many months later and £20,000 poorer the family finally got approval for the barn conversion without those extraordinary conditions.

Or consider the costly mine field another farming family has had to find its way through just to convert an unused traditional barn into an icecream parlour.

The latest example in this sorry saga involves an annex to a converted barn. The YDNPA failed to enforce certain conditions when it was constructed in 2003 and the owner applied for a  certificate of lawful use or development (LDC) in July 2014. The YDNPA issued an enforcement notice in October 2014 and the owner appealed. A year later she heard that her appeal had been successful with the inspector accepting that the annex had been used as an independent and separate dwelling since 2003.

“The sad fact is that the YDNPA should have spared her the 18 months of (at times) mental turmoil and financial disadvantage by admitting from the outset her case was clear and unequivocal because it had failed to enforce the conditions imposed in the original planning approval within the appropriate time limits…” said Cllr Blackie.

Situations like this emphasise the need for residents to have sufficient locally elected representation on a National Park Authority (NPA).  And it shows just what sort of problems residents in the areas designated to join the Yorkshire Dales National Park next year will face.

Part of the problem is that the YDNPA, like other NPAs have had to cut back on staff in the past few years due to the reductions in their grants from Defra. The staff are already over-stretched – what will it be like for them when faced with the additional work load next year?

Affordable homes?

Ms Truss also believes the YDNPA will be able to facilitate the construction of hundreds of new affordable homes. The YDNPA has worked hard for several years to do that only to see its efforts completely undermined by her Government.  Its plans to extend the “right to buy” scheme without any clear and protected exemptions for rural communities will mean that landowners, farmers and parish councils will not be prepared to make land available at low prices. The end result will be that once the affordable rented houses are sold none will be built to replace them.

This will be a complete disaster for rural communities especially as, unbeknown it seems to Ms Truss, the price of open market houses in National Parks is higher than those in neighbouring areas. It doesn’t take much studying of the estate agents adverts to see that she is incorrect in stating that there was “no evidence to suppose that house prices would rise solely as a result of designation.”  This is why so many young people are forced to move out to towns like Skipton and Catterick rather than remaining within their home communities.

Ms Truss believes that the extension of these two National Parks will be a fantastic opportunity to protect these vital, beautiful landscapes for generations to come. But if there is no affordable housing for young people there will be no future generations to maintain it.

These “national landscapes” were not created by NPAs. Nor do NPAs have the staff to maintain them. The only way to protect them is to protect and support those who do so – the landowners, the farmers and those who run small businesses. And the latter are facing increased competition from NPAs who are seeking to cover the shortfall in their grants by running their own businesses – businesses which will be subsidised by those Government grants.

What a sad future our beautiful countryside faces thanks to a Government which obviously has very little understanding of the needs of rural communities.

 

Cllr John Blackie’s statement to the YDNPA:

I do hope there will be some restraint on the air of triumphalism following the announcement that the YDNP is to be extended into Cumbria and Lancashire, adding an extra 24% by land mass to its existing area.

The Chairman (Peter Charlesworth) and Chief Executive (David Butterworth) of the YDNPA will do well to remember that the Authority supported the extension with two caveats, that it should be accompanied by additional funding to reflect the increase in area and that the current structure of the Local Authority membership of the Authority should remain whilst accepting that the extension will bring with it a demand for additional local authority membership to reflect the newly designated areas.

On both these caveats the YDNPA has come away empty handed.

They also need to recognise the strength of the opposition to the extension was a powerful and united partnership between three County Councils, North Yorkshire, Cumbria and Lancashire and two District Councils, Richmondshire and Eden. It is important to note that most of these Local Authorities were due to gain a new, yet key influence, on the extended National Park through their membership of a reconstituted YDNPA, so their opposition is all the more surprising, and noteworthy of respect.

This partnership was cemented at a local level by a large number of the Dales communities in opposition, as represented by their Parish Councils. For example all of the Parish Councils in the Upper Dales were steadfast in their opposition to the extension, and the Chairman in noting the delight of local communities in the extension area in his Press Release should not overlook the dismay the news will set off amongst many local communities within the existing YDNP.

They are faced with seeing the resources they are entitled to receive from the YDNPA, to assist their self-reliant efforts and enterprise in maintaining the iconic landscapes the Dales are internationally famous for, are being substantially reduced, as they are stretched over a much larger area, whilst they are losing their local members from the Authority who speak up for their best interests day-in day-out at the Authority meetings and particularly on the YDNPA Planning Committee.

Further grant cuts

There is a certain irony in the Secretary of State’s (the Conservative MP, Elizabeth Truss) outright dismissal of the notion of there being any new Government resources to finance the extension today, but instead she promises jam tomorrow. This promise looks to be hollow in nature and substance given the Conservative-led Coalition of 2010 – 2015 has instigated the reduction of the resources it gives to National Parks by 40%, with a promise of a further 40% cut in store for it in the Comprehensive Spending Review in November !!

Adding to this is her suggestion that the YDNPA is good at levering in resources from charitable and grant-making organisations, so we now have a Government-led strategy of a YDNPA dependent on the Lottery. A depressing prospect for the local communities in the existing YDNP as the resources available to them shrink by 24%. I smile whilst asking – just how did your Lottery ticket fare in the draw last week ??

No wonder the Secretary of State’s visit on a traditionally quiet media day – a Friday – to the Upper Dales to make the announcement of her decision was such a hole in the wall affair, with her creeping into Hawes and creeping out again without I understand informing the BBC and ITV of her intentions until literally minutes before she arrived in the town, and without sending the letter announcing her decision to the select band of newspaper journalists invited to interview her.

It is a pity she was not prepared to talk to the local community in Hawes (and certainly with the Chairman of Hawes & High Abbotside Parish Council) where she might have been given a street level opinion on her decision to endorse what was plainly a Public Inquiry that was nothing more than a whitewash, but heavily disguised as a now obviously bogus opportunity to put the case against what it was always going to conclude.

The cynical choice of venue to make the announcement, the hugely and justifiably successful Wensleydale Creamery in Hawes, was no doubt designed to soften the edge of the blow her decision was likely to have. The Wensleydale Creamery was saved some 22 years ago by the self-reliance and determination of the very local community she made her announcement in, by a Save the Wensleydale Creamery community campaign group founded in Hawes & High Abbotside, and joined by other Upper Dales communities and business leaders.

Being in the YDNP had little or nothing to do with the survival of Hawes Creamery, it was the desperate need of the local communities to have employment on their doorstep that time and again challenged the wish of Dairy Crest (then a Conservative Government owned arms length company) to sell off the Creamery site for housing or some other lucrative non-employment use, and made it in the end cave in to the local pressure. The rest is history.

impact on local representation

If the way the Public Inquiry was conducted is anything to go by, it gives little confidence that the promised so-called consultation on the structure of the local authority membership of the new YDNPA will be anything other than another done deal, fait accompli. We can soon expect proposals where District and County Councillors with pure National Park electorates are replaced with those on the very periphery of the extended area.

For example a Lancaster City Councillor with 200 electors or a Lancashire County Councillor with 475 electors in the extended YDNP will most likely take the place on the YDNPA (and possibly on its Planning Committee) of say a Richmondshire or Craven District Councillor with 1000 electors or a North Yorkshire County Councillor with 4750 electors. Of course if the number of members of the YDNPA remains the same then North Yorkshire District and County Councillors will be replaced by an increased number of District and County Councillors from Cumbria.

Will these new Councillors who predominantly represent up-market communities whose main interest in joining the YDNPA was to prevent wind farms in their area, and the loss in value of their houses they might lead on to, have the same priorities as those they replace, representing hard working, what you see is what you get (WYSIWYG) Dales communities, where their very future is threatened by the exodus of young families caused by the loss of affordable housing to buy or rent ??

Will they have any clue – or indeed interest – in the planning issues that can impact detrimentally on the day to day way of life of these hard working dyed in the wool Dales communities. Will they even care about the future of these communities when there is such a mismatch in their priorities ??

impact on planning

Planning, already a National Disaster under the Conservative Government with long established processes protocol and protections being literally slung out of the window on a daily basis (so much so that a recent Friday afternoon Ministerial dictat on Affordable Housing was declared illegal by a Judicial Review) will be a Local Dogs Breakfast as no fewer than six local plans will have to be amended because of the decision made by Secretary of State Elizabeth Truss MP.

This will incur significant extra hidden costs that the Minister does not understandably own up to in this era of extreme public sector austerity. With cutbacks, for example, down to the level of Parish Councils in the YDNP having to pay for grit bins by an Ambulance Station, near a Doctors surgery, on dangerous hills, and outside schools, it is an unnecessary and extravagant public purse expense that political common sense should have concluded must be completely avoided at this difficult time.

This reason alone was sufficient to kick the extension plans into the North Sea. I pity barn owners in the newly designated areas who will find their current right to develop them via the streamlined system of prior notification into dwellings for local families or centres of rural enterprise will fall foul of the YDNPA planning regime which bars their conversion into houses or workplaces without full planning permission and subject to every planning rule in the book.

The losers in the extension areas through the loss of their planning rights are –

– the barn owners, very often local farmers struggling to make a living out of upland livestock farming (have you seen the recent price of a fat lamb, Ms Truss ??) whose hard work in all weathers delivers as a by-product the maintenance of the landscape thought worthy enough of National park designation – in short they are the foot soldiers of conservation.

– the local families denied an affordable opportunity of living amidst the communities that were born and / or brought up in.

– the local economy denied the opportunity for additional prosperity and a higher level of local employment from the new enterprises that would have found a home in a workshop converted from a barn, possibly using Superfast Broadband in doing so.

No wonder the National Farmers Union and the Country Landowners Association were implacably against the extension proposals.

Protecting a successful brand

At least the Campaign to oppose the extension can rightly claim an outstanding success amidst all the doom and gloom embedded in the Minister’s decision. It was the Campaign that brought the likelihood of a change of name of the Yorkshire Dales National Park into the public domain, a change that would have removed at a stroke the unique worldwide branding and marketing tool that connects the iconic landscapes that are the very essence of the Yorkshire Dales – what they are internationally famous for – in the mind of the potential visitor or tourist.

The local economies in the existing YDNP would have been damaged probably beyond repair by such a name change given their increasing dependence on tourism. Despite this the name change was not in the terms of reference of the Inquiry, whilst many could understand the feelings of the local communities in the newly extended areas in Cumbria and Lancashire who would wish to have a name that reflected their geographical location, heritage and identity, and their desire for individuality that would see in the name change their wish come true to stand apart from the ethos and culture conjured up in the word Yorkshire.

The Campaign leaders were pooh-poohed on the potential for name change by the supporters of the extension, but it was their insistence in time and again bringing the possibility into the perception of the public as an implication of enlarging the YDNP into two counties other than Yorkshire that has led to the Minister unequivocally agreeing with what we were saying, and ruling out any possibility of name change in the future. Thank the Lord for Small Mercies.

An expensive trophy project

The extension of the YDNP was always a trophy project and remains so. It is an unnecessary, expensive and extravagant distraction from delivering the bread and butter business that keeps the deeply rural areas in the existing National Park Dales communities going on a day to day basis, and it threatens their future in so many ways.

With deep austerity in the public sector a fact of life already and directly ahead on the agenda again it is completely and utterly the wrong time for the extension to be introduced.

Indeed it is blow in the face of the Dales communities that have so magnificently and proudly, for 60 years or more, and with such wonderful results, acquitted their role of being the host to the Yorkshire Dales National Park. It is more than distressing that the shabby treatment and disregard for their future handed out in a whitewash of an Inquiry, endorsed by the Minister’s decision, should be their scant reward for all they have done to further the cause of National Parks, and their skilled handiwork and their very hard work in maintaining the wonderful landscapes that have provided such huge enjoyment for the visitors to their communities.

A Black Day for the future of the local communities in the Dales.

YDNPA Full Authority meeting September 2015

October 05, 2015 By: Pip Land Category: ARC News Service No Comments →

An ARC News Service report covering some of the items discussed at the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s meeting on September 29, 2015. These were:  concern over further cuts in the YDNPA’s grant from Defra; the route of the Pennine Bridleway National Trail  through Long Preston;  the new YDNPA Local Plan; and the Authority recording its own meetings.

Further cuts in funding –

David Butterworth, the YDNPA chief executive, agreed with North Yorkshire County councillor John Blackie that if there was a further 40 per cent cut in the grant from Defra the Authority would not be able to carry out its statutory responsibility.

Cllr Blackie made this statement after a representative of Deloitte LLP had given a summary of the External Audit Report for the year ended March 31 2015.

Judith Donovan complimented the Authority’s finance and resources team for being given such a glowing report by the auditors.

She added, however: “I know it’s a pointless exercise and I raise it every year but I would like to put on record that I think the fee (£12,103) is appalling.” This was Deloitte LLP’s last year as external auditors for the Authority.

Long Preston and the Pennine Bridleway –

The majority of members agreed that flashing signs on the A65 at Long Preston to warn motorists about horse riders would be preferable to starting a legal process which could culminate with farmland being compulsory purchased.

The director of park services, Kathryn Beardmore, had recommended altering the route of the Pennine Bridleway National Trail so that horse riders did not have to travel along 170m of the A65 at the east end of Long Preston. But as agreement had been reached with the landowner of just one short section of the alternative Trail route she asked the Authority to agree to the principle of the officers pursuing a Creation Order which would, if completed, give them the legal right to compulsory purchase the land needed.

The Secretary of State approved the Trail in 1995 when it had been expected that a bypass round Long Preston would be created. The Trail is now in use and North Yorkshire County Council has stated that due to the high density of traffic on the A65 that 170m section was “not viable from a safety perspective”. Even on the proposed alternative route there would have to be a dedicated crossing point on the A65 for horses and riders.

Ms Beardmore said that officers had been discussing alternative routes with landowners and farmers for five years but could not reach agreement. Edward Wilkinson told the Authority that the route officers had now decided upon would go through the main part of his farm and would have a bad impact upon the fields that he used at lambing and calving times as it would also attract a large number of dog walkers and cyclists.

He explained that there were health and safety issues relating to traversing fields where there were cows with young calves as well as the danger of ewes being disturbed and so miss-mothering their lambs.

He added: “One of the main concerns is from dog fouling. There are a number of diseases, particularly abortion in cattle and sheep which is directly linked to dog faeces.” At present there is no right of way across those fields.

Several members agreed with Richmondshire District councillor Carolyn Thornton-Berry that a similar warning system to that used on the A66 at the time of Appleby fair was a good option especially as it would also act as a traffic calming measure and so benefit local residents.

North Yorkshire County councillor Roger Harrison-Topham said he gave up on the recommendation for a Creation Order when Ms Beardmore stated that there was a “moral” obligation to do so because Natural England had spent £3.5 million on the Trail.

“If anybody goes and spends three and a half million pounds without being certain that they are going to be able to achieve their objectives they are idiots. And there is no obligation on us or anybody else to pull Natural England’s chestnuts out of the fire … and ruining Mr Wilkinson’s farm,” he commented.

Ian McPherson summed up the reservations of the majority of the members when he said: “It is obvious and absolutely clear that the safety of horses and riders must be of paramount importance (but) at this stage I am not convinced that the recommendation is the correct way forward.”

He described the suggested traffic calming measures as very positive and referred to Ms Beardmore’s report where it stated that it was difficult to demonstrate there was any danger to horse riders due to the (low) level of usage. “We just don’t seem to have enough information to leave ourselves open to a very long extended complex procedure which could result in a very significant monetary loss,” he stated.

New Local Plan –

The committee agreed that parts of the Authority’s proposed new Local Plan can now be used when considering planning applications.

Peter Stockton, the head of sustainable development, reported that, in line with present government policy, this could be done even though the plan had not yet been approved by a planning inspector. In his report he listed what could and could not be considered when planning officers were giving pre-application advice.

For instance some weight can be given to the more flexible approach which will allow the conversion of appropriate roadside barns for local occupancy. But it was not recommended that applicants should be offered the choice of local occupancy or paying a conservation levy so that a converted barn could be later sold on the open market as there had been significant objections to this.

Carl Lis, the Authority’s member champion for sustainable development, stated: “This report marks the end of formal representations and two years of consultation on the Authority’s local plan. Ours will be the first National Park Local Plan to be submitted to the government since national policy was overhauled in 2012.

“Our new policies contain additional flexibilities in important areas such as economy, farm and rural estate development, tourism as well as, of course, housing.”

He said that in creating such flexibilities and opportunities the Authority was taking some risks. He added: “This is the right time to do this. It sends out a clear message that the Authority is serious about pushing the sustainable development agenda forward rather than just waiting for planning applications to come in.

“There are still some areas where we have to be cautious as we have had some significant objections to our new policies,” he warned.

Recording meetings –

It wasn’t surprising that North Yorkshire County councillor John Blackie very strongly supported the recommendation that audio recordings should be made of planning and authority meetings.

He commented: “When people want to report me to the Standards Committee, they’ll know exactly what I did say rather than what they thought I said, or put words in my mouth.” He relied on ARC News Service recordings when he defended himself at a hearing of the YDNPA Standards Committee following a complaint against him.

All agreed to approve the amendments to the Standing Orders which included allowing microphone recording equipment to be installed. This will bring the Authority in line with the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014.  Mr McPherson and Jocelyn Manners-Armstrong asked that the recordings should be kept for longer than 12 months and this was accepted.

Upper Dales Area Partnership September 2015

October 03, 2015 By: Pip Land Category: ARC News Service No Comments →

An ARC News Service report on the meeting of the Upper Dales Area Partnership at the Dales Countryside Museum on September 23, 2015. There was a lengthy discussion about the Government’s proposal to extend the Right to Buy scheme to Housing Association tenants including references to a letter from Rishi Sunak MP. Also on the agenda:  an update concerning Reeth GP Medical Centre and other health facilities; the new Hawes youth club; the  Richmondshire Area Partnership Grant Scheme;  and highways issues including a road in danger of collapse at Thornton Rust. The meeting was chaired by Richmondshire District Council’s (RDC)  leader,  councillor Yvonne Peacock, as North Yorkshire County councillor John Blackie was ill.

Right to Buy –

The government’s intention to extend the Right to Buy to housing association tenants was a key issue at the meeting. Among the documents given to those attending was a letter from Cllr Peacock, in which she explained to Carperby cum Thoresby parish council why she and the rest of the Conservative group voted as they did at a RDC  full council meeting on a motion put forward by Cllr John Blackie requesting that communities of 2,000 and under should be exempt from this extension.

She said: “My Group and I took a different view on how the potential changes should be dealt with and did not support the more direct approach advocated in the Motion submitted by Cllr Blackie. “I intend, with the support of our local MP, Rishi Sunak, to meet with the Government’s Housing Minister .. to explain on behalf of Richmondshire and other rural communities in North Yorkshire, the types of housing issues that are worrying individuals living in our isolated rural areas.

“My aim is to encourage the Minister to make some concessions in any legislation brought forward that would assist our rural communities, but without moving away from the general principle of Right to Buy which I support.”

At the meeting she stated: “I am not like Cllr Blackie. I work behind the scenes, I work quietly and I try to get things done. And that is the way I intend to go forward.

“I am passionate about housing in my area. You need to remember that the aspirations of people are to buy their homes. If someone buys their home and lives in it they are more likely to stay.”

She said that one of the problems with Cllr Blackie’s motion was that it stated 2,000 and under whereas there were other district councils in North Yorkshire that believed the threshold should be 3,000.  North Yorkshire County and RDC councillor Stuart Parsons commented: “I am sure if you had come back regarding Cllr Blackie’s motion and asked to increase it to 3,000 he would have been quite happy to take that on.”

He explained that he and Cllr Blackie were very concerned about the knock on effect if young people and young families could not find affordable homes within their own rural communities and had to look for houses in urban areas. In Richmondshire the main area where house building was taking place he said was at Colburn. He warned that Colburn’s infrastructure couldn’t take any more.

“I am afraid that going to talk to the minister is not nearly enough especially when our own MP doesn’t appear to understand that one-to-one replacement is not happening,” Cllr Parsons added. He was referring to another letter which was circulated at the meeting:-

Letter from Rishi Sunak MP

Rishi Sunak MP had written that Cllr Peacock’s meeting with the Housing Minister, Brandon Lewis MP was a more effective way of ensuring the Government was aware of how aspects of the policy may affect Richmondshire.

He added:“Receipts from selling current property will help build replacement affordable homes on a one-for-one basis in the same area. This means the number of homes across all tenures will effectively double for each home sold, increasing national housing supply and creating a new affordable home for those in need from each sale.”

Pip Land said that the Association of Rural Communities supported the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority in its request that communities of 2,000 and under should be exempted.

She pointed out that in Aysgarth there had once been eight council houses. All had been sold under the earlier Right to Buy scheme with none being built to replace them.

She also read a note from Ian Cuthbert of Kettlewell who stated that if the first sale to the sitting tenant was affordable the second and subsequent sales could be at full market price. There was no requirement for any subsequent sale to be to a “local” as there was no system in place to monitor it.

RDC Cllr Richard Beal gave an illustration of how unjust the extension of the Right to Buy scheme would be for those who had bought “affordable” homes on a Housing Association site compared to those who were tenants. The difference in cost for such neighbours could be as much as £130,000 if tenants had the Right to Buy.

Cllr Peacock responded that at present the Government had provided no written details of its proposals. She asked that people should give her as much ammunition as possible for her meeting with the Housing Minister.

Health facilities – Dr Mike Brookes was congratulated by the meeting on the Reeth GP Medical Practice being rated as outstanding after its routine inspection by the Care Quality Commission earlier this year. He said this was the first practice in North Yorkshire to be rated that way and the only single GP surgery in the country to achieve such a high assessment. He updated the Partnership on the various additional services that are provided by the medical practice.

Michelle Atkin of Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group explained how the CCG was seeking to have an ongoing conversation with local people so as to get their views on what was needed. She had attended agricultural shows this summer and was willing to attend other events. Cllr Peacock suggested visiting mothers and toddlers groups and other places where people gathered regularly.

Cllr Parsons advised that following the fiasco over the maternity and paediatric services at the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton the CCG should choose two small projects suggested by local people and make them work. That might help the CCG regain their trust. He pointed out that the CCG might have a problem with introducing telemedicine because many rural communities did not have sufficient broadband or terrestrial networks.

Burton cum Walden parish councillor Jane Ritchie reported that 10 local communities now had defibrillators and others were interested.

Youth projects – Richie Bastow of North Yorkshire Youth reported on the development of the new twice-monthly youth club at Hawes. This is led by Stella Dinsdale and attracts up to 35 young people from Hawes, Askrigg and Bainbridge. He thanked Hawes and High Abbotside parish council as well as local supporters and volunteers for helping to make this possible.

It was agreed that although there was a need for more youth activities in the Upper Dales the main problem was finding adult volunteers who were willing to oversee them. Mr Bastow was keen to see the YDNPA’s Young Rangers scheme extended to the Upper Dales.

Grants – One of the projects that will receive funding through the Richmondshire Area Partnership grant scheme this year is the new Hawes Youth Club. This will enable the club to provide free transport, using the Little White Bus and its volunteer drivers, to take members to attractions and recreational facilities in the region. The grant will also provide a subsidy to the admission prices.

The youth club along with nine other groups will receive just over £456 each. The projects include public toilet facilities at Marsett Methodist Chapel  and  replacement equipment for the Swaledale Scout group. Three smaller grants were approved: for a replacement cooker at Hudswell village hall; for a dog waste bin at Thornton Rust; and a noticeboard for Arkengarthdale parish council. Cllr Peacock said she expected this grant scheme to continue.

Bus service and highways – It was reported that there had been some complaints about the Little White Bus service especially as there were problems with keeping to the timetables and providing the on-demand service. The meeting was told that Cllr Blackie was trying to resolve these issues.

There were reports of some highways issues including the possible reluctance of North Yorkshire County Council’s highways departments to cut back branches hanging over roads. Aysgarth and District parish councillor David Pointon commented, very drily: “Thornton Rust has a problem with a road hanging over trees.”

He explained that a boulder from underneath the road had fallen down the scar leaving it in danger of collapse.  As yet the highways department had not done anything, even though traffic is diverted through Thornton Rust when the A684 is flooded. But at least measuring posts have been installed on the A684 west of Aysgarth so that drivers will be able to see how deep any flood water is.

Next meeting – this will not be until March 2016, unless there is any further information about the proposed extension to the Right to Buy scheme which members wish to discuss.

YDNPA – June 2015

July 07, 2015 By: Pip Land Category: ARC News Service No Comments →

An ARC News Service report of the AGM of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s (YDNPA) AGM on June 30, 2015.  The issues discussed included: the YDNPA’s new Local Plan and Upper Wharfedale bus services.

Local Plan

The Authority is taking risks with its proposed new Local Plan, Craven District councillor Carl Lis said. He is the member champion for sustainable development.

“We need to accept the experimentation and the risks that go along with this new policy,” he told the Authority members. “There is a wider housing mix, more visitor accommodation, more land for employment and the roll out of barn conversion beyond settlements. There’s a lot more policy flexibility to permit development and to support the economy – yet there’s a continuance of conservation policies to maintain environmental quality, to keep design standards high and to protect the Park’s special qualities,” he explained.

Harold Brown responded: “People are waiting with bated breath about our barn conversion policy. We know from the policy forum there are about three options: let them fall down into a heap of rubble; salvage them to keep others up; or do some conversion hopefully for young people who are just starting.”

“It’s bit of an unknown – bit of a risk,” commented Peter Stockton, YDNPA’s head of sustainable development.

He told the meeting that it was proposed in the new Local Plan traditional barns that directly adjoined a road or were close to it could be converted as long as there were not any significant historical features and they were large enough for the use intended without any extensions. In addition landowners will be offered a choice between local occupancy or paying 50 per cent of the uplift in value if the newly converted barn was sold on the open market. That “conservation levy” (commuted sum)  would be put in a fund by the YDNPA which would be go towards the cost of repairing and maintaining landmark field barns which can’t be converted to other uses.

Mr Stockton added: “This plan is responding to the national growth agenda. It’s a much more positive than the (2006) plan. It is responding to some of the demographic and economic challenges that we face.”

When asked what the Authority could do if it was found that the policies were not achieving the National Park’s objectives he said that selective changes could be made to the Local Plan later subject to consultation.

Richmondshire District councillors Yvonne Peacock and Johan Blackie were among those who welcomed the new policy on barn conversions as a way of helping local people obtain a home near their families.

Linton Camp

Andrew Colley, who is a Grassington parish councillor, told Mr Stockton that he felt that the proposals regarding Linton Camp were too restrictive. This is because in the new Local Plan the Authority will only allow the replacement of the existing buildings.

Mr Stockton explained: “We don’t consider the whole of that site to be suitable for development and we would expect a large green area to be left. This is because we are aware of surface water issues and there is a significant archaeological restraint.”

For these reasons, he said, the Authority was looking the development of the sites on which there were buildings already, rather than comprehensive coverage of the camp. “We probably are being too prescriptive here,” he added.

“I just feel there isn’t enough wriggle room,” commented Mr Colley.

Housing densities

He also queried the increased density of houses to be allowed on allocated development sites.

Mr Stockton replied that the Welfare Reform Act had led to far less flexibility for bedroom space in affordable housing and a greater demand for one or two bedroom houses. Smaller units led to higher densities he said. The time for the community to debate this would be when a planning application was made for a housing development. He asked that any layout should be judged on how it worked on site rather than on the density of housing.

He also  explained that building regulations had been greatly improved to ensure that new houses were built according to high energy conservation standards. It was no longer necessary, he said, for the Authority to specify those standards.

Quarrying

Craven District Council councillor David Ireton asked what could be done to ensure that more quarry products were transported by rail rather than by road, to lessen the environmental impact.

In response Mr Stockton said: “We will continue to work positively with the quarry companies and look at extensions in time and depth (to see) where we can get substantive environmental benefits. Arguably the most substantial environmental benefit in Ribblesdale is transferring more quarry products onto rail. That is already in this policy ….  (but) we can’t require them to do that if they have the benefit of a legitimate planning permission without (paying) substantial compensation.”

North Yorkshire County councillor Richard Welch stated: “It’s all very nice to say put everything on a train. What you’ve got to realise is that it’s got to get off at the other end. Unless there are facilities to take it off there is no incentive to put it on a train.”

He explained that a lot of the crushed rock was being used on new housing estates and roads and the shortest route from a quarry to such sites was usually by wagon.  “If you put it on a train but have to move it by road at the other end it’s a pointless exercise,” he added.

Hawes

Cllr Blackie raised three concerns including retaining the possibility of having a swimming pool in Hawes.

He mentioned the scare that the Environment Agency had placed over Hawes by describing all of the town centre as under a 100-year flood risk. The last flood there was in 1870, he said. He was worried that this “flood risk” would have an impact on any proposals to extend the business park which was now at full capacity.

And he was concerned that existing business parks like that at Hawes should not be included in the proposal to allow more live-work units. “I would hate to see Hawes business park spattered with live-work units,” he said.

Publication of the new Local Plan

The committee agreed that the new Local Plan could be published at the end of July. Formal representations and objections to the Local Plan can be made during following seven weeks following publication and before it is submitted to the Planning Inspectorate for examination. The new Local Plan can be viewed at the YDNPA offices at Grassington and Bainbridge.

As affordable housing is such an important part of the new Local Plan Mr Charlesworth agreed that the issue of extending the Right to Buy scheme could be discussed. See Right to buy and rural communities.

Upper Wharfedale Bus Services

A regular bus service is vitally important to maintaining communities in Upper Wharfedale Mr Charlesworth stated.

He was replying to a request by Veronica Boulton for the YDNPA to respond to North Yorkshire County Council’s consultation on the future of bus services in Wharfedale. Ms Boulton is a member of Friends of DalesBus.

She told the meeting that the county council was proposing to reduce the regular bus service and have only a demand responsive service in Upper Wharfedale.

Mr Charlesworth replied: “Maintaining vital communities is fundamental to the achievement of the statutory purposes of the National Park. Our Management Plan makes it clear that we and our partners want the National Park to be home to strong self-reliant and balanced communities with good access to the services that they need. Equally important is that we want it to be a friendly, open and welcoming place with outstanding opportunities to enjoy its special qualities. Neither of these ambitions can be achieved without public transport and community transport schemes.

“So on the face of it the proposal from the county council puts these objectives in considerable doubt. We will certainly raise these concerns with the county council both personally and through the Authority.”

He added that he would also raise the subject with Rory Stewart MP, the Defra minister with responsibility for National Parks.

Cllr Blackie reported that he had been contacted by Craven District councillor Chris Clark about the community Little White bus service in Wensleydale, Swaledale and Arkengarthdale of which he is the managing director. This, he said, now has seven buses, 35 volunteer drivers and five part-time staff. This provides both regular and on-demand bus services as the former had been found to be so necessary both for local residents and visitors.

Right to buy and rural communities

July 07, 2015 By: Pip Land Category: ARC News Service No Comments →

At the AGM of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) members agreed with North Yorkshire County councillor John Blackie that the Authority should lobby the Government to exclude rural communities with less than 2,000 residents from the proposal to extend the Right to Buy scheme to include housing association tenants. The proposed changes to the housing policy would also mean that local authorities would have to sell off their most valuable council houses when they become vacant. The Authority chairman, Peter Charlesworth, intends to discuss these important issues with other national park authorities and National Parks England with a view  to jointly lobbying the Government.

ARC News Service: “We have fought tooth and nail over the past years to build some affordable houses. But now we face having the rug pulled from underneath our feet for what we have created already,” Craven District councillor Carl Lis told the meeting.

He and the majority of the members supported Cllr Blackie’s call for the YDNPA to lobby the Government for communities with under 2,000 residents to be exempt from any extension to the Right to Buy scheme.

“It has to change,” continued Cllr Lis, and called for the government to take into account the different needs of rural communities.

Mr Charlesworth allowed Cllr Blackie’s proposal to be discussed because, he said, housing was such a fundamental part of the new Local Plan. For the full statement that Cllr Blackie sent to members before the meeting see below.

During the debate he reminded them of the struggles they had had to get affordable housing built in Askrigg and Hawes, and that these were in desirable places to live.  He added: “If anybody thinks that when these houses are sold off they will be replaced by a similar stock of houses for renting for perpetuity –  I’m sorry that is just wishful thinking.

“I believe the Government needs to be told of the concerns of the National Parks and of (other) rural communities and councils that this policy will actually put a question mark over the future viability of small communities … to retain our resident population, our young people and our  young families.

“I hate to see the best intentions (of the new Local Plan) undermined by a Government policy of one size fits all.”

North Yorks County councillor John Ritchie felt that the proposal to lobby the government should be made even stronger and South Lakeland District councillor Brenda Gray argued:

“I believe no council houses or social housing that has been built with public money should be sold as long as there is a waiting list. In South Lakeland we have a waiting list that is equivalent to the number of houses that have been sold off over the years and it isn’t reducing.”

Jocelyn Armstrong-Manners supported the concept of lobbying but felt that the figure of 2,000 residents was arbitrary and that some sort of proportionately should be built into any exemption formula.

Cllr Blackie’s statement on the Right to Buy in rural areas

Under threat – The future of all the rural communities in Richmondshire and the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

The Government’s new policies on social and affordable housing are threatening the very future of deeply rural and rural communities in Richmondshire including all those in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. The continued viability of these communities and whether they remain vibrant and forward-looking is in peril of being removed altogether by the momentous impact of three Government-led initiatives.

1) The raising of the thresholds of affordable housing that developers of housing used to provide when building new open market houses. There is now no need to make provision, either by building affordable houses for rent or shared ownership, or contributing a commuted sum into a fund to facilitate this on sites of five houses or less.

The issue is that in deeply rural areas of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, and rural areas in the more remote parts of Richmondshire, there are very, very few sites available that can accommodate five new houses, as most are plots for just one, two or three houses. In the past these would have yielded an affordable house or two, or a contribution into the commuted sum fund, but there is now no longer a requirement to make this provision or contribution.

And should a larger site become available developers are likely to be imaginative in avoiding the affordable housing provision by only developing part of the site, or splitting the site between owners so each will individually be below the trigger level.

2) The proposal that local Councils that are still housing authorities will have to sell off their most valuable Council houses when they become vacant.

Inevitably the small number of Council houses that remain in the Yorkshire Dales National Park or the attractive villages in rural Richmondshire beyond the Park will have the highest book value of all the houses amongst the stock owned by Richmondshire District Council.

These houses have been available for rent since they were built in the 1950’s to 1970’s and have continued to be so for the last 30+ years of having the Right to Buy them available to their occupants. In many cases they are the last remaining Council house or two in a small rural community, and as such they are the equivalent of the family silver of the Richmondshire District Council housing stock list, and they will have to be sold off once they become vacant.

The idea that they will be replaced by new houses for social rent in the same small community is so much moonshine. The official statistics tell their own story of one-way-traffic.

3) The proposal to allow Housing Association tenants the Right to Buy their houses at huge discounts will spell doom and disaster for deeply rural and rural communities in Richmondshire, as inevitably the take up will be very significant indeed.

This rush for purchase by their current occupants, or as likely their close relatives providing the necessary finance, is fully understandable and I lay no blame at their door whatsoever. After all why would they look a Government Gift Horse in the mouth, especially considering the attractiveness of the communities in which their houses are situated and the price they will be able to buy them at.

However at a stroke it will take away the capacity for these deeply rural and rural communities to accommodate the churn in tenants facilitated by having a stock of houses for rent in perpetuity in their midst, that necessarily needs to be available to maintain a viable, vibrant, sustainable community in the future.

The churn accommodates local young couples starting out, local young families moving along through their life, key workers in your local public services or economy coming or going, those experiencing a break-up in their relationship, even those downsizing to allow others to access their larger family accommodation.

For example, since they were first built in 1994, a development of 11 housing association properties in Hawes has seen some 33 new tenants, including the 11 tenants that first moved into the new houses 21 years ago.

The suggestion from the Government that there will be a one-for-one replacement is simply wishful thinking. In the Greater Manchester area, 830 Council houses have been sold in the last 3 years under a rejuvenated Right to Buy initiative with much higher discounts, of which only 10 have so far been replaced with new affordable houses for rent financed by these sales.

Given this telling statistic what chance I ask has Hawes to replace its existing 21 housing association properties with new properties when they are sold off ?? None whatsoever, I suggest.

The last batch of 10 housing association properties built in 2007 in Hawes opposite the Wensleydale Creamery took 8 years to get built and this at a time when Government funding for Housing Associations developments in rural areas was reasonably freely available. It took a visit I arranged with the then Chief Executive of the Countryside Agency to break the logjam and access the national housing funding pot.

This Government funding has now dried up completely. The fact is that once the Housing Association properties are sold off there will be no more coming to take their place in the deeply rural and rural areas in Richmondshire.

Last November the Rural Summit I organised as the Leader of Richmondshire District Council examined the exodus of young people and young families from the Upper Dales and concluded a key factor was the lack of affordable housing in its small communities. In Swaledale for example the number of children attending its two primary schools has dropped from 95 youngsters to 45 in the last 15 years, a reduction of more than 50%.

This situation will be made much worse if the nine housing association properties in Reeth and the small handful of Council houses remaining there are sold off without replacement.

Unless you have young people and young families in your midst, there is no bright future ahead for your local community in these deeply rural communities. The schools, shops and services gradually all close down as the footfall of the young at their door disappears, and soon before your very eyes, the infrastructure within these communities comes close to collapse.

I believe there is a desperate need to avoid this collapse by the new Government legislation yet to be tabled on the Right to Buy of Housing Association properties and the sell off of the highest value Council houses making an exemption of these new initiatives applying in communities of 2000 population or less. This would preserve the stock of houses to rent in perpetuity in all the deeply rural communities in the Yorkshire Dales National Park and most of the rural communities in Richmondshire, and give them a future to look forward to.

At the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority meeting tomorrow (Tuesday 30th June) a new Local Plan is to be approved which in part is aimed at increasing the supply of local housing, including affordable housing for local people, in the communities in the Dales.

As the impact of the new Government initiatives in housing will prove directly opposed to this worthy intention, I intend to ask the Authority to support a proposal for it to join with all the other National Parks in England, where the issues are exactly the same as in the Yorkshire Dales, and lobby the Government to allow an exemption to its new Right to Buy of Housing Association properties and sell off of high value Council houses, for communities of 2000 or less in population.

At the Richmondshire District Council meeting in July I will be tabling a similar motion, but as it is a political Authority I will be calling upon the newly elected MP for Richmond (Yorks), Rishi Sunak MP, to take our concerns to the highest level in the Government.

There will be many urban communities and cities in England that will welcome the new Government initiatives in housing as giving their local residents the chance to step onto the housing ladder as a member of the property owning democracy. However if they are to be adopted wholesale across the country as a one-size-fits-all initiative they will spell doom and disaster for our deeply rural and rural communities in Richmondshire as the stock of affordable houses for rent are sold off with no hope of seeing them replaced quickly or at all to provide these communities with the viable and vibrant future they so richly deserve.

 

He provided statistics from the 2011 census which showed that for all of England the percentage of social rented (Council houses) was 8 per cent and for social rented (predominantly Housing Association properties) it was 10 per cent. This compared with the following statistics from the 2011 census for the Yorkshire Dales National Park: Social rented (local council houses) – 2.8 per cent; social rented (Housing Association properties) – 3.9 per cent; and shared ownership (Housing Association properties) – 0.6 per cent.

He commented: “These figures hardly suggest that the exemption I am proposing would lead to a revolution amongst local residents, or does it suggest a need to boost the provision of market housing in the Yorkshire Dales.”

YDNPA – Authority meeting March 2015

April 07, 2015 By: Pip Land Category: ARC News Service 1 Comment →

An ARC News Service  report on the full Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) meeting on March 31. The main agenda items were on  how the Authority could generate sufficient income to offset the heavy cuts in its core grant from the government including the introduction of  a 20p charge to use the public toilets at the YDNPA’s car park in Grassington, and the possibility of having a cafe at the Dales Countryside Museum in Hawes.  Other issues discussed included the newly-formed Destination Dales Group,  and if the Yorkshire Dales Society  should be consulted on all planning applications.

As at the YDNPA planning committee on March  10 a one minute’s silence was held in memory of John Roberts who died suddenly on March 8. The chairman of the Authority, Peter Charlesworth, in his tribute stated: “He was a very much valued member and made an immense contribution to the National Park. He gave respect to all of us and he was respected. He was a very popular member.”

A matter of survival?

The YDNPA must undergo a major organisational and cultural change if it is to survive the drastic cuts in its government grants, the chief executive, David Butterworth, told members.

He reported that its core grant been reduced by 40 per cent in real terms since 2010 which was a higher cut than any imposed upon local authorities. He stated: “We are now in a position where we either: cut our objectives and work programmes in line with the new financial realities; or, we change the way we operate – putting a greater emphasis on finding and using other (‘external’) sources of funding to deliver our objectives.”

He asked all those involved with the Authority – its staff, members and volunteers – to be involved in this. And he stated: “Securing ‘unrestricted’ income (as opposed to income that can only be spent on specific activity) is going to be increasingly important as our core grant shrinks.“

Projects that deliver our objectives and contribute to supporting our existing staff costs and running costs will be increasingly important to our survival. This reality is part of the cultural shift that has to take place in the Authority.”

Transitional budget

That reality was clearly outlined by Richard Burnett, the director of corporate services, when presenting what he described as the transitional budget for 2015/16. Following the cuts in the Authority’s core grant it had been estimated that the deficit for this year would be £125,000. This had been resolved by the Authority having put aside a reserve from unbudgeted savings and by generating income through introducing new charges.

But there was always the likelihood of additional cuts and it could become increasingly difficult for the Authority to balance the books. If there are significant grant cuts in the next few years the Authority may have to reduce its staff numbers by 24 per cent.

One impact of these financial restraints is that the publication of the new Local Plan has been put back until Spring 2016. This also allows for a selective review of the plan to find ways to increase the provision of new housing in the Dales.

Both he and Mr Butterworth said that the budget would be reviewed later this year when the following were known: how successful the Authority has been in generating more income; the attitude of the new government towards National Parks; and if a decision has been made concerning the proposed boundary extensions.

That 38 degrees petition

When presenting the draft of the Authority’s fund raising strategy Mr Butterworth stated that the only agenda the civil servants in Defra had now was how to make cuts.

He added: “The only time the civil servants and ministers take any notice is when they think they might be threatened or embarrassed. So the recent 38 degrees petition – with 200,000 calling for no more cuts for National Park Authorities – caused some ructions. They sat up and took notice of that.”

The Authority’s fundraising strategy, he said,  included seeking to secure grants from such agencies as the Heritage Lottery Fund and Local Enterprise Partnership, and charging for services and trading activity. The Authority is trialling an eBay shop for online sales as well as considering a café franchise at the Dales Countryside Museum (see below).

Income generation

Judith Donovan said that it should be called an income generating strategy as fund raising implied charitable purposes. Even sponsorship, she explained, should be listed as commercial and not charitable. “We need to actively go out and aggressively pursue some of these,” she added.

Mr Butterworth warned that the Authority owned very little land compared to some other National Parks. And the value of the land might be insignificant compared to the cost of the consultation process and marketing it.

Each year some of that land would be sold so as to save the high cost of staff managing those assets, he added. “I’m calling them assets but that’s really pushing it,” he commented. The Authority would prefer to find like-minded groups which would take on those pieces of land. If that was not possible they would be sold on the open market.

Public toilets at Grassington

The members agreed that turnstiles should be installed at the public toilets in the National Park’s car park at Grassington and that there would be a 20p charge to enter them.  This will be part o f a two-year trial to find the best way to bring in some income which will help with the maintenance of the ten public toilets owned by the YDNPA.

As part of that trial a donation box will be installed at those beside the information centre at Aysgarth Falls to see which method brings in the most funds.

It will cost £9,000 to install the turnstiles at Grassington public toilets which may take two years to recoup as it is expected that the usage of those facilities will drop by 50 per cent once charges are introduced. The installation of an honesty box at Aysgarth Falls will cost £500.

Mr Butterworth told the meeting that the government cuts since 2011 had left the Authority in a difficult position. Some programmes had ended and others had been substantially reduced.

It was likely there will be further cuts and so the Authority had to find new income streams to maintain existing services. Without the additional income it was likely that several public toilets would be closed, he said.

Of the turnstile system he commented: “If this can’t work at Grassington it can’t work anywhere.”

The leader of Richmondshire District Council (RDC), councillor John Blackie agreed with him. He reported that the RDC might well have to introduce charges at the seven public toilets that it owns in the National Park. “It is very expensive to maintain public toilets,” he said.

In her report the Kathryn Beardmore, director of park services, stated: “Anything that could be perceived to put Grassington businesses at a disadvantage or cause problems for the local community will, understandably, not go down well.

“However, it is suggested that charging is undertaken on a trial basis, and part of the trial will be to assess the overall impact on the village and the local community. It is suggested that this be done in conjunction with Grassington parish council.”

Cafe at the Dales Countryside Museum

It was agreed that the business community and the parish council at Hawes should be consulted about establishing a café franchise at the Dales Countryside Museum (DCM).

Ms Beardmore outlined this income-generating project to the committee and added that they could not be sure anyone would apply for a café franchise at the museum. “If nobody wants to run it – it falls by the wayside,” she said.

Cllr Blackie reminded the committee of the negative response from the Hawes business community when such an idea was put forward in 2008. “The concern then and will be now (is) that if we are not careful in Hawes we will end up with a town with two ends and no centre in terms of the private business economy.” Visitors, he said might drive to the Wensleydale Creamery and the museum and not bother to walk into town.

Mrs Donovan commented: “It’s very important that we do share with the local business community our plans for development.

“When I first joined the Authority I was asked to do a consultant’s report on the DCM which at the time was turning in some pretty appalling numbers. Only about one in ten people who walked into that building was actually paying money to visit it and therefore we had a very under-exploited asset.”

The Authority had invested in developing the museum since then and was now showing an increase in visitors, she said, but it was not yet providing the range of facilities it was supposed to do as a museum.

Mrs Donovan told the meeting: “Success breeds success – the more facilities we can offer visitors the more visitors will come and the longer they will stay. This will benefit all the businesses in Hawes.”

She explained that the key part of the DCM’s revenue comes from business to business – meetings, conferences and events. But one business had recently cancelled two bookings at the DCM because of the lack of food facilities.

“This is not about one café in Hawes making money at the expense of another. This is about people taking their business to another location,” she said.

Mining Collection

The DCM manager, Fiona Rosher, told the meeting that the Yorkshire Dales Mining Museum (YDMM) at Earby had offered them that part of its collection which relates to the Yorkshire Dales.

The YDMM, which will close this summer, has over the past 50 years put together an extensive collection of materials relating to mining in the Dales between 1750 and 1910.

Julie Martin, the YDNPA member champion for cultural heritage, agreed with Mrs Rosher that part of such a collection would be a great asset to the DCM. She said: “The collection pertains to one of the most distinctive aspects of the dales landscape, its culture and its natural heritage and I believe there are no other similar collections.”

It was agreed that the offer should be accepted along with any assistance towards the cost of integrating the collection into that at the DCM. Grants will also be sought.

Andrew Colley asked if the collection could later go on tour to Hebden and Grassington as both these towns had had significant mining industries.

Charitable status for the Dales Countryside Museum?

Cllr Blackie asked if the DCM could become a charitable trust as that could mean saving up to £38,000 a year. At present the DCM pays that much in business rates. If it was a charity this would be immediately reduced by 80 per cent and there was the possibility of the rates being dropped to zero per cent.

“We are going to be facing yet more cuts – it’s just how severe they are. One way of perhaps saving some vitally important money would be to see if we can make the DCM a charity,” he said.

Mr Butterworth replied that Ms Beardmore had been asked to research this and the committee would discuss it later in the year.

Destination Dales Group

Ms Beardmore presented a report on the creation of the Destination Dales Group (DDG) in February which has replaced the Dales Tourism Partnership.

The  DDG is an advisory body of organisations and tourism businesses in the Yorkshire Dales and Nidderdale who will work collaboratively to help guide the development of tourism in the Dales.

It is chaired by Mrs Donovan who is the Authority’s member champion for promoting understanding. The Authority provides the secretariat for the group with the help of the Nidderdale Area of Natural Beauty.

Mrs Donovan said: “This recognises that the majority of businesses in the National Park are small businesses. What they need more than anything is business and marketing advice to sell themselves.

“It is not our job to market the Dales to consumers and businesses. It is our job to support businesses in the Park who are themselves selling to businesses and we want to help them do it better. “

Yorkshire Dales Society

North Yorkshire County councillor Richard Welch told the meeting that according to the latest Yorkshire Dales Review the Yorkshire Dales Society (YDS) was now on the list of consultees for all planning applications submitted to the YDNPA.  He commented:

“With all due respect this (Society)  is self-appointed, self-opinionated and unaccountable to anybody. It’s a lobby group.” He asked if it was fair for this Society to be consulted on all planning applications.

Mr Butterworth responded that it was fair and right that any individual or any organisation who wanted to comment on any application could do so, even if it was a lobby group. “We want to be open and transparent and we should be open to scrutiny and challenge.”

