ARC News Service reports on the virtual meeting of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s ( YDNPA ) planning committee on March 23 2021 at which the following were discussed: an application by DSMC UK for a barn conversion and a new building near Linton; a barn conversion at Appersett ; new houses at West Witton; and Falls Country Park at Ingleton.
Pip Pointon reports on the YDNPA meetings on a voluntary basis as part of the Association of Rural Communities commitment to local democracy in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
An application which included a “massive” portal framed building being constructed near Linton was considered so contrary to policy by the majority of the committee that it was refused.
Lancashire County Cllr Cosima Towneley commented: “The Local Plan is God in this case. I personally feel that this would have been a perfectly acceptable build considering what it would have brought to the area in long-term benefits. But I think I think sometimes landscape trumps the actual wellbeing of people in the park. I am disappointed that no alternative [sites] can be found.”
Charlie Bayston, managing director of DSMC UK told the committee that the diving, surveying and marine contracting business needed more space especially as planning officers were keen for them to relocate to a place where shipping containers could be undercover. At present, the company is based in a converted barn at Threshfield and shipping containers had been stored beside it.
The company had applied to convert Catchall Barn to provide office accommodation and safe storage, and to erect a 36m by 25m building which would be 9.2m at its highest point so that it could house a number of shipping containers. To provide a biodiversity habitat it would have had a grassed curved roof, a large amount of landscaping and tree planting, plus ground source heat pump and systems for rainwater harvesting and reed bed filtration for grey water. Mr Bayston continued:
“We searched for four years before purchasing Catchall Barn following [planning] pre-advice. This included looking in Grassington, Threshfield, Kettlewell, Skipton, Silsden and Crosshills without success.’ He said they had checked to see if they could move to Threshfield Quarry but after four years of trying found that space could not be allocated.
“There are currently no other alternatives available to us and if this application is rejected we see no other option than to move the business out of North Yorkshire making [our] existing employees redundant.”
The planning officer, however, advised the committee that the new building would have a significantly harmful impact on the landscape. She said: “It is a wide open and uninterrupted landscape which affords long views up the valley towards Linton and any new development on this site would detract from that. The application is for a new business development on a site not allocated for business, not adjacent to an existing village or settlement, nor related to any other development other than the small stone barn.”
This was supported by Natural England and Linton Parish Council which had submitted seven-page letter listing its objections. Linton resident, Georgina Wilkins, told the committee that the proposed new building would be massive and, with the large amount of hard standing, would be a blight on the landscape and set a worrying precedent. “No grassed roof or planting can minimise the impact of such a proposal on the open valley to Linton,” she added.
After the vote the chairman, Julie Martin, told Mr Bayston that she hoped he had heard the committee’s great sadness at having to refuse the application. “In other circumstances we would be absolutely delighted to approve it but I am afraid we can’t do in this case,” she said.
Barn conversions within the Yorkshire Dales National Park should only for local occupancy and not short-term holiday lets, Askrigg parish councillor Allen Kirkbride told the planning committee.
Cllr Kirkbride, who is a parish council representative on the Authority, said: “The Yorkshire Dales National Park is just full of holiday cottages and somehow within the new Local Plan we have got to try and make these barn conversions for local people only.”
The chairman of the planning committee, Julie Martin, commented: “Yes, I think we are all aware it’s something we need to reconsider.”
The committee was considering an application to convert Tom’s Barn at the eastern end of Appersett for a local occupancy dwelling or a holiday let. Hawes and High Abbotside Parish Council had objected because it only supports barn conversions if they are for local occupancy as it believes there are enough holiday lets in the area.
The planning officer informed the committee that the parish council’s objection was not sustainable. He explained that approval had been given in July 2019 for the barn to be converted into a three-bedroom local occupancy dwelling or short-term holiday accommodation. The latest application was necessary, he said, as the owners had proposed a number of changes to the original plans, including reducing the number of bedrooms to two. This, he added, will allow the living and dining space at one end to be full height and so better retain the agricultural character of the interior.
Member Jim Munday said that the latest plans would make for a better conversion. The majority of the members voted to approve the application.
West Witton is expanding enough with the addition of 17 houses at the west end of the village, the parish council told the Authority. But at the planning committee’s meeting approval was given for two more new houses.
The parish council informed the planning committee that the 17 dwellings at the west end amounted to one third of the National Park’s annual housing target and would increase the size of the village by about ten per cent. It stated: “The feeling of the parish council (and many residents) is that we have enough new development in the village. It is believed that the current building development is enough for the local need.
“With West Witton providing such a high proportion of the target number of new homes within the National Park already, we feel the current expansion to the village is enough both in terms of the National Park target and the overall size of the village.”
A planning officer stated that the Local Plan did not impose a quota on development in any given settlement. He said: “The proposed two new dwellings would mean that over a decade West Witton would have an average of just over two new dwellings per annum. It is considered that this would not be excessive growth for the 7th largest village of 170 addresses and one of the most accessible within the National Park.”
He explained that the two new houses would be built within the side garden of Thistlebout which is on the north side of the A684 at the east end of West Witton. The planning application was for the alteration and extension of Thistlebout, the construction of two houses and change of use of agricultural land to form small gardens for them.
There will be legal agreements on the two houses to secure local occupancy. The parish council had pointed out that these would be offered for sale at full market value.
The planning officer told the meeting that the parish council’s objections to the original plans had included the plan to demolish and re-site a commemorative shelter. The parish council had also been concerned about the size of the development within the boundary of the site. Both issues were addressed, he said, in the amended plans, with the shelter to remain in-situ.
Some residents believed that the extension of Thistlebout and the new houses would have an impact upon the amenity of neighbours and views across the valley from a footpath. There was also concern that the new houses would be detrimental to the character of the village.
But the planning officer stated: “The proposed development of new build housing, extension of an existing dwelling and the change of use of a section of agricultural land is considered to be an opportunity to secure local needs housing on a small windfall infill site that in its siting, scale, form and appearance would be acceptable and not represent an excessive growth in housing in West Witton or harm the visual amenity of the street scene or the landscape, residential amenity and privacy or highway safety.”
This was accepted by the committee without any debate.
The committee unanimously agreed to defer enforcement action against the owners of the Falls Country Park at Beezley Farm for two months to see if the mitigation measures to reduce the impact of unauthorised hard surfacing could be made more effective.
Photographs were shown to explain how the tree planting had, so far, not been sufficiently successful. The officers said that, although the areas of hard surfacing were now far less visible it, the grass growing on the soil scattered on them was unlikely to be sufficient to withstand having caravans parked there.
The committee had deferred enforcement action in March 2020 so that officers could discuss with the owners a tree planting schedule and other ways to tone down the stark appearance of the unauthorised caravan pitches and a circular track. The latter now has a central grass strip.
At the March 2021 meeting the officers recommended that enforcement action should not be pursued and that the owners should be given more time to carry out additional work to further minimise the visual impact on the landscape.