ARC News Service reports on the meeting of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s ( YDNPA) meeting at Grassington on November 30. The issues discussed were: a shed to house sheep at Cogden Hall farm near Grinton; two holiday-let pods at Sedbergh; the provision of purpose-built accommodation at a farm at Flasby; and enforcement action regarding the removal of a telecommunication mast at Hartington.
“We have got to send the right message out that this Yorkshire Dale National Park does encourage young farmers,” North Yorks County councillor Yvonne Peacock told the YDNPA planning committee at its meeting on November 30.
But by a vote of seven to five the committee refused the application by J Allison and Sons to erect a 54.9m by 13.7m shed to house sheep at Cogden Hall farm, Grinton.
Member Mark Corner * said: “I have no issue … with the need to have a new building on the farm. My concern is the location – it literally sticks out like a sore thumb if you look at that schematic. I just feel its in the wrong place.”
The “schematic” shown by the planning officer throughout the discussion powerfully emphasised his argument that: “The proposed agricultural building, by virtue of its siting, scale and massing, would result in an adverse impact upon the scenic beauty of the National Park landscape, would not conserve the character and appearance of the Swaledale and Arkengarthdale Conservation Area and would harm the significance of grade II listed Cogden Hall through intrusion to its natural setting.” The brown and green colouring on the “schematic” was barely visible but the long black “shed” definitely did.
The Authority’s member champion for development management, Lancashire County councillor Jim Munday, agreed with Mr Corner and stated: “This [would be] three and a half metres to the eaves and five and a half metres high. How tall are sheep?”
After the vote Cllr Peacock pointed out that the farmers would need to use tractors in the shed.
The applicant, Stephen Allison, had told the committee that the farm, which supports four households of 13 people and the long term rental of a further six households, had been Marks and Spencers’ Swaledale lamb producers of the year in 2020 and 2021. They needed to prepare for farm subsidies to halve by 2024 and wanted to introduce environmentally-friendly measures such as not wintering sheep on the moors so as not to poach but to protect the land.
He said: “My cousin and I have young families and we are both in our early 30s. The building is of standard width and length for what is necessary to provide sufficient housing to accommodate 336 sheep and their lambs. It is important to ensure there is sufficient access to the central passage to feed check and bed up the sheep with a tractor. The site was chosen because that is where the need is and two other farm workers live on site. Additionally no other site is available to accommodate the required size.
“We believe the concerns of the adverse impact upon the scenic beauty of the landscape and the harm to Cogden Hall farm are grossly overstated. We therefore commissioned a heritage impact assessment which concluded the building would have an entirely acceptable level of impact upon the historic environment. We also assisted with the preparation of a visual impact assessment which found the building would have a minimal impact on the landscape. The visual impact was a major consideration and much thought was given to the potential effect both on the site and the wider landscape. A landscaping plan has therefore been proposed to plant trees to lessen any impact and to break up its massing from both near and far.”
He disagreed with the statement in the planning officer’s report that the shed would be located on raised ground. He stated: “The site is in a natural dip and would additionally be further built into the ground. It will not be over dominant and intrusive.”
Richmondshire District councillor Richard Good agreed with him. He accepted that the shed would be big. But the footpaths around it, he said, were rarely used and there was only a small gap along the B6270 where it might be visible. He added: “If you are travelling at ten miles an hour you might just see it.”
He did not feel that the planning officer had clearly explained that the sheep needed to come off the moors in winter for environmental reasons which fulfilled one of the requirements of the National Park.
This was an opportunity, he said, to encourage farming and added: “Dales farming is traditional but we have to modernise it [and] this is a great opportunity with a young farming family… with lots of new ideas and lots of enthusiasm.”
He asked the committee to remember that although Cogden Hall was a listed building it had been home to a farming family for many years and would remain so.
Supporting his call to approve the application, North Yorkshire County councillor Yvonne Peacock stated: “I was pleased to see this application because for once we have got a young farmer wanting to farm. And not only himself but his whole family and his cousins.”
She pointed out that the YDNPA has a policy of encouraging people to visit the Yorkshire Dales – and that much of the beautiful scenery they came for had been created by farmers. She argued, therefore, that it was in the public interest to encourage farmers. But farmers could not continue to farm as they had in the past.