Cllr Welch replied: “I fully agree about openness and transparency but they are blatantly, in their magazine, saying they are consultees. That puts them on a par with parish councils, the Highways Authority, and others. This gives the impression of superiority and that they are consulted on everything.”

Chris Armitage, who is a member of the YDS, responded that there was no suggestion that the Society was on the statutory consultee list alongside the parish councils and the Highways Authority.

Peter Charlesworth, the chairman of the Authority, said: “We will look to see if there is a list in the planning department of those who are consulted – a “secret” list – and we will make it un-secret.”

Ian MacPherson asked that the results of the inquiry be made known to all the members.

YDNPA – planning committee March 2015 (West Witton)

March 12, 2015 By: Pip Land Category: ARC News Service 3 Comments →

An ARC News Service report of the discussion at the planning committee of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) on March 10, 2015 concerning the provision by Airwave Solutions of superfast broadband to West Witton  and the subsequent placing of  tree preservation orders on the two trees at the Fox and Hounds. For other reports from the March meeting see February to December 2015.

 

ydnpa_office

So yet again the YDNPA offices at Bainbridge, where the planning meetings are held, are being quoted as an example of “do as we say” rather than “do as we do”.

The West Witton residents who attended the planning meeting were delighted when a compromise agreement was reached to allow a national pilot scheme for superfast broadband to go ahead in their village. They were especially pleased that the chairman of the Authority, Peter Charlesworth, fully supported the scheme.

But within days their delight turned to anger and dismay because the Authority issued those tree preservation orders which would probably have made it impossible for the scheme to be launched by April. They asked how the Authority can say it wishes to support the provision of modern communications systems in the Yorkshire Dales and yet make it so difficult to achieve.

On March 16  North Yorkshire County councillor John Blackie sent an email to the YDNPA at 9.36am  asking for an explanation. And West Witton parish councillor John Loader then sent a comment with the good news that agreement has been reached over work on those trees. He added: “Am checking site for crested newts, dormice and giraffes just in case another bit of the Park puts its oar in.”

It had been hoped that the aerial masts would be in place by the end of March but on the 27th Mr Loader reported that Galloway Estates who are managing the installation had hit a couple of administrative problems with two sites. It hoped to start work using early access agreements whilst the paperwork was dealt with. The aim is to have all the sites up and ready to run in three weeks – that is by mid April.

Report of the discussion at the planning meeting:

The ‘tourist dance’ will soon be a past memory in West Witton in Wensleydale thanks to the planning committee approving plans for four masts to be erected by Airwave Solutions as part of a nationwide pilot project to bring superfast broadband to rural areas.

West Witton parish councillor Mr Loader told the committee that mobile phone companies were now offering free apps which enable users to connect with networks when they are in a WiFi zone. He explained that the masts would create such a zone – a WiFi cloud. “That means the end of the tourist dance where people walk up and down the road – even climbing on walls,” he said.

Both he and Richmondshire District councillor, Matthew Wilkes, were surprised at the number of residents who had attended a meeting in West Witton to discuss the scheme proposed by Airwave Solutions. “It was called by the people proposing this because they were worried that the village was going to object. There was not one objection.”

He added that they were very proud to be part of such a pilot scheme and totally supported it. “This is vital for the village as it’s going to serve well over 100 properties. That includes some of our hospitality businesses. The internet is (now) viewed as a utility.”

Cllr Wilkes said that keeping up with modern technology was vital in rural areas and was one way of stopping the exodus of young people and families. He knew of Dales-based businesses which had already seen a dramatic increase in growth since superfast broadband had become available in their area.

To which Cllr Blackie added: “Some of the communities I represent in Upper Swaledale don’t even get terrestrial TV or radio – they’ve been left behind by modern day communications. There’s no broadband, no mobile telephone (network) – until recently they had party lines.

“It’s very difficult if you can’t make internet connection,” he said pointing out that farmers needed it to record the movement of livestock and even primary school children used it to do their homework. “We must ensure in future that when we have new technologies like broadband we don’t leave communities behind.”

Peter Charlesworth commented that since becoming chairman of the Authority he had visited many parish councils and had assured them that the YDNPA was committed to bringing high speed broadband to the communities in the Dales.

“As was said at the Rural Summit organised by Cllr Blackie last year, we are desperate to keep employment, to bring employment to our communities, to keep them alive and above all to keep young people and families in the Dales. This is one of the most important ways we can support them. Obviously we have to balance it with the landscape – but here the benefits should clearly take precedence,” he told the meeting.

Originally the planning officer had recommended refusing permission for two of the masts – that in the Fox and Hounds car park and the other at the playing field – because they could have a negative impact upon the landscape. But for those two Airwave Solutions had changed their applications from permanent installations to temporary.

The planning officer commented: “Taking a pragmatic view this would seem reasonable given that this is a pilot project and would allow the authority to assess the impact of the masts through the changing seasons and allow sufficient time to enter into a dialogue with the applicants to discuss alternative solutions and designs if it was considered that the masts were harmful.”

He had been particularly concerned about the impact of the 13m slimline mast with its four antennae and two dishes would have on the Fox and Hounds which is a Grade II listed building, and that it would be visible from the A684. Cllr Loader, however, argued that it would be very little higher than the tree it would be positioned close to, and that the entrance to the car park was so narrow that most people would not see it from the road.

Cllr Blackie commented: “I see that wiser council has prevailed and we can move forward on a sensible compromise.” He explained that the pilot project was necessary because the cost of bringing superfast broadband to villages and towns which did not have cabinets that could be upgraded was proving to be so expensive.

In his report the planning officer noted that as the government’s target of 90 per cent superfast broadband coverage in North Yorkshire had already been achieved there were no plans for further BT administered fibre-optic links to be provided.

The scheme at West Witton is part of one of the eight national pilot projects being funded by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport with the objective of finding out which was the most cost-effective.

All four masts at West Witton are required for the project to work. That at Penhill Farm at the top of the Stoops will receive the signal from Leyburn telephone exchange and will transmit it to those at the Fox and Hounds and the playing fields. The signal from the mast at the Fox and Hounds will be relayed to that at Wynbury Stables. It is also hoped to serve 40 households at Preston under Scar from the mast at Penhill Farm.

Airwave Solutions plan to run this trial in West Witton for 12 months.

The following reason was given for issuing the tree preservation orders:

The Authority has made the order for the following reasons: the planning application has been approved by the Authority to install superfast broadband mast within the car parking area to the rear of the Fox and Hounds public house.

The proposal is to install the mast in close proximity to two mature trees, one ash and one sycamore. At a pre-application meeting the developers proposed that the sycamore could be removed to facilitate the installation of the mast. The senior planning officer present was concerned that the removal of the tree was unnecessary and that it should be retained.

On inspection of both of the trees they appeared to be in good health with no obvious of poor  health or structural defect. The trees are situated in a prominent location and are visible from the main street and neighbouring properties and a nearby public way/right of way and it is considered that they make a significant contribution to the amenity of the surrounding area. They also screen where the new mast will be located if planning permission is to be given.

Cllr Blackie’s email to the YDNPA at 9.36am on Monday, March 16:

Having been Community Hero for one day on the issue of Superfast Broadband for West Witton, the YDNPA turned into Community villain the very next day by serving a tree preservation order that will stand in the way of progress being made quickly to deliver the pilot SFNY service.

This is not the favourable community outcome painted in and promised by the press release the Authority issued.   As the member who seconded the Officer’s recommendation for all 4 masts in West Witton I wonder if you could tell me please what is going on ??

I will be knocking on doors in West Witton in my Election Campaign (he is standing as an independent parliamentary candidate for Richmondshire), and householders will understandably want to know from me about a YDNPA that has a public persona of going the extra mile to help the local community and a private stance of doing its absolute best to put obstacles in its way.

Duplicitous (or worse, dishonest) are the words those from West Witton who have contacted me have said about the YDNPA and the imposition of the TPO.

At 10am he received a response from the YDNPA chief executive, David Butterworth – hence, he said, the full steam ahead email to Mr Loader.

Below is part of the press release issued by the YDNPA immediately after the masts at West Witton were discussed at the planning meeting. I can’t help feeling that it is a shame that neither Chris Armitage nor the press officer were told about that steps taken to impose the tree preservation orders!

Chris Armitage, the Authority’s planning committee deputy chairman and Member Champion for Development Management, said: “As part of looking after this special place, the YDNPA also has a duty to seek to foster the well-being of our local communities.

“In the National Park Management Plan we and our local partners made specific commitments to improve access to broadband as part of our efforts to try to keep the area special, while helping it to thrive. We believe it is crucial that local businesses and households should have decent broadband access – with superfast broadband in place for areas with significant population.

“The National Park is a sensitive environment. We have been working very closely with Airwave to make this positive planning decision possible.  We look forward to working with Airwave to assess the outcome of this pilot and, hopefully, to being able to add more areas to the broadband access list in the near future.”

A spokesman for Airwave said: “Over the last six months, Airwave has worked closely with the National Park Authority, the parish council and local residents to identify an innovative approach to providing superfast broadband in West Witton and the Esk Valley, and we can now begin the work needed to deliver a trial.

“Our experience in providing a resilient and dedicated emergency services network – covering 99 per cent of Great Britain’s landmass including remote and rural areas – means that we have the knowledge and skills needed to help address the challenges faced by rural communities like West Witton.”

 

 

Upper Dales Area Partnership – January 2015

January 27, 2015 By: Pip Land Category: ARC News Service No Comments →

An ARC News Service  report of the Upper Dales Area Partnership  (UDAP) meeting held at the Dales Countryside Museum in Hawes on January 21, chaired by the leader of Richmondshire District Council (RDC), councillor John Blackie,  and attended by Tony Clark, managing director of the RDC; Callum McKeon,  RDC corporate director and solicitor; and David Butterworth, chief executive of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA).  The issues discussed were: austerity and financial cutbacks; post 16 bus passes; affordable housing; paediatric unit at the Friarage Hospital, Northallerton; out of hours doctors service at Catterick Garrison; community defibrillators;  superfast broadband;  and emergency highway repairs.

 

Austerity warning

The country is going to face even worse austerity cutbacks in the next four years warned Tony Clark. He expected that  the “huge amount” of £1 million would be taken out of the RDC budget in that time.

He told the meeting: “We are going to see unprecedented reductions in public expenditure  – whatever party is in power after the general election.”

Callum McKeon said that the RDC was trying not to cut services but to deal with the shortfall by carrying out internal restructuring and by looking for new ways of generating income.  “We are working on a five year rolling process and the area partnerships will be a key way of our getting those messages across about the issues we are facing and the problems,” he added.

David Butterworth reported that as most of the Defra budget was not protected the YDNPA had been told to expect additional cuts of up to 50 per cent from 2015 until 2020. The YDNPA budget was reduced by 43 per cent from 2010 to 2015 and this led to 40 members of staff being made redundant in 2011.

The Authority was taking on projects which fulfilled the National Park purposes such as being responsible for the Pennine Bridleway.  This he said stretched from Derbyshire to Scotland and involved 14 local authorities who will pay the YDNPA to carry out the work.

At the Rural Summit held in Leyburn in November it was agreed that the RDC and the YDNPA must work in partnership to tackle problems during such a period of austerity.

Mr McKeon described how they were doing this concerning the future use of the Weatherald site at the old Askrigg railway station. The RDC has given £30,000 to fund a detailed study and development plan for the site.

Cllr Blackie commented: “One of the points that came out of the Rural Summit was that the old days of expecting people to do it for you – organisations to do it for you -have gone. If you are going to keep your communities vibrant you can’t expect someone else to do it for you.”

But he did not feel it was right to expect volunteers to do all the work. The local authorities had to meet communities half way by providing subsidies and resources.

The Rural Summit was a work in progress he  said and there would be a high level meeting soon between the RDC and the YDNPA to cement the working relationships between the two.

Post 16 bus passes

The high cost of an annual bus pass for Post 16 students attending the Wensleydale School is a tax on education and rurality, Carperby-cum-Thoresby parish councillor Steve Sheldon told the meeting.

All were amazed to hear that Post 16 students from Hawes were not allowed to get onto the school bus if they did not have a bus pass which now cost their parents £550 a year.

“My son said he would leave school and go to work because I couldn’t afford it,” said Diane Raw. She had, however, insisted that she would find the money.  She and the other parents who attended the meeting were especially aggrieved that the school bus always had empty seats.

She explained that as all the parents were working it was not possible to organise a car share system to take the students to the Wensleydale School which is about 18 miles away.  This is the nearest school and the Post 16 section of it could be jeopardised by the high cost of bus passes.

Cllr Sheldon commented that North Yorkshire County Council was penalising those who wanted to go on to further education and wondered how many young people had decided not to continue their education because of it.

Both he and RDC councillor Yvonne Peacock queried the principle of charging for bus passes when children now have to stay in some form of education or training until their 18th birthday.

“I am stunned,” said David Butterworth. “This is another attack on young people. In Britain we hate young people. We must do something to change this – it is outrageous.” He added that this was the first challenge to the Rural Summit.

Cllr Blackie, who is also a North Yorkshire County councillor, said that he had not supported the introduction of charges for bus passes for Post 16 students. When this was introduced a few years ago the bus passes had cost £300 but that had gradually increased. He stated:

“If you live in a place like Hawes or Swaledale there’s no way that you can have a car sharing scheme because it means somebody has to give up at least an hour of their day in the morning and an hour in the evening. At the Rural Summit we spoke about keeping young families in the dales. There is an exodus going on.”

The sixth-formers of today were potentially those who will find employment in the dales and become active members of the community in 20 years time Ruth Annison said.

Burton-cum-Walden councillor Jane Ritchie commented that the cost of the bus passes should be challenged but also wondered if, in the short term, a practical solution could be found. This might involve the parents forming a collective so as to apply for financial assistance.

It was agreed to support Cllr Blackie raising the issue at the county council’s area committee in March.

Paediatric service at the Friarage Hospital

There is little faith now in the South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust since it announced that the paediatric unit at the Friarage Hospital  will be open for 20 hours less a week than was promised just three and a half months ago, Cllr Blackie told the meeting.

“We’ve lost faith, we’ve lost trust, we’ve lost confidence – and so has the public. The biggest cut back of hours is on a Saturday and Sunday when there are no GP practices open. They are actually cutting hours when they are likely to cause the greatest worry for young parents,” he said.

He reported that both the Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which pays for that service,  and the county council’s  scrutiny of health committee were opposed to  the cutback in hours. The RDC has also  told the South Tees Trust that it strongly opposes the cutback and has asked that the 10am to 10pm seven days a week service be reinstated.

He pointed out that at present the South Tees Trust has only promised to review the situation in April.

Cllr Peacock was concerned that in the past a temporary cutback in a service at The Friarage had later become permanent. “Is history repeating itself?” she asked.

Cllr Ritchie, who is a lay member of the CCG,  agreed with Cllr Blackie that the South Tees Trust owed the local population an explanation and a commitment to bring the full service back as soon as possible. She said she had no additional information but did know that there was a serious shortage of doctors because it was proving difficult to replace those who had either retired or had emigrated to Australia.

The concern about the future of the Friarage Hospital  was raised by RDC councillor John Amsden who said: “I think they are just draining away the Friarage slowly but surely in anticipation of closing it.”  But Cllr Ritchie responded:

“I don’t think they will close it. The South Tees Trust has an enormous debt – I think that’s one of the things that might be causing practical problems. But I don’t sense at all a sort of ‘let’s get rid of the Friarage’.

“As I understand it the government is trying to get this 24/7 service and the only way they are going to do it is by having a small number of massive hospitals and all the little ones will get much, much smaller and become like super cottage hospitals. They don’t seem to be able to train enough doctors to cope with the demand.

The area partnership agreed to fully support the RDC in its opposition to the cutback in hours of the consultant-led children’s services at the Friarage Hospital.

Out of hours service

Ruth Annison said that the NHS should send out a simple set of instructions about how to get to the out of hours doctors’ service at Catterick Garrison.

Even the road signage had not been changed yet to direct people to the new location. Mr Clark reported that the highways authority hoped to erect a new sign soon.

And it didn’t help that a doctor contacted via the 111 service didn’t know where it was either. RDC councillor Richard Beal reported that when he had rung 111 he was connected to a doctor at Leeds who could not give him directions to the out of hours surgery.

It was agreed to ask the NHS to send details with a map to various publications including the Upper Wensleydale Newsletter, to holiday cottages and B&B providers, and to the parish councils.

The out of hours service is presently at the Harewood GP Surgery, 42 Richmond Road, Catterick Garrison, DL9 3JD.

Community defibrillators

Cllr Ritchie reported on the provision of community defibrillators in the dales and said she would like to see each village have a small team of people who had been trained in CPR – cardiopulmonary resuscitation. The area partnership approved a grant for the purchase of a dummy on which volunteers could practise.

She explained that it would be hard for one person to continue giving CPR for ten to 20 minutes and so it would be better if there was a number of people who could help.

There isn’t a community defibrillator at Carperby because there is a first responder team based there. That team’s equipment includes a defibrillator and an oxygen cylinder Cllr Amsden said.

Cllr Blackie told the meeting that the community defibrillators had been funded by the RDC’s Communities Opportunities Fund, with the district council working closely with the CCG so that even the smallest villages in Upper Swaledale had such equipment available. There was, however, a problem in Keld where the public phone box was some distance away from the community defibrillator and there was no mobile phone signal.

In an emergency a 999 call should be made to the ambulance service first. Ambulance control will then give the code for opening the box and accessing the defibrillator.

Affordable Housing

The right to buy council houses has been the death knell of the sustainability of small communities in the dales, said Cllr Blackie.

And Mr Butterworth commented: “Council houses provided the first rung for so many young people before they could get in a position where they could afford to buy a house. That first rung has been wiped away. I don’t think you or any other local housing authority will get any support from central government. We had better realise that we are on our own.”

He added that almost a quarter of the housing stock  in the Yorkshire Dales National Park was now second homes or holiday cottages.  And the proposal by the Minister of State for Housing, Brandon Lewis MP,  to limit the use of Section 106 agreements on new developments has further undermined their ability to provide affordable homes. The Section 106 agreements enabled local planning authorities to seek contributions from developers to mitigate the harm of developments on local infrastructure and to provide affordable housing.

Mr Butterworth stated: “I think what was galling was the announcement was shoved out on a Friday afternoon when no one was listening just before Christmas and what was more galling than that the fact that it just absolutely took the legs away from years of consultation that goes into developing (housing plans) by people who are living and working in those areas – by some bloke sat in Whitehall behind a desk who was issuing this dictat. To be fair to the bloke in Whitehall – it was actually the politician standing behind him.

“It was a political decision. Because it was rather bonkers there are one or two organisations that have decided to challenge it.”  (West Berkshire Council and Reading Borough Council have applied to the High Court for a Judicial Review.)

Cllr Blackie reported that many more local authorities were planning to challenge the government on this issue because it blew affordable housing policies out of the water. “I think the government has got it completely, utterly and totally wrong. We are hoping for a U-turn,” he said.

Mr McKeon explained that the RDC had sought the advice of a leading QC and had been told that, as the district council had only recently adopted its local plan, the minister’s statement, which now forms part of the National Planning Policy Guidance,  could be treated as a material planning consideration. The RDC will, therefore,  continue to apply its policy of requiring affordable housing contributions from development sites no matter what their size. The government guidance is that such contributions can now only be required on developments of 10 houses or more in urban areas, and on five or more in rural areas.

Cllr Peacock did question imposing a contribution on the construction of just one house. She argued that a local young family having a house built for their own use would find it hard to pay towards the provision of an affordable home for someone else. Mr McKeon explained that the contribution would only have to be paid if the house was later sold.

It was useful that the YDNPA and the RDC had been forced to work together to try and address such serious issues as the lack of affordable housing, said Mr Butterworth. “Richmondshire has this bold plan – to try and provide housing while circumventing the government’s proposals for the right to buy. It is critical that housing is kept for renting for perpetuity. I think the initiative by Richmondshire to have a go deserves a lot of credit regardless of whether anything comes of it.”

Cllr Blackie explained that the RDC had stated at the Rural Summit that it would explore setting up an arms-length trading company with the objective of seeing  affordable homes built which would not be subject to the right to buy. Mr McKeon told the meeting:

“We have started the groundwork and have actually set the company up. We are now going into the detail of the legal work to prepare a business case to see what we are allowed to do within the financial constraints that we operate within in the RDC. That work is underway.”

The RDC has also been consulting with the housing associations to find out why it is so difficult for them to build affordable housing in rural areas. “We are looking for ways they can work with the district council in partnership to overcome those hurdles – to allow them to do what they do best which is to deliver houses. The district council would play a supporting role rather than an active, actual building role,” he said.

Forty local authorities were working together to try and develop their own schemes for affordable housing, Cllr Blackie said. They were looking for finance on top of that available through the government’s Housing Revenue Account.

Superfast broadband

One of the key elements required for economic development in rural areas was the provision of superfast broadband, said Mr McKeon. For that reason the RDC was working closely with Superfast North Yorkshire  to try and resolve any problems, including “not spots”.

The RDC’s business and community officer, Chloe Lewis,  reported that the pilot project to test a remote node for a few residents at  Ulshaw Bridge had been successful but the cost of providing electricity to it had proved to be as high as the connection to a cabinet serving 200 households.

This would further  increase the high cost of providing superfast broadband to those villages which did not already have a BT cabinet.

Cllr Beal commented: “Where there isn’t an existing cabinet the argument from the BT side is that’s more complicated and costly and in remote areas prohibitive at the moment. In Arkengarthdale we are looking at extending a radio network up the dale.” But that would not be considered until after 2016 and residents wondered if it would ever happen, he added.

All the cabinets have now been fibred for superfast broadband  Cllr Sheldon reported and the next stage will be  to put fibre into those places that haven’t got it at the moment – like Aysgarth and Carperby. Cllr Peacock remarked that it was a disgrace that those two villages did not have superfast broadband yet and called for that to be done as soon as possible.

“It’s certainly worth waiting for,” commented Cllr Blackie as Hawes already has superfast broadband.

Emergency highway repairs

The area partnership supported Cllr Blackie in his call for more common sense with dealing with urgent highway repairs.

At present the protocol for out of hours highway emergencies is that the Police should be contacted. North Yorkshire Police will then inform the duty operatives at Selby Swing Bridge.

At the meeting Cllr Blackie referred to these as the Selby Bridge gang when he described an incident which had occurred at Gayle in late October. A concrete mixer lorry had spilled a considerable amount of wet concrete onto the road on a steep hill. As the concrete was setting fast he contacted a local RDC employee (Neil Banks) who, once he had permission from his supervisor, cleared it before it formed a hard, dangerous lump.

When Cllr Blackie wrote to the highways department to commend Mr Banks he stated: “It would have been absolutely no good calling North Yorkshire Police. By the time I would have been able to contact them, then spelt Hawes, then told them where Hawes and the incident was, then waited the standard five hours (at least) for a policeman to arrive, the concrete would have set. In the old days I would have called Mike Woodford who encouraged county councillors to get in touch with him on these urgent matters. This is frowned upon, if not ruled out, wrongly in my view, by current management practice.”

the highways department responded by telling Cllr Blackie that he should have adhered to protocol. He was informed: “The protocol is not in place to inconvenience anyone, it is there to ensure that the correct action is taken as quickly as possible given the resources available to us; the protocol also ensures that out of hours tasks are allocated fairly, rapidly and efficiently.”

Cllr Blackie told the area partnership that in December Aysgarth and District parish council had contacted those at Selby Swing Bridge to report a dangerous situation along the road above Thornton Rust scar.  It wasn’t until 11 hours later that any police came to check the situation – and by then the A684 was closed to traffic due to flooding. This meant that all vehicles, including emergency ambulances were using the road through Thornton Rust.

“So our emergency ambulance route out of the dales was hanging by a thread,” Cllr Blackie said. “I’ve had plenty of other experiences of the system and it doesn’t work. It might work up and down the A1 and A19 corridors but it is not an appropriate system for the upper dales with the weather we get here. We must go back the system we used to have with Mike Woodford.”

When arguing for a more common sense approach Cllr Ritchie stated: “They should send some people on a training session on how to work within austerity and work differently to solve local problems.”

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Protecting camping and caravanning sites in the Yorkshire Dales

January 08, 2015 By: Pip Land Category: ARC News Service No Comments →

The Association of Rural Communities (ARC) is very concerned about the future of traditional camping and caravanning in the Yorkshire Dales, especially after what happened at Westholme, AysgarthThat was why, in its response last year to the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s (YDNPA) consultation on its draft Local Plan, it stated that a policy of supporting “glamping” without any safeguards for those would be immoral and anti-social. The full text of its statement to the Full Authority meeting of the YDNPA  in December 2014 is included in this post along with the debate about allowing officers, under delegated powers, to again make many decisions about camping and caravanning sites in the Yorkshire Dales.

In its response to the Local Plan consultation ARC stated: “There seems to be an emphasis upon encouraging “glamping” rather than traditional camping. If the Local Plan does not take a firm stance in support of those who can only afford traditional camping (in those brightly coloured tents!) then it will not be possible to protect the provision of that affordable accommodation when camp site owners apply to change to yurts, camping pods etc. And yet again there will be a move towards the National Park being a refuge for the rich or better off sections of society.

“The same applies regarding static caravans versus timber lodges. The site at Westholme  showed how quickly a caravan site which catered for those on lower incomes could be turned into a luxury lodge site.

“It seems that the YDNPA continues to follow a policy in favour of the rich rather than the poor on the basis that timber lodges and camping pods look nicer in the National Park than the humble tent or static caravan.

“This policy is immoral and anti-social and is completely contrary to the aim of the National Park to encourage people of all backgrounds to visit the Yorkshire Dales.”

It was due to these concerns that Stephen Butcher, on behalf of the Association, made the following statement at the YDNPA Full Authority meeting:

“At the September meeting of the planning committee members queried the need for all applications concerning caravan and tent sites to be considered by them rather than being dealt with by officers under delegated powers.

“Back in December 2009 the Association of Rural Communities informed the planning committee  that over 60 pitches for touring caravans and tents had been lost at Westholme, Aysgarth, due to a decision made under delegated powers by an officer. When considering that decision the planning officer, Richard Graham, wrote : ‘If it is still to be used for camping or for touring caravans, the improvement In the visual and landscape terms from some additional tree planting on the application site would hardly be ‘significant’ – there will still be brightly coloured tents.’

“The planning committee had been completely unaware that decision had been made. It led to the loss of an important Duke of Edinburgh scheme camping site – and that scheme brings about 2,000 youngsters to the Yorkshire Dales each year.

“And Westholme is now a luxury holiday park with the lodges costing over £250,000 each.

“In 2009 the planning committee refused an application for 18 touring pitches to be replaced with 14 static pitches at Honeycott Caravan Park, Hawes, and that went to appeal. The appeal inspector upheld the Authority’s decision and stated:’I agree with the National Park Authority that a reduction in the availability of touring caravan and tent sites would be contrary to the statutory purpose to enable people to understand and enjoy the special qualities of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.’

“ The appeal inspector reported that in recent years there had been a loss of approximately 200 touring caravan pitches in Upper Wensleydale. In its own report on that appeal the Authority stated: ‘Notwithstanding the absence of adopted planning policy against replacement of touring/camping pitches, the Inspector has given weight to evidence concerning the desirability of maintaining a balance between different forms of visitor accommodation, in the interests of the statutory purposes of the National Park Authority.’

“Following that the Authority decided that all applications regarding camping and caravan sites must be considered by the planning committee.

“This Association is very far from convinced that the proposed new local plan will ensure the protection of tent and touring caravan holiday pitches. In the draft local plan ‘glamping’ is permitted and as well as replacing static caravans with chalets. The latter is but one step away from the luxury lodges of Westholme.

“In these circumstances the draft local plan must include strong safeguards for low-cost camping and touring caravan pitches. And this Association believes the Authority must ensure that any applications regarding camping and caravan sites in the National Park will continue to be brought to the planning committee.”

North Yorkshire County councillor Roger Harrison-Topham commented that such public statements were always very interesting and important but the Authority itself did not provide a record of these, nor any response that was made to them. He asked that more should be available in the electronic domain.

The chairman of the Authority, Peter Charlesworth, said that would be looked into and the ARC statement would be included in the consultation on the new Local Plan.

He explained to the committee that the recommendation by officers to no longer refer all decisions about caravan and camping sites to the planning committee had come about because a number of minor and inconsequential applications had been made over the last few years and the members of that committee had queried the need for that

In the debate on the review of the scheme of delegation to committees and officers he reminded members that officers, before exercising delegated powers, had to consider whether it was more appropriate to refer an issue or an application to a committee.

Of the head of development management, Mr Graham, he stated: “You would have to trust him that if it was of sufficient seriousness to go before the committee as he does on many other planning matters.”

Craven District councillor John Roberts added that applications would be referred to the planning committee if an Authority member requested that, or if a parish council had objected.

And Chris Armitage commented:“We still have concerns but the problems are not quite as stark as (before). I think there are sufficient safeguards under delegated powers.”

He believed the planning department and the head of development management were sensible and would bring anything controversial to the planning committee and added:“There might be one in a hundred cases which slips through that we think oh we wish that hadn’t happened. Let’s not bring everything to the committee just in case there’s something we don’t like. “

Coun Harrison-Topham, however, felt that all applications concerning caravan and camping sites should continue to be referred to that committee. “I think this caravan business is open to abuse,” he explained.

To this North Yorkshire County councillor Robert Heseltine added: “In the past there were safeguards in place and maybe members weren’t up to speed at calling things in and making officers aware of that.”

The chairman of the planning committee, Harold Brown, said that all such applications had been referred to committee because “Westholme and Chantry … were kicking the tourists out and replacing them with statics and they were getting away with it. The safeguards are there – it’s not going to slip through and it shouldn’t have done in the past.”

He and several other members said that the majority of these applications could now be dealt with by officers under delegated powers. And this was accepted by the majority of the members.

And so the onus is back on parish councils, parish meetings and Members of the Authority to keep a check on the applications made by camping and caravanning sites in the Yorkshire Dales.

YDNPA – December 2014

January 08, 2015 By: Pip Land Category: ARC News Service No Comments →

ARC News Service report on the Full Authority meeting of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) in December 2014 at which the following were discussed: the proposed creation of “National Park Enterprises Ltd” to find commercial sponsorship for the UK National Parks; problems with the provision of  affordable housing;  and the creation of parish council forums. There was also a presentation by Paul Hamblin, executive director of National Parks England.  The concerns of the Association of Rural Communities (ARC) are reported in a separate post.

 

“National Park Enterprises Ltd”

The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) has agreed to give £10,000 towards the creation of a limited by guarantee company whose objective will be to find commercial sponsorship for the 15 National Park Authorities (NPAs) in the UK.

If the NPAs succeed in setting up “National Park Enterprises Ltd”  it will be the trading and fundraising entity of National Parks UK, and will begin with £150,000 of funding.

David Butterworth, the YDNPA chief executive, told members that the maximum investment that each NPA would make would be £20,000. He explained that the YDNPA was faced with even further budget cuts in addition to having seen its income drop by over 40 per cent in real terms in the last few years.

He told members: “I believe it’s quite a brave approach (but) in spite of the risks the financial situation of National Parks and National Park Authorities is so serious that this initiative has to be given a chance.”

He said that the setting up of such a company had been professionally researched and the business case suggested that a profit of £1.4 million should be achievable by the end of year four which would be shared equally between the 15 NPAs.

He hoped that there would be even greater profits in subsequent years but added:“You will have to wait until year four before you see anything – so don’t think it is going to be a quick fix. Are we willing to gamble an initial £10,000 with potentially another £10,000? The 15 National Park Authorities have said things are so serious now that it’s worth the gamble.”

North Yorkshire County councillor Robert Heseltine commented: “This is a gamble – should we be gambling with public money?” He didn’t feel they had sufficient information yet to substantiate that gamble.

Other members asked how the directors for the company would be selected and who would take care of the day-to-day running of it.

Mr Butterworth said that the company will be run by a board of directors, with not less than three and not more than seven directors. It has been proposed that four of the directors will be appointed by the NPAs with all their officers and members being eligible to apply. Once appointed they will be responsible to the company rather than the NPA from which they have come from.

He explained that the other three Directors will be “independent” and will be appointed for their knowledge, skills, experience and connections. They are likely to be appointed by the four NPA directors.

At the beginning it is likely that a company will be contracted to do the day-to-day work and he added: “There are all sorts of problems when you are employing staff and it’s much easier, particularly from the outset, just to give a contract. But the final decision has not been taken.”

When asked if the environmental credentials of sponsors would be vetted Mr Butterworth replied that there had been a debate about who and who not to do business with or to accept sponsorship from and added:“I think the starting point has to be – we will do business with anyone unless after assessment they damage the brand that is the National Parks.”

He had reported that the National Parks Foundation in the USA, whose commercial partners range from Google to Disney,  was a potential model for the new company.

North Yorkshire County councillor Roger Harrison-Topham commented: “There is an enormous difference between American national parks which are almost invariably State owned land and our national parks which are almost entirely privately owned. Whether that distinction is going to be important in the long run I don’t know.

“I would be pleasantly surprised if this goes ahead if, in the next five years, there are not a few articles in Private Eye.”

Craven District councillor John Roberts, however, said: “I think this has got to happen. We have a tremendous brand – the country’s breathing spaces.”

The brand “Britain’s Breathing Spaces” has been trademarked by Dartmoor NPA on behalf of all UK NPAs.

The majority at the meeting agreed with Mr Butterworth’s recommendation that the Authority should become a member of “National Park Enterprises Ltd” and that he, in consultation with the chairman, Peter Charlesworth, should be authorised to complete the necessary documentation to do this.

Affordable Housing

The YDNPA’s housing policy has been blown out of the water by the government’s introduction of a threshold on Section 106 affordable housing contributions. Within the National Parks the threshold is now five homes on one site, and outside the cut off for contributions will be anything below 10 dwellings per site.

In a statement to the meeting North Yorkshire County councillor John Blackie said that Richmondshire District Council (RDC) will lose the potential of providing 270 homes.

The RDC, of which he is the leader, expects to lose £6 million over the next 15 years for its affordable housing programme and that, he said, would affect another £6 million that could have been expected in matched funding by housing associations from the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA).

This will also have a detrimental impact upon schools, post offices and shops and so jeopardise the future viability of rural and deeply rural communities. “We could be just a generation or two away from their complete collapse,” he stated. He pledged the RDC’s commitment to the partnership with the YDNPA to work together to try and overcome such a doomsday scenario.

David Butterworth, the YDNPA chief executive, described the RDC response to the letters the Authority had sent to neighbouring councils as useful because it did not stipulate how its financial contribution (£2,500 or £5,000 if the YDNPA was prepared to match it) should be spent.

Both he and Peter Stockton, the YDNPA head of sustainable development, said they would prefer to spend it on ensuring the provision of affordable housing in Wensleydale and Swaledale. Mr Stockton reported that the YDNPA might have to change its policy regarding the mix of affordable and local market housing on the sites which had been allocated to ensure that they would be viable.

There was also pressure to increase the housing density on the sites especially as there was now a higher demand for small homes partly due to the introduction of the “bedroom tax”. He added that to assist with the provision of affordable housing more people needed to register their interest in it with their local councils.

It was agreed that the officers should continue to work with partners in district councils and other appropriate bodies to remove the barriers to providing affordable and local needs housing in the National Park, and that the funding provided by the RDC should be used to assess the opportunity for delivering housing sites in the Richmondshire area of the Yorkshire Dales.

Parish council forums

It was agreed to set up two parish forums, one in the northern part of the Yorkshire Dales and the other in the South. Each will meet twice a year.

These will replace the parish council initiative whereby members of the Authority attended parish council meetings. Members felt that this initiative had worked well but it was time to move on.

Mr Butterworth said that he expected that he, the head of development management, and the director of conservation and community would attend the parish forums. “We need to hear what’s happening in parishes and what the issues are so that it becomes much more of a joint approach,” he said.

He explained that such forums had been successful in the North Yorkshire Moors National Park and had led to a closer, more informal working relationship with parish councils. He added that the four parish council members of the Authority had a key role to play in this.

One of those parish council members, Ian McPherson, was pleased that Mr Butterworth had confirmed that parish council members were elected representatives and said: “I think it’s absolutely crucial that we don’t cut off our connection with the grassroots people in the Dales, the people who live here and the parish councils that represent them.”

Natural Parks England

Paul Hamblin, the executive director of National Parks England (NPE), addressed the meeting and answered questions about this non-profit company to which the YDNPA pays an annual membership subscription of £17,910.

The impression he gave was of a high-powered lobby group for the ten National Park Authorities in England for he stated that the NPE was meeting with people at the highest level to raise awareness and understanding about the work of the National Parks.

He told members that its aim was to improve understanding about the National Parks and to make sure that the powers that be – those who are writing the cheques – were inspired by the work of the National Park Authorities.

He wanted to see that translated into continuous support in a variety of ways for the National Park purposes. To do that the NPE works closely with the Campaign for National Parks and National Parks UK.

The NPE provides a secretariat for the all-party parliamentary group on National Parks and briefs its members on the activities of the National Park Authorities.

He was disappointed at the threshold decision regarding affordable housing. By working together, he said, they had got the threshold reduced for National Parks but it still was not good enough.

One of its most important activities, Mr Hamblin said, was to get politicians and civil servants to visit the National Parks – “to see the places themselves, and hear from your officers about the work that is going on and about peoples’ priorities.”

There was a need he explained to make sure that other government departments in addition to Defra understood and recognised the contribution that the National Parks were making. And they were trying to access funds from those other departments, such as from the Ministry of Transport.

“Successive governments have needed to get a lot better at how they understand their decisions affect rural areas as a whole,” he said. And with the 10 NPAs covering just under 10 per cent of the country they were a good place to go to for expert advice.

As an illustration he explained that they had sought to demonstrate that work on upper catchments had a direct bearing on flooding in urban areas.

“We pull together research, demonstrate the value of National Parks both to the economy and to peoples’ wellbeing across the family of 10 National Parks. We can demonstrate the economic stability within (these),” he said referring to the report “Valuing England’s National Parks” published in May 2013.

In this it was stated that the Gross Value Added (GVA) of England’s National Parks was comparable to that of the UK aerospace sector.

February to December 2014

December 28, 2014 By: Pip Land Category: ARC News Service No Comments →

ARC News Service reports on the meetings of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s (YDNPA)  planning committee meetings in 2014.

The towns and villages are listed alphabetically.

It took 13 months for the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority to decide whether or not a farmer at Litton could convert a barn into a home – and  eight months for a farmer at Rylstone to get a decision on an application for a small wind turbine. So it’s not surprising that in February 2014 the committee’s chairman, Harold Brown, warned that the future of farming in the Yorkshire Dales was at risk.

In its response to the YDNPA’s consultation on its Management Plan 2013-18 the Association of Rural Communities noted that the Authority’s planning policies had often undermined the sustainability of Dales’ communities and the farms around them. The Association called for a proactive approach aimed at achieving a good result both economically for the farms and also for the landscape.

For if the farms become unsustainable there will be a considerable negative impact upon the very landscape that the National Park Authority is supposed to protect.

In his analysis of planning applications for the last quarter of 2013 Richard Graham, the YDNPA’s head of development management, reported that for 67 applications 13 weeks had elapsed without a decision being made. The government guidelines state that the time limit for decisions to be made on applications is usually eight weeks. This can be extended to 13 weeks so long as the written consent of the applicant is obtained.

Mr Graham said several of the decisions have been delayed because officers were in negotiation with applicants or because applicants had not yet signed S106 agreements. The time allowed for starting structural work once an application has been approved does not begin until the legal agreement has been signed.

He also reported that in the last quarter of 2013 only 56 per cent of minor applications were dealt with in less than eight weeks as compared with the national target of 65 per cent.

Arncliffe – March – It was decided by just one vote that Amerdale House Hotel, which has been empty since 2009, cannot be turned into a family home.

Arncliffe parish meeting strongly supported the application for change of use because:  the hotel had proved to be financially unviable; the large building, which was deteriorating, was not suitable for affordable housing; and the proposal would allow a family to live in the village and so contribute to the local area.

Craven District Councillor  John Roberts supported those arguments and added that the house, which was in an iconic position at the entrance to the village, badly needed renovation. The new owners wanted to convert it into a seven bedroom family home which, Cllr Roberts said, would help towards the sustainability of the village.

North Yorkshire County Councillor Shelagh Marshall said that the Authority had previously set a precedent for allowing a building to return to residential use. She stated that the hotel was completely empty and could not be sold as a going concern and added: “It would be tragic if this family is not allowed to move into Littondale.”

Peter Charlesworth agreed that it would be difficult to convert Amerdale House into local occupancy flats but that as a family home it could add to the vitality and vibrancy of Arncliffe. “I think we should always maintain a degree of flexibility. I think there are grounds in this case for a departure from the script,” he said.

But the majority supported the planning officer who stated that the change of use would result in the loss of an employment site and that there should be a local occupancy agreement if it was no longer a hotel.

Ann Brooks reminded members: “It is extremely important that we adhere to our policies.” One of these was that such a business must be advertised for six months in accordance with the Authority’s regulations to prove whether or not it could be sold as a hotel.

The committee was informed that such a marketing exercise had been carried out in 2006 which had led to the Authority giving approval for a change of use on condition that there was a local occupancy agreement. Amerdale House had then been sold and the next owners had run it as a hotel until 2009 when their application for change of use was refused.  They had subsequently sold the hotel and removed all the furnishings.

The planning officer stated that the marketing information acquired in 2006 was no longer considered adequate. But North Yorkshire County Councillor  Roger Harrison-Topham commented: “I think we are just being perverse for insisting that they go through that again.”

His fellow county councillor John Blackie, however,  agreed with Mrs Brooks and stated that the committee would set an unfortunate precedent if it allowed the hotel to become a family home which could be sold at any time on the open market.

Askrigg – August – Askrigg and Low Abbotside parish council had informed the planning committee that it had no problem with the conversion of a double garage to form ancillary accommodation across the road from Dale Grange in Askrigg, but it did have concerns about access on to the main road. The committee unanimously approved the proposal to create an annex with a bedroom, bathroom and a sitting area as long as it was subject to a section 106 agreement restricting its occupation so that it remained ancillary to the use of Dale Grange.

Austwick –March – Retrospective permission was granted for the siting of a timber shed, creation of hard standing with bin store area and the six positioned caravan siting areas at Silloth House, Austwick. The planning officer stated that these were reasonable additions to a modest scale campsite.

Austwick Parish Council had raised concerns over the accuracy of plans relating to a recently modified Section 106 agreement covering the site. The planning officer said that those issues would be dealt with separately.

Austwick – May – A request by the Scout Association to hold a tent rally on land (Green Land) beside Silloth House Campsite led to an application to modify a Section 106 agreement. That agreement had meant that five caravan rallies by exempt organisations could be held on Green Land  each year. Members agreed to the request from Silloth House Campsite that tents should be included. The number of rallies each year will remain at five with each lasting no more than four days.

Aysgarth – June – The committee unanimously agreed that there can be 25 tent pitches on the field beside Aysgarth Falls Hotel. These can be used from March to November each year.

The field has been used for camping for over 20 years but on the basis of the 28 days permitted development rights. Retrospective planning permission was also given for the four timber sheds erected to provide washing and toilet facilities. The owners of the hotel, Heather and Steve Swann, plan to erect one more.

The planning officer pointed out that the site was already well screened and that it had been agreed that bushes would be planted in the main part of the site to soften the impact of the tents on long distance views.

Burnsall – October – The Stockdale family of Burnsall was delighted when the committee unanimously agreed that a barn in Main Street, Burnsall, could be converted.

“Bringing a young family back into a village like Burnsall is amazing. If we can get young people back into the school (it) is just fantastic,” said Ed Williams on behalf of Burnsall Parish Meeting.

The only reason that the planning officer had given for refusing the application was that North Yorkshire County Council’s highways department had stated that the access was unsatisfactory.

Mr Williams  and Alan Stockdale pointed out that with so many cars parked on the sides of the road through Burnsall drivers had to reduce their speed. Mr Stockdale added that there would be a reduction in traffic using the access compared to when it was used for agricultural purposes.

Members of the committee agreed that the application ticked all the boxes in the objective to encourage young people to return to the Dales.

Carlton in Coverdale – February – A single storey rear extension to Quakers Garth in Carlton in Coverdale can be built even though two North Yorkshire County councillors questioned the decision.

Lady Gardner, who lives next door to Quakers Garth, and North Yorkshire County Councillor Roger  Harrison-Topham  explained that the original building had been a Dales farmhouse with barn. As a sunroom had already been added the new extension would mean that the size of Quakers Garth would be doubled. Both asked how the Authority could agree to such a building being overextended.

“The proposed extension is desperately inappropriate to a barn,” said Cllr Harrison-Topham.

At the December 2013 meeting when he requested that a site visit should be held, he commented that incremental extensions to houses could have a “reverse tsunami effect”. At the February meeting Cllr  Blackie pointed out that in Richmondshire the district council would not give permission for such an extension to a barn. “So is the district council protecting the landscape more than the National Park?” he asked.

The planning officer had reported that the pitched roof extension would be built where there had been a flat-roofed garage. It was longer than the garage but the applicant had amended the plans so as to reduce its height. That amendment had led to the parish council supporting the application.

Several members commented that the extension was a modest one and the majority accepted the officer’s statement that it would not be detrimental to the simple vernacular character of the building. Following the site meeting in January most members also felt that the extension would not have an adverse effect on the neighbouring property.

Cracoe – August– The majority of the committee agreed that the Authority’s solicitor should pursue prosecution proceedings against Richard Jackson of Toppan Farm, Cracoe, for failure to comply with the terms of an enforcement notice served in April 2006.

The members were informed that the enforcement notice in 2006 was issued when a caravan at Toppan Farm was being used a dwelling. An appeal against that notice was dismissed and the caravan was removed in March 2007.

The enforcement officer, Nicola Dinsdale, explained that the siting of another caravan at Toppan Farm for residential purposes would still be in breach of that enforcement notice. She had informed Mr Jackson about that in April and so it was felt that the occupants had been given ample opportunity to find alternative accommodation. The caravan was the home of Mr Jackson’s son, his partner and his baby.

North Yorkshire County Councillor Robert Heseltine had proposed that Mr Jackson should be given four months to apply for additional housing on the site. At present there is permission for one detached house but Mr Jackson would like to change this to three cottages to provide accommodation for his sons.

Mrs Dinsdale had informed the committee that temporary permission for a caravan might be given in exceptional circumstances when a house was being constructed. Cllr Heseltine’s amendment was not accepted by the majority of the committee.

Cautley, Sedbergh – June – Permission was granted for Cross Hall Caravan Park at Cautley, Sedbergh to be open for 11 months each year (March 1 to January 31). An area within the existing site for static caravans has been set aside for tents and for those there will be no restriction on the length of stay during the season.

Retrospective permission was also given for the change of use of an adjacent field to form an extension to the caravan park but on the condition that touring caravans and tents could not be there for a period of more than 28 days. The maximum number of touring caravans on that site at any one time must be five.

Sedbergh parish council was opposed to the unrestricted or prolonged stationing of touring caravans and tents as it was felt this would be detrimental to the local economy by restricting the opportunities for those looking for short stay pitches.

The planning officer assured the committee that the park owners will be asked to keep a detailed log of those staying throughout the season to make sure that the caravans were not being used as permanent homes.

Clapham – November – Approval was given for the detailed plans for the conversion of a former office building at Old Mason’s Yard, Clapham,into two homes, both subject to local needs legal agreements. The committee also approved the detailed plans to demolish a pre-fabricated store and replace it with a two-bedroom local market bungalow.

In 2012 Clapham-cum-Newby parish council had objected to the outline plans due to the impact the additional vehicular traffic might have on the access road which is maintained by the village hall.

At the planning committee meeting North Yorkshire County Councillor Richard Welch welcomed the opportunity to have more local occupancy homes in Clapham. He asked if the planning department had followed up on the parish council’s reports that the applicant had felled some trees without permission,and that one of the four existing oil tanks was unbonded and was within 50 metres of Clapham Beck. The planning officer said she would check if these were enforcement matters.

Dent -June – It was agreed to hold a site meeting at Cowgill Barn, Cowgill, Dent.

The parish council fully supported the application for the erection of extensions to the converted barn and the insertion of a window in the east elevation. But the planning officer recommended refusal because it was felt that the design, size, form and external appearance, including excessive fenestration and the insertion of a new window , would result in a development which would significantly harm the traditional, simple appearance and special interest of what was originally an agricultural building.

When requesting a site meeting Graham Dalton commented: “I don’t think we can appreciate the context from the photos. It is essential to go and see it.”

Permission was granted in January 2015.

Embsay – August – Approval was given for full planning permission for the construction of a flood storage reservoir. This would include a dam with a crest height of 14 metres, spillway and stilling basin as well as a new road junction and access road from the A65. The committee was informed that the dam and reservoir would help to protect Skipton from flooding.

Giggleswick – August – The committee accepted the advice of the senior planning officer to defer making a decision for one month concerning the unauthorised change of use of Woodlands at Giggleswick. In June  the owner confirmed that the site was being used for holiday let accommodation for 19 people, wedding receptions and corporate “team building” events.

The original permission was for it to be used as a dwelling for a single household. The owner now wanted to apply for a temporary change of use of the property rather than enforcement action being initiated. Deferred again at the September meeting as awaiting a planning application from owner.  (An application was submitted but later withdrawn. Applications for certificates of lawfulness for existing use were refused.)

Grassington -April – Permission was granted for seven affordable homes for local people to be built in Grass Wood Lane, Grassington. There will be two three bedroom houses, two with two bedrooms, and two one bedroom apartments.

Grassington parish council, although being in favour of the development, had asked that the issue of sufficient parking spaces on the site should be addressed before planning permission was given. It would have liked to have seen seven more parking spaces in addition to the 11 included in the planning application especially as Grass Wood Lane was narrow and would be reduced to a single track road if any vehicles were parked on it.

Richard Graham, the head of development management, explained that, according to highway regulations, the size and specifications of the access would also have to be increased and that could make this affordable housing scheme uneconomic.

Peter Charlesworth agreed with Councillors Blackie and Welch that the parking spaces proposed should be adequate for such a modest scheme.

Cllr Blackie said: “We have been trying for years to get affordable housing.”

A survey in October last year showed that 14 people were interested in the properties to be built in Grass Wood Lane, seven from Grassington and the others from neighbouring villages within the National Park.

Andrew Colley, who is a Grassington parish councillor, was also concerned about the reports of infrequent flooding at the site. The applicant, the affordable housing provider Home Group Limited, has proposed to create a gentle slope in the garden of one of the properties to manage surface water run-off.

The YDNPA planning officer said that additional work would be carried out to make sure that the dry stone wall between that garden and the road was not undermined by that.

Section 106 agreements will mean that the properties will be retained as affordable local housing in perpetuity. The local occupancy restrictions will include an additional clause which will extend eligibility  to those who have resided permanently in the National Park for the preceding three years but who work outside the National Park or are unemployed, and have a demonstrable need to leave private accommodation.

The housing will be made available on a cascade basis, aimed at targeting the parish of Grassington first, followed by adjoining parishes (within the National Park, including split parishes) before being made available to the rest of the National Park.

Grassington- July – The proposed re-opening of an access at Town End in Station Road, Grassington, was potentially so dangerous that a site meeting should be held to evaluate the situation Mr Colley and Cllr  Roberts told the committee.

Cllr Roberts warned that the committee should heed the advice of the parish council because the entrance was on a very busy road, close to both a blind corner and a busy junction.

Mr Colley said: “The parish council is absolutely desperate for this property to be re-developed as the site has been empty for many years.” He added, however, that there was no pedestrian footpath along that section of Station Road and many motorists exceeded the 20mph speed limit. The traffic included heavy lorries and there were shops adjacent to the site as well as a school nearby.

But not only did the majority of the committee refuse the parish council’s request for a site meeting but also voted to approve the application. This was for the conversion of a barn to create a three bedroom house for local occupancy, the demolition of a garage block and part of a vehicle repair shop, and the erection of an office building. The re-development of the site includes the removal of petrol tanks and contaminated soil.

There is an entrance to the site in Hebden Road which will provide access to the car parking area for the present house and the barn conversion. The back part of the vehicle repair shop will be demolished with the front retained and rebuilt as an office space. The undercroft will be re-opened to provide a vehicular entrance on Station Road.

Both the applicant’s agent, Andrew Long, and the planning officer told the committee that the vehicle accesses on Station Road and Hebden Road already existed and the proposal was likely to result in a reduction rather than an increase in possible traffic movements.  North Yorkshire County Council highways department had no objection to the application.

Mr Charlesworth commented that the refurbishment of the site would lead to an enormous enhancement of what was at present an eyesore.

Grassington – November – Yorkshire Housing can go ahead with constructing 22 affordable homes for rent in Grassington – but only after some soul searching by the planning committee about the relationship with the local parish council.

Although Grassington parish council whole-heartedly supported the replacement of the social housing scheme for elderly residents in Aynham Close with affordable homes it had strenuously opposed Yorkshire Housing’s application. This was because it had unanimously supported a previous scheme put forward by Yorkshire Housing. The parish council informed the planning committee that it believed that those plans were never submitted because the planning officer had said “she did not like them and wanted a different lay out.”

It added that the present scheme was seen by it and residents as being unfriendly, too cramped, too close to the existing houses, and much too block-like in appearance.

When questioned about this at the planning committee meeting Richard Graham, the head of development management, said that the earlier scheme had had a more urban layout which included one large block of flats which was not appropriate to the site.

The planning officer argued that the present mews layout and the vernacular design would enhance the appearance of the approach to the village and reflect the wider character of the area around it rather than perpetuating the modern, urban form of post-war housing immediately adjacent.

Mr Colley commented that although he felt the planning officers had done a good job they should have taken the time to discuss the present plans with the parish council and residents before bringing these to the planning committee. He added:“I think we are all aware now that the planning department is going to have to work a lot more closely with parish councils and with residents in our National Park.”

Mr Charlesworth said: “This is a scheme which will enable young families and young people to live in the dales. The objection seems to be that (the parish council) has a perception that this present scheme is something to do with the personal whim of a planning officer and that’s wrong.”

He explained that he believed there were strong planning reasons for the present scheme and that it was a good one.

Mr Colley asked if local residents would be given sufficient time to apply for any of the homes. He told the committee:“People are very concerned because there is a lot of talk about further developments (in Grassington) after this one. But they do not want to see people coming into this accommodation from outside the area without them having a fair time to apply.”

Cllr Blackie said that in the Richmondshire area under the local connection policy local people had three to four months to apply for affordable housing.

The application, which was approved by the committee, was for 22 affordable dwellings consisting of eight three bedroom houses, six two bedroom houses and eight flats.

Cllr Marshall was very disappointed with the scheme because although the dwellings were described as “lifetime homes” there was no provision for a restaurant or a community room so that the older residents would not feel isolated or lonely. “It’s very sad that the developers haven’t taken the opportunity to put the most up to date accommodation for older people on this site when it had that use before,” she said.

Like Mr Colley and Cllr Heseltine she abstained from voting.

Grassington  – December – A two-storey house for a disabled resident can replace a garage adjacent to Gills Fold in Grassington.

The committee was informed that the house would be for Tom Cherry who is suffering from a progressive disability. He wanted to live closer to the town centre and so enjoy the facilities there for as long as possible.

Even though Mr Cherry was willing to sign a local occupancy agreement the planning officer had recommended refusal of the application partly because the house would, he stated, have an oppressive and over-dominant effect on a neighbouring property and so severely harm the residential amenity of its occupants.

Those living closest to the site, however, had written letters supporting the application and there had been no objections.

Mr Colley said: “Mr Cherry is a well-respected local builder who will ensure that the quality of the building will be excellent. And it will be an additional local occupancy house in Grassington.”

He added that the parish council was very enthusiastic about the application but should have sent a detailed response giving all the reasons for why it supported Mr Cherry’s plans.“I think this is a warning to other parish councils,” Mr Colley said.

As a significant majority of the planning committee members voted to approve the application Mr Graham, said that it would not be referred back to the February  meeting.

Grinton – April – There were gasps of surprise when the planning officer displayed photographs of the work which has been carried out on a barn in Swale Hall Lane, Grinton. These showed that domestic style windows and doors, an external flue, and a modern kitchen had been installed in what was an agricultural building in open countryside.

When queried about the alterations the owner had told the YDNPA that the intended use of the barn was to provide a “dry, safe, secure and vermin proof” environment in which to store animal feed and straw for when he wanted to keep animals on the adjoining land. At present the sheep which are grazed on that land belong to W H Brown and Son.

Harold Brown, the chairman of the planning committee, declared a pecuniary interest and left the room before the request for an enforcement notice was discussed. The majority were in favour of an enforcement notice being served to secure the removal of the windows, doors, flue and internal domestic fixtures and fittings as well as the re-instatement of the original eaves and ridge height. The owner will also have to remove a caravan from the site which is being used for residential purposes.

Hebden – Moorside Farm

September – An application to convert a barn for residential use with an office annex at Moorside Farm might be contrary to the present policies of the YDNPA but it was in accordance with the spirit of the Authority, Peter Charlesworth stated.

Mr Charlesworth, who is chairman of the YDNPA, argued eloquently that the application should be approved because it would not only enhance the landscape by restoring a derelict barn but it would also enhance the economic viability and vitality of the Dales and especially Hebden.

“Hebden has lost its shop, its post office, its toilets – no wonder the parish council is so supportive of any means which will help to keep this village alive and allow a young family to live and work in the national park,” he added.

He and Cllr Roberts  pointed out that the barn, although technically in the open countryside, was beside a main road and part of a farm complex. Cllr Roberts said: “If we don’t approve it the barn will be gone and it will pull half the house with it probably and we would have lost a complete property.”

Jason Simpkin told the committee that his widowed mother-in-law, Anne Appleton, wanted to return to the farmhouse at Moorside Farm and he and his wife wished to live next to her to support and care for her. There would be a section 106 agreement to retain the converted barn as a local occupancy dwelling.

He would base his electrical business there and hoped to employ an apprentice and an office worker. “This would have a positive economic impact upon the park,” he said.

He argued that the YDNPA draft Local Plan would allow such barn conversions. But the planning officer said it was too early to give any weight to the proposals in that draft. She did accept that the proposed conversion of the semi derelict barn would improve its appearance.

Even though just one committee member abstained and all the others voted to approve the application Mr Graham, said that the decision would have to be confirmed at the October meeting as it was not only against officer recommendation but also the present planning policy. The planning department will also consult with North Yorkshire Highways about the access from the A65.

October – “I feel I have a gun held to my head,” retorted Ian McPherson – and several other members expressed their shock at the unexpected advice given by the Authority’s monitoring officer, Gill Cooper, concerning the committee’s intention to approve a barn conversion at Moorside Farm.

Mr Charlesworth stated: “I have to say that to have (the advice) dropped on us this morning … is unsatisfactory.”

That advice was that it would be illegal for the committee to confirm its almost unanimous decision last month to approve the barn conversion because the material considerations listed by members were not sufficient to justify their not complying with the Authority’s Development Plan or the provisions of the National Planning Policy Framework.

The material considerations put forward by members included securing a local occupancy dwelling, providing employment and enhancing the economic viability of Hebden as well as supporting the emerging local plan policy.

Mr Charlesworth, a retired judge, asked for a month’s deferment to give members time to consider the situation. “I would still like to approve the conversion of this barn,” he said.

Cllr John Blackie described it as sabre rattling by the legal officer to tell them what they must and mustn’t do and wondered if a decision to approve would have to be considered by the Secretary of State. To do that a special meeting of the Full Authority may have to be called to ratify the decision.

The chairman of the committee, Harold Brown, stated: “I would not have changed my mind if approval had been on the table today. I think it’s illogical (as) we are crying out for houses. We are struggling to build any affordable houses.

November – The planning committee did find a way to allow the barn at Moorside Farm to be converted into a family home even though the monitoring officer repeated the advice she had given the previous month. She did,however, accept that there might be exceptional personal circumstances.

Mr Charlesworth  thanked Mr Graham, for meeting with the family to discuss those personal circumstances and added:“In my view it is justified for us as a committee to say these are truly exceptional circumstances which enable us to justify departure from policy. I appreciate that Richard Graham doesn’t think they are.”

He explained that when the farmer had died two years ago his widow had gone to live with her daughter and son-in-law in Skipton. But she wanted to return to her family home. The farmhouse, however, was in need of renovation and her daughter and son-in-law wanted to be there to support her.

Mr Charlesworth said: “We (now) have a situation where we can allow this farming family to move back to Hebden, renovate the house and convert the barn.

“In my view it’s a win situation for the National Park. We are desperate to keep young people in the dales.”

Cllr  Blackie was among those who agreed with him. Cllr Blackie stated: “We need to hang on to our young families otherwise in a generation or two many of the communities in the Yorkshire Dales National Park will collapse.”

Like Mr Charlesworth he disagreed with the advice given by a legal Counsel. He added: “Another barrister might have given an alternate view.”

Cllr Marshall reminded the committee that the Authority also had a duty to foster the economic and social well-being of the area.

When it came to the vote two members abstained with the majority approving the application for the conversion of the barn to a house for local occupancy with ancillary office space.

Horton-in-Ribblesdale – March – Permission was granted for a railway siding to be constructed at Arcow Quarry near Helwith Bridge. Stone will be transported to it from Dry Rigg Quarry.

It is likely that the railway siding will not become operational until October 2015, about seven months after the present permission to extract stone at Arcow quarry expires. Lafarge Tarmac which owns both quarries has permission to extract stone from that at Dry Rigg until 2021.

YDNPA officer, David Parish, said it was not possible to construct a siding at Dry Rigg because that would have a serious impact upon the Swarth Moor SSSI as would a new road between the two quarries or a conveyor belt link. A new habitat will be created for the great crested newts in the low lying fields between Arcow Quarry and the Settle-Carlisle line.

Cllr Welch very reluctantly proposed approving the company’s application for the railway siding and explained:“I think this is unnecessary. It’s unneeded and unwarranted and I think the company is being put to an awful financial burden to satisfy a small minority of lobbyists and campaigners. (But) if this is the way of keeping people in employment ….then I’m afraid I shall have to go with it.”

One of the objectives of the Authority’s Management Plan is to reduce road haulage from the three quarries in Ribblesdale by at least 50 per cent.

The arrival and departure of trains, all loading operations and all heavy goods vehicle traffic between Dry Rigg and Arcow will only take place from Monday to Friday each week between 7.30am and 5.30pm. There would only be one train per weekday, with each taking between three to four hours to load.

It was agreed that although, under the present agreement,  the restoration scheme for Arcow Quarry would be completed by the end of June 2016 that would not now include the sidings and stockpile area. Lafarge Tarmac has indicated that it is considering submitting an application to deepen Arcow Quarry.

Hudswell  – August – It was unanimously agreed that full planning permission be given for the demolition of existing farm buildings at land to the west of Holbrook House in Hudswell, and that a three bedroom house could be built there. The committee agreed with Hudswell and District parish council that the demolition of the ugly farm buildings and the construction of a well-designed house would be a planning gain on the fringe of the Hudswell conservation area.

Kettlewell – May – Several members were very pleased that work could begin soon to make the footpath from Kettlewell to Starbotton accessible to disabled people in wheelchairs.

Permission was granted to the YDNPA Ranger, Phil Richards, to construct an access ramp link to the footpath beside Kettlewell Road Bridge to accommodate wheelchair access. This will link the track owned by the National Trust to the public right of way beside the River Wharfe. The work will be carried out jointly by the National Trust and the YDNPA.

Natural England had confirmed that the ramp would not destroy any of the features of the River Wharfe Site of Special Scientific Interest. Part of the site is also a Biodiversity Action Plan priority habitat and so nothing must be stored on that calcareous grassland.

The Environment Agency had recommended that the ground levels must not be raised as the site is within an area of designated flood risk.

Cllr Harrison-Topham wondered if the culverts in the ramp would be large enough to stop it becoming a dam when there was heavy rainfall. Consent must be obtained from the county council (the Lead Local Flood Authority) for those culverts.

Kettlewell – June – It was unanimously agreed that a new campsite can be created at Kettlewell.

Cllr Roberts, who lived in the village, told the committee that the lack of camping sites in Kettlewell and Upper Wharfedale meant that the Authority was not fulfilling its second purpose (to encourage the public to have access to and enjoy the National Park) particularly to those on low incomes.

He said that the loss of a campsite in Kettlewell had, in part, led to the closure of one of the pubs and a fall in income for the village shop. The village was also in danger of losing its post office. He added: “The economic sustainability of Kettlewell is therefore considered by the parish council and myself to be a major planning issue in this case.”

He did request, however, that the Authority should ask North Yorkshire County Council’s highways department to consider ways to protect children going to the village playground on Conistone Lane. He also emphasised the need to retain the footpath which crosses the camping field.

The field, Staple Croft, is large enough for 40 tents and vehicles and will be open to campers all year round. There will be no formal pitches or hard surfacing, and no-one can stay on the site more than 28 days at one time.

A new gateway will be created at the south-western corner leading to Conistone Road, and a single storey stone clad amenity building will be constructed on the southern boundary. This will house not only the toilets, showers and pot washing area, but also a biomass boiler room and the reception.

The applicant, Nigel Lambert, has agreed to plant more trees and bushes to provide additional screening and to make sure that the site is well supervised.

Cllr Welch commented that each year the Authority aimed at increasing the number of visitors to the National Park and asked: “But where are all these people going to stay?” he asked. He was pleased that they had an opportunity at the meeting to approve more camping sites (see also Aysgarth and Cautley)

Langcliffe – December – A young family was refused permission to convert the former primary school in Langcliffe into a home and a floral and art workshop even though 38 residents had signed a petition in support of their plans.The committee heard that Jamie Kelly and Viktorya Hollings wanted to turn part of the school, which closed in 2007, into an open market home for themselves and their two children.

Langcliffe parish council was in favour of their plans which included a floral and art workshop plus allotments and a woodland area in the school grounds. In addition to the petition there had also been ten letters in support as villagers saw this as a lovely use of the building and a way of stopping it from decaying further.

But the school is outside the village development boundary and the planning officer was not convinced that the couple’s plans for the building sufficiently justified the loss of a community facility or the creation of a dwelling in the open countryside.

Ms Hollings told the committee: “After six years North Yorkshire County Council has not found a community use and private investors interest have come to nothing.” She added that renovations would cost £150,000 to £200,000 – a high cost for any community use in such a small village.

All they asked in return for providing some community use that fitted in well with other activities in the village such as the annual flower show was to be allowed to make their family home there.

Cllr Welch accepted that something needed to be done with the school but pointed out that it had been marketed by the county council as a commercial building. He said that several people would have been prepared to make high bids for it if it had been auctioned for open market housing.

The majority voted for his recommendation that the couple’s application be refused because it was against planning policy.

Litton – February – The decision in December 2013 to allow Parker Barn to be converted into an agricultural worker’s home was ratified. It had taken 13 months for permission to be granted to Stephen Lund to convert the barn on the family’s farm.

It had taken that long because originally the planning officer had asked the family to accept Section 106 agreements on three properties in Litton: Parker Barn; Potts Beck and West Farm. The latter belongs to the farm that the Lund family (Stuart and his sons Stephen and Stewart) presently hold the lease on.

Stewart, as a partner in the family business and who has an open market mortgage on Potts Beck, was asked to sign an agreement restricting his home to being occupied by an agricultural worker, which would have reduced the value of the house.

The Lunds plan to surrender the lease on West Farm at some time in the next few years as they have bought sufficient land around Litton to have their own farm. Parker Barn is on that land.

The planning officer was concerned that if the West Farm lease was not surrendered Parker Barn could be sold to someone not working on the Lund’s farm. He therefore asked that Parker Barn should be tied by a S106 agreement to the land they own.

At the February meeting two members of the committee, Ann Brooks and Mr Charlesworth, spoke in favour of this.

But the majority agreed with Cllr Blackie who argued that if Parker Barn was just an agricultural worker’s dwelling it could be used by a retired member of the family. He commented: “The Authority should trust those who work so hard to maintain this wonderful landscape. Sometimes we need to create the right circumstances for farming to continue.”

After the vote the chairman of the committee, Harold Brown, said: “We hope this will serve the family for generations. That’s if farming survives.”

Low Bolton -December – The planning committee approved an application by the Bolton Estate for the conversion of agricultural buildings to provide one live work unit and two workshop/office units at Low Bolton in Wensleydale.

The Authority’s head of sustainable development informed the committee that there was no specific policy in the 2006 Local Plan about live work developments. He added: “However in the absence of a specific policy on live work the Authority should presume in favour of sustainable development, unless there is a clash with some other aspect of National or local policy.”

The units at Low Bolton will be subject to S106 legal agreements which include that residential use cannot begin before the business part of the building is in use.

Low Row in Swaledale October – The educational work of Cath Calvert at Hazel Brow Farm in Swaledale was applauded at the meeting – but the majority of the members did not support her application to create a camping barn and educational facility at Turnip House Barn near Low Row.

Mr Charlesworth summed up the arguments against the proposal when he stated that there was no way that a camping barn would not affect Turnip House as the two buildings shared a party wall.

“Planning permission goes with the land forever – there is no question about it, it will harm the residential amenity of the adjoining premises,” he said and added that he had no doubt that it would be extremely difficult to have any effective management or supervision of the barn given the distance between it and Hazel Brow Farm.

Mrs Calvert said that the camping barn would be an addition to the work of Hazel Brow Farm and would be used only 80 days in a year. She would try to organise bookings so that there was little if any impact upon the owners of Turnip House who used it as a holiday home.

She said the  aim was to provide small groups with an opportunity to disconnect from modern living for 24 hours.“The whole ethos is to gain an insight into the past. We won’t be just telling the children – they will be experiencing it. This will be a living classroom,” she said and added: “This is our heritage and I feel we should share it.”

Cllr Blackie said that over the last 17 years he had watched the communities in Swaledale and Arkengarthdale decaying with facilities such as shops, post offices and schools being closed. “We must do something for these two Dales to make (young people) stay.” That, he said,  included providing not just affordable housing but also employment opportunities, the latter often depending upon encouraging more tourists to return regularly to the Dales.

Mr Brown, commented: “I fully support this – the work that she does and her family within the Dale for the education of young people, for tourism, for the well-being of Low Row and the surrounding area in Swaledale is nobody’s business.”

But in the end only four voted for the approval of her application.

Malham – December – The committee decided that a static caravan must be removed from Tullochvenus Farm near Malham within three months.

A planning officer informed the committee that permission had been granted in 2007 for a caravan to be there for three years as accommodation for an agricultural worker while the owner, Linda Hall-Denison, developed a llama farm. Due to illness Mrs Hall-Denison was not able to do this and in 2010 permission was granted for the caravan to remain there for another two years.

Her husband, Clive Chandler, told the planning committee that they wanted to retain the caravan for an unspecified temporary period as it was being used to help care for her. She is suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease and the outings to the caravan provided good stimulation, he said.

He disagreed with Kirkby Malhamdale parish council that the caravan was unattractive and too visible. This was one of the reasons the parish council gave for objecting to the retrospective planning application.

The planning committee accepted the officers recommendation to refuse the application and that an enforcement notice should be served to secure the removal of the caravan with its associated fixtures and surfaces within three months.

Melmerby – September to December

The committee’s discussions in late 2014 concerning an agricultural silage building at Middlefield Farm, and the decisions made concerning that and a new calf shed are reported in the post, Middlefield Farm, Melmerby.

Newbiggin, AskriggMay – Allen Kirkbride, the chairman of Askrigg and Low Abbotside parish council, said it was for reasons of safety that Martin Alderson had applied to create a new access and track for his home at Newbiggin. He explained that the visibility from the present access was so bad that cars had to be driven half way out onto the road before the drivers could see if there was any oncoming traffic.

Mr Alderson pointed out that it would be far safer for his children if the present access was blocked off and they could use the new one when going for a cycle ride.

North Yorkshire County Council’s highways department had, however, objected to the proposed new access as it would not give a clear visibility of 33 metres along the road in the northerly direction. This had led to the planning officer recommending refusal.

Cllr Blackie said that there were many situations in the Dales where the optimum visibility could not be achieved and the amount of traffic was increasing even in small hamlets like Newbiggin. He added that the new access would be far safer than the present one and the visual impact would be minimal as Mr Alderson planned to use grasscrete.

As all but one of the members voted to approve the application Mr Graham said that the decision would not need to be ratified at the next meeting.

Newhouses – July – There was a huge sense of relief in Newhouses and Horton in Ribblesdale now that timber wagons from Greenfield Forest will no longer be driven along the very narrow roads and past homes on the route from High Birkwith thanks to the planning committee members voting  unanimously to allow the wagons to go via Cam High Road to the B6255 via Far Gearstones instead.

Cllr Welch said that the residents had been asking for many years for a solution to the problems caused by the timber wagons and added: “This is a no brainer. It is an absolute dream for the residents of Newhouses and all those who use the road from High Birkwith.”

This has come about because the Cam Forest Trust acquired Greenfield Forest in February. Last year the Trust signed a legal agreement which carefully defined the use of the Cam High Road for the extraction of timber from Cam Forest. This included a 10mph speed limit and restricted the number of vehicle movements each week. Under that agreement extraction of timber would stop after 2015 and recommence around 2021.

To remove timber from Greenfield Forest the Trust requested that the legal agreement should be altered to allow for continuous use of the Cam High Road for the next 15 years and again in the future. For the first three years, during the period of most extensive felling, there would be no more than 40 wagons a week, with five before 9.30am each day and none at weekends.

The Trust proposes to create a new bridleway and a new footpath in Greenfield Forest as well as to upgrade a footpath to a bridleway. It will phase the extraction of timber so as to retain sufficient mature, cone-bearing, stands of trees for red squirrels.

Mr Charlesworth said: “It should be acknowledged that this applicant has done everything that has been required of him and has been fully co-operative, and nothing but professional.”

The main concern of the Yorkshire Dales Society, the Yorkshire Dales Access Forum, and the British Horse Society was that the movement of timber wagons should be regulated so as to avoid conflict with others using the Cam High Road.

The planning officer reported that since wagons began using the Cam High Road last year there had been no reports of speeding, and that the route had exceptionally good sight lines along its entire length. There will be warning signs during harvesting and extraction periods and the monitoring and review clause will be included in the new legal agreement.

Reeth – Orton Works

February – A decision regarding the application to erect a guest house at the Orton Works in Reeth was deferred to give the planning officer time to try and negotiate a better solution with the owner.The officer had recommended that the application should be refused because of the poor design and siting of the proposed guest house.

Cllr Blackie accepted the officer’s description of the proposed development but added that an up-market guest house could benefit the tourist trade in the area. He said: “It is a hugely important site in Reeth.”

The members then debated what would be the best way to improve the design and siting with several stating that the present application should be refused. The chairman, Mr Brown, pointed out that the late Bob Gale, when he was a district councillor, had wanted to support the application partly because it would clean up an eyesore in the village.

Reeth parish council and some residents, however, were concerned about the impact of the building on neighbouring properties. Richmondshire District Councillor Malcolm Gardner reported that the parish council was not invited to the site meeting in January.

April – It was agreed to defer a decision on the application to erect a guest house at Orton Works because not all the documents were available at the meeting.

Cllr Blackie said that the owner had supplied details about proposed modifications by March 21, four days before the agenda for the meeting was compiled. But these were no included with the agenda. And yet the officer had reported that at the time of writing his report no further information had been received. “That is simply not true. There is a need to be fair,” Cllr Blackie stated.

Five members voted for deferral, with one against, and six abstentions.

June – The impact upon the amenity of neighbouring properties and the desire to see an application which included the whole of the Orton Works site at Reeth led to the majority of the committee refusing permission for a five bedroom guest house to be built there.

Both Mr Charlesworth and Graham Dalton said that they had been convinced, after visiting some residents in Hill Close during a site visit, that the guest house would have a severe detrimental effect upon those households.

The applicant, Christopher Proctor, had asked if the site shown on the application could be re-delineated to include the workshop. But he had been told that would only be possible if he made a new application.

Members were told by the legal officer that they had to make a decision on the application as it stood. This also applied to Cllr Gardner’s suggestions that approval could be given in principle for a guest house and that the detail could then be worked out later by a small committee consisting of planning officers, local councillors and a representative of the parish council.

The planning officer reported that the parish council was in favour of the application as it would lead to the site being tidied up. This point was emphasised by Mr Brown,  Cllr Gardner and  Cllr Blackie.

Cllr Gardner told the committee that the workshop was no longer functioning and was due for demolition and added that the guest house would provide employment once again on the former Blenkiron and Sons builders yard.

Cllr Blackie said the site was already an eyesore and disagreed with the officer that the proposed guest house was of such a poor architectural design. He argued that the application should be approved rather than to see the continued dereliction of the site.

Rylstone – wind turbine at Fleets Farm

February – The members did not feel they could assess from the photographs shown by the planning officer what impact a single 10kw, 14.8m high wind turbine would make upon the landscape at Fleets Farm, Rylstone.

Craven District Councillor Carl Lis summed up the feelings of several members when he stated: “I am massively in support of small wind turbines and it is massively important that we can see its impact (upon the landscape).”

When Cllr Blackie asked about a photo montage Mr Graham, said that the planning department was not obliged to show one.

Another Cllr Roberts, pointed out that the Authority was already at fault for non-determination as the application had been received by the planning department on September 25 last year.

March – The farmer at Rylstone did have to wait another month for a decision about having a wind turbine installed at Fleets Farm.

The majority of the committee voted in favour of the application but as that was against the planning officer’s recommendation it had to be ratified at the April meeting.

Ann Brooks was one of the members who argued that the wind turbine would be in an exposed position and “break the horizon” and so would be very obtrusive. Mr Charlesworth agreed and added that the Authority had a duty to protect and conserve the landscape.

But Mr Brown, reminded them that they also had a duty to safeguard the social and economic well-being of those living and working in the National Park. “This is a very modest (application) and it supports our green energy policy,” he said.

April – It took eight months but the planning committee did finally make a decision about the installation of a wind turbine at Fleets Farm with the majority voting in favour of the application.

Yet again there were strong opinions both for and against the application by the farmer, James Butcher. Cllr Blackie commented that it was one of those applications where each member might come to a different conclusion.

Some members agreed with the planning officer that the turbine would have a detrimental impact upon the landscape. Mr Charlesworth said it would be very harmful to the landscape because it would be prominently placed on an exposed, isolated site.

Others did not feel it would be so visible on the skyline especially once the trees were in leaf. It was pointed out that the government was encouraging farmers to introduce renewable energy alternatives to carbon fuels and that a precedent had been set in the National Park when approval was given for a wind turbine on a farm at Malham.

Cllr Blackie said that the Authority had also approved a 39.6m high radio mast at Hawes which was far more prominent on the landscape than the wind turbine at Rylstone would be.

The decision had to be confirmed at the April meeting due the referral back system.

Sedbergh – February – The committee unanimously accepted the planning officer’s recommendation that MK Conversions Ltd must sign a S106 agreement to build two affordable houses at the former Aqua Engineering Site at Guldrey Lane.

If this isn’t done within three months, or within a longer period as agreed with the Authority’s head of development management, an enforcement notice will be issued requiring the demolition of Fell Vista, Mr Ball’s five-bedroom home, which was built on the site without planning permission.

The planning permission, with strict conditions, was for two affordable houses and two open market houses, with Fell Vista being one of the latter.The planning officer also recommended, in line with a request from Sedbergh parish council, that the affordable houses should be built within 18 months.

The parish council had approved the application being changed from three to two affordable houses so long as the permission was tied to a robust and enforceable planning obligation.

The agent for MK Conversions Ltd assured the committee that the affordable houses could be built within 18 months.

Sedbergh – February – Sedbergh Parish Council supported the amended plans for the change of use of the dental surgery in Finkle Street as the proposed larger retail unit was more likely to be viable and so help to make the shopping centre more attractive. The committee accepted this and also the parish council’s request that there should be a S106 agreement on the flat on the first floor to limit occupation to a person in local need.

Sedbergh – May – Permission was granted for all the window frames at 1-12 Bainbridge Court in Bainbridge Road, Sedbergh, to be replaced with uPVC ones. The planning officer explained that these would all be sash windows to match the appearance of those being replaced and would have a wood grain effect.

Sedbergh parish council had objected to the application to change the conditions on the original planning permission for this building which was built in the last 20 years. It is in a conservation area and the council is keen to retain the traditional character of Bainbridge Road.

The planning officer pointed out, however, that wooden window frames at other houses in Bainbridge Road had been replaced with uPVC ones. He added: “It is considered that the proposed replacement windows would preserve the character of the building due to the replication of the sash details, the slender proportions of the glazing bars and the fact that the horizontal glazing bars would be equal to the bulk of the existing timber sashes.”

His argument was accepted by the majority of the members. Chris Armitage said that this would not set a precedent because this was a relatively new building and so not listed.

There was a discussion about the merits of uPVC window frames compared to modern wooden ones.  Cllr Harrison-Topham said that uPVC frames had a limited lifespan and were costly to replace. And Mr Colley explained that these days new wooden frames came with a ten-year guarantee and after that would cost less to maintain.

Sedbergh – Post Office yard

November – A new building in the Post Office yard garden in Sedbergh would have a very detrimental impact upon the town’s conservation area two residents told the meeting.

Dr Helen Hodge thanked the members for agreeing to Ian McPherson’s request for a site meeting so that they could see the yard for themselves before deciding upon the application for the construction of a three-bedroom house.

Speaking as a resident and not as the chairman of Sedbergh parish council, she stated: “The main objection is that it would have an overpowering impact.”

And like Jim Atkins, who was representing the parish council, she disagreed with the statement by the planning officer that:“The presence of a new building will add to the sense of enclosure and close-knit urban grain which is a key characteristic of this part of Sedbergh’s townscape.”

The planning officer had reported that the densely populated yards were developed on what may once have been medieval burgage plots with workshops for knitting and spinning. These, he said, were a central feature of the town’s layout and contributed significantly to its locally distinctive character.

Mr Atkins argued that the Post Office yard showed the quintessential character of the oldest part of the town and that as one of the few open spaces in the area it was very important and valuable.

Dr Hodge emphasised the impact that the loss of the green space would have as well as pointing out that the narrow rights of way which provided access to the site were not only used by vehicles but also by many pedestrians, especially children and the elderly. “Any addition to the movement and parking of cars will undoubtedly represent a substantial loss of public amenity,” she said.

She also highlighted the loss of amenity to other residents if there was a new building close to their garden walls blocking off more of the limited amount of light at present available. Both she and Mr Atkins said that the development would make it more difficult for Post Office vans to manoeuvre in what would remain of the yard.

December – The committee voted to refuse the application for a three-bedroom house to be built in the Post Office yard garden but as that was against the officer’s recommendation that decision was ratified at the meeting in February 2015.

Mr McPherson reminded the committee of the unanimous objections of the parish council and residents to the application.

Mr Charlesworth, however, agreed with the applicants, Mr and Mrs C Johnson, and the planning officer. He said it would be a modest house, and the design and materials would be appropriate. He added: “It increases the supply of housing for local people and will not cause substantial harm to the character and appearance of the conservation area. In my view it will add to the sense of enclosure in these small yards. It’s fully in accord with our policies.”

An appeal against this decision was dismissed by the planning inspectorate in March 2016.

Settle – July – It was unanimously agreed that the development of an innovative aquaponics system at a former reservoir off Mitchell Lane in Settle could continue.

The planning officer explained that this experimental form of fish farming would include using the nutrients from the fish tanks to feed plants grown on raised beds within the aquaponics building. This cleans the water allowing it to be fed back into the tanks, and also ensures that no effluent escapes into local streams. Vegetables, fruit and herbs will be grown outside the building.

“Such an imaginative use of an old reservoir deserves our full support,” commented Cllr Gardner.

Graham Wilks’ application was partly retrospective as he had already erected a timber building and had a caravan there so that he could reside on the site while carrying  out substantial ground works and developing the aquaponics system.

Permission was granted for creating an access to the reservoir floor and for stabilisation work on its walls.The committee agreed that Mr Wilks could retain the caravan on the site for three years. It was expected that after that period the aquaponics system should have stabilised and that accommodation on the site would no longer be necessary.

The aquaponics system will be powered by a solar panel array which will be screened by the woodland. Mr Wilks’ proposal includes the felling of ten mature trees and replanting with blackthorn, hawthorn and fruit trees. The timber from felled and fallen trees will be turned into fence posts, mulch, tree stakes and logs for heating.

Settle parish council was concerned about the felling of mature trees, noise from the site, and any increase in the volume of traffic along the steep and narrow lane. Mr Wilks had assured the planning officer that he would only use a Landrover and trailer to transport supplies to the site and to take produce to local markets.

Settle – September – The six businesses based at The Courtyard near Settle won the support of the planning committee  in their bid to have what they believe will be sufficient signage on the A65.

The planning officer had recommended that the application for three advance warning signs should be refused as they would be too large and so have a visually harmful impact due to their alien and commercial appearance in a rural area.

Simon Robinson, a partner in the Dalesbred bespoke soft furnishing company, explained to the committee that good signage about what was on offer at The Courtyard was needed to attract motorists to leave the fast moving traffic on the A65.

He told the committee: “At no point when we were granted planning permission for retail did we realise how difficult it would be to get planning permission for sufficient signage to make the businesses work. This is now our fourth application and the signs proposed now are 33 per cent smaller than any previous application in order to find a compromise.

“I really believe every business (there) is at risk if we don’t have signage that is large enough and clear enough to encourage people to stop and shop. The planning officers would like us to have smaller signage which only says Courtyard on it and doesn’t tell you what is there. All the businesses in The Courtyard feel that we are being heavily penalised for wanting to work, create jobs, and live in the park.”

He accepted that the temporary signs needed to be replaced with good quality signage of a sensitive nature and the committee members were impressed by the designs shown at the meeting.

Cllr Lis, in proposing acceptance of the application, said: “We need to do everything we possibly can to support these businesses. I can’t believe we are even considering turning this application down.”

The majority agreed with him with some pointing out that smaller signage could be dangerous as motorists would have difficulty reading it. It was also accepted that the A65 was a busy commercial highway and could not be compared to a more rural location.

Settle Town Council supported the application and the Yorkshire Dales Society had withdrawn its objection, partly on the understanding that all the temporary and individual retailers’ signs, flags and bunting on and around The Courtyard buildings would be removed if approval was given for the new signage.

As there was just one abstention to the majority vote in favour Mr Graham said that the decision to approve would not be referred back to the October meeting.

Stainforth – – February – The request to discharge the S106 agreement on Ingle-Byre at Stainforth was refused.

The planning officer explained that an enforcement notice had been served on the owners, Andrew and Jenny Colau, in October 2010 because Ingle-Byre had been subdivided to form a holiday let without planning permission.

In February 2011 the planning committee had agreed that the two bedroom holiday let could become a dwelling for someone who met the local need criteria so long as a S106 agreement was signed.

Mr Colau told the committee that in 18 months there had been just one possible purchaser. That person worked and was on the electoral roll in the National Park and had an elderly parent living within it and yet was informed by someone at the YDNPA that they did not meet the local need criteria.

Mr Colau said that if they could not sell that dwelling they were in danger of losing their own home and so would be casualties of the S106 agreement.

Stainforth – April – The owners of Taitlands at Stainforth was given two months to remove a large marquee.

The committee had discussed the retrospective planning applications made by the owners for the marquee and the plywood link to the Coach House within the curtilage of the Grade II listed Taitland House. The owners erected the marquee because for structural reasons it was not possible to use the upper floor of the Coach House for dancing during wedding functions.

Cllr Welch stated that not only was the marquee creating a detrimental impact upon the landscape but there was excessive noise on Saturday nights due to the live bands and discos. This, he said, did not preserve the peace and tranquillity of the National Park and added: “The planning rules have been flaunted. The marquee is a permanent fixture. This is also to do with a listed building.”

Mr Charlesworth stated: “This applicant has chosen, without planning permission, to construct this monstrosity of a marquee which is utterly and totally incongruous in the landscape.”

Others argued that wedding functions considerably helped the local economy and that it would be unfair to those couples who had already booked Taitlands for their weddings this year if  the Authority insisted  that the marquee should be removed within two months.

The planning officer pointed out that the owners had been told in June last year that planning permission was required for the marquee and yet they had gone on taking bookings for weddings.

The majority of the members voted to refuse the retrospective planning applications and then approved enforcement action.

Starbotton – March – The future of Wharfedale could depend upon some land at Starbotton being extensively tested for anthrax spores, local resident, Robert Brame, told the planning committee.

Mr Brame told the committee: “Gambling with anthrax is irresponsible. The only true safe option is to get experts to extensively test the land and if found to contain anthrax spores then to have it extensively decontaminated. Lives, livelihoods and the future of Wharfedale may well depend on it.”

But despite being warned by both Mr Brame and Kettlewell with Starbotton parish council planning permission was given for a replacement extended garage for the Old School House. This will involve excavating land where older members of the community believe animals infected with anthrax may have been buried.

The planning officer reported that the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) had assured the Authority that there were no records of any such problem and had added: “The applicant can be advised to contact the AHVLA to seek further advice, if any such discovery was made.”

In addition the Authority’s legal officer, Clare Bevan, told the committee that the possibility of anthrax contamination was not a planning issue. She said that of the four objections raised by the parish council only one could be considered and that was whether light would be restricted to the cottage adjacent to the garage. The parish council had also reported that there were disputes about the ownership of the access track and the boundary wall at the rear of the garage.

The planning officer told the committee that the replacement garage would enhance the appearance of the Starbotton Conservation Area. He believed that the overall impact upon the windows of Closeburn would be ameliorated by such design features as the garage having an oblique front elevation, and the overall height being reduced by dropping the ground level by 100mm.

One of the committee members, Graham Dalton, pointed out that usually it was assumed the amenities of neighbours could be affected if a building was within 20m of their windows. The planning officer informed him that the 2.2m extended width of the garage would bring it to within about three metres of the ground floor windows at Closeburn. That three metres is the width of the access track between the garage and Closeburn.

The majority of members felt that the slides shown by the planning officer provided them with sufficient information about the impact upon amenity without attending a site meeting.

Cllr Roberts requested a site meeting because he believed that the amenity of several nearby cottages would be affected. And he added: “The question of anthrax needs to be explained I believe on site. The word ‘anthrax’ is very emotive.”

Ms Bevan reminded members that to have a site meeting the application had to be particularly complex or if it was difficult to visualise the impact of the development. She said: “We don’t just do them off the cuff -they cost money and they delay the determination of the application.”

See below – Anthrax warning for Wharfedale.

Stirton – November – The committee gave its unanimous support to the proposal to convert a 17th century Tithe Barn into four offices even though residents described the application as inappropriate and wrong.

Alison Griffin, the clerk to Stirton-with-Thorlby parish meeting, outlined the reasons why residents were so opposed to the application by the Trustees of Roman Catholic Purposes.

She said that the increase in traffic along the narrow roads would imperil pedestrians including the children who walked along it to secondary schools in Skipton. There was also concern that the reduction in the number of car parking spaces from 12 to six could lead to vehicles being parked on the road or across the accesses to farm fields and so impeding the movement of tractors.

She stated: “Residents oppose these plans for an historic tithe barn to be turned into an inappropriate office block and unsightly car park. If this development goes ahead you will be in direct conflict with residents. The development is wrong.”

The committee members supported her call for everything to be done to protect the barn owls which roost in the barn. Mr McPherson pointed out that barn owls were a significantly endangered species and did not move their nests to order. He questioned whether they would accept a temporary roost while the building was being converted.

Mr Charlesworth said he was sorry that the application didn’t have the support of local residents but supported their right to have a say.

He believed that this would be a very sensitive conversion of the barn that was in dire need of rescue and added: “We are desperate to provide employment opportunities in the dales which go together with housing and families. That is something I believe is fundamental and we should support it.”

Cllr  Blackie agreed with him and stated: “This is an admirable choice for a site for the sort of industry we need to attract into the dales.”

Threshfield – Long Ashes

April – New chalets to be built at Long Ashes Caravan Park can be used for holiday purposes for eleven months a year.

When approval for the siting of the chalets was given in August last year the YDNPA restricted their use to short stay holiday accommodation with no individual staying in one for more than 28 days in a year. This, the Authority was told, would make it very difficult for Lakeland Leisure Estates Ltd to sell the chalets.

The chalets must not, however,  be a person’s sole or main residence and Mr Graham was asked what the Authority was doing to ensure that such regulations were adhered to at all the caravan parks in the National Park.“We don’t check them on a regular basis. A check will be made this year,” he replied.

Cllr Blackie emphasised the need for regular checks so that people were not misled into believing that they could make such chalets their permanent residences as had occurred in the Richmondshire area.

Cllr Harrison-Topham vehemently disagreed with the majority of the members about altering the planning condition. “I think this proposal is outrageous,” he stated.

He was not convinced that a council tax bill for a permanent residence elsewhere was sufficient to stop people using such chalets as their main home.“We put our local residents through considerable planning hoops and, in effect, these structures… are to be made available in all likelihood (as) the main residence of whoever buys them. This sort of thing simply cannot be adequately policed and we should not agree to it.”

Mr Colley was concerned that the Authority would have to meet all the costs of checking the registers at all the caravan parks in the National Park, and wondered if there was any way of charging the caravan, chalet and lodge owners for such monitoring.

September – Permission was granted for an earth mound to be retained at Long Ashes Caravan Park as it was accepted that this did provide screening for the site.

Threshfield parish council  had objected to the retrospective planning application because it included the access road into an agricultural field. It asked: “As this field is to remain undeveloped why has such a substantial permanent access road been built? And what is the enormous heap of crushed stone currently in the top northern corner of the field to be used for?”

The committee agreed that the track in the field and the heap of crushed stone should be removed within three months and the field restored to its original condition.

Cllr  Roberts reminded the committee that Cllr Marshall had suggested several months ago that the  owners of Long Ashes Caravan Park (Lakelands Leisure Estates Ltd)  should submit a five-year plan for the site because there were so many applications.

He and other committee members asked that a site meeting be held at Long Ashes, preferably when the next planning application was received. Cllr Roberts commented: “The majority of the members of the committee have never been near Long Ashes.”

It was reported that another application had been received – for a 136 square metre extension to the spa facilities at Long Ashes. This extension would house a new manicure and pedicure salon, an enlarged relaxation lounge, new changing and locker rooms with shower and toilet facilities, and a lift suitable for those who are disabled, as well as a new emergency exit staircase.

December –  Cllr  Marshall told the committee that she was deeply disappointed with Lakeland Leisure Estates for not yet having provided the YDNPA with a five-year-plan for its Long Ashes Caravan Park.

Mr Graham said the company had been asked on more than one occasion to provide detailed proposals for the Park.

In its latest application the company had applied to put seven static holiday caravans on a small site which had been included in an application in January 2013. The Authority’s decision to refuse permission for that was dismissed at an appeal in July 2013.

The planning officer said that the seven caravans would not be seen from outside the park as they would be well screened by trees. The planning conditions included further ecological improvements to the whole park.

Cllr Roberts reported that Threshfield parish council still objected to the application even though the site had been included in the appeal decision.“The parish council is saying ‘Enough is enough’,” he said. “This is the largest caravan site in the National Park. I am against it being developed any more. I believe it has reached its capacity. I cannot stress how dangerous the entrance and exit from the north and south is.”

He accepted the planning officer’s advice but said he would abstain from voting because he felt the opinion of the parish council was so important.

Mr Colley and Cllr Harrison-Topham asked if the Authority could insist on a comprehensive re-modelling scheme for Long Ashes. But Mr Graham reminded the committee members that they were dealing with an application for seven static caravans. The majority voted for permission to be granted.

West Witton – February – Approval was given for the change of use of a bungalow at Chantry Country Retreat to an office and facility centre. The bungalow has been vacant since 2007 and employees staying overnight had used one of the static caravans. The latter will later be relocated to where other static caravans are sited. There will be no change to the number of static caravan pitches and it was accepted that the proposed conversion of the bungalow would improve the facilities available to customers.

Anthrax warning for Wharfedale: Kettlewell with Starbotton parish council objected in March 2014 to a garage in Starbotton being extended due to doubts about if and where animals which had died of anthrax had been buried.

At the October 2014 meeting of the parish council the following letter from the applicant, David Taylor was read out:

“Since 1983 I became aware that my plot of land was the supposed burial site of a cow infected with Anthrax in 1940. This has since escalated to numerous cattle being buried by one of the objectors to my planning application. Despite being told over the years that this was just hearsay and peculation, I have always taken this matter seriously and from 2005 I have attempted to find a safe solution to clarify the situation.

“Having spent time seeking advice from numerous agencies such as local vets, the National Archives, DEFRA, AHVLA and Environmental Health, who were not actually concerned as there were no records showing cattle having been buried in my plot. Anthrax was, even in 1940, a notifiable disease, but records do show a suspected outbreak at another location which proved to be negative during the same time.

“I was advised to speak to the Rare and Imported Pathogens Department at Public Health England, Porton Down headed by Dr Tim Brook, Head and Clinical Services Director and one of the country’s leading scientists together with Dr Judith Duggan, Principal Scientist. Having had numerous lengthy conversations with Dr Brook, he issued me with the information and guidance required to take soil samples safely and without risk.

“This I have now done, in accordance with his instructions, and the samples have been tested by PHE Food, Water and Environmental Microbiology Laboratory at my own expense. The tests undertaken have proved that anthrax spores have not been detected in the samples and this week I have received confirmation of the results.

“As the Parish Council objected to my planning application on the grounds of anthrax, I would be grateful if the contents of this letter can be included in the minutes so that any interested party, together with those who have voiced their opinions on this subject, can be made aware of the results, that my land is not infected with Anthrax.”