“We don’t know what the government’s going to come up with – and we know things in the future could be very very difficult. I want to see farmers making their farms viable. If we don’t encourage them now we might find that our beautiful dales will not be [worth] visiting,” she said.
Richmondshire District councillor John Amsden commented: “This is environmental land management. It’s a management tool not just a building. There are lots more buildings a lot more prominent than this one in Swaledale. I think you ought to get Google maps out and have a look. All this government thinks about is tourism and in the next ten years agriculture is going to be in a very sad state. We are going to be importing more food [causing] more pollution.”
After the proposal to approve the application was rejected Cllr Good said that there should have been a site visit so that members could have seen the location for themselves.
One of those who voted against approval was Derek Twine who commented afterwards: “I sense that some of members who voted against would be pleased to a further application at a later date which took note of the issues about the size and the style and the location.”
- Mark Corner is a trustee of the Friends of the Yorkshire Dales which describes itself as an independent watchdog on planning issues.
The application for two holiday-let pods and a pedestrian broadwalk in the extensive private grounds of a house in New Street, Sedbergh, was approved even though the parish council had made a strong objection.
Sedbergh Parish Council felt that the application lacked merit and was concerned about the environmental impact, loss of amenity to neighbours and access and parking. There is no parking available at the pod site and the planning officer commented that those arriving by car would have to take their chances of finding a space in Joss Lane car park. He added that many might come by bike or on foot.
Member Allen Kirkbride said that many parts of the Yorkshire Dales had parking problems and it was getting worse. Both he and Cllr Peacock asked if this problem could be considered when planning applications were being assessed.
The head of development management, Richard Graham, told them, however, that issues with parking were not a reason for refusing an application.
The planning officer stated: “The proposals are for small-scale visitor accommodation and …is not considered to be detrimental to neighbours, highway safety, trees, the environment or wildlife in any significant way.”
He reported that no protected wildlife habitat would be destroyed and the application did include compensatory planting and habitat enhancement. He added that given the distance between the pods and nearby houses and their being sited among trees the environmental health officer believed there would be little impact on neighbours.
Just one of the committee members abstained from voting to approve the application.
After a month waiting for a final decision on their application for purpose-built accommodation at Bark Laithe Farm at Flasby Robin and Wendy Riley watched as the majority of the committee voted this time to refuse it.
In October the majority of the committee approved the application but this was against the planning officer’s recommendation and so it was referred back. At the November meeting members were told the first decision was contrary to the Authority’s policy and so was neither sound nor valid.
She stated that Mr Riley had not shown there were exceptional reasons to approve his application to replace timber stables with a detached building suitable for his handicapped wife. She said: “Clearly there is sympathy for Mr and Mrs Riley’s circumstances however decreasing mobility with age or age-related health problems is a very common condition and, it is considered, neither exceptional nor ‘special’. Many people live with such problems through adaptions to their existing living accommodation.’
Mr Corner commented: “I cannot see why the building [farmhouse] built in the 1980s can’t be satisfactorily adapted. The floor area of the house is larger than that proposed in the new dwelling.” Like the planning officer he said that, if the application was approved, the proposed design was out of character on the farmstead and would need to be reconsidered.
Mr Kirkbride disagreed and said Mrs Riley’s handicapped situation should be considered. He added that the new building within the farmstead would not stand out.
The committee, however, voted by seven to five to refuse the application. After the vote Mr Kirkbride questioned the system that did not provide Mr Riley with the right to comment on the planning officer’s report at that meeting. (Applicants can only address the planning committee once and Mr Riley did so at the October meeting.)
Unanimous approval was given for enforcement action to be taken immediately to ensure that a 10m high telecommunication mast near Hartington is removed.
The committee was told that the Authority had refused an application to install a mast and associated works at Dibbles Bridge near Hartington because these would be in a prominent and highly visible location harming the natural beauty of the upland landscape and the setting of the Fancari stone circle which is a Scheduled Ancient Monument. ESN (Emergency Services Network) and EE Ltd appealed the decision and in early 2018 went ahead with the installation of the mast.
In June 2018 the appeal was dismissed. It was then agreed that a mast could be erected at the entrance to Stump Cross Caverns and the work was completed in July 2021. The mast at Hartington, however, has not been removed.
Pip Pointon reports on these meetings on a voluntary basis as part of the commitment of the Association of Rural Communities to local democracy.