Richard Brame, Mr Taylor’s neighbour in Starbotton, had objected to the extension and below are excerpts from the letter he sent to the Prime Minister and to Yorkshire Forward prior to the Tour de France Grand Depart in Wharfedale:

“I and many other local residents fear that the imminent disturbance of this land (for the garage extension) will create a biological health hazard to both animals and humans.There seems to be no interest taken of the very real threat that anthrax poses not just to the local environment and occupants, but also to those visiting and cyclists participating in the (Tour de France)  Grand Depart.”

He sent copies of that letter to Cllr Roberts; Julian Smith MP for Ripon and Skipton; Edward Miliband MP leader of the Labour Party; Nigel Farage  MEP; and Natalie Bennett,  the leader of the Green Party. In his covering letter he stated:“My chief concern is the risk arising from the disturbance of the land which is known to be the site of interred diseased cattle. If anthrax spores are released, the environmental consequences could be catastrophic. The impact on lives, local economy (retain, tourism and agriculture), and the reputational damage of the region … would be both immediate, and probably last for decades.I strongly believe this is a matter of national importance and needs a Government level intervention.”

YDNPA – Middlefield Farm, Melmerby

December 13, 2014 By: Pip Land Category: ARC News Service No Comments →

An ARC News Service report on the decisions made at the Yorkshire Dales National Park (YDNPA ) planning committee meeting in late 2014 concerning Middlefield Farm at Melmerby in Coverdale. When discussing the problem of retrospective planning applications those involving the Forbidden Corner in Coverdale were also mentioned.

As County Coun Shelagh Marshall left the meeting in December she commented: “I didn’t come here to put farmers out of business. I am very upset.”

The committee had refused, by just one vote, the retrospective application for a large silage building. It was agreed, however, not to start enforcement action for 12 months.

The discussions began three months earlier:

September – It was agreed to hold a site meeting at Middlefield Farm to consider the retrospective application for an agricultural silage building. Cllr Roger Harrison-Topham, who can see the building from his home, said that it was important to consider the economics of modern dairy farming.

The planning officer had recommended that the application should be refused and that enforcement action should be started to secure either the complete removal of the building or a reduction in its height to the same as that which had burnt down. The applicant had stated that the building had to be high enough to allow adequate clearance for modern farm machinery.

October – The sudden disappearance of a planning officer (Simon Chapman) led to a decision about the retrospective application for an agricultural silage building at Middlefield Farm in Coverdale being deferred for a month.

CllrBlackie explained that with Mr Chapman leaving at such short notice it had not been possible for the applicant, Andrew Avison, to provide written details about the business case for having such a large building. He pointed out that with the recent fall in the price of milk it was even more important to consider the economic viability of the farm.

Mr Graham said he believed the committee did have sufficient information upon which to base a decision and added: “The figures are actually in favour of the applicant’s proposal and we are not disputing these.”

Mr Chapman had recommended that the application should be refused because the applicant had not provided sufficient information to prove that such a large, visually intrusive building was required.

The officer who presented the report at the meeting, Michelle Clowes, stated: “Although it is accepted that farms need to expand and develop officers considered that in this instance the applicant’s agricultural justification didn’t outweigh the visual harm that is caused to the character and the community in the area by the height and scale of the building.

“Officers are also concerned about the precedent that this could set for other farmers to have very tall and large buildings in the Park.”

Cllr Roger  Harrison-Topham, who can see the building from his home, had written to ask that the decision be deferred for a month to allow Mr Avison to provide further financial information.

He was especially concerned about the sustainability of dairy farming in the Dales and noted that a smaller building would lead to an increase in the number of deliveries and costs. The farm agent had estimated that the additional cost could be between £10,000 and £20,000 a year.

The key question, said Cllr Roberts, was whether an articulated lorry could deliver silage into a building which had been reduced in height in accordance with the request by planning officers.

December –

Andrew Avison, the farmer, was rebuked by Peter Charlesworth and Richmondshire District Coun Stuart Parsons, for making a retrospective planning application.

The chairman of the committee, Harold Brown, commented: “I don’t condone anyone who comes with a retrospective planning application but when you are speaking about retrospective you only need to move a mile away from this (farm) where another applicant over the last 15 years has not driven a coach and horses through the planning policy – he has driven double decker buses.”

At the very end of the long meeting he referred to the schedule of delegated decisions and said: “Forbidden Corner – that’s retrospective.” To which N Yorks County Coun Roger Harrison-Topham responded:“It’s called the Coverdale illuminations.” There had been objections to both of Mr Avison’s applications on the basis of light pollution.

The retrospective application from The Forbidden Corner approved by officers under delegated powers was for the change of use of flat racing stables to a restaurant, change of use of land for inclusion within a visitor attraction to create a car park and extend gardens, erection of a single storey porch extension and two storey gable extension, and erection of roof for visitor centre.

Coun Harrison-Topham told the committee before it discussed the application for the silage building at Middlefield Farm that he had pleaded with a head of planning five or six years ago to bring all decisions about mega-dairy farms to the planning committee. “We have already swallowed camels when other operations were approved under delegated powers in past years,” he said.

He argued that the silage building would look a lot better once a lean-to had been added to each of the longer sides. This would also enable the farmer to store sufficient feed for all his cows once he had increased the number to 400.

Coun Harrison-Topham also asked the committee to consider what would happen if the applicant appealed to the planning inspectorate. He then left the meeting as he lives close to the farm.

Silage building – Coun Parsons said the silage building had become known as the giraffe house. This is because the height to the eaves of 27m long building is over 10m.

Mr Avison explained that a silage clamp had been destroyed during a fire at the farm in February 2014. “We had an opportunity to create an infrastructure that was going to get rid of all the unsightly tyres, silage clamps and silage being stored outside.”

He added that this was what the government was recommending so that silage stayed dry and dirty water did not escape into the streams. The height of the building he said allowed the back of articulated lorries to be fully extended and therefore completely emptied.

He told the committee: “The reason we put the silage building up was because we had a six week window to put in silage. When your officer came we told him – ‘if you can find an alternative site for 1500 tons of grass I’ll put it there’. And he couldn’t.“

I just don’t why I’m here. To be absolutely honest I have not got a penny to spend on altering that building. We have had £150,000 off our milk cheque in the last five months so we are standing to lose £240,000 this year. We have laid off three staff off night milkings and we have dropped to twice a day milking.”

The large silage building was saving the farm £20,000 a year, the equivalent of a salary for a farm worker, said County Coun John Blackie. He stated: ”We are at a bit of crossroads now in terms of dairy farmers. Just like with the young people, if we are not careful they will become another endangered species.”

He pointed out that there were no longer any dairy farms west of Reeth, and he expected three more in Wensleydale to stop producing milk within the next few years.

He reported that David Hartley, the managing director, of Wensleydale Creamery, was very concerned that soon it might not be possible to source sufficient milk to make Wensleydale Cheese. The Creamery used to have 49 producers and now there were under 30 with another ten in jeopardy. Coun Blackie reminded the committee that it had given permission for a massive warehouse to be built at the Creamery even though it could be seen from the Pennine Way.

He described the dairy farmers as the National Park’s foot soldiers of conservation. “Their cows are keeping pastures green; we see those lovely hay meadows; and the farmers here keep the walls up. We can’t have them there and expect them to farm at a total, absolute loss. And I’m afraid that’s what is facing them. Many have walked away from dairy farming in the upper Dales.”

N Yorks County Coun Richard Welch agreed with him and questioned the statement by a planning officer. She had quoted an agricultural consultant as stating that the back of the lorries did not have to be fully extended and that meant the building could be lower in height. Coun Welch was not convinced and argued that the Authority should give special care to the needs of the local population.

Craven District Coun John Roberts stated: “I am very uncomfortable if the decision goes against the applicant that we may be closing that farm.”

Mr Charlesworth, however, stated: “We must support farmers in the Dales, of course, but it doesn’t mean you can just do what you like to the detriment of the landscape. I very much regard the landscape as the primary quality that we are here to conserve and enhance by law in the National Park. And this is too dominant. It is too out of scale. It is intrusive and incongruous. I can’t believe that the height of this building determines whether the business survives or not.”

Mr Brown reminded the committee that it was the farmers and also the lead miners who had created the landscape of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

And the planning officer agreed with Coun Blackie that in the landscape view of Middlefield Farm shown to the committee the silage building did not stand out.

Calf shed – The planning officer also recommended that Mr Avison’s application for a new calf shed to replace one which had been damaged during that fire in February should be refused.

He stated: “The proposed building by virtue of its siting and design would result in the introduction of significant levels of light pollution into an intrinsically dark landscape detrimental to one of the special qualities of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.”

This application had not been decided within eight weeks and the officer told the committee: “It is considered in the best interest of the Authority that the application for the silage building and this application are considered by members alongside one another.”

Both Mr Avison and Coun Blackie questioned this. Coun Blackie said that the building was not too large and calf buildings were essential to the dairying business. The lighting would be on from time to time but there were other farm buildings in the National Park which required much more. He said: “If we refuse this we are simply hounding him out of business and stopping him doing what we actually want him to do – farm our landscape.”

Richard Graham, the head of development management, responded: “It’s not the case that officers delayed this application. It could have been refused under delegated powers within the eight weeks time limit. But officers feel there is a solution to the issue….of light pollution.

“It’s a very difficult issue for officers to deal with because we can’t control internal illumination and so we have to make sure (about) the design of the building and the landscape planting that will help to screen it.”

When Mr Graham added that the planning officer had tried to consult with Mr Avison, Mr Brown had to call the meeting to order because the young farmer disagreed with him. He had to call the meeting to order again a little later when members were discussing the best way to deal with the situation.

All agreed that the planning officer and Mr Avison had to resolve the issue but County Coun Robert Heseltine proposed the committee should, therefore, defer making a decision, while Coun Blackie asked that the application should be approved subject to amended plans being acceptable to the planning officer. This would mean that approval could be granted within weeks, whereas if the decision was deferred it would have to be brought back to the next planning committee meeting which was in February 2015.

Mr Graham said: “Just to move the matter on I am happy if members are happy to delegate to officers to agree a revised scheme with the applicant. If we can’t reach an agreement then it will come back in February. If we do reach an agreement then we will use delegated powers (to approve it).” Coun Blackie’s proposal was accepted.

Mr Brown told the meeting: “To add my ten penny worth. I don’t know what we’re on with here. It’s an ordinary general purpose shed for calves. I don’t know where the light pollution comes into this because calves don’t get milked at 4 o’clock in the morning. So I’m in favour of getting on with this pronto.”

And he told Mr Avison: “Talk to the planning officer.”

(Permission for the calf shed was later approved by an officer)

John Blackie – the Rural Summit and that complaint

November 29, 2014 By: Pip Land Category: ARC News Service No Comments →

hawes_postoffice.jpg

On Tuesday, November 25, Graham Dalton and I sat with Coun John Blackie for two hours at the Bainbridge office of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority  (YDNPA) waiting to find out what had been decided behind closed doors about the complaint brought against John.

We both knew that John’s passionate championship of local communities sometimes led to him being just a bit “over the top” in his comments, especially at YDNPA meetings. (Above: John Blackie at the Upper Wensleydale Community Office soon after he took on the role of community volunteer head postmaster to save the Post Office service in Upper Wensleydale. With him are Abbie Rhodes on the left and Imogen Kirkbride.) 

But both of us were there to defend him regarding what he had said and done at the YDNPA full Authority meeting in March 2014.  We and others felt he had been quite restrained that day! We couldn’t be sure that we would be allowed to speak at the meeting of the Standards Committee on November 25 because at one stage during the investigation against him it had not been deemed necessary to hear what we had to say.

While we were waiting Graham asked John about the Rural Summit which had been held in Leyburn the previous week (see my posts about that). John, as the leader of Richmondshire District Council, had played a key role in organising this. He told Graham:

“Early this year I wanted to find out how, even with a rural housing enabler, we hadn’t produced any rural houses for the last two years – and I know she had tried. I found out that the housing corporations and housing associations were so risk adverse now and so concentrated on the golden triangle which is Harrogate, York and Leeds, they weren’t interested in rural areas any more.”

There had been lower and lower responses to the surveys conducted to identify housing needs, he said, because people had given up hope that they would ever get affordable housing developments in their communities. But without such housing they would not be able to hang on to their young people and young families.

“I then had a meeting with the Local Enterprise Partnership – and they too were playing the numbers game and were really only interested in the market towns and the larger conurbations, and the old days of providing advanced workshops were done and dusted for ever.”

“My experience in Hawes was that we provided a rural business park ten years ago and it has only just now been filled. But in filling it we have over 50 jobs.

“Then I looked at the school rolls. I have been a (North Yorkshire) county councillor for 17 years so I asked (to see) those from 15 years ago, 10 years ago and five years ago. And I found that young families were voting with their feet and leaving the Dales.

“As an example Reeth and Gunnerside schools 15 years ago had 95 children and they now have 46. Bainbridge and Askrigg have lost 50 students out of the 117 they had 15 years ago. And then there is the loss of services for young families – like the midwife and paediatric services. In Gunnerside I found the last teenager in the village just can’t wait to get away. He said ‘ I’ve got no friends here.’ There’s no place for a young person in a village where the school is down to seven students. The Post Office has closed. The shop has closed. At that time the pub was closed – fortunately it has re-opened.

“I thought I’ve got to do something – and the only way was to get everybody together – everybody who has a role to play in economic and social development – to get them round the table and say ‘the way we’ve been doing it to date, standing on the side lines and every one of us hoping something would turn up, isn’t working. And unless we do something differently now then we are going to see the collapse of communities that will not survive without young people in their midst.’ And that’s where it came from.

“So back in June I said there would be a rural conference. I didn’t like the word conference. We’d been to conferences before – you turn up, say wonderful things and then you walk away and do absolutely nothing about it. I decided it would be a conference with a difference. Somebody provided the word summit for me and I devised the format – ‘speed-dating’.

“I wasn’t interested in any excuse, any justification. What I was interested in – what the summit would be interested in – was doing things differently in the future. And even if it failed at least you were there for the trying. And that’s what we had and I believe that what’s we got – a head of steam going.

“The most important thing about the rural summit is it reconvenes next July with everybody to come back and say what they have done differently and what progress they had made.

“Which is why what is happening today (November 25) is so important. I am willing to accept there wasn’t a conspiracy if the complaint is being, so to speak, withdrawn. Far more important is what we can do for the communities out there. Because if we don’t do anything we are going to watch them die in front of our very eyes.”

Soon after I recorded that, Peter Charlesworth, the chairman of the YDNPA, came to tell us that a formula for agreement had been accepted. I deeply respect Mr Charlesworth for all he did that morning as a conciliator.

John had been accused of breaching the Authority’s code of conduct by failing to treat others with courtesy and conducting  himself in a manner which could reasonably be regarded as bringing the Authority or his office as a member into disrepute.

In a YDNPA press release afterwards it was stated: “The allegations followed a meeting of the Authority in March and were denied by Mr Blackie. Independent solicitor John Lawrence, who was called in to investigate the allegations, decided the evidence supported them.”

Graham and I disagreed. My defence of John rested on the fact that I had recorded all the debates at the full Authority meeting in March. When transcribing those recordings I was even more convinced of his innocence.

The official meeting of the Standards Committee finally started at 12noon on November 25 and Mr Charlesworth was allowed to speak even though he was not a member and his following statement was accepted:

“Having spoken at length to all concerned – may I ask that this statement be recorded by agreement with the parties: to in effect adjourn sine die on the basis that on reflection the complaint need not be preceded with to a hearing and on the basis that John Blackie acknowledges that the allegations of political motivation and conspiracy by any of the parties were wrong and that no decision is being made on this complaint one way or the other.

“The further action is a joint resolve between all concerned to work together, to meet the challenges that face the National Park and its communities in the future.

“I would like to add personally, particularly since the Rural Summit last week at Leyburn that it is essential that we all work in harmony together to do our best for the National Park the communities in the Dales.”

John accepted that and said:”I in my various public service roles will do my absolute best to deliver outcomes that are favourable to the local communities within the Dales and indeed beyond the Dales, and that I am positive they will benefit from a sound working relationship between the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority and (Richmondshire) District Council of which I am proud to be its leader.”

Well – at least they didn’t “shoot the messenger” !

Rural Summit – affordable housing

November 29, 2014 By: Pip Land Category: ARC News Service No Comments →

An ARC News Service report about the Rural Summit – Young Families – an Endangered Species? – held at Tennants Auction Centre in Leyburn on Wednesday, November 19. Coun John Blackie, leader of Richmondshire District Council (RDC) outlined the problem of migration from rural areas and Nicola Furbisher, managing director of the Yorkshire Post, emphasised the need to find solutions. A key problem was the lack of affordable housing and the speakers who addressed this issue were: Callum McKeon, RDC corporate director; David Butterworth, Chief Executive of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA); Paul Lightfoot, Property Director of Broadacres Housing Association;  and Phil Taylor, Commercial Manager of the Darlington Building Society.  The summit was organised by the RDC and sponsored by the Yorkshire Post. 

Those who took part in the discussion session were Dr Peter Annison, Ropeworks, Hawes;  Coun Linda Cowling, leader of Ryedale District Council; Colin Dales, RDC director; Emily Nicholas; Craven District Coun Carl Lis, and Richmondshire District Coun Yvonne Peacock. It was during that discussion that Mr McKeon outline further the idea for the council to set up a trading company to have an ‘arms-length’ approach to the provision of affordable housing.

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Young families are an endangered species in rural and deeply rural areas of Richmondshire Coun John Blackie, told the Rural Summit.   Above: Coun John Blackie with Kayleigh Thompson (RDC Youth Council lead) and Emily Thompson (right) who is an ex-chairman of the youth council.

Coun Blackie told the summit that there had been a 26 per cent drop in the number of pupils attending the excellent primary schools in the Upper Dales in the last 20 years. “No local community can survive for long without young families in their midst. The figures I’ve spelt out indicate that many of them are not a generation away from collapse.

“Standing on the side lines are organisations which have a key role to play in social and economic development. Hoping something will turn up and improve the situation will not do. Unless a new way of addressing the crisis is implemented things will go from bad to worse,” he said.

He stressed that the various organisations had to work in partnership and added: “No one organisation holds the key to finding the answer to the crisis. It is a multi-faceted problem (that needs) a multi-faceted response.

“To resolve the crisis we will need new, fast and different actions – not long drawn out excuses to justify more of the same. If you apply the same old thinking to the same old problem – you end up with the same old problem. Small is big in rural areas.”

He quoted the example of the workshops in Reeth and said: “They might be a drop in the ocean in Leeds but they have had a huge impact on the local economy in the Upper Dales. Small investment can generate a big difference.”

The Managing Director of the Yorkshire Post, Nicola Furbisher, explained why:

“In this age of austerity cuts to local authority budgets combined with soaring house prices and petrol prices (have left) these communities on the brink. And the disappearance of cherished pubs, post offices and village shops, not to mention key services such as schools and maternity care, (means) there is less of a reason to attract people to our rural areas.”

She had been struck by the fact that the average household income of a local family was £22,100 while the average house price was £270,800. And the average age of a resident in the Upper Dales was 47. What with other factors like the drop in the number of children attending rural schools they needed to talk not only about the problems but also solutions.

“You need solutions before it is too late – before the very nature of the Yorkshire region changes for ever,” she warned. And any solutions they found could be models for other communities.

Callum McKeon, remit as a RDC corporate director includes trying to find a way of breaking the deadlock affecting the provision of affordable housing in the district. He said that despite all the efforts of the district council and neighbouring authorities little headway had been made with this.

“The figures are indicating that despite all the best efforts of all the people involved, of all the policies we have, the numbers just aren’t there. So we need to find out why that is and we need to come up with some new practical solutions.

“So why don’t we actually sit down and talk to the housing associations and find out what are the problems in dealing with affordable houses. Because maybe we can actually identify what those problems are, identify the constraints that housing associations are working under. Maybe rather than taking our traditional role as simply a planning authority we need to adopt a new approach and actually act as a development partner in sharing those risks whatever they may be to help deliver affordable houses. In other words becoming an active partner, an active risk sharer.

“The district council could also play a more proactive role in sharing the knowledge it has gained by working with the Ministry of Defence to provide more houses at Catterick Garrison with the YDNPA. He wondered also if the YDNPA would be interested in a joint approach to the central government to discuss whether the current planning regime helped rural areas deliver the types of services that were needed.

“Two voices are definitely going to better than one and we have got two departments working together. They will have ideas we haven’t thought of. If we act together we maybe can get the ear of central government – maybe get some new initiatives through.

“The district council has decided it is going to utilise its communities opportunity fund and actually put £30,000 into looking at establishing a hands on local authority trading company to deliver affordable housing. Now there are hundreds of questions associated with that idea but may be the start would be with the local authority buying up vacant properties to recycle them and put them back onto the market.

“The other extreme is the local authority actually takes on the role of developer – acquires sites and undertakes development itself. We know other local authorities are doing this. The key thing for me is – there’s been a clear commitment from the district council to try something new, to try something positive, and ….we can start straight away.”

David Butterworth, the Chief Executive of the YDNPA, remarked: “It’s fantastic that this event is shining a spotlight on this.

“I think this is a last chance for the area. I think this is the last chance for my generation …to be part of the solution of this problem. If we can’t be part of that solution we need to get out of the way and let young people take control of their own destiny.

“ I think what’s clear in all the work we are doing in the area of affordable housing is it’s not a national park issue – it’s a rural one. It’s happening all across the country from Cornwall – where a town council has caused uproar this week with a proposal to ban second homes -to Dumfries and Galloway.”

He said that with 20,000 people and 11,500 houses in the Yorkshire Dales National Park there wasn’t a shortage of housing. But there was a shortage of affordable housing. “Between 2001 and 2011 there were 1,000 new homes and the population increased by 100 people. What’s happened? What’s happening is that in 2001 15 per cent of that housing stock was second home or holiday cottage – that’s gone to 23 per cent in 2011. Nearly a quarter of the entire housing stock – that is not a viable position for the future.”

He explained that open market housing was being bought either by elderly people or for second and holiday homes. But it was now difficult to obtain finance and mortgages for houses restricted to local occupancy.

Thirty sites had been allocated in the YDNPA’s housing development plan with 50 per cent of those 230 new homes being for local market housing and the other half for affordable homes. By March this year 37 of those had been built, planning permission had been granted for a further 46 and discussions were on-going concerning three sites for another 40 dwellings. But only nine of those 133 houses were in Richmondshire.

“So what are we doing about this issue?” he asked. “Well the (Authority) members have ordered an urgent selective review of all aspects of housing delivery. The public consultation will start straight after Christmas and will include several practical proposals to remove barriers including broadening the local occupancy criteria so that the whole district can actually benefit – Leyburn, Catterick, Richmond – if there is no demand for houses within the National Park. That should give greater certainty to lenders and purchasers that properties will sell.

“Secondly we are looking at the mix of houses on the allocated sites. If necessary there may have to be an element of open market housing to improve the developer viability of the site.”

In the new local plan, which he expected would be published in July 2015, there would be provision for the conversion of roadside barns for local occupancy.

The YDNPA wanted to work with district councils to try and resolve the problem and added: “We would like to see the districts and county councils funding and supporting the investigation into housing finance.”

And then he added: “Let me upset a few people here. Lots of park residents and parish councils do not want housing. So if we do some work as partners bringing together their schemes into the market the politicians need to face down some opposition. That is a very very difficult thing to do. I don’t underestimate it as an officer because if you’ve got the community saying we don’t want housing here, that can be a major problem.”

He said the YDNPA was also looking at the provision of self-build homes and rural help to buy schemes to try and resolve the lending issues for dwellings with local occupancy conditions.

Paul Lightfoot, the Property Director for Broadacres Housing Association and Phil Taylor, the Commercial Manager for the Darlington Building Society, explained why there were problems with providing affordable housing in rural areas.

Mr Lightfoot said that the regulations were much tighter these days for lenders, with an emphasis upon value for money and control of the business.They had to be careful in the planning stage not to waste money, raise expectations or cause frustrations.

Any grants available from the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) were included in the financial assessment of whether a housing development scheme would be financially viable and sustainable. Rural schemes were more costly and so required more subsidies but the grants from the HCA had fallen in the past few years.

Rents were set using a national formula and they had to be sure that there would be a sufficient number of people wanting to rent properties. For this they relied on questionnaires and surveys but were those fit for purpose he asked.

So it was difficult to convince his board that they should continue to invest in subsidised housing and it would be easier if they could share the risk with partners. H explained:

“I think the local councils have a role to play – they can identify sites. Most importantly they need to be a consistent and visible support all through the process. I am not criticising the planning system – but (we do) need to try to reduce the risk. Planning conditions can add costs.”

He especially mentioned the infrastructure conditions adding that for a small scheme an additional £1,000 could be the tipping point in making it unviable.

“Is it reasonable for a small scheme to improve footpaths in a village?” he asked.  “Is it reasonable to charge for work on verges and streams for which the county council should take responsibility? Is it right that a small scheme of six properties should spend £30,000 on facilities – and then charge £1,000 a year for maintenance of those facilities? That adds £3 a week on rents.

“We understand that we are all suffering from austerity conditions. But we need to work together for the common good to provide good quality affordable housing.”

In response to a question he said: “We are not trying to say there isn’t a need. I think it is more how we demonstrate that need to convince those who will invest in those properties to feel that there is no risk to their investment. I think we need to explore new ways to identify that need rather than by surveys. Maybe we do need partnerships to share the risk.”

Of the increased financial regulations he said: “There’s been a severe tightening in the affordability rules that all lenders have had to instigate. So all lenders are now fully responsible for assessing if a borrower can afford a loan. Lenders will still grant interest only loans but only if there is a credible strategy for repayment of the capital at the end of the term. And a mortgage lender must also check that the person can afford the repayments now and also in the future”

Although this had particularly affected low income buyers there were initiatives to help first time buyers including help to buy, equity loans, shared ownership and mortgage guarantees.

He said they were trying to make the process more streamlined to reduce the risks for the lenders and they were also working closer with the housing associations and local authorities.

He asked that planning conditions and section 106 local occupancy agreements should be kept as simple as possible and added that some clauses could lead to refusal by mortgage lenders.

During discussion time Dr Peter Annison, co-owner of the Ropeworks in Hawes stated: “The National Park is attempting to reduce the cost of certain houses by imposing section 106 occupancy restrictions. As you have heard that gives rise to all sorts of problems with the mortgage lenders.” He supported the idea of the district council being more involved with the provision of affordable homes for rent.

Mr Taylor agreed with him explaining that the hardest part was getting all the partners to work together. He said that there needed to be a commitment by all stakeholders to make any proposed housing scheme work. He preferred the help to buy scheme which had introduced incentives for developers and house builders.

Coun Linda Cowling, the leader of Ryedale District Council, said that many people were not going to get onto the housing property ladder and so there was a need for more rented affordable housing. The councils had found that rented housing was notoriously expensive to run and it was likely that the housing associations had the same problems. So they should work with the private sector to save money and make rented affordable housing more affordable.

Mr McKeon replied that was why the RDC was considering the idea of a trading company. “One of the advantages of setting up a trading company is that you are at arms-length as a local authority. We are at the very early stage of looking into this. But we think that there’s got to be a way based upon what other local authorities are doing around the country … and seem to be operating in a way that is economical, efficient and delivering the types of properties and tenures that are required for their particular areas.”

Colin Dales, a RDC director, said in response to a question from Emily Nicholas, said that there were schemes to help young people and mentioned the Young Peoples Pathway.

And Craven District Coun Carl Lis, who is a member of the YDNPA, expressed concern about the way the rents for affordable houses were increasing.

Richmondshire District Coun Yvonne Peacock described how a planning inspector for Dorset had turned down a proposal in the YDNPA’s housing development plan for four houses in Aysgarth. That scheme for four houses would not have involved a housing association. “The inspector turned it down because one resident who lived next door (to the site) objected. One inspector could throw out what we the local people wanted.”

Mr Butterworth agreed with her.

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Rural Summit – devolution and partnerships

November 29, 2014 By: Pip Land Category: ARC News Service No Comments →

An ARC News Service report. –  At the Rural Summit at Tennants Auction Centre in Leyburn on November 19 Richard Flinton, chief executive of North Yorkshire County Council, explained how the budget cuts were leading to new partnerships and even thoughts of regional devolution in England. The importance of partnerships was further emphasised by two Richmondshire District Council officers – Jo-Anne Simpson, culture and wellbeing delivery  manager,  and Tony Clark, the managing director.

 

“We are massively underfunded compared to urban areas,” Richard Flinton told the Summit. He felt that the county council could make better use of money if more power was devolved to the regions.

If the Homes and Community Agency (HCA) wanted to give 10 per cent of its money to rural areas why not give that to the county or to the districts? “Let us use that 10 per cent – that would be devolution,” he said.

“We have a massive funding challenge – to take £168 million out of the budget. That is an enormous challenge and will have an impact on services and road.” And he added: “The government needs to wake up – all the parties – and think about rural areas. There is a real national issue here that needs looking at.”

He explained: “The amount of government funding that comes into North Yorkshire for the main public services (local government, health, police, schools) is £2,598 per head of population. In Westminster the amount per head of government funding is £3,870 and in Leeds the amount per head of public funding is £3,109. If North Yorkshire had the same level of funding per head as Westminster we would receive in the region of an additional £763 million for these public services. If we were funded to the same level as Leeds per head of population then the increase of funding would be £306million for this range of public services.

“It interesting to note that the average salary levels in North Yorkshire are £25,029, in Leeds the average salary is £26,200 and in Westminster the average salary is £39,166.”

He was also concerned about how many urban roads received much more funding that rural ones, even though the latter, like those in the Dales were affected by the wide variations in weather and heavy agricultural machinery.

As Northern England had been most affected by reductions in local authority spending power he said the county council had to target its resources on the most vulnerable in its communities. This put other services such as transport, children’s centres and libraries, under a lot of stress.

“As a result we have to think what are the strengths you can fall back on to get through this. Our strengths are the types of communities we have in rural areas and in North Yorkshire. Our response to the challenge is to set money and individuals aside and to go out there and be innovative and find local solutions. We are in difficult times but I think we can get through this because of the entrepreneurial innovative spirit.”

He illustrated this by describing how 20 more libraries could join the seven which are already run by volunteers.

Richmondshire District councillor Tony Duff questioned this. He stated: “We in Leyburn are very much against being ditched yet again. We were ditched last time – we managed to fight back and we produced a service with 40 hours of library instead of the 15 (with the help of) a lot of volunteers. We are now told you are going to remove all the county council employees. I think we deserve some support.”

Mr Frinton replied: “We are not withdrawing the service. We are saying we are going to withdraw the paid staff. We will provide the books and the IT and will pay a large proportion of the library running costs. A lot of councils just take a knife to the budget. We are saying that as a partnership with the community we will see how we will work through it together.”

WORKING IN PARTNERSHIP

“Partnership working is absolutely essential – not just in terms of finance but in terms of working together to solve problems,” said Jo-Anne Simpson, Richmondshire District Council’s culture and wellbeing delivery manager.

She pointed out that there wasn’t likely to be any capital investment for many projects, so communities needed to be creative and use the facilities they had. For instance secondary and primary schools had facilities that could be used by the community in the evenings or at weekends.

“And why not use the wonderful environment? And so we are looking at unusual ways of providing vocational opportunities for young people like internships and apprenticeships, and some maybe connected with sport.

“ I think the real strength throughout the district (is that) everybody does want to work together. So let’s package Richmondshire in such a way that people want to be part of it – that they want to buy into and contribute to the brand.”

Richmondshire has been developing such partnerships for the last 10 years through a network of community offices, Tony Clark the managing director of the RDC reported. That model, he said had evolved with the various councils working together to try and continue providing services during a time of austerity.

He gave as an illustration the way office space had been allocated to the Richmond Volunteer Centre and Richmondshire DBS in half of the building used by the district council in Richmond. Charities could be based there and create a community hub to provide sustainable services for local people. “That’s the type of initiative the council wants to bring forward and deliver over the next five years,” he said.

Another example was the way the district council had supported community bus services like the Little White Bus in Wensleydale. “It is that type of service which is going to be the future of viable communities – working with communities and looking for volunteers,” he told the Summit.

This method of working with local communities had led to the district council investing a million pounds into local projects ranging from the upgrading of village halls to cultural activities. It was also supporting the Andrew and Emily Faggs’ school house project in Hawes.

“People in rural areas want to have the same facilities and access to services as their urban colleagues do,” Mr Clark commented. And that was why Richmondshire District Council had been a strong advocate for rural issues and had been involved in several campaigns in recent years to ensure rural residents got a fair deal.

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Rural Summit – helping young people

November 28, 2014 By: Pip Land Category: ARC News Service No Comments →

An ARC News Service report. – Emily Nicholas described the problems facing young people in rural areas when she spoke at  the Rural Summit at Tennants Auction Centre in Leyburn on Wednesday, November 19.  One of the problems was transport and Kevin Holt reported on the assistance young people were receiving through Wheels2Work and Richard Owens of North Yorkshire County Council’s integrated passenger transport department explained how some bus services were being retained by working in partnerships and with the help of volunteers.

Below: Emily Nicholas (centre) with Kayleigh Thompson, Richmondshire youth council lead, and Rishi Sunak, the Conservative parliamentary candidate for Richmondshire.

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Emily Nicholas, an ex-Youth Council chairman whose family lives in Wensley told the summit that however much she would love to return to her roots in Wensleydale after she completes her studies at Durham University in anthropology and sociology she couldn’t envisage doing that due to the lack of opportunities and the lack of transport. “I don’t think realistically there’s the niche for me to do what I want to do with my life here at the present time.”

She outlined the problems facing young people in the Dales: transport including bus, cycle and pedestrian routes; education and apprenticeships; housing; childcare; local youth services; health and especially mental health care; and access to hospital facilities.

She told the summit that there were 12,000 under 19s in Richmondshire and 16,500 who were under 24. But “young people” was very much an umbrella term and those over 18 had very different issues to those under 18.

Transport, and especially the cost, was the main issue given the significant distances. “One of the solutions that has worked very well across the county is the £1 one-way ticket for bus journeys. Over six weeks we saw an increase of 10,000 young people making those journeys and to me that was fantastic. I think this is a very impressive achievement.”

She explained that this had provided young people with access to further education and better job opportunities. But bus routes, especially those to Darlington, were a problem. “When you are thinking of your future the last thing you want to think is ‘Well, I’m going to have to sacrifice what I do at A levels and my chances of (going to) university and a career simply because of the buses.’”

A friend of hers has also has difficulty travelling to Harrogate where he is employed as an apprentice. “I think it’s important to increase the number of apprenticeships in the area,” she added.

The cost of transport also stops young people accessing leisure, personal development activities and local youth services – or even the opportunity to meet with others like herself to discuss the problems they faced and how to overcome them.

Emily praised Kayleigh Thompson for all the work she had done in the past six years as the lead for the Youth Council in Richmondshire. “It gives young people a chance to talk about what affects them,” Emily said.

She reminded everyone that many young people cycle or walk but local authorities gave more attention to the needs of tourists when it came to maintaining footpaths and cycle paths. “They are not thinking about young people who want to use those paths to get to school, to get to work, or to get to leisure. I would question whether the priorities are right.”

She reported that many young people also gave up a lot of their leisure and social activities as it took so much time trying to achieve their educational objectives. It was often not possible for young people to study for A levels locally and the only university in Yorkshire was at York. She warned that when young people left the area to study they might not come back.

She agreed with Andrew Fagg that if they did return, even after a short time away, they might not be easily accepted back into their community. And, of course, they faced the problem of finding somewhere to live.

“The vast majority of young people have very little or no disposable income. Rents might be really low but if you’ve got no money that really doesn’t help. What is going to happen in the interim when (searching) for a job which will allow them to pay their rent?” she asked.

Alongside affordable housing there needed to be easy access to services including childcare and hospitals. She also emphasised the need for mental health care and said: “It’s difficult enough growing up but on top of that there is the social isolation that comes from living in a rural area.

“It’s even harder when you can’t get to hospital because your family is working – and when you can’t access a doctor’s appointment or hospital appointment because the transport isn’t available.”

As for herself, she stated: “I would love to leave university with a degree that I’m proud of, come home, and set up business here. It would be wonderful. Can I? No I can’t.”

Kevin Holt, the chief officer for Wheels2Work, agreed with Emily about the problem of transport.

He said that a census had shown that only four per cent of those travelling to work in Richmondshire did so by public transport, half of those by bus and the rest by train. The majority (64 per cent) used private journey with 30 per cent walking to work. Many depended upon friends, family and neighbours for transport to hospital, with others using formal car schemes.

They were grateful to all the volunteers who helped with such schemes, including those who drove the community buses. And hundreds had benefitted from the Wheels2Work scheme. “For those over 16 having such wheels is a stepping stone to getting a job,” he said.

Richard Owens, assistant director of NYCC’s integrated passenger transport department, told the summit that the county council wanted to make sure that residents had access to a whole range of services – both conventional and non-conventional.

Of the Little White Bus Company based at Hawes he commented: “It is that type of service which is going to be the future of viable communities – working with communities and looking for volunteers.”

He said that in Skipton the county council had started to run its own bus service on weekdays when a commercial operator ceased trading. It was now working with a local community group to try and get volunteer drivers so that the bus service could also run on Saturdays.

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Rural Summit – health and education

November 28, 2014 By: Pip Land Category: ARC News Service No Comments →

An ARC News Service report. – Amanda Livingstone Owen of Ravenseat in Swaledale gave a graphic description of the problems that hill farming families face when she spoke at the Rural Summit at Tennants Auction Centre in  Leyburn on Wednesday, November 19. And neither she nor Linda Cork (retired local  headteacher) wanted to see the Yorkshire Dales turned into a living museum or a Dalesworld theme park. Pete Dwyer (corporate director, North Yorkshire County Council) also spoke about finding solutions to the funding problems that rural schools faced. The provision of health services in rural areas was described by Dr Mike Brooks of Reeth surgery and Dr Charles Parker  of Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group. Richmondshire District councillor John Amsden asked about the ambulance response times.

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Amanda Livingstone Owen (pictured above with her daughter Annas) described herself not only as a mother of seven but also a hill farmer – an occupation, she said, which had shaped the iconic landscape and topography of the Yorkshire Dales which so attracted tourists.

“We farm the land, work with the environment encouraging wild life whilst also managing the peaty boggy moorland that has become important on a global scale with its ability to reabsorb gasses.”

But farming is a dangerous professions to be in and one of her family’s main problems is reaching medical facilities. She, like many others in the Dales, measures journeys by the time they take rather than distance – half an hour to the nearest market town and two hours to the Friarage Hospital at Northallerton.

“The roads are the slower, narrow winding country roads that are, I can assure you, tortuous to travel when you are in the throes of labour. I’ve had one emergency C section, one very premature (baby) and five (delivered) before I reached the hospital.” So to add more time to that journey to reach the James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough was, she said, ridiculous.

“Now we are making that journey even more difficult. If there are complications during child birth or in other emergency situations time is the essence.” And air ambulances won’t carry pregnant women.

She recalled Mother’s Day in 2012 when they thought one of their children had meningitis. It had taken three hours and five minutes to reach Middlesbrough because the snowy conditions made it impossible for a helicopter to collect the little girl. Thankfully it wasn’t meningitis.

“Personally I feel that we’ve been left high and dry – not allowed to have a home birth as we are too far from the hospital and, having to set off for the hospital, knowing full you’ll give birth en route. Once there was a hospital at Catterick. There was a perfectly equipped fully function hospital at Northallerton complete with paediatric unit, special care baby unit and children’s consultant.” She asked if it was progress now that those services had been moved to Middlesbrough.

She related how Gunnerside and Reeth schools had been federated due to the falling number of pupils. There were 38 at Gunnerside in 1999 and only seven now. This was because property prices had gone up so much that local people couldn’t afford a house in the Dales. Many houses had been bought as second or holiday homes which were left empty in winter.

“The villages are then almost deserted. Swaledale is becoming a fine example of rural depopulation – a social engineering of sorts. A kind of natural selection is taking place where only the strongest people survive. Any weakness – either health wise or financial – and people do not stay.” Swaledale was becoming the playground of the rich, she said.

For the farmers there were additional problems caused by living in a mobile phone “notspot”. But they needed to access the internet to fill in VAT returns, log sheep and cattle movements, and even for their children to send their homework by email during inclement weather.

“What incentive is there for young people and young families to live and work here when the essential services are being constantly eroded away and the gap between what’s available to town dwellings and country dwellers is widening?”

“There is no doubt that we are blessed to live in such a beautiful place and to feel that the footsteps of our forebears echo in all that we do. But we can’t survive just on fresh air and a view. We are not a living museum,” Amanda told the Summit.

EDUCATION

Linda Cork, who retired as headteacher of Gunnerside Primary School in July commented: “We are not trying to conserve what we have now because if that’s all we’re trying to do then we are in danger of creating some sort of theme park – Dalesworld – that gets toured by coaches and left behind at the end of the day. We need to create a structure for moving forwards. If you put this place in aspic it will suffocate and die.”

She described how Gunnerside and Reeth schools had been federated and a more informal alliance of schools in Swaledale created.

“The Dales’ schools provide high standards (and) we also provide locational choice for young families. The schools make it possible for people to plan for a life in our most beautiful rural areas and to be able to bring up their children in a setting where many of us grew up.”

She warned, however, that if one element of the infrastructure in rural areas was removed then all the others became less secure and less attractive to the next generation. This would lead to the communities being less viable.

The lack of affordable homes made it difficult not only for young families to remain in the area but also for staff to live close to the schools. What about a rural rebate on housing tax she asked, and she also wondered if there could be some sort of fuel subsidy to help towards the cost of those long journeys to hospitals or other facilities.

“I want to see what we all want to see – the Dales as a living, vibrant, growing community which attracts families to live and work here. And is (also) a hub for tourists and a renowned centre of excellence for crafts people and producers.” And so she hoped the seminar would provide an opportunity for people to make a commitment to work together to find local solutions.

Pete Dwyer, NYCC corporate director, pointed out that increasingly school funding was determined by pupil numbers.

“That’s what creates a challenge in rural areas,” he said. “We have campaigned nationally to ensure that there are changes in those funding formulas. The government has responded and allowed the introduction of a sparcity factor in local funding. “We do not want to see children travelling huge distances to access high quality education.”

The county council had found that teachers would not apply for jobs in rural areas unless they felt secure about the future of the schools. That security in rural areas had been achieved by forming partnerships, such as the federation of Gunnerside and Reeth schools, or through alliances.

Like many other speakers he emphasised that the way to continue to provide good services during a period of austerity and financial cuts was through partnerships and creativity.

HEALTH SERVICES

Health care was a major priority for people, Dr Mike Brooks said. He has been running the GP practice in Reeth on his own for seven years and is also a voluntary doctor for the ambulance service, attending road accidents and other serious medical incidents.

He told the Summit that at his surgery patients didn’t have to spend hours on the phone trying to book an appointment for maybe two week’ s time but could just walk in and get seen.

“When you walk in you get addressed on a first name basis by people who know you. Your GP has seen you many times before and so you don’t have to explain your story over and over again. And you can leave the surgery with your medication and don’t have to find a pharmacy or wait for hours for it to be dispensed. You go home safe in the knowledge that you have been to a practise with a very high level satisfaction rate.

“We are fortunate to have very good working relationships with the consultants at Northalleton and Middlesbrough (hospitals). We also do email consultations not just with young people but with … silver surfers.”

He hoped in the future to  carry out emergency paediatric treatment using a video-link with consultants and to provide some chemo therapy treatments at the surgery. He would also like to develop the surgery as a well-being centre.

“We want to bring care closer to people,” he said. And good health care helped to keep rural communities viable.

Coun John Blackie emphasised the need for proper health care provision in deeply rural areas. He stated that health care provided by numbers and “one size fits all” was not suitable for rural and deeply rural areas.

“Without the sort of service that Dr Brooks provides and without having hospital services reasonably close, there’s no future for any communities. I think it’s time that those in London realised that,” he stated.

Dr Charles Parker of the Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group said that one of the CCG’s main priorities was to move care closer to people. The provision of health care had to be part of a lifestyle package which would encourage people to stay in the rural areas.

He added that the CCG wanted to “make sure that care is in the right place for you and not the most convenient place for the health service.” To do that the CCG wanted to see increased integration of services which would include social services.

He explained that the CCG bought health care – both hospital and community care – for the local population, but not the services of GPs or their surgeries.

He told the Summit: “We are committed to the Friarage Hospital as a hub for the rural area population maintaining an acute service at the Friarage, but maybe that will evolve. It may well be that we will meet people at the front door and then assess where is the best place for them to be treated. But that will be led by consultants.”

The ambulance response times were, he said, a priority. To do this ambulance crews could, when possible, take patients to GP surgeries rather than to hospital; and emergency ambulances were not being used to transport patients to hospital when there was a non-urgent request from a GP.

During question time Richmondshire District councillor John Amsden introduced himself as a community first responder (Carperby and Aysgarth team). He said that on two occasions when he had been called out as a first responder he had had to wait for 45 minutes or more for an ambulance to arrive. “To me that is unacceptable in a rural area,” he commented.

Dr Parker replied that they had been working very hard to improve response times and there had been a significant improvement especially in the last two years.

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Rural Summit – employment and transport

November 28, 2014 By: Pip Land Category: ARC News Service No Comments →

An ARC News Service report. –  At the Rural Summit at Tennants Auction Centre in Leyburn on Wednesday, November 19 BBC radio journalist Andrew Fagg described what it was like to return to Hawes in Wensleydale even though he couldn’t find employment there, while his wife, Emily, described the positive and negative aspects of rural life. David Hartley, managing director of Wensleydale Dairy Products,  reported on how the rebirth of the Wensleydale Creamery had created 246 jobs. John Moore of NyNet gave a progress report on the provision of Superfast Broadband to such rural areas and Abbie Rhodes, manager of the Upper Wensleydale Community Office,  reported on how that had developed and now included the Little White Bus  service.  Richmondshire District councillors Mick Griffiths  and Jill McMullen took part in the debate.  (Below – Andrew and Emily Fagg with their daughter Chrisyta)

fagg_family

Andrew described how, when working in the BBC news room early one morning, he had a look at the J R Hopper website as he needed some diversion.

He recounted: “And there it was – the national school house for sale in Hawes- very run down. Lovely simple building in a lovely setting next to St Margaret’s church. Here was a building which needed a bit of love and attention, and the school master’s cottage which we could live in next door. We could restore this place and bring it back to community use. It was an opportunity for us to contribute to the community.

“I’m a Christian and I believe God wants us to live here, to serve, to minister, to learn. I want to become part of a Christian movement here in the Dales.”

They were able to buy a home in Hawes because of the price they got for their two-bedroom flat in London. He has continued working in London, however, and explained: “We may have found this project in Hawes but we haven’t found a job yet. I can’t find a very local job in my work which would pay enough. My best friends couldn’t be based in the Dales – they rely on the connections within the big city.

“In Hawes it seems to be that the big jobs are in agriculture, the service sector serving the tourists and the small army of people who maintain the built environment of the dales. When you get beyond that the opportunities are quite small.”

Another challenge is the lack of infrastructure such as with transport connections. “Wouldn’t it be great if I could just step on a train in Hawes, go to Northallerton and then to London. Infrastructure like that could really bring economic opportunities to the Upper Dales,” he said. He was also waiting to see how Superfast Broadband would work.

Emily commented that the very basic services in such a rural area were a challenge particularly as she depended upon the bus service during the week. As a city girl who had grown up in London she was also aware how difficult it could be for outsiders to feel accepted in such a rural community.

Andrew explained: “Maybe people don’t know quite how to welcome outsiders into the group. It’s not a deliberate choice that people make but (maybe because) not many people come so they are not very well practised at it.”

For both of them, however, there is much to enjoy in and around Hawes. He said: “I grew up with the Fells all around. Mum grew up on a farm. There’s a sense of having roots here. I don’t want to get away from them – I want to come back. And I love the environment here.”

Emily explained that there was such a sense of history when driving around the area for they could tell their two children stories that related to their own family. She compared life in the city to that in the village where it was possible to become part of a community. “It’s a unique aspect of this area that children often attend the same schools as their parents and their grandparents. The (fact that) the majority of the people in the area know your children is really a very special thing. They talk to shopkeepers, they hand over money – they are becoming responsible little adults. Everything is more relaxed.

When asked if greed was a factor in the problems facing rural communities Andrew said it could be a problem but there was very little showing off of wealth. He added: “One factor in the Dales is the ethos of hard work – people work really hard here and they respect hard work. One of the things I love about living in the dales is the independent spirit.”

That independent, hard working spirit has been very evident at the Wensleydale Creamery. When the managing director, David Hartley, spoke at the Summit he especially thanked Coun John Blackie who, he said, had been very much involved with the rebirth of the Creamery after it was closed in 1992. At that time he and 58 others lost their jobs.

Now Wensleydale Dairy Products has an annual turnover of over £25million, and employs 246 people, 182 at Hawes and 64 at Kirkby Malzeard. Of those 61 were from Eastern Europe with the majority being full time employees who were living in the area. “Without them we would be relying on more agency staff. We are grateful to them for settling in the area and working for us.”

He was particularly proud of the fact that 75 per cent of the 28 managers and supervisors were home grown. He explained: “Wensleydale Dairy Products is an independent company which means we have to do everything ourselves. So there is a cycle of employment opportunity at all levels because we have jobs at all levels. We want to offer opportunities in training and development. So we give people the opportunities to become skilled and valuable employees.

“We need access to a pool of willing employees and we need to be able to attract the best to our business and to this area. To create and retain this pool we need employees who can afford to live in the area.

“To create and maintain this pool of talent we need excellent education provision, we need affordable housing schemes, good transport infrastructure, and a world class communication network – Superfast Broadband is where it’s at. Because we are operating on a world scale it has to be the best and to do that you need talented people.”

The company is now investing £5 million into improving its facilities – but that has meant borrowing from banks. That is not easy for a SME (small, medium sized enterprise) which is investing in a brand rather than buildings or machines, he said.

“We have a fantastic USP (unique selling point) for we are the only makers of Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese in the world. It took seven years to get European protection.

“We are an award winning cheese maker and blender of cheese – cheese making is at the heart of what we do. We are a company with a recognisable brand and a thousand years of cheese making history. We don’t concentrate on the past but we focus on the future. Success to us is being relevant to modern consumers. We produce about 4,000 tons of cheese a year which goes to all the major UK retailers and we export to many countries around the world. “

Wensleydale Dairy Products is committee to the area. Our brand identity is focussed on Hawes, Wensleydale and Yorkshire… and all the values associated with that. We are committed to the rural economy and to the local farmers. Without the farmers we have no milk. And if we don’t have the milk we don’t have the flavour and we don’t have a business.”

In his speech John Moore, chief executive of NyNet, said that the objective of Superfast North Yorkshire was to provide such broadband connections to all premises in the region by 2017. But provision in Richmondshire lagged behind the rest of North Yorkshire because of the topography.

“We are facing technical difficulties and won’t be able to lay fibre to all locations – and that makes it costly.” As they would reach the point where subsidies would outweigh the costs it was necessary to stimulate demand for superfast broadband in the areas where it was already available.

He said that broadband was now the fourth utility and helped businesses to store data more securely. It affected house prices; assisted with retaining businesses and skills; was becoming a necessity for farmers; and attracted more tourists to the area. Broadband he said created capacity and potential – and equality of opportunity.

About 17 miles of cable had to be laid to bring Hawes into the modern world of Superfast Broadband and the Upper Wensleydale Community Office will certainly benefit from that.

The manager, Abbie Rhodes, described how this had begun 15 years ago when with a couple members of staff and a handful of volunteers it began to provide centralised administrative services to the communities in Upper Wensleydale. It is now a community office, district council office, and a local police office as well as providing a full county council library service. It runs the Little White Bus service with the help of 24 volunteer drivers and is now a post office as well. This has meant Hawes still has a sorting office, two postmen and the outreach Post Office services to Bainbridge and Askrigg have been retained.

“When local authorities couldn’t provide as much,  with good old community spirit and by working in partnership we began to achieve this,” she said. “Our philosophy is – give people a choice, don’t make them have to choose. We are looking to provide the essential services within their community. With the best will in the world each service would no doubt struggle to survive on their own but by working together under one roof each individual organisation helps sustain them all.”

This means that services in rural areas need not be compromised and people would not have to migrate to large towns, she stated.

Both Coun Mick Griffiths and Coun Jill McMullen reminded the meeting that it wasn’t just the communities in the Dales which were in danger. This was a problem for the rural communities throughout Richmondshire.

Coun Griffiths said he lived just nine miles from Darlington but they had the same problems such as the lack of services, the closure of post offices and less children in the schools.

Coun McMullin asked if the Little White Bus scheme could be introduced to other areas. She pointed out that even those living close to Darlington had difficulty accessing that town by public transport.

Richard Flinton , chief executive of NYCC, responded that the county council not only had funds for existing schemes but also to assist with setting up new ones.

Coun Blackie, who is the leader of Richmondshire District Council, emphasised that the summit was for the whole of Richmondshire.

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Rural Summit – the start-up obstacle race

November 28, 2014 By: Pip Land Category: ARC News Service No Comments →

An ARC News Service  report. – There was considerable emphasis at the Rural Summit at Tennants Auction Centre in Leyburn on November 19, 2014, on the need to be innovative and entrepreneurial during a time of austerity. But for Gillian Harrison of Wensleydale Ice Cream there have been many obstacles to overcome because the farm where the business is based is in the Yorkshire Dales National Park with its often opposing ideologies concerning conservation and the wellbeing of residents.  David Smurthwaite, the Rural Officer of the Local Enterprise Partnership warned that it would be difficult to encourage people to come to the area if there wasn’t a range of opportunities, and Rita Lawson explained how Richmondshire District Council was trying to encourage economic development. Those who took part in the discussion included David Butterworth (chief executive, Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority), Tony Hoile of Dairy Co,  David Hartley (Managing Director of Wensleydale Dairy Products), David Poole and Richmondshire District councillor Fleur Butler.

john_gillian

“It has cost me personally very dear – mentally, physically and financially,” Gillian Harrison said when describing a little of what had happened since her dairy farming family in Thornton Rust, Wensleydale, had decided to convert a traditional barn close to the A684 into an ice-cream parlour.  (Above – Gillian Harrison with North Yorkshire County councillor John Blackie at the Rural Summit. Coun Blackie is also the leader of Richmondshire District Council)

This began after May 2013 when the government’s deregulation of parts of the planning system included allowing for the change of use of agricultural barns without planning permission. David Butterworth told the meeting during discussion time that the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA)  had disagreed with Mrs Harrison’s plans for Hardbanks barn.

She stated: “In simple terms because of where we live we have endured a much more uphill struggle than if we lived in a town. Indeed, if we lived in an urban area we would be up and running by now. It would be considered that a new use for an old building was an excellent idea especially if it created employment.

“The fact that we are surrounded by grass has created a real problem. In our minds we feel qualified to make a judgement with all the hours we put in – we and our ancestors have put into this land – we live here because we love it, enjoy the view and the landscape and not to reap the financial rewards that other areas could provide. We want to have a successful business on our own merits and not be shot down before we have the opportunity. Dales farmers play a hugely important role in the man-made landscape that you see and without us would this be what tourists would want to visit?”

She said that in Thornton Rust there were 89 people of voting age of which 66 per cent were retired and 32 per cent were employed on the four farms. There were only seven children under the age of 16 and none under the age of 10.

“In the last 68 months the Defra milk price has been above the cost of production for only six months. My husband works 80 hours a week and certainly doesn’t get a minimum wage. There are stone walls to maintain and the fields are smaller so you can’t have the bigger equipment so the costs are higher.” As the winters are up to two months longer additional fodder has to be imported but the transport costs are high due to not being able to use articulated lorries on the narrow roads.

To try and augment the family’s earnings she had set up a small book keeping service and a retail business. The recession which began in 2011 had, however, taken a terrible toll on online retail businesses. So they needed to find another source of income besides that from their herd of Jersey cows. They spent a considerable amount on setting up an ice cream production unit at their farm and their customer base has been growing. But they soon realised that in order to make a good living they had to sell a proportion of their Wensleydale Ice Cream directly to consumers.

They felt that a modern use of a barn which would otherwise fall down would be an excellent solution. “We would love to work with the authorities to deliver a positive outcome,” she said.

When I asked why it had taken so long to move forward with converting the barn she said: “Ideology quite frankly. Some peoples’ perceptions of what’s a good idea isn’t someone else’s. And when you get those two huge forces coming together it creates a lot of friction, a lot of effort and a lot of time.”

In reply to another question she explained: “We want to offer our children the opportunity that we have had (but) in modern times you have got the older generation living longer. They have got all their money invested in that holding. In our particular instance we have three generations on one holding.

“In the last 10 years a herd of 132 Jersey cows has gone from being an above average size to now being the national average, and probably in the next ten years it will become smaller than the national average. We simply do not have the opportunity to expand. Hence the reason we are looking into diversification.”

She described the current worsening situation with milk prices as being very scary especially as they approached winter.

Tony Hoile of Dairy Co and the Princes Initiative said that dairy farms in England produced only 50 per cent of the milk that the country needed and the rest was imported. He warned that if the volatility in the milk market was not stopped this country would not have a sustainable milk producing industry.

David Hartley, Managing Director of Wensleydale Dairy Products,  noted that many of the 45 farms producing milk for the Creamery had only 78 cows, which was half the national average. This showed how critical this company was to the viability of dairy farming in Wensleydale.

Rita Lawson (RDC economic development officer) said that Superfast Broadband was a welcome boost to business and saw it as having an integral part to play in the district economic strategy. The objective was to stimulate economic development and local employment; and attract entrepreneurs and small businesses.

She listed some of the developments the RDC had already secured funding for and said it had identified potential projects. These included the Weatherald’s site at Askrigg where they wanted to see the potential of that employment land being unlocked so as to create more jobs in the Dales.

“As we’ve heard already the council can’t do that on its own. We need to work in partnership. So we need to strengthen those partnerships that we’ve got already. We need to work with the National Park, the leaders, the councils, the businesses, associations and community groups that have an interest in the dales. And encourage people to volunteer or be able to offer jobs in the small tourist attractions. We also intend where necessary to work closely with businesses such as Gillian’s and to help them develop their ideas … so that they can bring their dreams to fruition and also sustain their farms or whatever in the dales,” she said.

She added that she was available to anyone who wanted to discuss business ideas. “That’s where I see my role – talking to people and being a catalyst and hopefully bringing those opportunities forward.”

David Smurthwaite (Rural Officer of the Local Enterprise Partnership), warned that it was not easy to encourage people to come to an area if there was not a range of opportunities, little choice of jobs, poor infrastructure and insufficient affordable housing. Business development he believed needed to be focussed on the market towns and also on Catterick Garrison.

He said: “Isolated small steps get swamped – so we need to take small steps together to have a long lasting impact.”

During the discussion session  Richmondshire District councillor Fleur Butler commented that a full economic package was needed to encourage businesses to want to come to the dales. As a mother of four children she wondered how they would find decent jobs and be able to move back to the place she loved. “I’m not confident they will ever be able to access the council houses, or the affordable housing because their incomes will be slightly too high. They certainly can’t afford the (open market) houses.” She believed that more should be done to encourage self-employment and entrepreneurial activity.

David Poole told the Summit: “The dynamics of the dales area are changing. The reason is that the children and young people are being given aspirations that are excellent but unfortunately the opportunities to reach those are not here – and they will go away.” He said that they needed, therefore, to look at ways of encouraging business and employment opportunities.

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Mission to save rural communities

September 26, 2014 By: Pip Land Category: ARC News Service No Comments →

This month N Yorks County and Richmondshire District councillor John Blackie launched a year long mission aimed at preventing the drain of young people and young families from the rural and deeply rural communities of Richmondshire including the Yorkshire Dales. (The press release issued Richmondshire District Council  is at the end of this post.) He then asked the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) to take part in this important mission. At the Full Authority meeting of the YDNPA on September 23 the Association of Rural Communities made the following statement to which the chairman of the Authority, Peter Charlesworth, made a response. See also YDNPA Full Authority meeting September 2014.

Statement by the Association of Rural Communities:

The Association of Rural Communities supports the mission launched by Cllr John Blackie to prevent the drain of young people and young families from deeply rural areas like the Yorkshire Dales National Park. This Association has, since its inception, stood for the need to protect and encourage the viability of local communities in the Dales.

The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority does have a duty of care to this beautiful landscape – but it can’t do that on its own. The majority of the work of maintaining this landscape is carried out by farmers and landowners, and the communities to which they belong. This means the Authority also has a duty of care to those who live and work in the Yorkshire Dales.

But many communities are becoming unviable as their lifeblood – young people and young families – are leaving. So the Authority needs to consider whether its planning system is undermining those communities.

The Authority boasts that over 90 per cent of planning applications are approved. This, however, does not take into account the number of applications which are withdrawn or the factors which stop local families applying to convert barns either into homes or for commercial use.This year a farming family in Litton has had to pay over £10,000 in various fees to obtain permission to convert a barn against officer recommendation. And they are not the only ones who have had to pay so much to fight the system.

Farmers and landowners are very aware of the high cost of working in the National Park. Those stories are shared at auction marts and create bad will and a desire to avoid the planning system. That in turn undermines small dales’ communities.

Often there is the impression that the planning system favours the rich over the poor, the wealthy incomer over those on lower incomes whose families have lived in the dales for generations.

It doesn’t help when the draft local plan looks as if it favours “glamping” and chalets cum luxury lodges over traditional camping and touring caravans. But the latter bring in far more income to local shops and businesses than from those rich enough to rent more luxurious holiday accommodation. Just look at the negative impact upon local businesses in Kettlewell when a camp site closed last year.

We were encouraged that those at the last planning committee meeting set good precedents for encouraging young families to return to the Dales and in supporting business sites like The Courtyard near Settle in their need for sufficient and good signage so as to remain viable. We hope those examples will set the pattern for the future.

 

Peter Charlesworth’s response:

“I really do hope that the Association of Rural Communities do not take a negative view of the work of the Authority because, if I may say so, I think there is so much more that unites us than divides us.”

He said he might not agree on the analysis of the points raised and that the problems facing rural areas had been much the same since the industrial revolution. Other national parks were facing similar problems with depopulation and he added: “Our communities here are facing very serious challenges”

“Indeed all these challenges were recognised explicitly by this authority and our partners who cooperated in making the National Park Management Plan and we set, I believe, meaningful objectives in the management plan to try and tackle them. Several of these objectives will tackled through our policies in the new Local Plan which is being consulted upon as we speak.

“I think there is also an opportunity during discussions on several papers we are discussing this afternoon to look at what practical measures we can take that can improve the situation. And that is the key for me and my final response to (this) statement. That we are genuinely trying to find practical actions rather than simply saying ‘well there’s a problem – something needs to be done about it.

“I hope as (ARC) does that we can rise to that challenge and I hope that we can work together with all parties including the Association of Rural Communities in … genuine co-operation and goodwill to try and face up to the problems which (ARC) has outlined.”

Young families becoming an endangered species –  press release issued by Richmondshire District Council.

Councillors at Richmondshire District Council have endorsed a year long mission launched by its Leader, Cllr John Blackie, to prevent the drain of young people and young families from the rural and deeply rural communities in the District.

A debate at its Corporate Board discussed concerns over the lack of affordable housing, the poor quality of employment and business opportunities, little or no access to essential services, spasmodic public transport, NHS services such as GP Surgeries and local maternity services being lost, that are evident in rural communities, and concluded the threat of these communities collapsing in on themselves was all too real unless more can be done to retain their young people and young families.

It was agreed that the problem cannot be solved simply by the Council acting on its own, as it needs a co-ordinated approach working with all those key players involved in community development with everyone acting within its own remit to make improvements, however small, to brighten the outlook for the future.

The Council has agreed to take a lead by being very active in lobbying regional and national organisations to raise awareness of the acute plight of rural communities. This will also include hosting a Conference on the issues later in the year. In the meantime it is preparing a series of detailed papers on the key concerns to explore what the Council can do, acting in partnership with others as appropriate, to help address the problems.

Cllr John Blackie said “16 years ago two local primary schools in the Upper Dales had 117 children on their combined school rolls. In September there will be just 67 pupils because local young families, faced with insurmountable difficulties to overcome, have voted with their feet and moved away. Children gracing the corridors and classrooms of our small rural schools are the lifeline to a vibrant, sustainable long term future for their local communities, and without them we are but a generation or two away from witnessing their complete collapse”

He added “Storm clouds are now directly overhead and unless we act quickly now and act together in doing so young people and young families will sadly become an endangered species in our rural areas. Doing nothing and hoping things might improve soon is simply not an option. They will not.”

YDNPA Full Authority meeting September 2014

September 25, 2014 By: Pip Land Category: ARC News Service No Comments →

An ARC News Service  report on the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) Full Authority meeting on Tuesday, September 23.

Priorities and sustainable communities:

Local authorities must co-operate to stop the exodus of young people from the Yorkshire Dales, N Yorks County councillor John Blackie told members.

This meant, he said, that strategic planning could not be put to the bottom of the Authority’s priority list. If it was the Authority would not be in a position to work with neighbouring authorities to solve the social and demographic issues facing rural areas such as the provision of affordable housing.

Coun Blackie told the meeting that there had been a drop of over 50 per cent in the number of children attending schools in Swaledale and probably 50 families had left the Askrigg and Bainbridge area in Wensleydale in the last 15 years.

“This isn’t just a normal outflow of young people and young families from the Dales – it is now becoming an exodus,” he warned. The key issues were the lack of affordable housing, employment opportunities and premises suitable for those who were self-employed he said.

Coun John Blackie proposed that strategic planning should replace something else in the top tier but other members didn’t want to move the Volunteering and Apprentices, Development Management, Land Management and Biodiversity or the Rights of Way programmes down the priority ratings. They agreed instead to move Strategic Plans up from the limited to adequate priority list.

David Butterworth, the chief executive, reminded members that they had to prioritise the work undertaken by the Authority’s staff because by the budget would continue to shrink with a difference in funding between 2010 and 2017 of £1.8m in cash terms.

Local Plan and Housing:

A selective review of the housing development plan will be carried out even if that holds up the production of the new Local Plan by six months.

Peter Stockton, the head of sustainable development, reported that the 2011 census provided the stark and extraordinary statistic that although the number of dwellings in the National Park had increased by just over 1,000 in ten years the Park’s population had grown by only 100 because there were so many second homes and holiday homes. The number of families living in the Yorkshire Dales had decreased by 15 per cent.

He said that the housing development plan was a fundamental part of the Authority’s objective to support the viability of communities in the Yorkshire Dales.

But it was proving very difficult to reach the objective of 30 new houses a year and that could lead to the planning inspectors deciding that the new local plan was unsound.

Meeting those objectives was going to be even harder now that the government’s Homes and Community Agency (HCA) had removed grant aid from mixed housing sites like those planned for the National Park. And the government was now considering removing all requirements for affordable housing on residential developments in England of 10 or less.

“This will blow our housing policy out of the water. This government doesn’t understand the issues in rural areas,” commented Coun Blackie.

Members agreed that the Authority had to re-evaluate not only the criteria for local occupancy (including S106 legal agreements) but also the definition of affordable housing as well as reconsidering the 90sqm restriction on the size of new houses.

In addition they agreed with Coun Blackie’s proposal that the YDNPA should, in partnership with county and district councils, undertake a light touch review of the commissioning and funding of affordable housing by public authorities.The review will include consulting with those who provide mortgages as these were asking for 50 per cent deposits on dwellings on which there were S106 agreements putting them beyond the reach of many young families.

“This is a crisis – we must find another way by working with other authorities,” Coun Blackie argued.

Richmondshire District (RDC) councillor Stuart Parsons said that the problem of providing affordable housing should be discussed with the RDC as there was a site just across the border of the National Park. “The RDC could borrow quite a lot of money to build houses,” he explained.

Income generation:

The planning department will soon start charging for some pre-application advice.  “This is about income generation  to try and replace the grants lost,” explained Mr Butterworth.

There will be no charge for householder development or for the planning surgeries at the YDNPA’s offices at Grassington and Bainbridge. But for written advice concerning a major development the cost will be £150, and £300 if a planning officer has to make a site visit. The scale of fees drops to £50 for a small scale development which does not require a site visit.

There will be a charge of £22.50 for a written response to someone submitting an enquiry form concerning permitted development. The plan-checking service will no longer be free with fees ranging from £10 for householders up to £45 for major developments.

Richard Graham, head of development management, explained that all neighbouring authorities now charge for planning services. “The intention is not to recover the full cost – just some of it,” he said. He believed that such fees could generate £10,000 to £18,000 a year for a service which costs about £350,000 annually.

N Yorks County councillor Shelagh Marshall emphasised the importance of providing written advice to those who paid fees. There had been times, she said, when applicants had followed the verbal advice given by planning officers only to have their applications refused.

Coun Parsons wondered if there could be a higher charge for retrospective planning applications. Mr Graham responded that the schedule of charges was based upon the actual costs and not as a penalty. He added that retrospective planning applications were usually submitted because of the threat of enforcement.

When asked after the meeting about when the charges would be introduced Mr Graham said: “I can’t give a precise date at present as there is a significant amount of work that now needs to be done on establishing internal procedures, various standard documents, a database etc, as well as informing  our customers of the changes. However I hope that it will be possible to complete this work and introduce the service at the beginning of November.”

Government consultation on extending permitted development rights:

The Authority will strongly object to some of the changes to permitted development rights being proposed by the government.

Coun Blackie said: “I was horrified about the (proposed) change of use from light industrial buildings and storage and distribution to dwellings because it has the potential to completely wipe out (our) business parks – and we fought long and hard to get them.”

Any dwellings created in that way could be sold on the open market. Mr Graham reported that when the government brought in the temporary permitted development right concerning offices 11 out of the 29 offices in the National Park were converted. Without any affordable or local occupancy requirements they could become second, retirement or holiday homes.

Mr Graham explained that the introduction of some permitted development rights could have a harmful impact not only upon the landscape of the National Park but also upon the economic and social well-being of local communities.

It was agreed to object to the following proposals:

  • new permitted development rights to change from light industrial buildings and storage and distribution to dwellings;
  • making permanent the temporary permitted development right to change the use of offices to dwellings;
  • widening the shops use class to include uses from the financial and professional services class;
  • to allow change of use from shops and financial and professional services to restaurants and cafes;
  • and to allow installation of solar pv arrays to a capacity of 1 MW on roofs of non-domestic buildings, excluding roof slopes facing the highway).

When he heard that the solar panel arrays could be 20 times as large as those permitted at present Craven District councillor Carl Lis exclaimed: “How did anyone in higher authority decide that? It’s crackers.”

It was pointed out that all such large arrays of solar panels would be visible wherever they were located in the National Park.

Tour de France:

Kathryn Beardmore, director of park services, was warmly congratulated on all she had done to help make the Tour de France weekend such a success. She in turn thanked all those who had assisted in that. “Everyone pulled out all the stops,” she commented.

She reported that there had been a mixed response from businesses after the event especially as the number of visitors was not as high as predicted.

Craven District councillor  Roberts remarked: “The Welcome to Yorkshire model was too high and there were businesses which suffered because they catered for too many people.”

He agreed that more cyclists were now visiting the National Park but said that advance notice should be given when large groups planned to come.

N Yorks County councillor Harrison-Topham warned that the tolerance of local people could be pushed to its limits and added that many residents hoped there would not be such a large cycling event in the Dales within the next 10 years.

Residents in Grinton, according to Harold Brown, are still searching ebay to try and locate the TdF banners which were stolen from the village.

Margaret Knowles

April 07, 2014 By: Pip Land Category: ARC News Service, In Wensleydale No Comments →

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The funeral service for Margaret Knowles took place at SS Peter and Paul R C church in Leyburn on Thursday, March 13.  She was the wife of Tom Knowles, the founder president of the Association of Rural Communities, and was a member of the association since it began.

She was a popular Dales’ lady who had lived her whole life in the Aysgarth and Leyburn area. Her grandchildren especially remembered her for providing an important support centre in their lives.

As her granddaughter, Sarah Jayne Mitchell read her family tribute to this “beautiful lady” Margaret’s other grandchildren joined her and held candles in memory of her.

Margaret, who was born in May 1936, was one of three children of Horner and Alice Lambert. She attended West Burton primary school and then Yorebridge Grammar at Askrigg. She met Tom at a National Farmers’ Union dance in Leyburn in 1953 and they married in 1955.

In April 1958 the couple moved to a small dairy farm at Westholme, Aysgarth. Soon afterwards the then vicar of Aysgarth, the Rev John Benson, asked if they would be prepared to allow boy scouts to camp there for two to three weeks a year. This led to Margaret and Tom developing the farm into a very successful, well landscaped site for caravans and tents, which was also used by those taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme.

The discos in the restaurant and bar were very popular with local young people and Margaret’s hospitality was especially appreciated. Sarah Jayne commented: “Many of us (were) lucky enough to share those days – we now have fantastic memories of that beautiful place.”

In 1988 Margaret and Tom moved to Grayford near Carperby and established a thriving, successful bed and breakfast business with a restaurant. And yet again Margaret’s cooking was a big attraction.

Sarah Jayne said that her grandmother had been crowned Needle Queen at a national competition in London in 1972 and had gone on to become very well known over numerous years for winning cups, trophies and prizes at the Spennithorne and Harmby Village, Wensleydale, Reeth, and Muker shows for her knitting, crochet, dressmaking and baking. And last year in BBC2 ‘s Country Show Cook Off a celebrity chef was shown at the Wensleydale Show sneaking a piece of her prize-winning savoury tart to try and find out why his was only ranked third.

Sarah Jayne told the very large congregation at the funeral: “Grandma taught us (that) family is an important support centre to our lives. We are told constantly that our beautiful family is so unique – that is because we have excellent role models.

“Over her life our beautiful grandma was a strong lady overcoming a triple heart bypass and cirrhosis of the liver.”

Margaret and Tom had three children – Carolyn Bowe (who died in 2003), Jacquie Dinsdale and Tony Knowles as well as 13 grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.

Tom commented: “I’ve loved working in each other’s company and we were a great loving team.”

Father Pat O’Neill officiated at the funeral mass and the bearers were her grandsons – Paul Knowles, Stephen Bowe, and Keith, Stuart, Ryan and Chris Dinsdale.

The collection of over £1,140 will be shared between Herriot Hospice Homecare and Marie Curie Cancer Care.

Close family at the funeral: Tom Knowles (husband); Jacquie and Roger Dinsdale (daughter and son-in-law); Tony and Barbara Knowles (son and daughter-in-law); Rene and Stephen Hillary (sister and brother-in-law); Arthur Lambert (brother) with partner Eileen Richardson; Maurice and Margaret Knowles (brother-in-law and sister-in-law); David and Fiona Bowe (son-in-law) and grandchildren: Michelle and Andy Craggs with Harry and Olivia; Sarah Jayne and Kevin Mitchell with Zakk; Stephen Bowe; Helen Bowe; Keith and Mabel Dinsdale with Farah; Stuart Dinsdale with partner Angela Lambert and sons Jack and Charlie; Ryan Dinsdale; Lindsey Dinsdale and partner James Yeadon; Chris Dinsdale; Diane and Andy Barker with Alfie and Dylan; Susan; Samantha; and Paul Knowles. Plus many nephews and nieces.

Below: Margaret and Tom Knowles

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YDNPA – Full Authority meeting March 2014

March 27, 2014 By: Pip Land Category: ARC News Service No Comments →

A personal view:

There were times at the YDNPA full authority meeting on March 25 when I felt as if I was listening to people from two different worlds.

leyburn_auctionmart

Above: very much a family affair – Leyburn Auction Mart 2007

There was that of the auction marts in the Yorkshire Dales where farmers shared stories about trying to survive under the regime of  the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority. Stories of how planning officers put people off from making applications; of how farmers in the past had helped to create the wonderful landscapes of the Yorkshire Dales but their descendants were not trusted to take care of it; and of how children were being forced to move away even though their parents had a barn which could be converted either into a home for them, or into a workshop, restaurant or shop where they could make a living.

There was some hope on the horizon when the government decided to relax the planning regulations. Maybe at last those within the National Park would have the same opportunities as those just outside it. But if the YDNPA does introduce an Article 4 Direction in January 2015 farmers will require full planning permission for the change of use of all barns to commercial purposes.

At the full authority meeting the alternative view of life in the Yorkshire Dales won the day. This was summed up by Ann Brooks who was speaking as the member champion for sustainable development at what was her last meeting as a YDNPA member. She argued that planning controls were needed to protect the landscape and legitimate public interests – and she encouraged applicants to consult with the planning officers to get the best possible results. (more below)

N Yorks County councillor John Blackie pointed out that the refusal of planning permission for six barns in Arkengarthdale some years ago had led to three of them now being completely derelict. “They look like Indian funeral pyres,” he commented.

He warned that if the YDNPA wasn’t careful it would end up being as reviled by local people as it was back in the 1990s. And why? Because the world of a quango like the YDNPA seems sometimes to bear so little relationship to the daily reality of the Dales farmers who still play such a vital role in conserving the landscape.

ydnpa_office

Above – don’t ask the local farmers what they think of the design of the YDNPA office in Bainbridge! One of the objectives that is outlined in the Authority’s draft Action Plan 2014-15 is to …encourage innovative, high-quality and more sustainable building design that complements the distinctive character of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Another objective is to support farmers and landowners to deliver a wide range of environmental benefits…..”

 

ARC News Service:

Article 4 Direction and the Local Plan

Richmondshire District Council (RDC) will write to Defra asking the Secretary of State to call in the decision made by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) last week to re-introduce full planning control over all barn conversions.

Both the RDC and North Yorkshire County Council had strongly objected to the YDNPA confirming an Article 4 Direction which in January 2015 will remove the permitted development rights introduced by the government last year. Those rights allow the change of use of many agricultural buildings for commercial purposes. These are separate from those whereby barns can be converted into dwellings from which the National Parks are now exempt.

N Yorks County councillor John Blackie told the YDNPA full authority meeting on Tuesday, March 25, that initially the county council had not been included in the consultation about the Article 4 Direction. The meeting was informed that this was due to an administrative error.

Coun Blackie was also concerned that so little weight had been given to the objections by the county and district councils even though these were statutory economic development authorities for the Northern part of the Yorkshire Dales.

The YDNPA is the only national park authority which has decided to introduce an Article 4 Direction even though during the consultation it received 21 objections compared to 15 letters of support.

Peter Stockton, the head of sustainable development, told the members that the recommendation to go ahead had been influenced by the comments received.

Ann Brooks stated: “We are charged with looking after this national park. To allow development without the advice and support from the planning department would lead to some developments which would damage our landscape, and it is the landscape which makes us what we are.

“We are not in the business of saying no but we should make careful and considered decisions.” She quoted the figures supplied by the Authority’s planning policy officer, Tom Harland, that between 2006 and 2013 permission had been granted for 24 of the 27 applications to convert barns to commercial use. He reported that although the Authority had a generally supportive policy towards commercial conversions the take-up had been disappointing.

He added: “There is little evidence that the planning system is creating a significant barrier to proposals coming forward.”

A few authority members, including North Yorks County councillor Roger Harrison-Topham, stated, however, that obstacles were being put in the way of applicants and applications were being stifled. He disagreed with William Weston who wanted the Authority to return to the system that existed before May 2013. Mr Weston commented: “We should maintain the status quo otherwise we don’t have control. You can see the difference outside the National Parks in areas that are not protected and are over developed.”

Coun Harrison-Topham warned: “I think we are sending the wrong message – that we are a bunch of control freaks.” He argued that only the barns close to roads, hamlets or villages would be suitable for commercial use and so those in open countryside would not be affected.

As the only member of the committee still active in farming Harold Brown said: “I am vehemently against this (Article 4 Direction) and so are my farming friends and they maintain this place and have done for generations before (there was a) national park. The younger generation of farmers are becoming disillusioned with farming – it is much more difficult in a protected area.”

Coun Blackie told the committee that a young farmer in Wensleydale had wanted to use the new permitted development rights to convert a barn near a main road for commercial use but was told by the planning officer that would not be possible. He added that the most underhand tactics had then been used to prevent that going ahead – even though the Article 4 Direction not yet been introduced.

He said it was only due to the persistence of the farmer and the support of the local parish council and himself, as well as a letter from William Hague MP, which had led to the Authority accepting the change of use of the barn.

To him and to Richmondshire District councillor Malcolm Gardner, the Article 4 Direction was anti-community. “If we are not careful we will not have vibrant sustainable communities in the future. As you come down Swaledale the schools are closing – the shops are closed,” Coun Blackie said.

He was concerned that the new Local Plan, which will include greater flexibility for barn conversions both for commercial use and also into local occupancy homes, might be delayed. “Many local people are waiting for that greater flexibility,” he explained.

Mrs Brooks assured him the Authority was on course for producing the Local Plan by 2015. At the meeting the officers working on the new plan were given permission to explore the legal, financial and practical implications of charging a “conservation levy” in lieu of a local occupancy restriction on some residential barn conversion schemes.

Graham Dalton was concerned that such a policy could undermine the local occupancy agreements. He said that in Dent local occupancy agreements had led to newly built houses being occupied every day of the year and that helped to sustain the community. He believed it was important to have local occupancy agreements on any barn conversions as well.

Coun Blackie’s proposal that the consultation on the Local Plan should also include the policy of restricting new build local affordable houses to 90 square metres per unit was accepted.

Corporate and Action Plans and the Budget

The continuing cuts in the Defra grants to the YDNPA (£1.6 million since 2010) with even more expected, could mean that the Authority will have deficits of £98,000 for the year 2015/16 and £184,000 in that of 2016/17.

Craven District councillor John Roberts described the cuts as quite frightening and he asked how that would affect the level of staffing.

David Butterworth, the chief executive, said that they tried to keep the cost of staffing at 70 per cent of the budget. The cuts could lead to that percentage increasing but he added: “If we are not successful in finding funding we will cut staff in order to get down to 70 per cent.”

Coun Blackie commented that the organisation’s staff was too valuable. Peter Charlesworth said that, as the chairman of the Authority, he would do all he could to lobby the government and others concerning the cuts in grants and to find additional funding.

When discussing income generation Mr Butterworth warned that if the cost of parking at the National Parks’s car parks was raised too much people would not use them. The programmes with which the Authority will either make limited progress or only do sufficient to meet a statutory duty during the next year will include retail.

Its key priorities will be biodiversity, farm conservation, rights of way, volunteers, web-based services and the sustainable development fund.

It was agreed that there should be no change in the scheme of members’ allowances.

COME AND JOIN US:  Have these reports been useful? If so why not join us in the Association of Rural Communities or make a donation.  And do send your comments.

February to December 2013

December 24, 2013 By: Pip Land Category: ARC News Service No Comments →

ARC News Service  reports on the meetings of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s (YDNPA) planning committee February to December 2013.

Towns and villages are in alphabetical order.

Annual performance statistics  – In May North Yorkshire County Councillor John Blackie asked what was being done to improve the rate in which planning decisions were made, especially for those cases which could not be resolved within eight weeks.

According to the annual performance statistics provided by the planning department 258 out of 319 applications had been resolved within eight weeks in the past year. The average time for the other 61 applications to be determined had been 31 weeks. “Thirty-one weeks, for some of these applications, is unacceptable,” Cllr Blackie said.

He also pointed out that eight to ten years ago the planning department dealt with 36 per cent more applications each year with very few extra staff. “With a 36 per cent reduction in the work load we seem to be taking a long time to deal with some of the straight forward applications and those that go beyond the eight week target can sometimes go into the dark abyss.” He described how some people had phoned him either early in the morning or late at night to ask what had happened to their applications.

He added: “I think occasionally applications are simply put to one side because of other pressing work. If you do publish annual statistics then you need to look at the performance and see if you can improve it.”

Richard Graham, head of development management, said it was not as straight forward as it looked. There were a variety of reasons why some applications were not dealt with within eight weeks such as the need to provide good customer service, the drawing up of section 106 agreements, or even because an applicant had disengaged from the process. Many applications had been dealt with within nine weeks and just a handful had taken much longer. He added that ten years ago the government did not expect planning applications to be dealt with within eight weeks.

Cllr Blackie said: “I don’t want this to be taken as an attack on officers. It is desire to actually improve (the service).” He also asked if officers needed to spend so much time on agreeing conditions on planning applications.

The Authority’s member champion for development management, Chris Armitage, agreed with Cllr Blackie that such questions should be asked and said that they had been comparing the performance of the YDNPA with other National Parks. “We are on a par with other national parks in efficiency but there is still more to do,” he said.

He added that there was a small working group which was looking at what happened to applications that had not been resolved within 13 weeks. The working group did ask: “Did they just go in a drawer and ‘we’ll get back to them when we can’?” The planning department did, he said, regularly review cases that were coming up to the eight week deadline.

Local List of Validation Requirements – In October Cllr Blackie wanted committee members to have time to read the full revised version of the Local List of Validation Requirements before it was published, and so he asked that a decision on it should be deferred until the November meeting. It was pointed out, however, that the current list would expire by November 1. The new one had, therefore, to be published by that date.

The senior legal officer, Clare Bevan, accepted that this was “a bit of a mess” and recommended that the revised list should be adopted at the October meeting and then discussed in November when amendments could be made. Cllr Blackie commented that the present list of application requirements was already far too onerous.

At the November meeting Mr Graham reported that the list of Validation Requirements had been revised and shortened. He added that a good list helped to avoid delays with planning applications.

Richmondshire District Councillor Malcolm Gardner asked if applicants could be warned about obtaining a bat survey at the right time of the year. He explained that if they paid for a survey to be carried out in winter it was likely they would have to pay for another when the bats were not hibernating.

Appletreewick –  May – The committee unanimously approved the application for external alterations to the former primary school at Skyreholme, Appletreewick, which included the installation of solar panels on the south west facing roof slope.

John Jordan, the applicant, explained that he had three objectives: to improve the appearance of the building by replacing the flat roof on an extension with a ridged one more in keeping with the main building;  replace the old sewage tank, which leaked, with a modern one; and install less obtrusive black matt solar panels with black frames to make the building more energy efficient.  He added: “I want to have things in keeping with the area and I would like to see the old school house restored to use.”  He plans to re-open it as a field studies centre again.

Appletreewick parish council had been concerned that the solar panels would be unsightly on a roof which could be seen from many locations locally and that there might be leaks from the septic tank.

AustwickJune – The application to remove the local occupancy agreements on five new houses in Austwick was refused by the planning committee. Members agreed with the planning officials that if the section 106 agreement on the five houses was discharged they could be sold on the open market contrary to the Authority’s housing policies since 2006.

Craven Dt Coun Robert Heseltine commented that Kerrowmere Ltd had developed the site with full knowledge of the housing policy and that at the right prices the houses would sell. The planning officer reported that although the houses had been on the market for the last 18 months no details had been provided about how they had been marketed or at what price.

A new government regulation had made it possible for this application to be submitted and the company supported its argument partly by quoting six appeal decisions in Wales which had led to the discharge of local occupancy need agreements.

Austwick parish council objected to the application and pointed out: “The Authority’s adopted policies do not permit unrestricted open market housing in service villages such as Austwick. The obligation contained in the Section 106 agreement to restrict occupation of the new dwellings to ‘local people’ was necessary to make the development acceptable in planning terms at the time when planning permission was granted, and remains necessary for the same reason. It follows that the obligation continues to serve a useful and proper planning purpose and should not be discharged.” This was re-iterated by planning officials.

One reported that the section 106 agreements were intended to make more homes available to those who met the local needs criteria and by doing so improve the social and economic vibrancy of the local community. They were not, therefore, contrary to EU Law, as Kerrowmere Ltd had argued, as it was not intended to use them to protect the needs of the less affluent. The resulting reduction in the cost of the houses was a consequence and not the intention of the policy.

The committee agreed that there were no exceptional circumstances that would lead to it going against the Authority’s housing policy. The members had been informed by a solicitor based in Wales that an appeal would be lodged if the application was refused.

Austwick – September – Permission was given for an enforcement notice to be issued for the removal of builder’s equipment, materials and a large pile of excavated soil from a site in Pant Lane.

Bainbridge – Housing development beside the Rose and Crown

March – The committee was applauded when, by a majority of just two, it agreed to approve an application by David Collinson for the construction of eight houses adjacent to the Rose and Crown Hotel in Bainbridge. The chairman of the committee, Harold Brown, warned the villagers that the decision would be referred back as this was against the officer’s recommendation.

The committee was deeply divided. Several accepted the planning officer’s statements that if the application was approved the Authority’s core housing objectives would be seriously undermined and would set a precedent for future housing developments in the National Park. Chris Armitage said they should not go against a policy which had been approved less than a year ago.

Peter Stockton, YDNPA head of sustainable development, told members that this was the first substantive test of the Authority’s new housing development plan which was aimed at ensuring that on any new site where more than one house was to be built there should be an equal mix of affordable housing for rent in perpetuity and homes which could only be sold to local people (local market housing).

But Richmondshire Dt Cllr Yvonne Peacock, as one of three public speakers, told the committee: “No housing association will want to invest any more in Bainbridge as we already have 16 at Scott Hill and 40 at Sycamore Hall. We need local need low cost houses to buy.”

She pointed out that 100 residents had signed a letter in support of the application. She explained that many of those working in the Dales, including YDNPA staff, do not fulfil the criteria to be allocated an affordable rented house but could not afford to buy a house on the open market.

Bainbridge parish councillor Ian Canavan said that a respected, local chartered surveyor had confirmed that the project would not be viable if 50 per cent of the site was allocated for affordable housing. And there was evidence that “local market” housing was needed.

The parish council and many residents disagreed with the planning officer that the development would be detrimental to the appearance of the village. Cllr Canavan added: “We firmly believe that the design is good. It is fit for purpose. And it would enhance our lovely village.”

Cllr Blackie told the committee: “The aim of the game is to keep the community of Bainbridge thriving, vibrant, forward looking (and) sustainable.” He added that there were sufficient affordable houses for rent in the village but not of “local market housing”.

Both he and N Yorks County Cllr Richard Welch warned that if there were not enough “local need” housing the villages would lose their schools and other facilities. Cllr Welch commented: “Here we have everybody wanting more housing – that’s a refreshing change.”

Like some other members Cumbria County Cllr Roger Bingham did support the application but said the objection by the County Council’s highways department regarding plans for the access to the site should be considered carefully and the design of the houses should be improved.

Cllr Blackie agreed that the design should be improved but the Authority needed to be careful not to make the project unaffordable to developers.The reasons he gave for supporting the application (for five two-bedroom and three three-bedroom houses) were that highway safety would actually be improved; local people would be provided with an opportunity to buy houses rather than just to rent; it would relieve pressure on affordable housing; that the considerable support for the project from the local community was a material consideration; and that it would not set a precedent.

He argued that it would not set a precedent because the application had been in the pipeline before new housing development plan was approved. But the senior legal officer, Clare Bevan, disagreed. She said that an application had been refused in 2010 and maintained that this was a new application which had been made after the housing development plan was adopted. It therefore had to be assessed according to the new plan.

The voting was seven to approve the application, with five against and two abstentions.

There was then a short debate about the application to demolish a listed building. Cllr Bingham, the member champion for conservation of cultural heritage, asked where this building was as all he had seen beside the Rose and Crown was an old shed. It was accepted that this building, with its corrugated roof and asbestos, was not worth preserving, especially as English Heritage had earlier given approval for it to be demolished.

One thing that all the members seemed to agree upon was what was described as being the ludicrous statement by the Architectural Liaison Officer (ALO) for North Yorkshire Police. In the planning officer’s report it stated: “The ALO comments that the proximity of the development to the main Leyburn to Hawes Road (and ultimately Lancashire) in addition to the close proximity to the Rose and Crown allows the travelling criminal a reasonable excuse to be in the immediate vicinity of the development ….”

May – Approval was given for the amended planning application to build eight houses to the north and west of the Rose and Crown with the condition that there would be section 106 local market housing agreements on all of them.

Mr Graham stated that the new plans were for simple, plain architecture which would blend in better with the built landscape of the village. The houses along the A684 would be set back from the road so as to preserve the appearance of the pub which is a listed building. There will be a footpath between the pub and the adjacent house. It was felt that this housing development would improve the appearance of the  site.

The applicant had, since a decision was deferred at the March meeting, submitted an economic viability study. This supported his argument that it would only be economically viable to build local market housing on that site. The local community had fully supported this on the basis that there was sufficient affordable housing in the village and there was a need for houses that were lower in price than those on the open market.

Cllr John Blackie commented that they should do something absolutely amazing for a community which had not only played host to the Authority since its inception but also to Sycamore Hall. “These (dwellings) will ease the pressure on the affordable houses,” he said.

Ann Brooks  and Peter Charlesworth wondered why the applicant, David Collinson, had not adjusted the plans and submitted an economic viability study earlier which would have saved time. Under the Authority’s current housing policy there must be sufficient evidence that affordable housing could not be included in such a non-greenfield development.

Inconsistencies – Chris Armitage pointed out the inconsistencies in the guidance given by North Yorkshire County Council on highways issues. There had been no objection to the access from Town Head Farm at Grassington even though there is a 60mph speed limit on the road there. Nor had there been any objections to the access from the Old Masons Yard in Clapham even though Craven District Cllr John Roberts had told the committee that it was very dangerous. And yet there had been an objection to that from what is at present the car park which serves the Rose and Crown in Bainbridge.

August – The members were unanimous that the proposed improvement and realignment of the public highway junction beside the Rose and Crown in Bainbridge did not need to be completed before work began on constructing eight houses behind the public house. Instead this can be done prior to the first occupation of any of the dwellings. This was because the Tour de France race will pass the pub in July next year and the organisers would have to approve any amendments to the junction before such work could start. In addition that section of road is likely to be re-surfaced this September and then would need to be “patched” when the junction was rearranged and service connections were installed.

Bainbridge – September – The recommendation by Peter Stockton, the head of sustainable development, that Broadacres Housing Association should be allowed to let one unit at Scott Hill in Bainbridge to a non-local household which was on the Richmondshire housing list was accepted by the majority of the members. The Section 106 local occupancy agreement on that unit would resume when it was subsequently vacated.

Broadacres had asked for a temporary variation of the Section 106 agreement because it had not been able to let that two-bedroom unit. The majority of the members accepted that Broadacres had made every effort to advertise it to locally qualifying households.

Cllr Blackie explained that unit 21 had originally been the chapel of rest. “Local people felt it was a bit early to be tenants of this property,” he commented.

Cllr Marshall was very concerned that a review of local occupancy agreements might not be included on the agenda for the full authority meeting on September 24. She said that more flexibility was needed for these giving the example of someone from Skipton not being allowed to buy a house in Kettlewell on which there was a Section 106 agreement.

Carlton in CoverdaleFebruary –  The planning committee yet again gave retrospective planning permission for the installation of a kitchen extractor system at the Foresters Arms in Carlton.

Permission had originally been granted at the meeting in September 2012 but this was challenged through the judicial review process and subsequently quashed by the High Court in January. It was quashed because the summary reasons were inadequate and it was considered that the way in which planning policy and other material considerations were explained in the original committee report were unclear.This time great care was taken to make sure no fault could be found with the procedures or the decision to approve the application.

The majority of the committee again accepted that the large flue on the rear of the pub could be easily removed without causing any damage to the fabric of the listed building. It was agreed it should be painted in a stone colour so as to fit in well with the rest of the building.

It was also accepted that the flue along with the rest of the extractor system was necessary for the viability of the Foresters Arms as a community pub. The flue must be removed when no longer in operation or if the pub is no longer in use.

ClaphamDecember – The extensions to Marton House at Riverside in Clapham will provide an opportunity to improve the 1960s building Chris Armitage said when he proposed that the planning application should be approved.

This followed a site meeting when members of the committee were able to see what the house looked like at present with its rendered blockwork and artificial reconstituted limestone walls. The owner wants to change the external appearance so that it blends in better within the Clapham village conservation area.

Ann Brooks commented: “I feel it can be improved and you can’t see it (from the road) very well.”

The planning officer had recommended refusal because he believed that the proposed extensions would significantly and excessively increase the mass of the building to the detriment of the conservation area.

Clapham-cum-Newby parish council supported the application because the proposed extensions would not overlook neighbouring properties and did not extend beyond the footprint of the existing building.

When the majority of members agreed with Mr Armstrong and the parish council the head of development management, Richard Graham, said that the approval of the application would not need to be confirmed at the February meeting even though it was against officer recommendation.

CoverdaleLickber Lane

March – The committee heard that British Horse Society intended to serve an enforcement notice on North Yorkshire County Council’s Highways Authority in order to get Lickber Lane near Melmerby in Coverdale restored to the condition it was in before the local farmer, Andrew Avison, filled it with earth excavated when he had a new slurry pit constructed.

But the chairman of the committee, Harold Brown, warned: “What I don’t want to see is us develop an argument or an enforcement with the county council.” Some members had argued that the YDNPA should be prepared to take enforcement action itself.

The senior legal officer, Clare Bevan, explained that this would involve not only serving a notice on the farmer, but also on the Highways Authority as it was responsible for the maintenance of the right of way. This led to N Yorks County Cllr Richard Welch asking if the county councillors should therefore declare an interest. Ms Bevan advised that they should declare a personal interest – which they did.

Several members described Lickber Lane as an illegal landfill site and agreed with Cllr Bingham that the earth should be removed and the original “sunken” surface of the lane restored. He said: “We are dealing with the preservation of a historic feature which we are pledged to maintain and preserve.” The question was – just how to achieve that.

After a lengthy discussion the majority voted in favour of N Yorks County Cllr Roger Harrison-Topham’s proposal that Mr Avison’s retrospective planning application for the infilling of an unclassified county road should be refused, and that the Authority should write to the highways department requesting that it should ensure that the “sunken” condition of the lane was restored. Several members were not convinced that the Highways Authority would respond to such a letter and it was agreed to follow up on this in three month’s time.

Cllr Harrison-Topham, who lives in Coverdale, said that the highways authority was at present laying pipes down the lane to take water away from the nearby road. He added that the sunken status of the lane had meant it had served as a stream bed in recent years rather than as a path or highway of any sort.

He told the committee that Lickber Lane had not been on the county council’s published list of streets. Research had, however, shown that it was an Unsurfaced Unclassified Road and was maintainable at public expense. Like other members he argued that it was not the duty of a planning authority to clear a highway.

Ms Bevan pointed out that the lane’s status was still not clear as the Highways Authority was not sure what kind of traffic would be using it and, therefore, what the level of maintenance should be. And the planning officer reported: “The Highways Authority also have specific enforcement powers to require the lane to be reinstated but have pursued the option of downgrading the lane as an alternative course of action.”

June – The YDNPA will not be taking enforcement action against North Yorkshire County Council over the infilling of Lickber Lane near Melmbery, Coverdale. At the planning committee the members heard that the county council had offered to discuss remedial action.

Cllr  Harrison-Topham commented: “The one thing we want to avoid here is an inter-authority punch up.”

The planning committee wants to see Lickber Lane returned to its original “sunken” state and believes that the infilling carried out by Andrew Avison had resulted in the loss of an historic feature in the Dales landscape. In September 2011 Avison infilled the lane with earth excavated when a new slurry lagoon was being constructed at his farm.

Cllr Harrison-Topham explained: “This particular lane had been omitted in error from the (county council’s) list of streets. The farmer thought what he had was a private lane with certain easements for certain people from the parish to go down to the river. He thought he was tipping on his own land.”

Other committee members on Tuesday stated that it was still illegal tipping which should be prosecuted. They did, however, accept the advice of Richard Daly, the monitoring officer, that nothing could be gained by serving enforcement notices on Mr Avison or the county council.

Mr Daly reported that the county council’s solicitor had informed them that the highways authority considered that Mr Avison had improved the lane but did not own it. Nor did the county council feel it was good to return the lane to its original overgrown and unkempt appearance. He added that if the county council was required to remove the earth it would very likely return the next day and fill it back in again using its permitted rights as a highway authority.

Richard Graham, head of development management, said the county council had agreed to take remedial action to bring the lane back into a “sunken” state but also to ensure that it was useable for those people who had rights to use it. The highways authority would hold a site meeting with the YDNPA planning department to discuss this.

“From my point of view this is the best outcome we are likely to achieve,” Mr Graham said.

Dentdale February – It was agreed that an enforcement notice would be served by the end of February for the removal of a poly tunnel at Birchentree Farm, Cowgill in Dentdale. The farmer would have 84 days to comply – giving him time to finish lambing.

ClaphamMay – The majority of the committee members felt they should make a decision concerning the conversion of the office in the Old Masons Yard at Clapham according to the Authority’s present housing policy. The Authority had received notification from the government that there will be new permitted development rights  under the National Planning Policy Framework that will allow the change of use from office to residential but as yet did not have the full details.

In February 2012 the planning committee approved an application for the office and store beside it to be converted into “local need” housing comprising of two dwellings and a bungalow. The  latest application was for the office to be converted into a five bedroomed holiday let.  Cllr Roberts said that the applicant believed it would be difficult to sell local need dwellings. He added: “The applicant has got to prove that.”

The majority  accepted the planning officer’s recommendation that this application should be refused partly on the basis that the provision of holiday accommodation was in conflict with the Authority’s housing policy.

FeizorMay – The section 52 agreement on Top O’T’Hill Farm at Feizor will be lifted after a majority of members accepted the planning officer’s recommendation. She stated that there had been an element of unfairness in the way that it had been imposed in 1990, and that the case was very similar to that of Hazel Head Barn at Hawkswick.

Cllr Blackie commented that, when discussing the Hawkswick case, he had warned that there were about half a dozen other section 52 agreements which had been similarly imposed in the early 1990s. “There are very similar circumstances of unfairness and precedent,” he said concerning the barn conversion at Feizor. He felt it was now pragmatic and sensible to lift that agreement especially as the section 52 agreements were draconian and undemocratic.

Mr Armitage asked how much of a precedent had been set by the decision to lift the agreement on Hazel Head Barn. Richard Daly, the YDNPA monitoring officer, replied that this was very limited and affected only a small number of cases. Six of the members voted to discharge the agreement on Top O’T’Hill, with five abstaining and one voting against it.

Grassingtonmilk processing facilities at Town Head Farm

May: It was agreed to defer a decision on the planning application (part retrospective) for extensions to the milk processing facilities  at Town Head Farm so that a site meeting could be held.Cllr Roberts proposed the site meeting on the basis that this was a complex site and because it was in the public interest.  He pointed out that the economic development officer for Craven District Council had stated that the application met the key themes and priorities of that council’s economic development strategy.

Cllr Blackie noted that the business aspect of the application had to be considered at the site meeting.There is considerable local opposition to the application and Grassington parish council has objected to it on the basis that it would adversely affect the residential amenity of neighbouring properties and the environment of the area as well as resulting in unacceptable levels of traffic. The planning officer has recommended refusal not only because of the impact upon those living nearby but also because of the harmful impact upon the landscape.

The application is for additional cattle housing, roofing and cladding of the loading bay area; the creation of a hard-standing area, office and agricultural worker facilities; and the change of use of agricultural buildings and hard-standing areas to accommodate the dairy processing and distribution infrastructure.

Milk has been processed at Town Head Farm since 1994.  The processing of milk had increased from 2,779,593 litres in March 2002 to 12,437,964 litres in March 2012. This was achieved in part by processing milk from third-party suppliers.  If the expansion of the facilities is approved the applicant, David  Oversby, expects an increase of the farm’s own milk production to 1,600,000 litres and of purchased milk to 22,000,000 litres by 2023. Orange juice concentrate is also processed at the farm.

June: – A decision about the Town Head Farm (Dales Dairies)  application was deferred to allow time for more negotiations with the owner, David Oversby.

Several members of committee said they had lost sleep over this planning application for increasing the milk processing capacity at Dales Dairy.They applauded Mr Oversby’s family’s success in expanding the business. It now has 50 full time workers and processes milk for 15 local dairy farms. Six of these had nowhere else to send their milk after a major distributor went into liquidation in 2009.

Jonathan Caygill, speaking on behalf of those 15 farmers, stated: “Without Dales Dairies some of these would not be able to continue dairying within the Yorkshire Dales. Dales Dairies… is a great example of co-operation within the National Park. I urge you to approve the application to safeguard local dairy farming within the National Park.”

But at the same time the development of such an agricultural light industry enterprise in a residential area had had a major impact upon its neighbours.Tanya Graham, on behalf of some residents, told the committee that the large number of wagons posed a threat to pedestrians along the narrow lanes and added: “These industrial processes are right next to people’s houses and it is a 24-hour operation. It impacts severely on residential amenity.

“I have been asked by someone to point out that they have barely had a proper night’s sleep in three years and by someone else that this lack of sleep is now affecting her ability to work and therefore her business. This is a 24-hour seven-day a week problem of noise.”

Several members of the committee agreed with Grassington Parish Cllr Michael Rooze that the business should be re-located, preferably to somewhere local. Chris Armitage, a member of the committee, said that otherwise they were sentencing residents to a life time of disruption and many more sleepless nights.

Cllr  Roberts was one of the members who said he had lost sleep thinking about this issue. He said that Craven District Council’s economic development officer considered the development to be in accordance with the district council’s development policy.

He reminded the committee, however, that the planning officer had reported that seven YDNPA policies had been broken by Dales Dairies. Part of the application for change of use of buildings and hard-standing areas was retrospective.“This agricultural venture is in my view a great success story but it is also a victim of that success. My heart tells me to approve this but I cannot find any compromises to the traffic problem and the loss of amenity to residents. I believe he is just in the wrong place.”

He asked that if the application was refused there should not be any enforcement within two years. But the head of development management, Richard Graham, advised against this.

Mr Graham explained that the officer’s recommendation to refuse the retrospective application did not include enforcement because they wanted to be able to continue negotiations with Mr Oversby to consider his options not only to provide for his business but to also to protect residents. “We like to find solutions,” he said.

Several members then asked if a decision could be deferred to allow for negotiations to continue with Mr Oversby.

One of those was  Cllr  Blackie who emphasised the huge importance of supporting the small dairy farms in the Yorkshire Dales. He compared the situation to that in Hawes where local people supported the Wensleydale Creamery because of its economic benefit to the community, including the provision of jobs.“Sometimes (industry) has to be in the midst of community because it supports that community. We have the environmental officer giving the okay to this operation (at Grassington) – and the highways authority.” He didn’t want the Authority to be the “villain of the piece” in closing down the Dales Dairy.

At the end of a lengthy debate the six members who wanted the application to be refused were outvoted by seven others. There were then eight in favour of deferral, with one against and three abstentions. Mr Graham wanted it deferred for just one month while some members requested two months. Mr Graham said there would be a progress report at the July meeting.

The full application was for additional cattle housing, roofing and cladding of loading bay area, creation of hard-standing area, office and agricultural worker facilities and change of use of agricultural buildings and hard-standing areas to accommodate the dairy processing and distribution infrastructure (part retrospective).

July : The planning officer gave an update on the discussions with David Oversby concerning the milk processing plant at Town Head Farm.

Cllr Roberts asked why there had been a discussion about moving the processing plant to another site or providing additional pedestrian refuges on Bull Ing Lane as these were not included in the application. He was told that the applicant had raised the issue of pedestrian refuges, and the question of moving to another site arose as the officer had recommended refusing the application.

Cllr Roberts emphasised that as there were 50 jobs involved it was important for the business to remain in the area.The committee was told that the application would be discussed fully at the meeting in August.

As she would not be able to attend that meeting Cllr Marshall said that it was important that, should the committee be minded to approve the application, members and officers should make sure that the appropriate conditions were attached and that it was clear which agency (YDNPA, Traffic Commission, the Police or the local authority) was responsible for ensuring that those were fulfilled.

She also wanted to know if it could be ascertained what percentage of the farm was now being used for commercial purposes and to have an assessment of what the business was worth within the local economy. At present all of the farm was valued as being for agricultural use. She also wanted conditions concerning working hours to be included. Her other concern was that the heavy traffic from the farm was creating a very dangerous situation for pedestrians using Grass Wood Lane.

Richmondshire District Cllr Malcolm Gardner pointed out that most of the work in the processing plant was done by hand at present, but if more automation was introduced it would be far noisier.

Richard Graham, the head of development management, said that the parish council would be kept informed. Andrew Colley asked that there should also be time for a public meeting in Grassington.

August : After a two-hour debate  the proposal to approve the extensions to the milk processing plant at Town Head Farm was passed by just seven votes to six. This decision had to be ratified at the September meeting as it was against officer recommendation.

Part of the application by David Oversby was for retrospective approval but, once the vote had been taken, Cllr Harrison-Topham, pointed out that it was not clear what had been approved by the planning committee in 2006, nor how much of the milk processing plant had been in production for over ten years. This will be important in September if the decision to approve is overturned.

Peter Charlesworth, who is the chairman of the YDNPA, argued that the planning officer was correct to recommend refusal because the development was causing so much harm to the environment and to the amenity of many residents in Grassington. “What weight do we give to residents or to the parish council?” he asked. He reported that 90 people in Grassington had used Cynthia Colley’s survey to register their disapproval of Mr Oversby’s application.

Cllr  Harrison-Topham told the committee that he had been lobbied by Mrs Colley to vote against the application. Her husband, Andrew Colley, is a member of the planning committee and of Grassington parish council.

Mr Colley declared a personal interest at the beginning of the debate, and spoke and voted against approval.Mr Colley stated that Mr Oversby had built up a fantastic business but it was in the wrong location. He added that the parish council had listened to residents at a public meeting in January and had, therefore, objected to the plans. This was on the basis that they would adversely affect the residential amenity of neighbouring properties and the environment of the surrounding area, as well as resulting in unacceptable traffic levels.

Speaking on behalf of the parish council Michael Rooze said there appeared to be a “magnificent seven” on the planning committee which was very, very pro farmer. He argued that even Mr Oversby had accepted that this was an industrial plant and added that the employment situation there would only change if and when successful enforcement action was carried out.

Cllr Roberts however argued that in the past few months Mr Oversby had amended the plans to try and lessen the impact of the plant on residents. This included an assurance that lorries would only deliver and collect milk between 7am and 7pm each day.

Both he and Cllr Blackie pointed out that the Economic Development Officer for Craven District Council had supported the application because the business was making a significant contribution towards maintaining a diverse and prosperous economy and was a major employer in the area.

When proposing that the application should be approved Cllr  Blackie said it was a very difficult decision to make but they needed to remember that the statutory consultees like the Highways Authority and the Environment Agency had not opposed it – something which would be taken into consideration by an appeal inspector.

He added: “Mr Oversby had made tremendous compromises when trying to respond to the understandable and quite legitimate concerns of nearby neighbours”. In addition Mr Oversby had made a commitment in writing that there would be no further expansion on that site.

Cllr Blackie told  the committee that the business was worth £4million to the local economy, which included £1.3 million in wages, with 55 people being employed and 15 local farms dependent upon the plant to process their milk. “Sustainability and local prosperity does not come without a price. Please don’t associate the National Park with a message that we don’t want to encourage rural enterprise,” Cllr Blackie stated.

He pointed out that the impact upon the landscape of the Wensleydale Creamery buildings and its car parks at Hawes was considerably more than that of Town Head Farm. There was much more movement of lorries from the Creamery and the majority of those heavy vehicles were driven through the centre of Hawes.

The proposal to approve the application was on the basis of the benefits of employment both on the site and to local farms; the benefits to the local economy of having a successful business there; and also that the statutory consultees (governmental health, highways and the economic development authority) have raised no objections.

It was agreed that during the next month conditions should be drawn up which would try to meet the concerns expressed by residents and members of the committee.

September : The “knife edge” vote on the partly retrospective application for the extension of the milk processing plant at Town Head Farm went in favour of the applicant, David Oversby with eight members voting for approval and seven against.

In what the chairman of the Authority, Peter Charlesworth, described as an excellent debate members discussed what the balance should be between the economic advantages of approving the extensions to the Dales Dairies milk processing plant compared with the detrimental impact upon the amenity of those living nearby and upon the landscape.

Cllr Blackie argued: “We are talking about employment in an area that is not over endowed with employment. We are talking about sustaining dairy farms, particularly small dairy farms – the very heart and soul of our national park (with its) wonderful landscapes. It’s a great shame we can’t have the prosperity without the impact but unfortunately it imposes on some people.”

Cllr  Roberts pointed out that Dales Dairies employed 50 people full time and six full time. It also helped 15 local farms to continue with dairy herds. He added: “We have lost two dairy farms in Wharfedale in the last two years. The fostering of economic wellbeing is a material consideration.”

He said that although he had originally been against giving approval and still felt that the milk processing plant was in the wrong place the applicant had now addressed all his concerns. This included being willing to use cladding to reduce noise to about 40 decibels. Some of the fleet of vehicles were now being parked overnight at Cracoe.

The first to argue the case for refusing the application was Andrew Colley. He declared a personal interest on the basis that he was a resident of Grassington, had a B&B business in Wood Lane which was affected by the traffic from the milk processing plant and was a member of Grassington parish council.

He said that the road network could not be returned to how it was because within a day it would be damaged again due to the volume of traffic. He argued that Dales Dairies should move to a better site with good road access and facilities.

Both he and Mr Charlesworth did not believe that employment at Dales Dairies had had such a beneficial economic impact upon Grassington and quoted the Spar supermarket (owned by the chairman of Grassington parish council) as an example.

Ann Brooks was against giving approval because not only was it partly a retrospective application but also because she felt there was a significant harmful and detrimental impact upon the amenities of those living nearby.

Cllr Marshall said that there had been a significant change of use from agricultural to industrial at Town Head Farm and added that if so many stringent conditions were needed the committee should question giving approval. She did not believe that the economic arguments over rode the fact that the amenity of residents was being affected from 7am to 7pm each day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year.

The conditions will include a traffic monitoring scheme offered and paid for by the applicant, who will also pay for 100 per cent of the cost of repairing Bull Ing Lane.

It was pointed out that the Highways Authority had not objected to the application, nor had the district council’s environmental health department.  The Economic Development Officer at Craven District Council supported the application.Grassington Parish Council objected to the retrospective application because it would adversely affect the residential amenity of neighbouring properties and the environment of the surrounding area; and it would result in unacceptable traffic levels.

(In early 2015 Dales Dairies bought a facility at Keighley so that the business could be moved by 2016 from the Grassington site where it was at full capacity. It expected that most of its work force would move with it and it would go on processing milk from small Dales’ farms.)

Grassington – June – The application by Andrew and Cynthia Colley for two “local occupancy” homes to be built at Lythe End in Wood Lane, Grassington, was approved.

Cllr Blackie was concerned that no time would be given for the planning officer’s report before a vote was taken. He commented:  “The point was made to me by the ombudsman that we’d been too quick to agree what appeared to be a member’s application. So please can I hear from the officer.” Mr Colley is a member of the Authority.

After the officer’s report  Cllr  Roberts pointed out that this was the first of the “affordable housing” sites designated in the Authority’s new housing plan to come to the committee for full planning permission.

Cllr Blackie asked that the applications for such sites should include a list of concentric rings for the parish eligibility so that occupancy would be restricted to local people. “Nothing would annoy people in Grassington more than to find that suddenly those from beyond the boundary have equal priority,” he said.

(At the August meeting the Association of Rural Communities did ask if Mr Colley should have declared an interest on the basis that he lived in Grassington and was a member of the  parish council as the YDNPA’s  code of conduct stated that an interest should be declared if “you are, or ought reasonably to be, aware that a decision in relation to any item of business which is to be transacted might reasonably be regarded as affecting your well being or financial position…” At the August meeting he had stated that there were problems along Wood Lane due to the number of lorries travelling to and from Dales Dairies. )

Grassington – Grassington House Hotel

October – Most of the YDNPA planning committee members agreed that the extraction flue on side of Grassington House Hotel looked awful but not all were ready to approve an enforcement notice demanding its removal within three months.

Cllr Blackie argued that although the flue was ugly the hotel would lose its star rating from the Environment Agency if it did not have one. As the Authority was committed to supporting businesses during the Tour de France Grand Départ next year it was not reasonable to enforce the removal of the flue within three months, he said and added: “I agree we must do something about it. But let’s give them a chance to put forward positive proposals.”  He  therefore proposed that there should be a one month deferral.

Chris Armitage, however, reminded the committee that it was a criminal offence to carry out such work on a listed building without planning consent.

And Peter Charlesworth stated: “This is one of the most iconic buildings in the southern part of the National Park. It has been listed for well over 50 years. It is a building of great architectural and historical importance. And yet in 2008 they decided without planning permission to plonk this dreadful extraction flue on the outside of this building.”

He added that the Authority’s officers had been negotiating with the owners since then and that three months was now adequate for them to do something.

The enforcement officer’s report stated that holes had been drilled into the stone face of the building to support the brackets of the flue, and that one of the fixings had been screwed into the window jamb of the 18th century stair window.

Like other members Cllr Harrison-Topham felt there had to be a long-term solution to the problem of hotels and pubs being able to meet the requirements of the Environment Agency for extraction flues without placing such ugly objects on listed buildings.

The enforcement officer reported that the owners had also not applied for planning permission before installing iron railings in front of the building and replacing traditional signs with modern ones.

Several members did not agree with the senior listed building officer’s view that the modern signage was inappropriate on the listed building.

By just two votes the committee did vote for a one-month deferral and so the recommendation for enforcement action to be taken concerning the extraction flue, the iron railings and the new signage will be discussed again at the November planning committee meeting.

November – Any application for a new extraction flue at Grassington House Hotel must include details of how it will be fixed to the building, Andrew Colley told the committee.

He said: “One of the problems with (the present) flue is that not only is it too big but that it’s been fastened onto a grade II listed building through the sills and this is totally unacceptable.”

The committee was told that the owner of Grassington House Hotel had verbally agreed that the extraction flue was visually unacceptable on the listed building. He is now considering the installation of a more efficient kitchen system which would include a smaller low level flue.

Mr Colley and other committee members would like to a solution to be found for the problem of large extraction flues on listed buildings and wondered if this could be discussed with the manufacturers, the Environment Agency and the National Trust.

The committee also heard that the owner of Grassington House Hotel had already removed the sign which had been on the listed wall and intended to replace the glass panes with the No 5 logo within the conservatory dining room windows with clear glass.

Richard Graham, head of development management, said that the impact of the signage had been accumulative and it had been agreed that the illuminated sign above the front door could be retained.

Giggleswick – September – Permission was also given for enforcement action to be taken to stop agricultural land at Fiddlecase Field from being used to store building equipment and materials. A shed will also have to be removed.

Hawes – February – It was agreed to defer a decision on the future of St Margaret’s Hall in Hawes for six months. Cllr Blackie requested this to see if, with a reasonable valuation, it was possible to either bring it back into community use or convert it into two local occupancy homes.

A&T Developments had requested planning permission to extend what had been the school masters house into the hall to create a five-bedroom dwelling. Cllr Blackie was informed at the meeting that the planning permission granted in 2007 for the hall to be converted into two local occupancy homes had now expired.

Hawes and High Abbotside parish council had objected to the latest application and had informed the planning committee: “Councillors felt very let down when it was pointed out that not only would the two small houses for local occupancy be lost but also the funds were to be absorbed by the Diocese and would not be spent on improving facilities at St Margaret’s church.”

Hawes – February – The planning officer had recommended refusal of an application by Ian Dinsdale to replace the garage at his home in Gayle Lane, Hawes, with a larger one because it would detract from the character and appearance of the area.

Cllr Blackie pointed out that there was a lot of new development in that area and permission had been granted for extensive remodelling of the Wensleydale Creamery which was across the road from Mr Dinsdale’s home. He argued that Mr Dinsdale’s new garage and workshop would not be so intrusive on the landscape given the amount of housing around the field next to his house.

This was accepted by the majority of the committee and the application for the new garage and change of use of land to form domestic curtilage was approved.

Hawes – April – The news that there would be no “erratic” design feature on top of the new cheese production building at the Wensleydale Creamery in Hawes had a mixed reception at the meeting.

“I am quite delighted that the erratic has disappeared,” said Ann Brooks, whilst Chris Armitage commented: “One man’s iconic structure is another man’s carbuncle.”

But without the erratic the unit would be a characterless building said Cllr  Harrison-Topham. He added: “It’s impossible to make these buildings delicious but it’s less ghastly with a pillbox than without.”

What he described as a pillbox was the replacement for the erratic. This addition to the roof of the building will house the visitor centre. It is now proposed that it will be clad with glass emblazoned with a ‘Wensleydale Creamery’ sign.

Members asked how large that sign would be, if the glass would be reflective and how much light from the visitors’ centre would emanate from it. Nor were they sure from the plans provided as to the intended shape of the visitors’ centre.

“I just don’t want it to be so obtrusive,” Mrs Brooks said and William Weston added: “My personal guidance is…try to keep it as simple as possible and as low as possible.”

Cllr  Blackie explained that the Creamery was now supplying cheese to virtually every major supermarket chain in this country as well as to a number abroad. The buyers who came to Hawes would have visited ultra-modern production units elsewhere and would expect to see similar at the Creamery. Instead the buildings were old, dowdy and often leaking.

“It’s vitally important to present a more hygienic image for the buyers who come to order huge amounts of our fabulous cheese. It’s all about the impression,” he added.

He asked the committee to give approval for the planning officers to work with the company and the architect about the details of the permission so that work on construction could start next January. He also asked that Hawes and High Abbotside parish council would be consulted before the final permission was given.

The amended plans included the different method of housing and cladding the visitors’ centre; the building to be faced with timber boards instead of reconstituted stone material; and that the construction work could be carried out in two phases. The latter will enable cheese production to continue at Hawes rather than being shifted for a while to the company’s production unit at Kirkby Malzeard.

Richard Graham, head of development management, was asked what additional condition would be applied concerning the phased method of working but he explained that he had only received the initial details about that the day before the meeting. It was agreed that the Creamery should not be a construction site for too long.

Mr Graham explained that the design of the building was novel and some of the materials untried in the National Park. “Officers don’t object to the use of modern materials in principle and particularly in this context where you have a wholly modern factory building. But officers do have some concerns about the finished appearance and particularly the size of the business logo,” he said.

Such details will have to be submitted and approved before construction could start. The committee agreed that the officers could do that.

Hawes – August – One side of the new GTEC Training building at Hawes has been described as “the biggest mirror this side of Kansas”, Cllr John Blackie told the committee.

Originally the planning committee had asked that the building on the Brunt Acres Industrial Estate should be clad with natural stone. In August 2011 an application to use artificial stone instead was refused and this decision was upheld at appeal. The appeal inspector stated that “even a better matching reconstituted stone would be an inferior solution.”

The building has been constructed and is in use as a renewable technology and training centre but no stone cladding has been carried out. The south gable, which can be seen from outside the industrial estate, is, therefore, like a large mirror.

At a site meeting in July which was attended by the GTEC managing director, Griff Thomas, and members of Hawes and High Abbotside parish council it was agreed that reconstituted stone should be used if it was exactly like that in Mr Thomas’ latest application. This was for Forticrete “Anstone – Brown Old Weathered” or something similar. The planning committee gave approval for this.

Hawes – December – The committee unanimously agreed with the planning officer that an application by Honeycott Caravan Park to substitute touring caravan pitches for three static caravan sites should be refused.

Hawes and High Abbotside parish council had argued that there was a need in the National Park to retain touring pitches for tents and caravans, and to refuse this application would be in line with a decision by a planning inspector who stated that there should be a balance of various types of visitor accommodation available in Upper Wensleydale.

Helwith Bridge – Arcow Quarry – November – Dave Parrish, the YDNPA’s minerals and waste planning officer, told the committee that the companies operating Dry Rigg and Arcow quarries had now merged to become Lafarge Tarmac. This company, in accordance with the YDNPA policy to minimise road haulage from quarries, wants to construct the railway sidings at Arcow Quarry to serve both that and Dry Rigg Quarry. Separate approval will be required from Network Rail.

HettonFebruary – The committee chairman, Harold Brown, had to curtail Cllr Heseltine’s enthusiasm when it came to the application to change the conditions on a worker’s dwelling at Manor Farm, Hetton from a Section 106 agreement to an agricultural tie.

“I think this is absolutely straight forward is it not. The recommendation … is eminently sensible,” Cllr Heseltine said before Brown reminded him that the planning officer hadn’t yet given his report. But as it was late in the afternoon no-one bothered too much and within minutes approval was given.

In his written report the officer had noted that the committee had given permission in June 2012 for the agricultural workers dwelling at Manor Farm subject to the signing of a Section 106 agreement tying the building to the farm.

Subsequently there were problems with the financial arrangements. The applicant, Matthew Reeday, therefore wanted to be able to obtain his own mortgage  for the new dwelling but could not do so if there was a Section 106 agreement on it.

The officer noted that as the new dwelling and its curtilage would be within the boundaries of the farm and access to it would be through that farm, there would be sufficient constraints to control the future of the building and an agricultural occupancy condition would be sufficient.

Horton in Ribblesdale and Hawes – February – There was standing room only when the committee discussed the application to transport timber from Cam Forest over part of the ancient Cam High Road. Over 30 residents of Gayle and Hawes attended the meeting because they were concerned that the committee might opt for the route through their communities.

That route was the fallback position offered by the planning officer. The route she proposed, however, was via two miles of Cam High Road to Far Gearstones Farm near Ribblehead and onto the B6255. The planning application included creating 165m of track from the forest, repairing two miles of the Cam High Road, replacing the bridge across Gayle Beck and upgrading an existing farm track.

Representatives of the Yorkshire Dales Society and the Wensleydale branch of the CPRE told the committee that the use of that route would be contrary to the statutory purposes of the National Park and have an unacceptable impact on major recreational routes including the Cam High Road. Both asked the committee to defer a decision so that there was more time to consider either another route or the use of vehicles that would make less impact on such a fragile habitat.

Walter Head, representing Hawes and High Abbotside parish council pointed out, however, that if the wagons were routed through Gayle and Hawes they would have a serious impact upon the communities there. In some places the roads were so narrow that there would be barely three inches on either side of the wagons. And these roads were also used by pedestrians.

Cllr Blackie accepted that 44 tonne wagons in such a tranquil part of the National Park was the downside of the route via Gearstones to Ribblehead. But there would be no wagons at weekends.

He outlined the dangers of having the heavy wagons travelling through Gayle and Hawes and said that so many local residents were at the planning meeting because their feared how this would impact upon public safety and their amenities. He added that any other solutions to removing the timber other than that via Ribblehead would be unaffordable and impractical. And at Ribblehead it was possible that some of the timber could be transported by rail.

Members accepted that the wagons should not be routed through Gayle and Hawes. As for the route via the Cam High Road to Gearstones Chris Armitage commented: “This is possibly one of the most iconic sites in the Park and you can see all the peaks and Ribblehead viaduct.”

He felt, however, that the officers and the Park rangers had worked closely with the owners of the forest, the Cam Forest Trust, to bring forward the best proposal.The officers believed that the harmful effects could be mitigated by limiting the number of wagons each weekday and by imposing a speed limit of 10mph. The drivers will be instructed to stop when horses were approaching.

There would also be significant benefits including the phased felling of the Sitka Spruce and replanting with broad leaf trees as well as conifers to protect and enhance the red squirrel population, the improved access over Gayle Beck for horse riders, and the permissive use of the improved track from Far Gearstones Farm.

Horton in Ribblesdale parish council had objected to this route being used partly because it might jeopardise the retention of the traffic regulation order on Cam High Road.Only one member of the committee abstained from voting for the officer’s recommendation that the wagons should exit via Far Gearstones Farm.

Horton in Ribblesdale – December – It was agreed that the planning permission for the extension of the campsite and alterations to existing amenity buildings at Holme Farm, Horton in Ribblesdale could be amended.

The planning officer explained that due to ownership issues the applicant had not been able to sign a legal agreement to fulfil the conditions on the approval granted by the planning committee in September 2011. That legal agreement was to ensure that measures set out in the management plan for the site were implemented.

Following the decision of the committee the requirement for a legal agreement will be omitted and there will be a condition requiring the submission and implementation of a management plan to control car parking, provision and maintenance of toilet facilities, control of litter and rubbish, supervision of the site, retention of site records and overall site maintenance and organisation.

Ingleton – April – Approval was given for the conditions on the caravan site at Beezley Farm to be altered so that the closure period for the site would be reduced. It will now be closed from January 14 until March 1 each year. The planning officer said that there were already many trees beside the site and more would be planted.

Kirkby Malham  – November – A hedge would be more environmentally friendly than a dry stone wall at Tullochvenus Farm William Weston told the committee. Mr Weston, who is the YDNPA’s member champion for climate change, argued that there were ecological advantages in screening the farmyard with a hedge and some trees.

Kirkby Malhamdale parish council had objected to the owner’s application to alter some of the planning conditions  to the permission granted in 2008 to extend an agricultural building because it felt that a dry stone wall was the most effective and suitable screen for the farmyard. The majority of the committee, however, agreed with Mr Weston.

Cllr Welch said that a hedge would encourage more wild life than 100 metres of dry stone wall.The committee was informed that there are now no llamas at the farm and the land was being rented to a local farmer for grazing livestock.

Langcliffe – February – It was agreed to extend the time limit on the planning permission granted for the conversion of Langcliffe Mill site to form a complex of offices, a hotel and live-work units. The agent for Skipton Properties Pension Fund explained that if there had been any marketing interest in this over the past three years it would not have been necessary to make this application. The company was certainly not using the site for land banking, he said. Cllr Welch and Cllr Roberts pointed out that the site was becoming more and more derelict and was an eyesore.

Litton – December – “I think the National Park has shown where its heart is,” commented Harold Brown, the chairman of the planning committee, when the majority of the members voted in favour of allowing Stephen Lund to convert the semi-derelict Parker Barn at Litton.

The planning officer had recommended refusal because Mr Lund had not agreed to the converted barn being tied by a legal agreement to the land which the family own. Most of the members agreed, however, with Cllr Marshall that it could be approved with just a condition that it could only be used by those working locally in agriculture. As this was against officer recommendation this will have to be ratified at the planning committee meeting in February 2014. (It was)

Stephen Lund had applied for planning permission in January 2013 and Cllr Marshall commented: “This is an extraordinary length of time to come to a decision.”

The planning officer had asked that the house that Stephen’s brother, Stewart, owns in Litton (Potts Beck) should also be included in the legal agreement. He stated: “A restriction on the occupancy of Potts Beck, in addition to Parker Barn, would ensure that both dwellings remained available to meet the needs of agriculture irrespective of the unit it served.”

But as Potts Beck had been bought on the open market the officer accepted this was probably not achievable especially as the mortgagee would probably refuse to accept a restriction which would reduce the market value of the house.

Craven district councillor John Roberts questioned how they could include a privately owned house and added: “This is a genuine and respected Littondale family and being farmers they have managed the landscape with it barns and walls for generations.”

The Lund family has been buying land around Litton whilst holding the tenancy on West Farm. According to an agricultural assessment commissioned by the YDNPA, it is highly improbable that the Lunds could continue the West Farm tenancy when it ends in 15 years’ time.

The land they own is sufficient to require two agricultural dwellings and Stephen Lund wants to secure his future by converting the semi-derelict Parker Barn.

There was concern, however, as to what would happen to Parker Barn if the family did continue at West Farm. Craven District Councillor Robert Heseltine argued that it could then be sold to anyone who was working locally in agriculture or forestry and this could lead to another application for a farm worker’s dwelling in the future.

“Occasionally we need to trust farmers,” Cllr Blackie said.

And Cllr Welch argued that this decision would not set a precedent and that the Lund family should be applauded for their hard work in building up their own farm. “We should give them the support they deserve,” he said.

When proposing that permission should be granted with just an agricultural residency condition Cllr Marshall pointed out that the planning officer had virtually made the case for approval. This included the fact that Stephen and Stuart Lund were already running a financially viable farming business and that Parker Barn was close to other houses even though it was outside the housing development line.

Long Preston – October – The majority of the members voted for the construction of 13 homes at Long Preston even though the parish council and local residents asked them not to.

The first houses to be built on a combined site on Greengate Lane will be the six “affordable” ones for rent or shared ownership in perpetuity. The other seven can be sold on the open market as local occupancy homes.

Long Preston parish councillor, Hilary Baker, told the committee that this would be the largest development in the village in over 24 years. The parish council maintains that the development will dominate and further urbanise the village, and will significantly increase the amount of traffic.

John Matthews, who lives in Long Preston, questioned the evidence to substantiate the need for such housing and asked “What happens when there aren’t enough local people to buy the (local occupancy) houses?”

His wife, speaking as a grandmother, highlighted the problem of increased traffic at the junction of Greengate Lane with School Lane especially when young children were going to or leaving school. “It is extremely dangerous. This will be an accident waiting to happen,” she said.

Committee member Nick Thwaites, as chairman of Long Preston parish council, stated: “We must listen to Highways – I will not sleep easy if we approve this and there is an accident there.”

But the planning officer and several members pointed out that the two sites for this development were included in the YDNPA’s Housing Development Plan which was accepted by the Appeal Inspector even though the county council’s highways department had objected.

The planning officer reported: “The appropriate time for considering these highways issues should have been, and was, at the time of the adoption of the Housing Development Plan.”

The highways department had again objected stating that Greengate Lane was not suitable for the traffic generated by 13 new houses. The first application this year had been for 17 houses but the planning officer felt that would have had a greater impact upon highway safety. The larger site, on which ten dwellings will be built, was formerly used by a haulage firm.

William Weston said that he and other members of the YDNPA’s Housing Working Group had spent five years very carefully assessing sites to be included in the Housing Development Plan. “There is clear evidence of the need for housing in the Park and whatever we do cannot be sufficient,” he added.

The developer has agreed to sign a legal agreement whereby the affordable houses will be first offered to those living in Long Preston and then to those in adjoining parishes within the National Park (including split parishes) before being made available to the rest of the National Park.

Mr Weston accepted the suggestions made by Cllr Shelagh Marshall that the planning officer should ascertain if it was possible to phase the construction of the local occupancy houses so that not all went up for sale at the same time and that local landowners should be contacted about the provision of a footpath.

Some members pointed out that one of the major problems in developing any of the sites accepted in the Housing Development Plan was finding developers willing to finance such “local housing” projects. That at Long Preston was the first larger project to do so.

Mr Weston commented: “We can’t throw out the first of these sites – what kind of signal does that send to developers?”

Cllr  Blackie supported him and said that each of the sites in the Housing Development Plan had undergone a rigorous selection process.

The chairman of the committee, Harold Brown stated after the vote:“I think it is important that the Authority supports local housing particularly for local young people.”

The three who voted against giving approval were: Mr Thwaites; Cllr Welch who was especially concerned about the safety of children in the village; and  Cllr Harrison-Topham who did not feel that sufficient space was being provided for parking vehicles within the development.

Malham Moor –  October – There was unanimous agreement that an enforcement notice should be issued for the removal of a tank and hard surfacing on land adjacent to Capon Hall on Malham Moor. The owner will be given one month to comply.

Muker – Scar House Farm

June – Members were unanimous that Bobby Blades should be allowed to re-occupy what had been a house up until the early 19th century but had since been used as a barn.

“It’s a beautiful example of a long house,” commented Cllr Blackie. “It does have historic and architectural significance and merit. I think to convert this into a house would actually complete the appearance of the street scene of the enclave (of houses) there.”

The application included the conversion of the barn which is attached to that “house”, and the removal of a modern agricultural tin building. The agricultural use of these has now been moved to nearby farm buildings.

Peter Charlesworth agreed that there would be a planning gain, especially with the removal of the tin barn, and because there would be no change to the external appearance of the 18th century listed buildings. He added that it would not be a dwelling in open countryside as it was within a row of houses.

Both he and Cllr Malcolm Gardner felt the conversion into living accommodation would enhance the character of that part of Swaledale. And, like other members, were pleased that Mr Blades had amended the plans so that the dividing wall between two ground level rooms would not be removed.

Some members asked if there should be a local need condition included in the planning permission. But Cllr Blackie said that the Authority’s policy did not call for a such an agreement and this was confirmed by the monitoring officer, Richard Daly.

The planning officer had recommended refusal of the application partly because he did not believe that the building required restoration so as to protect its historical and architectural interest. With the unanimous vote the chairman, Harold Brown, asked if the application needed to be referred back for ratification. But Richard Graham said that it should.

July – The majority of the committee again voted to approve the application for the re-occupation of a former dwelling house at Scar House Farm and that the attached barn could be converted to make additional living accommodation.

Peter Charlesworth (chairman of the authority) accepted that this was a departure from the Authority’s B16 policy but believed that support for the application could be justified because the building was not in “open countryside” as it was within a row of dwellings, and that as it had been a house before it did have historical significance in terms of its original architecture, design and materials. The demolition of a modern barn would also be a planning gain.

Cllr Blackie told the committee that an Upper Dales family wanted to provide accommodation for family members. He pointed out that the listed buildings officer had stated the building did have some architectural and historic interest and added: “Therefore it becomes a matter of judgement to members whether it was significant enough or not.”

The planning officer reminded members that: “Saved policy B16 allows the re-occupation of former dwellings outside of development boundaries as an exception to the presumption against residential development in the open countryside. However, in order to comply with this policy, applicants have to demonstrate that the building is either listed or ‘of such architectural or historical interest that its restoration in the landscape is justified’.” He believed that as the unlisted building was structurally sound it did not need restoration.

Reeth – Orton WorksApril –Cllrs Bob Gale and John Blackie requested that there should be a site meeting at Orton Works in Reeth before making a decision on an application by the owner. Both said that the site was a complex one. Cllr Blackie added that he did not want to see the site become derelict and hoped that the committee could help to find a compromise.

They were supported by the chairman of the committee, Harold Brown who stated:“Reeth deserves something to be done with this site.” He believed that if the members visited the site they could help move things forward.

But the legal officer, Clare Bevan, explained that a site meeting should relate to a specific planning application and not be a tool for finding an alternative solution.

The members heard that the applicant had stated that he would not compromise and wanted the committee to make a decision regarding the present application. This was for the change of use of part of Orton Works so that a three-bedroom house could be built. The rest of the site would be retained for business use. A local building firm is still using part of the site.

The planning officer had recommended refusal and her reasons included: the poor architectural design of the proposed house; that due to its size the building would result in significant harm to the amenity of residents and nearby houses; and that as an open market dwelling it was not in accordance with the Authority’s housing development plan to provide affordable local housing.

The majority of the committee agreed that there should not be a site meeting and that the application should be refused.

Reeth – September – Allowing 20 static caravans at Swaleview Caravan Park near Reeth to become permanent residential homes would be bad for the community, bad for the Dales, and bad for the local town of Richmond argued William Weston.

He explained that allowing elderly people to take up permanent residence on the site would store up massive social problems not only for them but also for the local authority because as they got older the accommodation would become inadequate for their needs. He also questioned the theory that if the site had never flooded it was not likely to given the effects of climate change and that it was beside a river. And he pointed out that that the applications were aimed at optimising profits.

The agent for the site owners, Rachel Whaley, had told the committee that the owners were having difficulty selling static caravans as holiday homes while having people requesting to buy them as permanent residences. The income generated from such sales would be invested into the further development of the site. In their applications the owners argued that there was an undersupply of new housing within Swaledale and particularly of two-bedroomed properties.

The planning officer, however, pointed out that there had been no test to demonstrate that there were not sufficient suitable sites within development boundaries in that dale. And there would be no local occupancy restrictions on the caravans.

The legal officer, Claire Bevan, reminded members that the only housing permitted outside development boundaries was that for agricultural workers. The planning officer had also recommended refusal on the basis that this would reduce the amount of holiday accommodation available in the national park.

Cllr Blackie warned that the government seemed to be abandoning planning rules and the committee had to be careful to have good legal reasons for refusing such an application. He expected that the owners of Swaleview Caravan Park would take this to appeal if the application was refused.

Cllr  Harrison-Topham remarked: “Given the high standards we try to ensure in house building design I find this almost unthinkable – it is so contrary to everything we are about.”

The only member who disagreed with the planning officer’s recommendation was Cllr  Gardner who did described the Environment Agency’s argument concerning flooding as spurious and felt that planning rules should be more flexible and pragmatic.

The majority voted in favour of refusing both applications – the first for seven caravans and the second for 13 caravans to become permanent residences.

Rylstone – April – Members were told that John Shuttleworth and his family ran an excellent dairy enterprise at Green Farm and that the substantial extension to it could be largely hidden and landscaped. The new five metre high slurry tank would be sunk into the ground so that only one metre would be above ground level.

There would be a significant amount of excavation and the soil from that would be used to infill some hollows in fields on the farm.

Permission had been granted last year for a new direct access to the B6265. This is under construction and will mean that farm vehicles make much less use of the lanes which serve the hamlet.

The planning officer explained that the number of roof lights in the new dairy buildings had been reduced compared to the plans previously submitted. She noted that the Authority’s policy allowed for major developments to take place in exceptional circumstances such as allowing a farming operation to modernise to become more efficient and compliant with the latest welfare and environmental standards. “There is a danger that if dairy farms are not allowed to expand to keep up with modern standards that they will cease to be viable,” she added.

Cllr Blackie asked if permission had been sought about the disposal of earth before the excavation of the site had begun. He said that recently the committee had dealt with two retrospective planning applications from dairy farms in Coverdale concerning the disposal of such waste and it was important to be consistent.

And Cllr Harrison-Topham pointed out that as dairy farms needed to get larger to survive it was maybe necessary to consult with neighbouring parishes which might also be affected by the construction of bigger buildings.

He was also concerned about the amount of light which could emanate from these buildings, especially when the doors were open. “They can look like an ocean liner passing in the night,” he said.

But the planning officers said that conditions could only cover external lighting.

Mr Weston wondered if, with applications for such large extensions, the farmers could be encouraged to invest in bio-digesters, both to dispose of waste and also to produce electricity.

The committee voted unanimously to approve the application for the new buildings which included a parlour, collecting yard, cattle housing, silos and slurry store.

Sedbergh –  Spar car park

April – It was agreed to defer a decision on the application on behalf of Spar to remove the condition on the planning permission concerning recycling facilities at the site at Station Road, Sedbergh.

The parish council wanted these facilities to be provided in the supermarket car park as that would serve the western part of the town and help the shoppers recycle a considerable amount of packaging, cans and bottles. Graham Dalton requested the deferral so that there would be more time for the parish council, the county council and Spar to reach an agreement. This was unanimously agreed.

August – William Weston said lessons needed to be learned after it was reported by a planning officer that one of the conditions on the approval for the construction of the Spar supermarket in Sedbergh was unenforceable.

The planning committee voted for the removal of the condition that recycling facilities should be provided in the supermarket car park after receiving the following report from the planning department: “Officers considered that the original condition was imprecise and therefore is not enforceable. Additionally there is no policy requirement for the provision of such facilities in addition to those already provided at Joss Lane. South Lakeland District Council has confirmed that based on current volumes of waste there is no reason to offer two sites within the town collecting the same materials. On this basis there is no planning justification for the provision of additional recycling facilities and the recommendation of approval consequently remains.”

Sedbergh parish council had been very keen to have recycling facilities in the Spar car park but accepted that the original condition on the approval had been so poorly worded that it was unenforceable.

Sedbergh. – July – There should not be a tendency towards reducing the number of camping and touring caravan pitches in the National Park several members warned when the application to re-model Pinfold Leisure Park on Garsdale Road, Sedbergh was discussed.

At present there are pitches for 56 “static caravans”, 36 touring caravans and 12 tents. Hanley Caravans Ltd  applied to change this to 64 static/holiday caravan pitches, 30 touring caravan pitches and six for tents.

Cllr Blackie reminded the committee that such pitches had been swept away at two sites in Wensleydale with the static caravans at Westholme near Aysgarth being  replaced with luxury lodges costing up to £250,000. This planning creep, he said, was driving out those with tents and touring caravans at a time when the number using these was increasing.

He argued: “We are not going to have the facilities to accommodate them because we actually pander to the operators of the big sites. This is a great disappointment. I do believe it is stuff and nonsense to say that statics make more of a contribution to the climate change agenda than tourers. What about people who come with a haversack and a tent on their back? If we are not careful there won’t be anything left of certain types of people who want to come along and enjoy our park.”

Both  Cllr Marshal and Cllr Gale agreed with him. Cllr Marshall stated: “We should be encouraging everybody to come into the National Park and enjoy it. There should be choices.”

And Cllr Roberts argued that it was a retrograde step to reduce the number of pitches for touring caravans and tents and added that there had been a significant economic loss in Upper Wharfedale since a campsite was closed last year.

Cllr Harrison-Topham pointed out that tents often blended in well with the landscape.

The planning officer, however, stated that the reduction in the number of touring caravan and tent pitches “would help in reducing the impact of the site on the character and appearance of the area by removing caravans and tents over which no control can be exercised with regard to the colour, size or precise siting.”

He reported that the proposal included the change to lodge type caravans and believed that these would be significantly more energy efficient and use fewer natural resources than either static or touring caravans. The remodelling of the site included additional tree and shrub planting, especially along the boundaries.

The majority of the members voted to approve the application. The planning officers assured members that the conditions that the caravans could only be used for holiday purposes and not as anyone’s main residence would be monitored.

Sedbergh – December – Enforcement action should be taken quickly if negotiations with MK Conversions Ltd for the construction of some affordable houses at the former Aqua Engineering site in Guldrey Lane, Sedbergh, were not successful, Graham Dalton told the committee.

The planning officer reported that a five-bedroom open market house has been built on the site without planning permission. Following an appeal in 2008 permission was granted for one open market and three affordable houses on the condition that an affordable housing scheme should be submitted before any development took place.

Sedbergh parish council has urged the YDNPA not to grant retrospective permission for the new house until a legally binding agreement has been signed which requires that the affordable homes are built and available for occupation within a defined time period.

Just before the meeting the agent for MK Conversions Ltd asked that the proposed development be formally amended to the retention of the existing unauthorised house and the construction of two affordable homes.The committee accepted the planning officer’s recommendation that this application should be deferred until the meeting in February in order for further negotiations to be undertaken and for the financial viability of the scheme to be tested independently.Both Mr Dalton and Cllr John Blackie pointed out that a housing association is constructing three affordable homes adjacent to the new house. It might therefore be possible to interest that association in constructing some more as part of a negotiated agreement with MK Conversions Ltd.

Stainforth – November – Farmer Stephen Raine was congratulated by Harold Brown, the chairman of the committee for running his small hill farm near Stainforth at a profit.

Mr Raine’s application to build an agricultural worker’s dwelling at Garth Nook Farm was approved at the meeting. He can also construct an agricultural building on the farm which is in the Countryside Stewardship scheme. He had proved to the planning officer that there was a need for a full-time worker on the 118 acre farm where he breeds high quality specialist livestock.

The planning officer and committee members accepted that the buildings would be at a high elevation and so clearly visible. Mr Raine has agreed to plant trees so that the site will look like many other traditional farmsteads in the Dales.

Cllr  Welch described Mr Raine as a farmer worthy of praise. He assured the committee that the caravan at the farm, which has had an enforcement notice served on it, will be removed. The caravan was especially used at lambing time.

At the end of the debate Mr Brown, as a retired hill farmer, commented: “It is nice to see a hill farmer who is showing a profit this year – so congratulations Mr Raine. We need some farms in these hills and they are getting less through amalgamation and young people not taking them on.”

Threshfield – October – Permission was granted for the re-surfacing of six grass pitches with permeable stone, and the enlargement of 18 existing pitches at Wharfedale Caravan Club, Long Ashes Park, Threshfield. The planning officer explained that the objective was to make it easier for disabled people to use the pitches.

Threshfield – Long Ashes

October – Cllr Roberts said that a vote in favour of an application to erect 11 timber lodges at Long Ashes was against the first purpose of a National Park to conserve and enhance its natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage – but he and almost all the other members did that to obtain a “planning gain”.

The planning officer explained that the application was for a revised layout of one approved in the early 1980s which had been partly implemented. The applicants, Lakeland Leisure Estates Ltd, could fully implement the original planning permission. This would, however, affect an archaeological site and would put the new wooden holiday lodges in a more prominent position.

The new site places these within a fold in the hill slope with the main glazing on 10 of the lodges facing the access road so that it would not be visible outside of the site. In return for having this application approved the applicant has agreed to sign a legal agreement rescinding its right to complete the 1980s scheme.

Several members agreed that this was a planning gain but none were comfortable about voting in favour. “With the heaviest heart I support this,” said William Weston and added concerning Long Ashes: “The National Park Authority needs to take a grip on this development.”

After the vote, which was passed with three abstentions, Cllr John Roberts commented: “I have voted against the first purpose of this National Park.”

During the debate  Cllr Heseltine said that he remembered the days when Long Ashes was a small caravan site near the village of Threshfield. “We now have an urban village of 300 chalets and the population of Long Ashes is probably larger than that of Threshfield. But in this instance there is a degree of planning gain.”

Cllr Roberts told the committee that it was possible that there were archaeological remains at Long Ashes which dated back to the earliest settlements in the Dales.

Durham University Archaeology Unit has been brought in as consultants by the applicant to carry out an excavation study, preserve any archaeology and advise on an interpretation panel. Archaeological investigation will be included in the conditions on the permission as well as ecology management such as controlling bracken on calcareous grassland around the site. The committee was informed that this would help in the restoration of nationally threatened Northern Brown Argus habitat.

The lodges must be for holiday accommodation only.The planning officer stated, however, that there would be no pre-conditions such as setting a date for completion. Non-compliance with pre-conditions has led to some planning permissions being made unenforceable.

November: –  Cllr  Roberts argued forcibly against an additional 15 static caravans at Long Ashes Holiday Park. He asked if the siting of those caravans would enhance and preserve the character of the National Park in accordance with its first purpose. “In my view it doesn’t” he said.

In her submission on behalf of Lakeland Leisure Estates Ltd which owns the holiday park, Rachel Whaley, pointed out that the parish council had not objected to caravans being placed on two small sites. She said that at a recent appeal hearing the YDNPA had not been that concerned about the impact of placing seven caravans on one of these. She added: “Yet now (it is) being considered in isolation it feels that the goal posts are being moved.”

She explained that the two sites did not encroach on any fields, and that if 15 more caravans were added the park would still not have reached the total allowed there. At present there are 260 static caravans and chalets and approval has been given for 300. Mrs Whaley concluded that clear economic and environmental benefits would be delivered with this application.

Both Cllr Roberts and Peter Charlesworth, chairman of the YDNPA, quoted the appeal inspector’s report concerning the proposal last year to redevelop and extend the Park. The decision to refuse that application, which included the siting of 49 additional static caravans, was upheld by the appeal inspector.

In his report the inspector stated that he did not consider that the siting of seven additional static caravans on one of the two sites now being proposed would have any materially harmful impact. But he added that it did not form part of a comprehensive remodelling of the park which would produce significant overall visual or environmental improvements. The inspector believed that the placing of static caravans on the second small site would have a marked visual intrusion on the open and undeveloped land nearby.

Cllr  Marshall asked if Lakeland Leisure could put forward a long term development plan for the park. She also felt it would be helpful to have information about the actual occupancy of the caravans and chalets in the park.The majority of the committee accepted the planning officer’s recommendation to refuse the application.

 

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YDNPA – Inconsistencies and gobbledygook revisited

July 17, 2013 By: Pip Land Category: ARC News Service No Comments →

ARC can only hope that its questions to the YDNPA will lead to some of the loopholes being closed which have led to houses built in the open countryside being sold on the open market.  During the past few months the  Association has followed up on its question to the planning committee in 2012.

Its latest questions on this issue were presented at the July 2013 meeting of the planning committee. One was:

“In October 2012 Richard Graham (head of management development) informed the Association that he was considering how the Authority could best address the enforcement of conditions precedent. This followed the lifting of the agricultural occupation condition on Calf Craft at Cracoe, which he said was an unusual and complex case. Has any more been done to ensure that conditions precedent can be enforced?”

This was the Authority’s reply:

“The Calf Croft case prompted a fresh look at the use and enforcement of ‘pre-commencement’ conditions – conditions that need complying with before development commences. Non-compliance with pre-commencement conditions can, in some circumstances, mean that all subsequent development is unauthorised and conditions attached to the permission cannot be enforced.

“In considering conditions we now take a more circumspect approach to applying pre-commencement conditions and will consider whether other stages of the construction process are more appropriate as a trigger for compliance with the condition. We have also introduced a ‘start notice’ system – when the decision notice is sent to the developer it includes a form to complete and return, to notify us when works commence. This gives us an opportunity to check whether conditions have been complied with early before the development progresses.”

ARC also asked what safeguards could be built in to ensure that agricultural or forestry conditions were retained on houses in the open countryside. To this the Authority responded:

“Agricultural occupancy conditions can only be removed if a planning application is made and permission granted. Current local plan policy applies strict tests to applications to remove agricultural occupancy conditions. Policy HDP4 requires applicants to advertise the property, with the agreed restriction and at an agreed price, for at least six months. If this proves there is no need for the restriction the Authority will consider replacing it with a local occupancy restriction.

“Alternatively an agricultural occupancy condition will not be enforced if a Lawful Development certificate is granted certifying that non compliance with the occupancy is lawful. The evidence required to justify granting a Lawful Development certificate must be sufficient to establish, on the balance of probabilities, that the condition has not been complied with for the preceding ten years. This invariably involves sworn statements from previous owners and occupier and enquiries being made of the local parish council and neighbours.

“Non-compliance with planning conditions is an enforcement issue. Our approach to enforcement of conditions is currently based upon responding to complaints from the public and Parish Councils. This is standard procedure for enforcing planning control.

“Proactive monitoring of agricultural occupancy conditions could lead to the Authority discovering breaches and then taking enforcement action. However, such a strategy could also be seen as an unjustified intrusion into the private lives of occupiers of an agricultural dwelling if enquiries were made about their personal circumstances without the Authority being alerted or having any grounds to believe there was a potential breach of planning control. It would also be difficult to manage in light of current resources allocated to planning enforcement.

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YDNPA – Full Authority meeting June 2013

June 26, 2013 By: Pip Land Category: ARC News Service No Comments →

An ARC News Service  report on the full authority meeting of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority ( YDNPA ) on June 25, 2013 which began with the election of the new chairman and vice-chairman.The issues discussed included: the impact of the NHS England proposals to phase out compensation to rural GP surgeries through the minimum practice income guarantee  (MPIG); green lanes and traffic regulation orders; public rights of way; and the participation of the public at planning committee meetings. There was also a discussion about the issue of confidentiality involving County Coun John Blackie.

YDNPA ELECTIONS – It has been 36 years since the Yorkshire Dales National Park had a chairman who lived in the northern part of its area, County Coun John Blackie told the meeting. That was a local farmer, John Piper of West Burton. Since then no farmer has been elected as chairman and the number of farmers on the Authority has dropped to just one – Harold Brown, the chairman of Grinton parish council in Swaledale.

At that meeting the members elected Peter Charlesworth as chairman, and Harold Brown as vice chairman. Mr Charlesworth, a former judge, is a Secretary of State appointee to the Authority who has homes in Ilkley and Threshfield.

Coun Blackie asked him: “Where does Richmondshire and the people of Richmondshire figure in your approach to being chairman given that the last time we had a chairman of the national park committee or authority from Richmondshire was 1977?”

Mr Charlesworth accepted that it did give the perception that the Authority was southern orientated and said before he was elected: “All I can say is that I would be equally committed to all areas.” He added that he would continue representing the authority at parish council meetings and many of those were in the northern part of the Yorkshire Dales.

Mr Brown, who was appointed by the Secretary of State as a parish council member of the Authority, told the members:“I’m home grown from Swaledale – a farmer born and bred.”

As the only farmer on the Authority he said:“Tourism in my view is the second biggest industry – farming is the first. Tourism is important but you will not have tourism without the landscape and the environment which is created and maintained by the farming community, the landowners, the gamekeepers, the quarry workers and the forestry workers.”

He emphasised the need for more affordable housing so that young families would stay in the Dales and so help keep the communities alive and stated that there were enough retirement homes already. He also wanted to see superfast broadband rolled out throughout the Dales, and the provision of more jobs. “Keeping this national park going is what people on the ground who live and work here do – and they are getting less,” he explained. And that included the farmers.

He agreed with N Yorks County Coun Richard Welch that the chairman should be an elected representative of the local communities, but added that he and Mr Charlesworth could work well together. The latter stated: “It is important to represent the park nationally because we do live in very challenging times. We must fight for adequate resources. We must make sure that the benefits of the national park are recognised nationally as well as locally. I have a passion for the Yorkshire Dales and its people.”

Mr Charlesworth said that the Authority owed Craven Dt Coun Carl Lis a huge debt of gratitude for the eight years he had been its chairman. In reply Coun Lis said that it had been the most enjoyable job he had ever done.

RURAL GP SURGERIES – The new chairman of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, Peter Charlesworth, will write to three members of Parliament and ask other National Park Authorities to lobby the government about the proposal by NHS England to phase out compensation payments to GP surgeries with low footfalls.

N Yorks County Coun John Blackie asked if the issue could be added to the agenda because this would lead to the loss of GP surgeries in Wensleydale and Swaledale. He said that he expected that the minimum practice income guarantee (MPIG) would be withdrawn but they needed to make the government understand what impact this would have on rural and deeply rural communities.

He explained: “We cannot keep our communities going, being vibrant, being stable in the future unless young families, young people, decide to stay. You can’t have strong, self-reliant, balanced communities unless you have the GP surgeries (with) the primary care being delivered locally. What we need to do is to convince NHS England and eventually the minister that there does need to be some form of compensation payment to keep GP practices that operate in rural and deeply rural areas.”

William Weston commented: “I think it is increasingly alarming that a number of other actions taking place at a national level (are) undermining the potential for people to have a good quality of life in rural areas. I do think it disproportionately affects people in North England as well. I can see the logic of amalgamating surgeries in big cities but the lack of thought, the lack of comprehension about how these policies affect rural communities is really quite horrifying.

“We need to make the government aware of how these issues stack up. We are in the situation where people who live in rural areas will be like people who lived in quite deep slum areas of big cities in the industrial era. The government needs to wake up to the quality impacts upon rural areas.”

N Yorks County Coun Shelagh Marshall was surprised that the government would take such action that would increase the loneliness and isolation of elderly people when there had been a cabinet office report on the subject. “One hand doesn’t know what the other hand is doing,” she said.

The deputy chairman of the Authority, Harold Brown, said that residents of communities in the Dales were getting older especially as those buying properties in places like Swaledale were often retired people.

Like Coun Blackie, the chief executive, David Butterworth, noted that the Authority’s new management plan included the objective to safeguard the services which were essential to the long-term viability of local communities such as good access to primary health care and schools. He said that the Authority could lobby on this issue because, when preparing the management plan, it had been through the process of listening and talking to local people about what it meant to have sustainable communities.

The committee unanimously agreed that Mr Charlesworth should write to the three MPs serving the Yorkshire Dales National Park, the district councils involved, and all the Dales parish councils, asking them to lobby the government. He said he was fully supportive of this and would raise the issue with those chairing the other National Park Authorities in England.

CONFIDENTIALITY  – Even though Coun John Blackie would not give an unqualified commitment that he would never again divulge confidential information to one of his constituents, a large majority of the members at the meeting refused to pillory him for doing so on compassionate grounds recently.

Ann Brooks disagreed with David Butterworth, the chief executive, when he said that he believed Coun Blackie had given an assurance that in future any such sensitive issues would be discussed with either him or the chairman of the Authority.

Mrs Brooks stated: “I don’t think we have had an unqualified commitment from Mr Blackie. Even today he has indicated that, although it is unlikely, he could possibly do it again and I don’t think that’s the basis on which we were accepting his comment.” She wanted Coun Blackie to give an unconditional undertaking to be bound by standing orders.

To this Ian McPherson put forward the proposal, which was accepted, that the meeting would take note of what Coun Blackie had said and would re-affirm the principle of members complying with standing orders concerning confidentiality.

Mr Charlesworth had reported that at the last planning committee Coun Blackie had stated that he had told one of his constituents about possible enforcement action. Mr Charlesworth said: “I’m happy to accept that Mr Blackie had the best of motives. I think possibly there was a misunderstanding because (the debate) got a bit heated.” He added that some members had got the impression that Coun Blackie would disclose confidential information again in the future.

Coun Blackie responded: “In planning we shouldn’t lose sight of the human element. I know what it is like to be told you have only a 30 per cent chance of survival. The last thing you want when you are trying to run a business as well is people bothering you with things you simply can’t cope with. I knew what an impact it would have on this particular constituent. I’m sorry – but I thought it was better to have a word with him. What was wrong with that? If I’m guilty – I’m guilty of caring. What I said was ‘Given that set of circumstances I would do the same tomorrow’. Sorry – I was being honest.”

The Hawes businessman had just returned home after being air-lifted to hospital with a serious heart condition and Coun Blackie didn’t want him to suffer the shock of an enforcement officer arriving at his door concerning the new signage for his business. It has since been decided that enforcement action was inexpedient to pursue.

Coun Blackie pointed out on Tuesday that he had attended 200 planning committee meetings and never before divulged confident information. And nor was he likely to do again.

N Yorks County Coun Richard Welch asked why this issue had not been discussed in private rather than in public and added: “I don’t think this is the appropriate time.” Craven Dt Coun Carl Lis disagreed with him and emphasised the importance of abiding by the standing orders. He also wanted a definite commitment from Coun Blackie.

N Yorks County Councillors Roger Harrison-Topham and Shelagh Marshall both queried what should be classified as confidential. “The maximum should be out in the public arena,” said Coun Marshall.

TRAFFIC REGULATION ORDERS  – The introduction of traffic regulations on ten green lanes in the Yorkshire Dales had been one of the Authority’s success stories, Diana Mallinson of the Yorkshire Dales Green Lanes Alliance, told the meeting. “The condition of the routes covered by TROs has improved or been stable since the TROs were made, following natural revegetation and repairs,” she said.

This was supported by Kristin Whalley, the chairman of the CPRE in Wensleydale. She said that there had been widespread damage to the surface and structure of the lanes before the TROs were imposed. “The loss of peace and quiet, tranquillity and sense of remoteness was enormous, as was the disturbance to wildlife, birds and animals, damage to their habitat and despoliation of the streams in these areas. Now… they are a joy to walk, without alien sights, sounds and smells.”

Kathryn Beardmore, the YDNPA director of park services, reported that along seven of the ten green lanes upon which TROs had been imposed there had been a 90 per cent reduction in the level of recreational use by motor vehicles.

She recommended that, when the Authority’s staff had the time, the TRO’s on two green lanes should be lifted. This was because it had been established that Cam High Road (Far Gearstones) and Ling Gill (Old Ling to Cam End) had been found to be restricted byways along which there were no public rights for motor vehicles. Permanent TROs will be retained on the other eight green lanes – Barth Bridge to Garsdale, Carlton to Middleham High Moor, Foxup Road, Gorbeck Road, Horsehead Pass, Long Lane (Clapham to Selside), Mastiles Lane, and The High Way.

N Yorks County Coun Roger Harrison-Topham asked if more TROs could be considered as some green lanes, such as Dead Man’s Hill, were being damaged by recreational motor vehicle use.

PUBLIC RIGHTS OF WAY  – Mr Butterworth described these as halcyon days when it came to having the finances to take care of public rights of way. “In 10 years (time) I suspect we won’t be at the level we are at the moment,” he said. The rights of way budget was reduced in April this year as a result of the government’s comprehensive spending review.

The rangers’ work includes monitoring 30 green lanes, repairing bridges, repairing the surface of lanes and footpaths, erecting signposts and mending stiles. In this they are assisted during the year by many volunteers who notched up 949 days of practical work and 308 days of surveying.

Nick Thwaite described the rangers and the volunteers who carried out such work as the “front line troops”. He paid tribute to the volunteers who went out in all weathers.

Alan Hulme, the head of the YDNPA’s ranger service, was congratulated on his annual report on public rights of way. In this he reported that about 90 per cent of walkers along the Three Peaks route were now using the new path across Whitber Hill rather than the seriously eroded path across Black Dub and Red Moss in Horton in Ribblesdale.

PUBLIC PARTICIPATION AT PLANNING COMMITTEE MEETINGS –  It was agreed that the measures introduced in November to improve the procedures for public speaking at planning committee meetings had worked well.

These allow a representative of the relevant parish council or parish meeting to address the planning committee for five minutes. The total time allowed for speaking by supporters and objectors is five minutes for each side. The members noted that on occasions those either objecting or supporting an application had shared the five minutes between them. Those wishing to speak must register with the senior planning technician by 9.30am on the Friday before a planning committee meeting.

Although he accepted that the new system was an improvement on the old one as it gave objectors and supporters more time to put over their arguments, Coun Blackie commented: “it is nowhere near as democratic as the county council.” His proposal that the Authority’s scheme should continue to be monitored and be reviewed again by the committee in a year’s time was accepted.

COME AND JOIN US:  Have these reports been useful? If so why not join us in the Association of Rural Communities or make a donation.  And do send your comments.

A Memorial to Jim Cunnington

May 14, 2013 By: Pip Land Category: ARC News Service No Comments →

 

jim_cunningtonA lime tree was planted at Winterburn on Saturday, April 27, in memory of Jim Cunnington who had been chairman of the Association of Rural Communities. Alastair Dinsdale, the present chairman of ARC, told the villagers and friends who gathered near Rookery Farm in Winterburn that Mr Cunnington and his wife, Jenny, had been among the first to join the Association when it was formed.

Mr Dinsdale paid tribute to Mr Cunnington’s constructive and moderating contribution to the Association. This continues to monitor the planning decisions of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, acts as a watchdog, and seeks to encourage consistency in planning. All the committee members of the Association attended the event.

The tree, sourced by Chris Myers, was planted by Ian Coldicott of Tree and Garden Care, Skipton, with the assistance of Mark Smith and Mr Dinsdale. Mr Coldicott said: “This is one thing that will outlive all of us.”

Mrs Cunnington invited everyone back to her home afterwards for excellent refreshments. She was thanked at the end of the afternoon by ARC committee member, Stephen Butcher. Below:  Mrs Cunnington at the tree planting.

treeplanting_fiveAt the memorial service at Kirkby Malham church on August 3, 2010, Mr Cunnington was described as a “true gentleman”. The 100 or more people who attended the service heard how his strong sense of community had led him to serve those in the Dales in several ways since he moved to Winterburn in 1991.

His son, Guy, said he was known for his kind, generous, optimistic, sunny nature. “He had the gift of making everyone’s day just a little better,” wrote his son Michael, who lives in New Zealand.

His interests included bird watching and walking and his wife, Jenny, said later: “He felt it was a privilege to be able to live in the Dales. I don’t think there was a patch or a hill in the Dales he hadn’t walked or climbed.”

They married in 1947 having met at a tennis club in Peterborough where Mr Cunnington was then serving an apprenticeship with Perkins after graduating from Cambridge University.

He later moved from diesel engines and automatic transmissions to white goods which led to him joining Phillips in Halifax. At the memorial service Guy explained that his father was involved in the management buyout in 1986 to make sure that those working there did not lose their jobs. That buyout led to the creation of Crosslee and the White Knight brand of tumble driers.  Mr Cunnington became the technical director and did not completely retire from the company until he was 70-years-old.  By then the Cunningtons had bought a barn conversion in Winterburn near Skipton.

It was his sense of community, even as a newcomer to the Dales, that led to him attending the inaugural meeting of the Association of Rural Communities in 1995. Mrs Cunnington explained: “He heard about the difficulties of running a business or a farm in the National Park. It seemed a good thing to have an organisation that would listen to the people who were trying to run businesses in the Park.”

The Rev Dilly Baker, who officiated at the memorial service, spoke of his faith, humour, wisdom, gentleness, and also his courage when he was dying from cancer. He was 79-years-old when he died on July 11, 2010.

Below: Mrs Cunnington joining villagers and friends for the tree planting; Mr Dinsdale giving a short speech before the tree planting;  and (from left)  Ian Coldicott, Mark Smith and Alastair Dinsdale planting the tree.

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Lakes to Dales National Park Boundary Extensions

April 16, 2013 By: Pip Land Category: ARC News Service No Comments →

The chairman of the Association of Rural Communities, Alastair Dinsdale, sent this response to the inquiry into the proposal by Natural England regarding extensions to two National Parks (the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales) –  the Lakes to Dales Landscape Designation Project  – asking if Area of Natural Beauty ( AONB ) status would be a better way to preserve and protect some special landscapes, in line with the Sandford Principle,  rather than including them in over-sized, undemocratic quango administrations. He stated:

Generations of our ancestors – farmers, miners and quarry workers – have left their imprint upon the Yorkshire Dales. From them we have inherited something so special that the dales have been designated as a National Park. As a farmer in Wensleydale I feel honoured to follow in their footsteps. This inheritance has made me and the other members of the Association of Rural Communities passionate about conserving and preserving this beautiful landscape.

As we travel through the Yorkshire Dales we are also aware of how much mining and quarrying have left their impact upon this area and created some fascinating sites of special scientific interest. The quarries and mine spoils act as a unifying factor within the Yorkshire Dales which is not shared with those areas now being considered for incorporation into this National Park.

We are grateful for all the work that has been done by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority to conserve and maintain footpaths. But sadly we have to question some of the statements made by Natural England about the impact of the National Park upon this area.

It’s been stated that National Parks should be thriving, living, working landscapes notable for their natural beauty and cultural heritage, which inspire visitors and local communities, and in which a wide-range of services are in good condition and valued by society; and that they should be places where sustainable development can be seen in action, where the communities of the Parks take an active part in decisions about their future, to achieve sustainable agriculture and transport, and healthy, prosperous communities.1

Natural England also stated that “no other regulation is imposed as a consequence of National Park designation – for example designation does not add any new regulatory restrictions on how land is farmed.” 2 It adds that NPAs administer a Sustainable Development Fund which is disbursed to projects in National Parks and are also very successful at attracting other external grants and income. 3

Just recently it cost a farmer in the Yorkshire Dales National Park £17,000 to gain permission to extend his dairy farm. From my own experience I can tell you that it is far more costly and much harder to run a modern farm within a National Park compared to the overheads a farmer faces outside such an area. Nor do we get any quicker or better access to grants compared with those farming outside the National Parks. Many farmers in the Yorkshire Dales do not accept, as Natural England maintains, that the National Park helps farmers to embrace modern practices and so “ensure that agri-environment scheme delivery is properly integrated with Park objectives and activities within the farmed environment”.4

Those with farms within the Yorkshire Dales National Park want to co-operate and assist with maintaining these special landscapes but find it difficult to do so with a quango which is also the planning authority. We know many farmers who, after bitter experiences with the Authority’s planning department, will never co-operate with a National Park scheme whatever they are offered. They do not accept that the Authority has either the credibility or often the expertise. I can give examples of where schemes run by the Authority have had little uptake and so very little impact.

We believe that planning policies that are linked to landscape management can cause conflict and that planning should be as much as possible kept separate from preserving and enhancing the landscape. From my experience conservation and enhancement projects work best when they are run by Natural England. Landscape enhancement projects are also much better controlled through the Higher Level Stewardship Scheme because it ties projects to a payment system. This is much more cost effective.

For instance if the National Park comes up with a plan to plant trees it advertises for people to come forward and co-operate but does not proactively go out to find them. English Nature, however, will approach farmers and landowners, explain the criteria and what the payment will be.

We believe that National Park Authority planning departments have a considerable inherent weakness as compared with those run by District Councils in that they cannot turn to in-house building control, environmental health, and economic development specialists. This leads to a considerable loss in expertise. We believe that District Councils can, therefore, be far more effective at administering areas of natural, special beauty as can be seen in Nidderdale and the North Pennines AONBs.

Attracting more people to visit the Dales does not benefit that many farmers. There is very little spin-off to them because diversification into tourism doesn’t really help the farming business as it diverts resources away from what they do best. Most of the tourist related businesses in the Dales (gift shops and bed and breakfast hotels) are run by those who have comparatively recently moved into the area. The only spin-off from that is that more low paid jobs are available.

Has Natural England carried out any regulatory impact assessment to determine what effect designation will have on agricultural businesses?

In its general approach to designation Natural England states that one of the criteria is to balance the benefit/positive impact of these proposals against the likely cost of designation.5

Has Natural England carried out an assessment of that?

And will the creation of even larger National Parks lead to thriving, sustainable communities which can take an active part in decisions about their future?

From my experience and that of the Association of Rural Communities the answer is No.

First – If these two National Parks are extended the communities within them will have even less chance to take an active part in decision making. Those in the Lune and Eden Valleys for instance have no historic ties with Wensleydale. So how will they relate to a quango based in Bainbridge? If National Parks are extended and maybe more are set up we are in danger of creating a “State within a State” where local people have very little say in their future.

Secondly – sadly the communities already within the Yorkshire Dales National Park have not thrived and become more sustainable. Just look at how many village schools have closed. And how many young people have been forced to leave the Dales? N Yorks County Coun John Blackie has championed and fought hard for local people to be able to provide housing for their children in the Dales – but he has often been heavily criticised by the Authority for doing so. For centuries our communities survived without the National Park. We are not sure that all will continue to do so.

Has the cost to those communities in the areas that may be designated been honestly evaluated? And have their opinions concerning their future been listened to?

Let me give one illustration of how the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority has neither listened to a community, helped local businesses continue to be sustainable, nor protected the environment.

National Parks are, it is stated, to be attractive locations for large-scale community and charitable events.6 Possibly the largest are those which involve mass walks over the Three Peaks route. One veteran walker commented that, when there is a charity walk event, there can be up to 50 people waiting to get through each stile along that route. He used to walk the Three Peaks to enjoy the tranquillity and to commune with nature. But the Three Peaks route has become so popular that is difficult to do that for many months of each year.

Compare that with this statement about the North Pennines AONB: “The large tracts of open moorland see few walkers and make an ideal venue for those requiring solitude. Cross Fell and its adjacent high fells on the main Pennine ridge offer hill walking of the highest quality. Although the higher land grabs the headlines this AONB from valley to summit has something for walkers.”7

Has an independent study been carried out to assess the impact on the environment and upon farmland of such mass walks or of repairing and widening footpaths along the Three Peaks route? I have walked some of the less well known footpaths on Whernside and found that, due to over use, they were like moving bogs. How is that preserving the environment?

The Association of Rural Communities does not believe that National Park Authorities do take the lead in encouraging mediation, negotiation and co-operation8 – in fact, quite the contrary.

Our association believes that the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority has not listened to local residents, landowners, farmers or veteran walkers about the over-use of the Three Peaks route. Those who come on the mass walks spend very little money in local shops and cafes – but often do leave their rubbish behind. And the Authority has created its own merchandise which is undermining local businesses.

The Sandford Principle states that “Where irreconcilable conflicts exist between conservation and public enjoyment, then conservation interest should take priority.”

In 2010 the Government’s guidance concerning designation as National Park or Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty stated that both had the highest status of protection as far as landscape and natural beauty was concerned. 9

The object of this inquiry is to ascertain if it is especially desirable to designate more areas to be included in National Parks and so make them more open to public enjoyment.10 These will include Orton Fells, the Northern Howgills and Mallerstang. In view of what has happened along the Three Peaks route we would argue that the better way to protect those beautiful landscapes and save them for posterity would be to designate them as AONBs maybe with conservation boards.

This has proved especially effective in Nidderdale and for the Northern Pennines AONB. People have been encouraged to visit those AONBs – but not to the detriment of the environment. And the local communities have a say in their future through their democratically elected representatives. There are far fewer second homes and holiday cottages in Nidderdale – and that helps the communities to be more sustainable.

Yes – please do act to preserve, protect and enhance such special areas as Orton Fells, the Northern Howgills and Mallerstang. But let that be done through designation as AONBs and not through what we as an Association see as flawed, unmanageable, unrepresentative, over grown quangos.

1 Natural England Background Paper – Boundary variations to the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks 4 (a) and (b) as quoted from the English National Parks UK Government Vision and Circular 2010.

2 Ibid pt 20

3 Ibid pt 21

4 English National Parks and the Broads, UK Government Vision and Circular 2010 : 4.57

5 Natural England Guidance for assessing landscapes for designation as National Park or Area of Outstanding Beauty in England, p2

6 English National Parks and the Broads, UK Government Vision and Circular 2010: 4.27

7 www.walkingbritain.co.uk – North Pennines AONB

8 English National Parks and the Broads, UK Government Vision and Circular 2010: 4.19

9 Ibid : 4.20

10 Natural England Background Paper pt 5 :This also states “DEFRA identified various benefits of NPAs including in relation to recreation, tourism, health and wellbeing, rural development, local economies, social inclusion and democracy”. We argue that this has not been achieved in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, especially social inclusion and democracy.

YDNP – A call for justice answered

February 13, 2013 By: Pip Land Category: ARC News Service No Comments →

An ARC News Service report on  the  decision of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority ‘s  (YDNPA) planning committee on February 12 to lift a section 52 agreement on a barn conversion in Hawkswick near Kettlewell.

“I don’t see … that we as a planning committee are here to cause stress, upset and pain to our residents for deeds done in the past,” commented Nick Thwaite when the members discussed the application by two families in Hawkswick to lift the section 52 agreement on their homes.

Usually he supported the officers but this time he couldn’t because he believed this had been an unfair restriction. Like other members he referred to the fact that in the early 1990s a strict local occupancy agreement had been imposed on one barn conversion but not on another nearby.

Craven District Coun John Roberts was also upset by this inconsistency and described the section 52 agreement as draconian and undemocratic because it not only restricted the sale of either of the two dwellings created in Hazel Head Barn to someone working within a 10 mile radius which excluded Skipton but was also very difficult to lodge an appeal against.

Graham Dalton and Chris Armitage argued that the officer’s recommendation not to lift the agreement should be accepted because the precedent set could endanger the Authority’s Local Plan policy of building up a reserve of “local need” housing. Armitage warned that by lifting the agreement the committee could blow a hole in that policy. And Dalton pointed out that the policy was aimed at sustaining the communities in the Yorkshire Dales rather than seeing the villages full of second homes and weekend cottages.

For Ann Brooks the injustice of one family having to sign such an agreement while another in the same village didn’t need to,  made the situation at Hazel Head Barn an exceptional circumstance at that particular time.

Craven Dt Coun Robert Heseltine, who was the chairman of both the National Park committee and its planning committee in the early 1990s explained that the Interim Housing Policy at that time pioneered the concept of local need housing. It had not, however, been accepted by the Secretary of State. “It wasn’t discredited – it was an evolving policy,” he said.

He believed that the officer’s recommendation concerning Hazel Head Barn was legally correct but he wasn’t convinced with the arguments about precedent. He added: “I think I’m obliged because I was chairman of the authority at that time – I think I am going to give you Members the guidance of lifting this section 52 on this property and we will take the consequences that come.”

N Yorks County Coun Roger Harrison-Topham commented that in the early 1990’s the Authority hadn’t had a policy. “It was the sort of Wild West era. There was a strong element of random walk of what went on – so it comes as no surprise that there were these contradictions and perceptions of unfairness. Do we say ‘rough justice’ or do we take the view that rough justice is not justice?” He wasn’t sure what precedent would be made by lifting the agreement but felt that it was important to get things right.

There were, however, others who had suffered a similar injustice at that time warned N Yorks County Coun John Blackie. “Officers are bound to want to hang on to those Section 52 agreements. I commend them for their stance – but I think they are defending what is probably indefensible. They are standing their ground on shifting sands because the policy base ….is not sustainable.” He, like the majority of the committee, felt it was time to lift the agreement on Hazel Head Barn.

The officer’s recommendation was, therefore, turned down and immediately Coun Roberts proposed  that the Section 52 agreement should be discharged. The senior legal officer, Clare Bevan,  explained that this could be done because the majority of members put more weight on the perceived unfairness and the personal circumstances of the applicants. The applicants’ planning advisor, Andrew Moss of WardHadaway, had pointed out that in the officers’ report it had been noted that unfairness and personal circumstances were matters which could be taken into account. The majority voted in favour of Coun Roberts’ proposal and Bevan said that a formal deed of release would be drawn up.

The applicants, Mick and Ginette Hawkins and Michelle Pickles were stunned and ecstatic that after 20 long, stressful years their pleas for the Section 52 to be lifted had finally been heard.

See also A call for justice

YDNPA – A Call for Justice

January 25, 2013 By: Pip Land Category: ARC News Service No Comments →

The picturesque small village of Hawkswick in the Yorkshire Dales became a byword for inconsistent planning decisions in the early 1990s – and now those who suffered the most are appealing to the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA)  planning committee for justice.

Mr and Mrs Mick and Ginette Hawkins and Mrs Michelle Pickles of what was Hazel Head Barn in Hawkswick have the support of a leading London barrister who sees no reason why the  YDNPA  shouldn’t correct the injustice done in 1990.

And Alastair Dinsdale, the chairman  the Association of Rural Communities, stated at its recent annual meeting: “This was an absolutely gross inconsistency. It’s time that the Authority rectified this injustice”.

This injustice arose out of the ad hoc determination of planning applications in the National Park at the time which was described by a YDNPA member (N Yorks County Coun Roger Harrison-Topham) at the July 2012 planning committee as the “Wild West” days.

For example  at Hawkswick  an application for the conversion of The Ballroom (directly opposite Hazel Head barn) was approved in 1986 demonstrating that open market residential barn conversions were acceptable in that village. Three years later two further applications were made for barn conversions in Hawkswick and although these were considered at the same YDNPA planning committee meeting in November 1989, they ended up being determined very differently – that for Hazel Head barn being subject to a ‘local occupancy’ legal agreement and the other not, even though it was just 100 metres away.

Susan Woodhead recollected that she and her late husband were told in October 1990 that unless a very restrictive local occupancy agreement (section 52)  was signed planning permission would not be granted to convert  Hazel Head barn  into two dwellings (Hawksnest and Holme Barn) for their married daughters. “We had five days in which to sign – we were given no option,” Mrs Woodhead said. “We subsequently discovered that not all future barn conversions had to comply with the section 52 agreement, which we had been forced to agree to, in order to get planning permission. The inconsistency and unfairness is self-evident,” she commented.

Permission was granted for another nearby barn conversion in June 1993 with the only restriction being that it had to be the principle residence (not second home) of the owner. While accepting that Mrs Woodhead and her family might feel aggrieved that other development was permitted in the 1990s without occupancy restrictions, the YDNPA’s senior legal officer (Clare Bevan) and its head of development management (Richard Graham) have argued that the S52 agreement could not be lifted without affecting about 100 other legal agreements and so reducing the pool of “local occupancy” housing within the national park.

The majority of those are Section 106 agreements which the Planner for Mrs Woodhead’s family, Andrew Moss, of Ward Hadaway in Newcastle upon Tyne, has maintained are not the same as the S52 agreements.The request for lifting the S52 agreement was discussed by the YDNPA planning committee in July 2012 when members deferred making a decision and asked officers to try and find a compromise.

When it came before the committee in October the officers quoted parts of the confidential barrister’s advice the Authority had sought including the statement: “I cannot see any basis on which the Planning Authority should accede to the applicants request to discharge the agreement.”

At that meeting Mr Moss asked for the S52 to be removed.  As an alternative he offered a possible compromise – to change the S52 to a S106 in accordance with those in existence in 1994 which restricted occupancy to those who would make it their primary dwelling and not a second home. A decision was deferred so that he could discuss that with officers.

After those discussions he said: “My clients were disappointed with the officers’ only suggestion, namely to change the existing S52 into a S106 agreement with the latest local occupancy wording. (This) would not address their contention that the S52 was unfairly imposed.” The latest wording restricts occupancy to those living or working in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

In response Mr Moss consulted Paul Brown QC, one of the highest ranking barristers in the country and a copy of his Opinion was sent to the YDNPA in early November. Unlike that obtained by the YDNPA Mr Brown’s Opinion is not confidential.

Mr Brown stated: “It is one of the ironies of this case that the only reason there is now a section 52 agreement in respect of (Hazel Head barn) is because the owners of Hazel Head Farm did not question the LPA’s  (Local Planning Authority) insistence … that this was essential. “The resulting inconsistency between the treatment of Hazel Head barn and (other) properties is undeniable. In simple terms, the owners of Hawksnest and Holme Barn have been unfairly disadvantaged because their parents co-operated with, rather than challenged, the LPA. As a matter of law, there is absolutely no reason why the National Park Authority cannot recognise the injustice that has caused by agreeing to discharge the section 52 agreement.” Mr Brown also argued that discharging this would not set a significant precedent that would undermine any S106 agreements made at that time, and very few, if any, S52 agreements.

At the agm of the Association of Rural Communities at Kettlewell in November former YDNPA member, Stephen Butcher,  pointed out that those living at Hawksnest and Holme Barn were paying a very high price for now challenging the YDNPA both in financial terms and with their health and lives in general when all they ever wanted was consistency and fairness.

This case has now been on-going for over 20 months and  Mr Hawkins is suffering from a stress related illness. He was a renowned fell runner and represented Great Britain in steeplechase teams on numerous occasions throughout the world including at the Auckland Commonwealth Games. “He was one of the fittest men in the country,” commented Mr Butcher.

The Association of Rural Communities was founded in 1995 when the anger against the planning inconsistencies in the National Park was at its height and hundreds attended the protest meetings organised by it. It continues to campaign for consistency in planning decisions in the Yorkshire Dales.

COME AND JOIN US:  Have this post been useful? If so why not join us in the Association of Rural Communities or make a donation.  And do send your comments.

 

YDNPA – February to December 2012

December 14, 2012 By: Pip Land Category: ARC News Service No Comments →

An ARC News Service  report on the meetings of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s (YDNPA) planning committee February to December 2012 :

 

Affordable Housing – February: The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA ) has stood firm on its decision to include small sites for affordable housing at Aysgarth, Thornton Rust and Low Row. The planning inspector who assessed the Dales Housing Development Plan rejected those sites.

After the full Authority meeting on Tuesday, February 14, the chairman, Carl Lis, stated: “We have asked the inspector as nicely as we can to reconsider his decision. We appreciate the work he has done but we would like him to look at these again.”What particularly concerned the YDNPA members was that part of Wensleydale would be left without affordable housing sites.

It was likely that four houses could be constructed on the site behind the village institute at Aysgarth and two more at the east end of Thornton Rust. Only one site had been proposed at Muker (for up to two houses). It was also expected that two houses could have been built on the Low Row site rejected by the inspector. The YDNPA had put forward a second site (for about two houses) at Low Row.

The objective of the Dales Housing Development Plan is to provide affordable housing for local people. The planning inspector also asked the Authority to clarify what it would do if an allocated site would not be viable to be developed with 50% affordable housing.

It has been proposed that, in order to encourage landowners to submit sites 50% would be affordable housing and the rest would be restricted by legal agreement to “local housing” so that the houses could not become second or holiday homes and the price would be reduced thus making them more accessible to households within the Park. The onus will be on the developer to prove why an allocated site could not be developed at 50% affordability.

It was agreed on Tuesday that: “If viability at 50% affordable housing is not possible then the Authority may negotiate an increase in the proportion of local market housing compared to affordable housing.”

Legal agreements – November: Ann Brooks asked Richard Graham if, in the planning department’s list of outstanding applications, it could be shown that it was not the fault of the planners that some legal agreements (Section 106 and also regarding conditions on planning permissions) had not yet been signed.

At least 20 applicants have not completed legal agreements – and the winner by a long margin is that for the conversion of a barn to a bunkhouse at Camm Farm, Cam Houses, Oughtershaw. The legal agreement for that has been awaiting completion since April 1999!

The runner up is maybe the planning application for the change of use of a barn and paddock to equestrian business at Gill Edge Barn, Gill Edge, Askrigg. That application was made in December 2006 but the Authority has been waiting for the legal agreement to be signed since February 2011.

There are several agreements waiting to be signed since 2008 and 2009. As Jack Heseltine pointed out at the recent annual meeting of the Association of Rural Communities – the time limit on beginning work after an application has been approved does not start until the S106 agreement has been signed.

Arkengarthdale – March: The majority of the YDNPA planning committee members did not accept that a barn in the middle of a field at Langthwaite in Arkengarthdale should be converted into a two-bedroomed dwelling for a rural worker.

Clark Stones, who is 78-years-old, told the committee that the house would be for a man who would be fully employed with snow clearing, contracting and agricultural work on his family’s farm. He explained that when conditions were very bad in winter it was impossible for the district council’s gritting wagon to reach Arkengarthdale until either he or his son had spread grit on the roads. It took two men to fill the spreader with grit.

He now wanted to retire and they needed someone else to assist with that job. Arkengarthdale parish council had told the committee that it fully supported his application and looked forward to the services he provided to continue with the help of a worker living locally.

Coun Blackie asked the committee to approve the application. “They provide an absolutely essential service clearing snow right up to Tan Hill. If the Stones are not there I don’t know what will happen to this community.”

He emphasised the need for more social housing in Arkengarthdale and that it should not be restricted to just two small villages. He was supported by Richmondshire District Couns Bob Gale (Reeth and Arkengarthdale) and Malcolm Gardner (Swaledale) who described why it was so important for the residents of Arkengarthdale to retain a locally based gritting service in winter.If we let these people down we should be ashamed of ourselves,” said Coun Gardner.

During the debate the legal adviser, Clare Bevan, told the committee that according to local and national policies there had to be a fundamental requirement for a rural worker in a location to justify converting such a barn into a dwelling. She said that this application failed that functional test as the work was more seasonal than permanent.

Coun Blackie later wrote to Richard Graham, head of development management, about Ms Bevan’s intervention mid-way through the debate . If the committee had decided to approve the application against officer recommendation it would have been referred back to the April meeting for further debate.

Coun Blackie stated: “Clare’s intervention could be regarded, in its content and delivery, as coming from a Member who was strongly opposed to granting an approval. Certainly in my opinion, and the opinion of other Members present, Clare’s intervention had that effect on Members who might have been swayed by the arguments to be in favour of the application. I think in the timing of her intervention (that) it did unbalance the debate and introduce an element of unfairness against the applicant.”

Arkleside, Coverdale – June: Both William Weston and Coun Harrison-Topham regretted that some of the green technologies to be incorporated into a barn conversion at Arkleside had proved to be unviable. The barn, which is in open countryside, is being converted into a home for a gamekeeper.

Mr Weston said that this had been an exemplar project which had ticked all the boxes and that the alterations requested to the S106 agreement would amount to a quantum shift. It had been originally hoped that sufficient electricity could be produced from a small hydro scheme but that had proved to be unfeasible as the water flow in the river was too low in summer.

It was felt that running a line to the nearest National Grid connection would have the least impact upon the environment. This would involve the installation of one pole and a 7m length of overhead line and then an underground electricity cable route to the dwelling. The pole would be largely screened by existing trees.

The applicant, Martin Vallance, also requested that there should be a sewage treatment package plant or septic tank instead of a multi reed bed system as the latter would be more visible than the other methods of sewage disposal. Rainwater harvesting and a wood burning stove would still be used and the YDNPA was assured that more would be done to reduce the dwelling’s carbon footprint and its overall environmental impact.

The application to alter the S106 agreement was approved.

Arncliffe -November:   Arncliffe parish meeting endorsed the change of use of the now disused school to a dwelling for local occupancy because the purchaser, who already lived in the village, wanted to convert it into a residence suitable for his disabled wife.

County Coun Shelagh Marshall had informed the planning committee that suitable alternative educational facilities had been provided elsewhere; there was a village hall; and there was a local need for suitable sheltered accommodation for a disabled person. The county council had closed the school last year when the number of pupils dropped to four. The building was sold this year by the Bradford Diocesan Board of Education (Church of England).

Craven Dt Coun John Roberts asked why there was the need for a section 106 local occupancy agreement as the new owners had bought the building on the open market. Richard Graham, the head of development management, said that under the housing development plan such a change of use could only be approved if the dwelling was then restricted to those in local housing need.

Cumbria County Coun Roger Bingham wondered if in time the 20th century additions could be altered to make them more sympathetic with the original 19th century Gothic architecture. And N Yorks County Coun Roger Harrison Topham asked if the new owners needed permission to replace the tarmac school playground.

The senior legal officer, Clare Bevan, replied that as it would be part of the curtilage of a residential dwelling it was up to the owners what they did with their “garden”. There was a unanimous vote in favour of the change of use of the building.

Austwick – June:  The owners of the camp site at Silloth House, Austwick, had requested that the S106 agreement of 1997 should be altered so that they could increase the number of tent and touring caravan pitches from six to 13. This was approved – but only after a disagreement between County Coun John Blackie and Mrs Ann Brooks about what appeared to be the bias of the YDNPA against camp sites.

Most of the parish council’s suggestions about what should be added to the S106 agreement were included, such as marking out the boundary of the site with fencing and landscaping, and the submission of a management plan relating to storage, disposal and recycling of waste.

Austwick –  December: A request to modify the section 106 agreement on a site for five local occupancy houses at Pant Head in Austwick was unanimously refused. The houses will soon be completed and the owner of the site, Maximus Developments UK Ltd, had requested that the S106 be amended from 100 per cent local occupancy to 20 per cent affordable/local occupancy and 80 per cent open market as it was having difficulty in selling them.

Aysgarth Falls –  December: There was a unanimous vote in favour of an existing workshop adjacent to Yore Mill at Aysgarth Falls being converted into a two bedroomed live/work unit. As this is a grade II listed building the conditions include that only single glazing can be used for the windows. This will match the new windows installed in the cottages which have recently been renovated by Newroc Ltd.

Graham Newton, the managing director of Newroc, said that his company had restored the roof on the workshop last year during the period when the bats would not be disturbed. They had made a special space in the roof with bat access tiles as Natterer’s bats and Brown long-eared bats have been seen there.

Others living at the mill site had objected to permission being granted as it would cause loss of amenity and more problems with car parking and deliveries. The planning officer, however, argued that a viable use for the building needed to be found before it became completely derelict and that the office space was comparatively small. There will be allotted parking bays for this live/work unit alongside those for the renovated cottages.

Carlton in Coverdale – September:  The planning committee had to wrestle with the problem of encouraging and assisting the community pub at Carlton after an officer’s report delivered a very firm ‘slap on the wrist’ to the committee which now runs the Forester’s Arms for not conferring with the YDNPA before installing a flue which detracted so much from the appearance of the listed building.

In her report the planning officer stated: “Officers are disappointed by the chain of events which led to the erection of the flue after the Local Planning Authority had already worked with the applicants to regularise the previous unauthorised works to the listed building. Carrying out works to a listed building without the necessary consent constitutes a criminal offence and the approval of a retrospective application does not override this occurrence. Scant regard has been given by the applicants to the legislative requirements and the National Park Authority in this instance which is unsatisfactory, particularly following the assistance which was given to the applicants during the previous application and enforcement investigation.”

The committee running the community pub also upset one of its most supportive neighbours. John Hall told the planning committee that his firm of solicitors, which is based in nearby Leyburn, had done all the legal work for the community pub free of charge and he was a member of its committee. The flue is visible from his back garden.

He commented: “This is a question of good design. The planning officer’s report confirms how dreadful it is. We have been given short shrift.”

Raymond Brown, the chairman of the community pub committee, did apologise for the installation of the flue without planning permission. He pointed out that under new health and safety regulations a flue to extract fumes from the kitchen was necessary, and the pub needed to be able to serve meals to survive. He added that the flue only had temporary fixtures and could be removed when it was no longer needed.

Coun John Blackie said: “The officer has made the recommendation through gritted teeth” that the flue should remain even though it was so unsightly.

He and another planning committee member William Weston asked if advice could be sought from English Heritage about the installation of such flues on listed buildings as this was becoming a common problem. They also wanted a definition of when the flue would no longer be in use and so could be removed.

The committee accepted the officer’s recommendation to approve the retrospective planning applications for the installation of the kitchen extractor system and of the flue, but did ask that the flue should be painted a colour which made it less obvious. It was painted black at the request of the planning department.

Carperby – March and April:  Carperby cum Thoresby parish council strongly objected to a proposed extension to Alpine Cottage arguing that it would cause harm to an iconic building in the village.

The clerk to the parish council explained that Carperby was a conservation area and Alpine Cottage had been specifically mentioned in the Designation Statement.  It was probably built in the 18th century and was the only one of its kind which remained in the village. “It is seen by residents as a valued part of the built heritage of the village,” she stated.

The parish council did not accept the planning officer’s evaluation that the extension would not dominate the rest of the cottage but rather would be subservient and harmonious to it.

David Chapman told the committee that he and his wife had sought the advice of the YDNPA planning officer, and had followed that advice when they applied for the single-storey extension (for a lounge) and a store. Ten members accepted the parish council’s objections and voted against the officer’s recommendation to approve the application.

April: After the March meeting the owner of Alpine Cottage in Carperby submitted amended plans showing a reduction in the size of the single storey extension and the removal of a store.

N Yorks County Coun Roger Harrison-Topham said that the latter especially changed the situation considerably as he had felt that the store beside a patio looked like it could have become an extension to the living space. Chris Armitage and  Cumbria County Coun Roger Bingham agreed with him that the alterations were sufficient to change the opinion of the committee.

N Yorks County Coun John Blackie reminded them that the majority of the villagers and the parish council were still against giving approval for the extension to the cottage.

A resident, Colin Gavin, told the committee he passionately objected not only because it was such an iconic old miner’s cottage but also because adding the extension would mean that the dwelling would no longer be affordable for local residents. The majority of the members, however, accepted the planning officer’s recommendation to approve the altered plans.

Grassington – February: The owner of some old council garages in Grassington asked for and received a Valentines Day present from the YDNPA planning committee on Tuesday, February 14, when her plans for a one-bedroom bungalow on that site were approved.

Mrs Mary Wilkinson told the committee that she wanted to have a retirement home within walking distance of the town centre. She had agreed to set the building back by a metre but a neighbour told the committee that the front porch would still impede access to a garage.

Another neighbour said that the bungalow would affect their privacy and greatly reduce the amount of parking space in the area. Grassington parish council was not prepared to support the application as it felt the neighbours’ concerns had not been properly addressed.

The committee, however, accepted the recommendation of the planning officer that although the bungalow would be close to the two adjoining properties it would not have a negative impact upon the amenity of the neighbours or cause access problems. The YDNPA legal officer advised that it was a civil matter if any scaffolding during the construction of the bungalow caused access problems.

Grassington – March: It was agreed that the owner of Wisp Hill stables should be given nine months to comply with an enforcement notice. In December 2005 planning permission was given for the construction of new stables, workshop and storage units and the demolition of an old barn. The old barn has, however, been retained and three local small businesses are based there.

The enforcement officer reported that the owner had now submitted a plan for reducing the size of the old barn. It was hoped that a compromise could be found within nine months so that local jobs could be protected. The enforcement notice also includes the removal of the concrete wall enclosure created to form a horse turn out area.

Grassington – August: Approval was given for a terrace of three two-bedroom houses and a detached house with three bedrooms to be built by Yorkshire Housing on a small site at Mirefield in Garrs End Lane to provide affordable housing for rent. This was a compromise solution as originally Yorkshire Housing had applied to build four three-bedroom houses but it had been felt that this would have had too much of a detrimental impact upon the surrounding area.

The parish council had asked if there could be just three three-bedroom houses with more parking spaces but Yorkshire Housing had stated this would make the development economically unviable. There will be S106 agreements on the houses to ensure the restriction on occupancy for perpetuity.

Grisedale. – June and September: Coun Roberts reminded the committee that there was a book about The Dale That Died. Other members, however, pointed out that there had been some excellent conversions of derelict buildings in Grisedale so it was not so empty now.

There was then a lengthy discussion about the application to reinstate the former dwelling at East Scale which is a grade II listed building.  The officer had recommended refusal because, following several requests from the YDNPA,  the applicant had not provided a structural survey. Richard Graham, head of development management, said that there had been instances in previous years when work had started on similar buildings only for the walls to collapse and that meant the integrity of the original building could not be maintained.

The owner, who lives in New York, had not provided a full heritage statement or statement of significance as required under the new National Planning Policy Framework. Planning consent was given in 2003 for the 17th century former farmhouse with associated buildings to be altered to form a dwelling house with an office and a recording studio. The present application is to reinstate  the whole building as a dwelling. The roof on part of the building has collapsed since 2003.

The parish council fully supported the latest application as it welcomed the refurbishment of such properties in the parish. There was concern however about how electricity would be supplied to the property.

The committee deferred making a decision as it agreed that although it was supportive of the proposed development it might refuse to grant permission if the documents requested by the planning department (including the structural survey) were not submitted within three months.

At the September meeting the committee reluctantly refused the application as the applicant had not provided the requested documents.

Hawes – March: Residents in Hawes thoroughly approved of The Caravan Club’s Brown Moor site, Coun Blackie told the committee. It was agreed that the site was well screened by trees and shrubs and there should be no problem with removing 12 static pitches and replacing them with ten for touring caravans. Approval was given for the removal of the static pitches and construction of new all-weather serviced ones, the relocation of the existing bin compound and some new planting. After these changes there will be no caravans on the site from January 3 to March 16 each year.

Hawes –  September and October : Coun Blackie requested that there should be a site meeting to consider the application for the erection of a double garage with office at Ashes Farm House. He described this as an iconic building in Hawes.

This application was strongly supported by Hawes and High Abbotside parish council which felt that the quality of the design was in keeping with this grade II listed building. The planning officer, however, recommended that the application should be refused stating that the poor design would be out of character with the Ashes Farm house. Three buildings on the site are grade II listed buildings.

Some members argued that the photographs shown by the planning officer were sufficient and that a site meeting was not needed. The vote was evenly split and so the chairman, Harold Brown, gave his casting vote in favour of a site meeting.

The site meeting led to some amended plans being submitted for the October meeting and the approval of the majority of the members. The applicant, Mr M Metcalfe, explained that after the site meeting he had decided the height of the proposed building should be reduced so that the roof did not compete with that of the farmhouse, which is a grade II listed building.

He also showed photographs of the public toilets at Pennygarth in Hawes. He said no one had complained about that building being out of place beside listed buildings in the town – and the proposed garage was very similar in design. Several members of the committee agreed that the garage would not detract from the farmhouse or the other two listed buildings on the site.

Cumbria County Coun Roger Bingham, YDNPA’s member champion for cultural heritage, commented that he was very impressed by how Mr Metcalfe had restored and conserved the listed buildings.

The head of development management, Richard Graham, said that given the majority vote in favour of the application this decision would not need to be referred back to the committee meeting next month for ratification.

Hawes  – December:  Only time will tell whether the major feature of the new building at the Wensleydale Creamery in Hawes will be iconic or an oddity. The “erratic” on the green sloping roof has been planned to represent the large boulders (erratics) left behind by glaciers during the Ice Age.

The architect, Clive Williams, explained to the planning committee that the aim was to provide a modern production facility which respected its setting within Wensleydale. A focal point was needed for the entrance and it was, therefore, felt that a modern interpretation of the erratics would be a nice symbol.

The panels covering this would be made from glass reinforced cement (GRC) which, Mr Williams said, could be coloured to match local stone and over time moss and lichen would grow on them. The curved roof of the new building will have a calcareous grassland roof which will enhance the local ecology.

The planning officers and some of the committee members were however concerned about the “erratic”. William Weston said this was one of the few sites in the dales which could have such a contemporary, cutting edge, exciting design but the erratic was one of the two features which he felt verged on the pastiche. If it was possible to get the shape and the materials right it would be an exciting feature he added. He therefore proposed that the officers should have more time to work with the architect on such design features.

N Yorks County Coun John Blackie had, however, pointed out that there was great concern that the application would not be discussed by the committee until February 2013. “This would have threatened the viability of the scheme – because this is a major, major scheme for the upper Dales and is not going to be done without attracting investment from beyond the Dales.”

David Hartley, managing director of the Wensleydale Creamery, told the committee that the business with its two sites, in Hawes and at Kirkby Malzeard , had a £25 million turnover a year and employed 230 people, as well as receiving milk from 45 local farmers. Their award winning cheeses were well known and bought throughout the UK and the world. He added: “We are investing in capacity, efficiency, sustainability and really most importantly the legacy of the future of cheese making in Wensleydale. We are committed to Wensleydale.”

The company intends to make Hawes the centre of its state of the art handcrafted cheese production. To do this the old production and office buildings, some of which are over 50 years old and are no longer fit for purpose, will be demolished. These will be replaced with the new building which would cover the same area but will, at some points, be higher than the present one. It will incorporate cheese manufacturing, the offices and an enhanced visitor centre. It is expected that the latter along with the existing shop, café and restaurant will benefit Wensleydale and the wider area.

Coun Blackie asked that the permission should make it possible for the production unit to work 24 hours a day during busy periods such as when preparing for Christmas, and that, if the officers could not come to an agreement with the architect regarding the materials being used for the erratic that issue should be brought back to the committee.

He pointed out that the parish council had requested that planning officers should ensure that the sewerage infrastructure serving the town could cope with any additional discharge. Yorkshire Water had established that the Creamery had on occasions been the source of a lingering bad smell in some parts of Hawes.

The parish council also asked that the new development should include a permanent silent source of additional electrical power – rather than using a noisy reserve generator. The parish council did support the new development because, as was accepted by the planning officers, the Creamery was very important to the town as a provider of employment and bringing in tourists. It added that it was reasonably content with the design of the new building.

After the planning committee voted in favour of the application the chairman, Graham Dalton, reminded the architect that some had misgivings about aspects of the design, especially the erratic.

Hawkswick – February:  The committee approved the planning officer’s recommendation for the construction of a replacement dwelling at The Bungalow in Hawkswick even though one member described it as a “half-breed house” and another commented “It looks like a pavilion to me.”

Hawkswick parish meeting had stated: “We feel the design needs to be more sympathetic to its surroundings in Littondale with more use being made of stone than wood panelling and glazing.” The head of development management, Richard Graham, said: “It’s an unfussy design and it’s robust. The timber can be stained a dark colour or left to weather naturally.”

Hawkswick. – July :  County Coun Harrison-Topham described the period up to 1996 as the Wild West days of ad hoc planning decisions by the YDNPA.  And Craven Dt Coun John Roberts reminded the committee that inconsistent planning decisions had led to deep grievances against the Authority.

It was in 1989 and 1990 that the Authority received two applications for barn conversions in Hawkswick. One applicant was given full permission to convert a barn with no “local need” agreement. But the owners of the barn at Hazel Head Farm were told that they could not convert it into two dwellings unless they signed a Section 52 agreement. This not only restricts occupancy to someone working within a ten-mile radius of the dwellings but also means that they can’t be sold to anyone living outside that radius. The present owners of those dwellings have now applied to have the agreement discharged.

The arguments of their agent, Andrew Moss of WardHadaway, included the inconsistencies in planning decisions between 1990 and 1993, particularly concerning barn conversions in Hawkswick. The planning committee gave permission for a third barn conversion in 1993, again without a local occupancy restriction especially as that was not a requirement of the Authority’s policy at that time.

Mr Moss noted in his letter to the Authority that the emerging planning policy was being applied differently in that period. It wasn’t until the adoption of the Local Plan in October 1996 that “a certain and predictable system was achieved… thereby avoiding inconsistent and unpredictable decision making.”

He stated that where there had been inconsistent planning decisions it was only fair and reasonable for the position to be reviewed and regularised.

The Authority’s monitoring officer, Richard Daly, however, disagreed. He informed the committee that the Authority had consulted legal Counsel on this issue. Only the YDNPA officers and members could read the Counsel’s confidential advice – but the meeting was told that he did not accept that that the Authority should discharge the agreement. His arguments included that the covenant was not obsolete as it could still be of value in controlling development in the National Park, it secured a substantial advantage to the Authority and was in the public interest.

The officers and some members emphasised the Counsel’s argument that if the agreement was discharged it would set an extremely unhelpful precedent for future applications. Richard Graham, head of development management, stated that there were over 100 “local need” agreements (S52 and S106) made during that period.Coun John Roberts, however, argued that there were only four S52 agreements which affected barn conversions.

Several members said that the Authority should now find a compromise solution. This might either involve the owners of the two dwellings putting the properties on the market for six months in accordance with YDNPA guidelines and then, if they did not sell, the S52 agreements might be lifted.Or the S52 agreements could be re-negotiated to bring them more in line with the present S106 agreements. (These do not include the 10-mile radius restrictions.) The members voted unanimously for the decision to be deferred so that officers could negotiate further with the owners.

(NB: In November 2011 the committee discussed a similar application involving The Shetty at Gayle. The committee agreed to discharge that agreement only because of  “exceptional circumstances”.)

Hawkswick – August :  The committee spent a long time discussing whether a 10ft steel agricultural gate could be retained at the entrance to a 15m by 18m parcel of land at Belly Flatt. A local farmer will use the gate to offload sheep onto that land. Hawkswick Parish Meeting objected stating that the appearance on a country lane of two 10ft steel gates, side by side, was an alien feature on the landscape. (There is a similar gate at the entrance to an adjacent farm field.)

As there was a pedestrian gate onto the applicant’s plot and a farmer had made another access for sheep the parish meeting felt that new gate should be removed and the fence reinstated. The committee approved the planning officer’s recommendation that the gate could remain but there should be no access for vehicles and the limestone chippings should be removed within three months. Additional trees should also be planted.

Hetton –  May and June :  How does one define “open countryside” committee member, Chris Armitage, asked when the application by F Reeday and Sons to erect an agricultural worker’s dwelling in a farmyard which is part of Manor Farm in Hetton was discussed.  “This (application) meets all our criteria except one – this is a grey area,” commented Mr Armitage. The committee heard that there was huge local support for the application which was seen as a way of sustaining the future of the farm and encouraging a young family to stay in the Dales.

Craven Dt Coun John Roberts commented: “If the children go there is a domino effect with schools closing etc.” The farm is now mainly worked by Matthew Reeday who lives in a very  small cottage in Hetton with his wife and two young children. That cottage is owned by three of the Reeday family but is not part of the farm partnership.

A legal agreement on the original farmhouse means that it will be inherited by those not involved in the farm business. It was pointed out that the cost of houses in Hetton  is too high for farm workers like Mr Reeday. The planning officer argued that the house would be in open countryside as the site was outside the village boundary.

The only basis then for approving such an application was if it could be shown that accommodation could not be provided by using other houses within the control of the applicant. Richard Graham, head of development management, said that the committee could approve the application on the basis that there were legal and financial circumstances which made it impossible for the Reedays to do that.

As the committee voted unanimously in favour of approving the application Craven Dt Coun Robert Heseltine asked if this decision needed to be referred back to the June meeting. Mr Graham said the planning officer would need time to work on preparing the legal agreement to tie the dwelling to the farm business.

At the June meeting all but one of the members voted to ratify that decision. The two reasons agreed upon were: the exceptional personal circumstances of the applicants in terms of legal and financial issues prevented them from using any of the existing buildings in the family’s ownership to meet the needs of the farm business; and that the landscape impact of the proposal would be minimal having regard to its context within the existing farmyard that adjoins the settlement boundary of Hetton. There will be a S106 agreement tying the house to the farm buildings and all of the land.

N Yorks County Coun John Blackie pointed out that there had also been exceptional circumstances when Clark Stone applied for an agricultural worker’s dwelling in Arkengarthdale which would have also been outside a village boundary. He wondered if this was an example of double standards.

Horton in Ribblesdale – February and March :  A decision on the application to extend the amount of time that a field by the New Inn Bridge could be used for visitor parking was deferred by the planning committee until its  March meeting. This may allow time for the preparation of a traffic management plan for the village but the committee  agreed that the decision should not be delayed any longer. The owners have applied to use the field for parking for 70 days between April and October each year.

The planning officer recommended that it could be used for parking for only 57 days from April to September, and that it could not be used for overnight accommodation by those with tents or caravans.

Horton in Ribblesdale parish council had asked the committee to refuse the application. It stated: “It is essential that the wider issue of the impact on the village and the surrounding area of the increasing number of sponsored walks be addressed before there can be a sensible consideration of what provision should be made to accommodate visitors and their vehicles.”

The North Yorkshire branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England ( CPRE) wrote to the YDNPA to express its concern about mass walks. It stated: “It is necessary now to protect the countryside against the damage done by too many feet in one place. The CPRE considers damage can be caused not only to the ecostructure but also to villages in or adjacent to the Parks which become swamped by excessive numbers of visitors. We consider that every effort must be made to spread visitor numbers to places throughout the Parks.”And added: “Perhaps alternate routes could be worked out to give the Three Peaks a rest.”

The YDNPA’s recreation and tourism manager, however, felt that the Three Peaks walks were of such national significance that it would be difficult to persuade people to go elsewhere. The only alternative is to manage the numbers visiting the area.  Some charity events attract between 400 to 1000 participants. (See Pen-y-ghent cafe )

At the March meeting it was agreed to give  permission for three years for the field  to be used for temporary parking for a total of 57 days a year, with no parking there between October and March. This, it was felt, would provide sufficient time for a traffic management plan to be developed to enable the village to cope with the thousands who take part in sponsored Three Peaks walks.

At the planning committee the majority agreed that the conditions (secured with a S106 agreement)  should include restricting cars from being parked too close to the houses at one end of the field; that parking (with no overnight accommodation) would be limited to Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays according to a schedule of events provided by the landowner; and that parking or camping on another field owned by the applicant should be restricted.  The landowner will be asked to provide information to those preparing the traffic management plan.

Horton in Ribblesdale -December :  Permission was granted for the outdoor pursuits centre at Newhouses, Horton in Ribblesdale, to be converted into a four-bedroomed house. Although the parish council had some reservations about the revised plans it had no objection to what had been Foxwood Farmhouse being converted in a house as that would preserve the integrity of the grade II listed building. It would have preferred that the development remained within the footprint of the existing structure but the committee accepted the planning officer’s recommendation that a lean-to extension at the rear could project one metre beyond that footprint. The Friends of Foxwood Farm had used the farmhouse as an outdoor pursuits centre from 1996. By 2011 the charity was no longer able to run this facility and so sold the farmhouse at auction. The applicant maintained that due to its size and layout the building would not meet current standards or expectations for an outdoor education facility. The only committee member who did not accept this was Coun Blackie. He felt this would set a precedent and could lead to the loss of even more low-cost holiday accommodation in the national park.

Ingleton. – July: The committee gave approval for an enforcement notice to be served on the owners of the land adjacent to the White Scar Caves stating that a touring caravan on the site should be removed within three months. When an enforcement officer inspected the site in June 2009 there was a petting zoo there and the caravan was occasionally used for shelter. By May this year the moveable hutches had been removed but the caravan was still on the site and the Authority had not received a planning application for it to remain there.

Keld –  February:  Approval was given for the number of tents at Park House campsite, Keld, to be increased from six to 12 and for the opening period to be extended. No caravans or tents will be allowed on the site between October 31 and March 1 each year, and none can be there for more than 28 days during the camping season. The application originally proposed increasing the number of caravans from three to six but the planning officers were concerned about the impact upon such a remote and exposed landscape.

Kettlewell – June: The committee unanimously accepted the planning officer’s recommendation that hard surfacing and pitches for caravans could be created using crushed limestone at the site at Causeway Bungalow in Kettlewell. Craven Dt Coun John Roberts noted that caravans and motorhomes were getting heavier and so sank into the grass. N Yorks County Coun Roger Harrison-Topham wondered, however, if crushed limestone was the most suitable material. He felt that other materials such as plastic matting should be considered. This application was supported by the parish council.

Kettlewell – June : Some of the members pointed out that as the owner of Market House in Kettlewell had not yet signed a S106 agreement the three years allowed for work to begin had not yet officially started. The agreement should have been signed in early 2009 after the applicant was given permission to convert a store into a shop with a two bedroom dwelling above.  As it had not been signed the planning officer had recommended that the application should be refused, but in an email just before the meeting it was stated that the applicant was now prepared to sign the agreement. At the meeting it was unanimously agreed that the applicant should be given a maximum of three months in which to sign. If he does he will then have another three years in which to begin converting the store. In 2008 the parish council had strongly objected to this application as the road by the premises was not only narrow but also a bus route.

Langcliffe – October : The large V shaped signs advertising that Langcliffe Mill was for sale or to let must be removed but they could be replaced with smaller ones in appropriate positions. This was the majority view of the committee after discussing the retrospective application for the present signs made by Skipton Properties Pension Fund. It was accepted that there needs to be good advertising if the Mill is to attract those who could bring employment to the area by redeveloping the site but that should not be done to the detriment of the surrounding landscape. The members therefore accepted the planning officer’s recommendation to refuse the application.

Linton – February:  Linton Parish Council was very concerned that a precedent would be set for the future development of the village if permission was given for a house to be built outside of the development boundary. After a lengthy debate the committee agreed with the planning officer that permission could not be granted for a house to be built in the field next to Tarn Laithe. The owner explained that it was for members of his own family and so constituted local need. The officer stated that as the site was outside the village housing boundary it would not fulfill the criteria for local needs housing under the present Local Plan nor the new Dales Housing Development Plan when it comes into force. Committee member Peter  Charlesworth believed the application would fulfil a local need for housing and pointed out that prior to a wall being built the development boundary would have extended through the proposed site to the edge of the conservation area.

Linton Falls. – October and November:  It was decided to hold a site meeting to assess the impact upon neighbours of extensions to Gable End at Linton Falls. “We have got a very strong recommendation from the parish council that we have got to listen to,” said Craven Dt Coun John Roberts.

Originally the applicant had wanted a two storey extension on the rear but the planning officer had said that would have had too much of a negative impact upon the neighbouring cottage owned by Mr B Kennedy. The officer felt that a single storey lean-to extension would not have a significantly overbearing or overshadowing impact and so had recommended that the application for that and a two storey side extension should be approved.

Mr Kennedy told the committee: “Light is at a premium in my cottage. I think this (will be) intrusive.” And Linton parish councillor, John Bennett, said: “The parish council is unanimously opposed… to this unacceptable loss of amenity particularly to Rose Cottage and other properties.”

At the November meeting all the members who attended the site meeting to Linton Falls voted for approval to be given for the erection of the two extensions to Gable End. The other two committee members abstained from voting.

Peter Charlesworth proposed the acceptance of the officer’s recommendation because at the site meeting he felt it was clear that the rear extension would not have a big impact upon the neighbouring property. He pointed out that under permitted development rights the rear extension could be three metres in depth whereas after consultations with the planning officer the applicant had agreed not only to reduce it to 1.8 metres but also to just a single storey.

Chris Armitage described the proposed extensions as being cleverly designed. The largest section of the extension will be into the garden at the side of the end-terrace house.

Long Preston – November:  Approval was given for half of a stable at Beckstone House in Newhouse Lane to be converted into an office for an e-communications firm.

Two of the three full-time employees live at Beckstone House and one of the conditions is that the use of the office would be tied to the occupants of that house. This is to ensure that the level of use does not increase and so impact more upon highway safety and residential amenity.

Long Preston parish councillor Hilary Baker told the committee that the un-adopted road to this small hamlet was narrow with very few passing places. “It is a well-used and much loved public footpath and in places is the width of a 4×4,” she said.

The parish council therefore objected to the application because the area would be adversely affected by the additional traffic. Mrs Baker added that the emergency services had difficulty accessing the hamlet via that road.

The planning committee, however, felt that such an e-based office would not generate much extra traffic and this was the type of use of old buildings that the Authority wished to encourage.

Low Row – October:  The majority of the committee agreed that there was little difference in the application involving East Broccabank at Low Row to that refused by planning officers in August 2011. That decision was upheld by a planning inspector in November 2011.

The committee therefore refused to give planning permission for a single storey extension to form a studio and shower room. This extension would have been to the garage attached to the house.

Richmondshire Dt Coun Malcolm Gardner had asked the planning committee to consider this application as he felt that the appeal inspector’s decision had been fatally flawed. He wondered what the inspector had meant by describing the design as “fussy”.

Paul Steele, who owns the house with his wife, explained that they had wanted an extension which could not be seen easily from the surrounding countryside and which would merge in with the garage.

Marske – April and May: At the April meeting it was decided that there should be a site visit to the Stable Block at Marske as the scheme to transform this Grade II listed building into nine holiday units was complex.

Marske Stable Block is in the open countryside and is on English Heritage’s “At Risk” register. Although the YDNPA would like to see it in use in order to conserve it, its senior listed buildings officer stated that the plans to remove the Victorian features from this Georgian building, including windows and stable boxes, would be harmful to the historic and architectural significance of the stables. The application includes alterations to the Coach House.

At the May meeting Sue Ridley, the vice chairman of Marske and New Forest parish meeting, begged the committee to work with Roger Tempest of the Rural Concepts Group, to preserve The Stables. “It is a beautiful building and some of the stonework is stunning.If you turn down this application what is the alternative?” she asked.

Mrs Ridley explained that the Rural Concepts Group had been the only buyer interested in purchasing The Stables from the parish meeting two years ago.

Committee members visited the 18th century building on April 20 to consider if there were sufficient conservation benefits if it was converted into nine holiday lets, and if the plans put forward would mean that too many of the 19th century features would be lost.

Following further consultation with the Rural Concepts Group a number of amendments to the original plans were agreed. These included retaining some Victorian sash windows, iron mangers and some feeding troughs, and 18th century graffiti. The developers will make a photographic record of the building prior to work starting.

Although the amended plans were not available at the May meeting it was agreed unanimously that the application could be delegated to officers to complete the planning process. The members accepted that there was an urgent need now to preserve the building and that Mr Tempest had an excellent record for restoring listed buildings throughout the country.

The committee chairman, Graham Dalton, was concerned that it would be possible for the community have long term use of a room, on a rental basis, at The Stables.

Mrs Ridley said that the WI and the parish meeting would make use of that room. She like Harold  Brown (Grinton parish council)  remembered the days when the villagers held dances, celebrations and many other community events at The Stables.

Melmerby in Coverdale– September and October: Two very different views of the alterations to a farmyard at Manor Farm, Melmerby in Coverdale were presented to the planning committee.

N Yorks County Coun Roger Harrison-Topham, who can see the farm from his home, argued that the extension of the farmyard and the embankment was not so visible that it was having a harmful impact upon the landscape.

To Melmerby parish meeting, however, the embankment was an eyesore created from soil and rubbish and the trees engulfed by it were either dead or dying. And in wet weather effluent flowed down it.

The planning officer had recommended refusal because of the impact of the embankment on the landscape and on some trees. He had also asked that an enforcement notice should be served for the embankment to be removed and the farmyard returned to its original size.

The planning committee, however, accepted Coun Harrison-Topham’s request that there should be a site meeting before making any decision about the retrospective application by F Dinsdale and Sons to make up the ground level at the rear of the farm buildings.

The site meeting at Manor Farm made a considerable impact upon those members who went to see the embankment created with soil dug out when a new building was being erected. At the site meeting the farmers were congratulated by Melmerby parish council for the amount of tidying that had been carried out in the past two weeks.

The parish council felt that the proposed planting scheme of trees and a hedgerow would further improve the site. It asked that a channel should be dug to prevent effluent draining down the embankment.

It was accepted by the planning committee members that the cost of removing that soil would be too high for the farm business. They also accepted Nigel Dinsdale’s argument that the area created by the infill was essential to the functioning of the farm business.

Since then the meeting in September the  applicants had worked with the YDNPA’s Trees and Woodlands Officer to draw up an extensive scheme of landscaping. This includes the tiered planting of 120 trees on the embankment and the installation of a native hedgerow along the southern and eastern boundaries of the extended farmyard. The planning officer therefore recommended that the application should be granted which was accepted by the committee.

The committee did ask that in future any applications for new farm buildings should include information about the disposal of waste soil.

Melmerby in Coverdale – September:  The planning committee was asked not only to refuse Andrew Avison’s retrospective application for the infilling of Lickber Lane but also to authorise the serving of an enforcement notice to restore the lane to its original condition.

The planning officer stated that the infilling had damaged an ancient sunken route which was a non-designated heritage asset. Richmondshire Ramblers had told the Authority that it was regularly used by walkers.

Melmerby parish meeting, however, had reported that prior to the infilling Lickber Lane had been impassable due to water running down it, damage by rabbits and the build-up of vegetation. The section infilled by Mr Avison was now useable but that nearest to the river had not been touched and remained impassable.

The YDNPA member champion for heritage, Cumbria County Coun Roger Bingham said that any archaeological evidence in the infilled section of Lickber Lane had been obliterated.

But the planning committee decided not to support the recommendation of the planning officer immediately. Instead the majority voted to defer the decision so that the YDNPA could consult with N Yorkshire County Council’s highways department as the unclassified lane is recorded as being the responsibility of the county council.

Coun Roger Harrison-Topham said that the main problem now was to reconcile the objectives of two authorities which operated under different pieces of legislation. His advice that the YDNPA planning department should reach agreement with the county council and then bring the issue back to the planning committee was accepted.

Reeth – February : Committee members voted overwhelmingly in favour of allowing a new house to be built at Mill Hill. This, however, was against the planning officer’s recommendation who said it should be refused as the amended plans did not go far enough to solve the problems of over-dominating and affecting the privacy of the house below it.

The Swaledale members of the committee felt there would be minimal loss of privacy and amenity and that the proposed building was in keeping with the terraced nature of many houses in Reeth. Another committee member asked if the house could be set back by a metre from the footpath.

It was agreed that the planning officer could ratify this decision if the applicant could make that adjustment to the plans.

Ribblehead –  February An enforcement notice will be issued for the removal of the residential caravan beside the Station Inn at Ribblehead, but the compliance period will be set at six months instead of two. N Yorks County Coun John Blackie explained that the owner was preparing to apply for an extension to the Inn so as to provide alternative staff accommodation.Ribblehead –  May: It was unanimously agreed the application for full planning permission for extensions and alterations to the Station Inn and its  bunkhouse should be approved. The conditions include the removal of the caravan beside the pub.  Cumbria County Coun Roger Bingham said that although the pub was one of the most visited in the Yorkshire Dales the site was a mess at present. “I do hope it will be tidied up.” The extensions to the pub include an improved kitchen at the rear and enlarging the dining room and the toilets.  The facilities in bunkhouse will be improved and further accommodation will be provided for staff. There will be a new vehicular access.

Sedbergh – March: The committee agreed with the planning officer that a wall built to enclose part of the grassy area in front of Abbot Holme at Millthrop,Sedbergh, would detract considerably from the beauty of the open space which had been in existence since the mid 19th century. It would also have an adverse impact upon Abbot Holme which is a listed building. The application for a 1.2m high stone boundary wall was therefore rejected.

Sedbergh – May and July:  Local planning authorities can no longer question the need for a telecommunications system as that right has been removed under the government’s new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). Nor can a local authority determine if there are sufficient health safeguards for residents if an applicant can show that the proposal meets International Commission guidelines for public exposure to radiation levels.

This was reported by the planning officer dealing with the application by Electricity North West to construct a 20m high telecommunications pole with antenna at its primary substation off Busk Lane in Sedbergh. The application according to the NPPF could only be determined on planning issues. But neither the members of the planning committee nor over 200 Sedbergh residents were convinced that they could not question the need for the mast.

Andrew Fleck, the head teacher of Sedbergh School, spoke on behalf of 211 residents when he queried the technology and the height of the mast.

N Yorks County Coun Roger Harrison-Topham said that the mast would be a particularly bad blot on the landscape. He accepted that if the committee refused the application the company would apply again and then he wanted the technological need to  be appraised by an independent advisor.

The company had explained the mast was essential to manage the supply of electricity and remotely manage the high voltage equipment at the substation by having a clear line of sight for radio signals to be transmitted to it from the rest of the Electricity North West  network. The committee was told that the BT network would not work and the only safe and secure method was via radio transmissions.

The planning officers had negotiated with company to have a mono-pod design which was half the width of the lattice tower originally proposed, so as to try and minimise the impact upon the landscape and the neighbourhood. To retain line of sight it was necessary, however, for the top of the mast to be above the trees.

The majority of the committee members agreed that the mast would have a detrimental impact not only on the landscape but also on those living near it, particularly some of those in Queen’s Drive, and that there were health and safety issues. They also wanted the technology to be reassessed to find out if such a high mast was really necessary.

As they did not accept the planning officer’s recommendation to approve the application this decision had to be ratified at the June meeting.

At the July meeting Shirley Smith from Sedbergh impressed the committee with her carefully argued objection to the telecommunications pole. She quoted the NPPF (see below) and asked the Authority to seek independent advice before serious damage was done to the Sedbergh area.

All but two  members of the committee agreed with her and felt that maybe this should be put to the test.  Even though it was understood that Electricity North West would appeal if the committee did not approve its plans, the majority of the members voted against accepting them, thus ratifying the decision made at the May meeting.

Some members argued that they were not questioning the need for the mast but whether it was the best option especially as it was the duty of the YDNPA to protect the landscape and make sure that any proposed development would not have a detrimental impact. It was also felt that the mast would have a detrimental impact on the residential amenity of the neighbouring properties.

Mrs Smith’s statement  to the planning committee: “First of all I wish to thank the committee for voting down so convincingly at the meeting in May, ENW’s application for a telecommunications pole at Sedbergh substation.I maintain that the reasons for which the permission was refused by the planning committee then are equally valid now since no independent proof of the need for a pole has been obtained. I hope that Members will agree that ENW’s plan to erect a 20m telecommunications pole, adjacent to the cemetery, with antennae at the top, jutting 5m above the very tall trees around, towering over the nearby residential area and marring the view from any of the fells around, as well as from houses in Sedbergh above a certain level, should not go forward. Sedbergh can well do without such an eyesore. The petition concerning the pole now has 296 signatures.Paragraph 6 of the (YDNPA) reference back report refers to a report produced eight years ago – in which the conclusion is drawn that alternative technology is unsuitable. Technology has made great strides since 2004! In paragraph 8 reference is made to ‘tests’ in 2007 leading to the same conclusion. But five years on, there is no doubt that alternative ‘fit-for-purpose’ technology is available for the asking.  It is now time for the technological alternatives to be thoroughly and independently investigated to provide conclusive proof that a pole is not needed.After all, the National Planning Policy Framework recommends in Section 43 that ‘local planning authorities should support the expansion of electronic communications networks . . . . They should aim to keep the numbers of radio and telecommunications masts and the sites for these to a minimum consistent with the efficient operation of the network.’Section 46 of the NPPF states that planning authorities should not question the need for the telecommunications system: No-one here could possibly suggest that ENW has no need for an efficient telecommunications system. All that is being questioned is the need for a pole. Also in Section 46 ‘local planning authorities should not seek to prevent competition between different operators’.ENW, as an operator itself, may well favour a pole as the least expensive option. An independent investigation would be able to discover which operator, if not BT, could provide the best competitive non-pole technology for ENW’s purposes, much more appropriate for Sedbergh, relying, as the local economy does, on the visitors who come to enjoy its beautiful landscape.In conclusion : There is no doubt that efficient operation of a network to suit ENW’s demands is possible with up-to-date technology. The committee has not yet exercised due diligence by taking independent advice and we would strongly recommend that such advice is sought without delay before serious damage is done to our area. We have always understood that the purpose of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority is to safeguard our landscape.”

Sedbergh – August:  The committee accepted the planning officers recommendation that a modern, fit for purpose dental practice would be a key community asset and would contribute to the vitality of Sedbegh and so approved plans for the change of use of the Spar shop in Main Street in the town centre. The Dental Practice Sedbergh plans to re-locate to there from Finkle Street and in doing so be able to take on 120 new NHS patients.

The parish council accepted that the dental practice would maintain footfall in Main Street but was concerned about the loss of a retail outlet in the town centre and that the original plans did not provide for the shop front being remodelled to fit in better with the traditional appearance of what is a conservation area.

The planning officer stated that the proposed alterations were now acceptable in design terms (including the removal of the unattractive shiny fascia) and would enhance the street scene.As there had been so much public interest in this issue with many writing to the YDNPA with arguments for and against the application it was agreed this must be discussed in an open forum.

There was concern about the continuing viability of Main Street as a shopping location especially since permission had been given for the auction mart to be transformed into a new Spar supermarket plus health centre. That health centre will not have sufficient space for the extended dental practice.

The new Spar supermarket opened in March and since then there has been a considerable reduction in the range of goods on sale at the Main Street shop and the hours have been severely curtailed. There is an S106 agreement that Spar should retain its Main Street store for two years after the new supermarket was opened. The committee members were told that that agreement can be modified so that the existing retail use continues until the premises are sold to the dental practice.

The dental practice had not provided evidence that there the retail use of the premises was no longer economically viable but was proposing that the surgery in Finkle Street should become a shop.

At the  meeting approval was given for the dental surgery in Finkle Street to become a retail premises with a very small flat on the first floor. The request by the parish council that the flat should be for those in need of accommodation locally was accepted and there will be an S106 agreement to ensure that.

Sedbergh. – October: The committee unanimously agreed that Two Castles Housing Association could go ahead and build seven two-storey and three bungalows, all for local occupancy, on the former Cumbria County Council depot site in Guldrey Lane, Sedbergh.

The members did check on the cascading eligibility arrangements for occupancy as they wanted to ensure that local people were not pushed out. It was explained that the first ones to be considered would be those living in Sedbergh; then those from named adjacent parishes within South Lakeland, and then those living elsewhere within the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

N Yorks County Coun John Blackie’s request that those living in Hawes and High Abbotside should be considered before others living in the National Park was accepted. He explained that Hawes and High Abbotside had a similar agreement with Sedbergh and Garsdale for the affordable housing recently built in Hawes.

Both he and Graham Dalton were dismayed that Cumbria County Council had not taken up offers by private businesses to use that site for employment purposes. “The site has been empty now for more than 20 years and it is getting in a very derelict condition,” said Mr Dalton.

Members felt that the planning officers had made a good job of negotiating with Two Castles Housing Association about the number of dwellings and the layout . Originally the Association had proposed that there should be 12 dwellings but the planning officers asked for this to be reduced so as to produce a layout which did not impinge on the amenity of neighbouring properties.

The Association’s project manager, Lisa Hogarth, assured members that the new homes would be built so that they could accommodate disabled people. She said that even with the reduction in the number of dwellings and with problems such as the need to decontaminate the site she believed the project was viable and would provide homes for local people.

Sedbergh – November: Sedbergh parish councillor, Douglas Thompson, asked the committee to defer making a decision about an application for the change of use of a one-room shop to residential.

This was because the parish council wanted more time to work with the YDNPA on the Sedbergh Townscape Project aimed, in part, to foster the economic well-being of the town. The parish council felt that the loss of this shop in Main Street would affect the retail area of the town.

The planning officer stated that the shop was not on the main shopping street; was not conspicuous; was very small with no additional space for storage or separate toilet facilities; and has been empty for a considerable period of time. The rest of the house is residential and the owners wish to continue living there.

It was pointed out at the meeting that the owners had complied with the YDNPA’s advertising and marketing process prior to applying for change of use but it had proved impossible to find someone willing to take on the shop.

The owners had also considered re-organising the house so that the whole of the ground floor could be used for retail and the second floor would be a single-bedroom residence. But such a proposal was unlikely to be economically viable. All of the members therefore voted for planning permission to be granted.The application included the replacement of the shop window.

The chairman, Harold Brown, believed this would not set a precedent as, in his view, there were unique factors involved. He added that other applications from Sedbergh would be judged on their merit and the Authority would continue to support the parish council.

Starbotton – February  and March: Many members agreed with the chairman of the planning committee that the need for housing for local people outweighed the arguments against approving the construction of a two-bedroomed house on land designated by the YDNPA as important open space within a village. The majority therefore voted against the planning officer’s recommendation that the application should be refused.

Dt Coun John Roberts pointed out that the application didn’t meet eight of the YDNPA’s policies. The officer explained that it would be harmful to the village because: it would introduce domestic clutter to an otherwise wild and unspoilt area; it would increase the visual prominence of a presently unobtrusive vehicular access; it would reduce the visual quality of the green space along the beck; and it would introduce a dwelling that paid little regard to its setting in terms of detailing, siting and orientation.

Kettlewell-with-Starbotton parish council said it supported the need for local occupancy housing but questioned if the YDNPA should allow a house to be built on land designated as special open space.

At the March meeting Craven Dt Coun John Roberts told the planning committee that it would be inconsistent to approve the construction of a house on an area designated by the YDNPA as Special Open Space after it had issued enforcement notices to protect open spaces in Kettlewell which were in the same parish.

“This is one of the most protected sites that we have in this area. It is an important open space in a conservation area in the national park. This was our designation. This application goes against eight of the Park’s saved policies,” Coun Roberts said. He added: “I understand the need for housing in the parish … but we are here to protect and enhance the environment.”

County Coun John Blackie had argued that more “local need” houses were required in the area to safeguard the future of the pubs and the school. As there would be a S106 agreement on the house it could only be sold to those who fulfilled the criteria for “local need” and so would sell for up to 15 per cent less than the open  market value.

Kettlewell-with-Starbotton parish council had pointed out that this was the second application for a local occupancy dwelling in Starbotton from the same applicant and the first property was still vacant.

The YDNPA’s head of development management, Richard Graham, told the committee that the need for another such house had not been demonstrated. He stated  there was no material benefit to outweigh the policy not to allow construction on such an open space.

The majority at the March meeting voted against approving the application.

Swaleview Caravan Park- May: At the December 2011 meeting the committee had requested that the owners of Swaleview Caravan Park, Andrew and Eileen Carter, should enter into some legal agreements. The Carters, however, had replied that they felt that the conditions on a new planning permission allowing seasonal use on all 30 touring caravan pitches would be sufficient.

The conditions included defining touring caravans as those which can be towed by cars ;  that an up-to-date  register will need to be kept to show that all those using the 30 seasonal pitches between March 1 and October 31 had  permanent homes elsewhere; and that from November 1 to February 28 no caravans could be on those pitches for more than 28 consecutive nights.

Hudswell parish council was very concerned that lodges might replace caravans on those pitches and so be used as either second or even first homes. It also did not want to see a further loss of short stay touring pitches.

Richmondshire Dt Coun Malcolm Gardner asked if it was possible to enforce the conditions which stopped the site becoming a permanent village. Mr Graham said the conditions were enforceable and officers did check to make sure no-one was living permanently on such a site even though that was very time consuming.

The majority of the committee accepted the planning officer’s recommendation to approve the application subject to 12 conditions.

Threshfield  –  April : It is now possible for the owners of Wood Nook Caravan Park to vary the number of touring caravans and tents on that site at any one time as a condition imposed in 1977 has been lifted by the planning committee. That condition stipulated that there could be 30 caravans and 20 tents in that park. Although this may mean less tents on occasions it was pointed out that there was also a camp site with pitches for 31 tents at  Wood Nook.

The planning officer explained that after months of discussion with the owners it was agreed that 12 pitches would be removed from the caravan park and there would be extensive planting along the southern side  and the western corner to match the adjacent woodland. This will partially shield the site from a footpath.

Two new pitches will be added on the eastern side of the site. Eleven pitches will be retained for the existing statics so the maximum number of touring caravans at any time would be 39. As compared with 30 tourers it was felt that this would have a marginal impact upon highway safety.

Three members of the committee queried the possible loss of camping pitches.  Coun Blackie was the only one who voted against granting permission as he felt it was important to maintain and even increase the number of camping pitches available in the Yorkshire Dales.

Threshfield –  August:  County Coun John Blackie and other members asked why the YDNPA planning department had allowed an application to remain unresolved for so long that the applicants had appealed to the Planning Inspectorate.

Lakeland Leisure Estates had applied in November last year for permission to erect extensions and make alterations to the Gamekeeper Inn at Long Ashes Caravan Park, Threshfield. The Gamekeeper public house and restaurant is at the centre of the caravan park and the owners want to extend the function room and erect an accommodation block of six letting bedrooms.

The committee was asked to uphold the planning officer’s recommendation that the application should be refused so as to strengthen the YDNPA’s case at the appeal. The planning officer contended that the proposed extensions would dominate and be out of character with the existing building.

Threshfield – September: Long Ashes Holiday Park is a significant settlement in the Yorkshire Dales National Park and the owners have submitted several planning applications to the YDNPA planning department in the past few years. But, as the longest serving member of the committee, N Yorks County Coun John Blackie asked: “When did we last have a site meeting there?”

Graham Dalton requested that a site meeting should be held before making a decision concerning the latest application as it was a complex one but this was not accepted by the majority of the committee.

The application was for the redevelopment and extension of the holiday park to include change of use for siting 49 statics, 64 touring caravans and 22 camping pods plus two buildings to provide facilities. Thirty four of those statics and the site for the 64 touring caravans would be on undeveloped fields.

Mr Dalton stated that if the application was granted the holiday park would double in size. Other members pointed out that the holiday park was already like a small town and felt that it had out-grown itself.

Craven Dt Coun John Roberts argued that the holiday park should not be allowed to envelope two good hay meadows. This application, he said, was little different to that refused by the planning committee in March and did not resolve the concerns about sewage and water supply, nor of the dangerous access onto the B6160.

Threshfield parish council, in its objection to the application, pointed out that there were quite a few unused plots on the present site.

At the planning committee Craven Dt Coun John Roberts, said that the site could be remodelled to include 52 more caravans as had previously been approved by the Authority.

The majority of the committee accepted the planning officer’s conclusion that the extension would result in a significant and harmful impact upon the landscape and voted to refuse permission for it.

Threshfield -December:   Allowing the Long Ashes Caravan Park  near Threshfield to increase in size was compared to urban sprawl by planning committee member, William Weston. “We already have a site which is bigger than many Dales’ communities. The idea of increasing urban sprawl in this location is really extraordinary given how big the site is already,” he said.

Lakeland Leisure Estates Ltd had applied for full planning permission to redevelop and extend the park by adding 51 static caravans, 64 touring caravans and 22 camping pods plus the erection of some buildings, including a toilet block.

“The chutzpah of putting this forward is breathtaking,” commented N Yorks County Coun Roger Harrison-Topham.

Coun Roberts stated that if at Easter all the bed spaces at Long Ashes were filled its population would be equal to that of Threshfield and Grassington combined. The good agricultural fields that the park owners proposed to extend  into would then become brown field sites, Coun Roberts  said.

He was also concerned about the sewerage system at the park, and the safety of cars exiting onto the B6160. Threshfield parish council had unanimously opposed the application.

The agent for Lakeland Leisure Estates explained that more information could be provided about the drainage and sewerage, and that there would be a landscape scheme which would include tree planting. The extension of the park would create 13 more jobs and a considerable financial input  into the local economy, she said.

West Witton.  – October:  Mr Dalton said that as the central government was encouraging caravan sites to remain open all year it was difficult for the committee to refuse the application from Chantry Country Retreat to be open all the time for holiday purposes. Up until now it was closed from January 16 until March 1 each year.

Some members and local residents were concerned that this could result in the caravans being used as permanent residences. The planning officer pointed out that the operators will have to maintain an up-to-date register of the names of all owners/occupiers on the site along with their main home addresses.

That information must be available to the planning department when requested. Coun Blackie commented that it would not be easy for the planning officers to keep a check on such details.

The application was approved with the conditions including that no additional lighting should be installed without the approval of the YDNPA.

 

YDNPA- inconsistencies and gobbledygook

October 12, 2012 By: Pip Land Category: ARC News Service 1 Comment →

My personal view on events at the October meeting of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s planning committee meeting – and how the YDNPA is failing to rectify the inconsistencies in planning decisions in the 1990s.

Question: Does the YDNPA have a moral duty to remedy the anguish and pain caused by its often grossly inconsistent planning decisions between 1986 and 1993?

Events at the October meeting of the YDNPA planning committee brought back for me vivid memories of the mid 1990s when there was so much anger and pain in the Yorkshire Dales over the often huge inconsistencies in planning decisions. Many people queried the basis on which those decisions were being made and if some of those connected with the YDNPA – which is a quango and so unaccountable to the electorate – were using their power to manipulate those decisions.

The small hamlet of Hawkswick is, sadly, a perfect illustration of those inconsistencies. Between 1986 and 1993 the Authority permitted four barn conversions. There were no restrictions on two of those and so they could be sold on the open market. That which received approval in 1993 can only be used as a principle residence. But the owner of Hazel Head Barn was, in her words, forced in 1990 to sign a stringent Section 52 agreement. (see below for the full ARC News Release)