ARC News Service reports on the meeting of the planning committee of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) on June 22 2022 when the following were discussed: increasing letting rooms at Fell View Barn for The Angel Inn at Hetton; the future of the affordable housing in a development at Horton in Ribblesdale; touring caravan pitches at Swaleview Caravan Park, Swaledale; and an enforcement notice concerning work carried out around a former Wesleyan chapel in Ravenstonedale.
Pip Pointon regularly reports on these meetings on a voluntary basis as part of the commitment of the Association of Rural Communities to local democracy.
The Angel Inn was once the hub of Hetton, but is now a 21-bedroom ‘hotel’ which over dominates the centre of the village a resident, Richard Jackson, told the committee.
The owners of the Inn, Wellock Estates, have applied for planning permission to erect an extension to Fell View Barn to increase the number of hotel suites there from five to ten. At the planning meeting Richard Armstrong, on behalf of Hetton cum Bordley Parish Meeting, successfully requested a site meeting so that members could see the situation themselves – and especially the preliminary plans for car parking.
The planning officer stated, when recommending approval: ‘It is recognised that the village does experience a high level of visitors to the hotel due to its popularity and that causes concerns to local residents. However, unlike the previously refused scheme [in 2019] which would have resulted in a shortfall of 34 parking spaces, it is considered that the current proposal is much more modest and the scale is proportionate to the current business and would not result with significant impact to the village.’
She reported that an application for ten letting bedrooms in the barn was refused in 1995 and a year later the Authority gave approval for staff to be accommodated there. In 2002 that was changed to five letting rooms.
Mr Armstrong explained that Fell View Barn was part of a complex of buildings in the centre of Hetton owned by Wellock Estates, with the area around them being used for car parking. He pointed out that three years ago a traffic expert had told the planning committee, on behalf of Wellock Estates, that there would be sufficient parking at Fell View Barn if it was converted into a restaurant and guest accommodation.
He said the planning officer had recommended approval of that application but the committee, after a site meeting, had unanimously refused it. When an appeal inspector stated there would be a three-day appeal inquiry Wellock Estates had withdrawn the application citing financial reasons, he added.
‘You are now faced with a similar situation,’ he told members. This included a traffic report which he said should be treated with suspicion. Both he and Mr Jackson told the meeting that the car parking plan for Fell View Barn was based upon data from 2006 when cars were smaller needing a turning radius of 5.9m. Today a Range Rover Sport required a turning radius of almost 13m, Mr Armstrong said. Mr Jackson described the layout for parking at Fell View Barn as over-ambitious and would lead to the drivers of large vehicles parking on the road.
They said that no accommodation nor parking spaces were provided for the staff. There was only a limited bus service until 6.30pm with none running on Sundays, so staff and visitors had to drive to Hetton.
Mr Jackson listed the three other properties Wellock Estates had bought and turned into holiday lets and said: ‘In total, at this point in time, The Angel has moved from the original position of five letting bedrooms to a total of 21 bedrooms.’ He added that the total frontage of the properties in the centre of the village was more than 150m.
North Yorkshire County councillor Robert Heseltine supported the parish meeting’s request for a site meeting stating: ‘The speakers have given rational and cogent reasons for us to be cautious again over this application. We were proved right last time [about] significant over development.’
When the senior legal officer, Clare Bevan, pointed out that site meetings were costly and asked if the request met the Authority’s criteria for one, he responded: ‘Transparency and democracy is all important.’
North Yorkshire County councillor Yvonne Peacock stated: ‘It certainly makes a lot of difference when you actually see the site.’
The majority of members voted to defer making any decision until a site meeting had been held.
Horton in Ribblesdale
It was agreed that a housing development at Horton in Ribblesdale can go ahead even if there is no on-site affordable housing.
The planning officer explained that in November 2019 the committee had given permission for five open market and four affordable housing units to be built at Rowe Garth. One of the conditions was that the affordable housing provision should be secured by the involvement of the applicant Craven District Council as the registered provider. But Craven District Council has been unable to progress as the registered provider she said. It has now applied to amend the application to include what the planning officer described as the ‘fall-back position within the Section 106 agreement in the form of a commuted sum in lieu of the on-site affordable housing provision’ should no other registered provider be found.
Richmondshire District councillor Richard Good said: ‘My concern is … are we going to lose an opportunity of affordable housing?’ He asked why Craven District Council would no longer be the registered provider.
The planning officer replied: ‘My understanding of it is that there was a commitment to delivering a lot of new infrastructure which rendered it unviable to the designated provider. I think that is why others haven’t come forward.
‘If they can’t get a registered provider then they would have to pay a commuted sum. The expectation would be that is put towards affordable housing in the locality. At the very most, I would have thought it would be in the Craven part of the National Park but that would be [up to] the housing authority.’
North Yorkshire County councillor Yvonne Peacock asked about the criteria for allocating affordable housing for rent. She said the Authority’s criteria had not been followed by a housing association which said it had acted correctly in accordance with its own.
Richard Graham, the head of development management, replied: ‘It’s our policy and included in every legal agreement that affordable housing should be made available first of all for people who live in the parish, then cascades out to those who meet the criteria, to those in surrounding parishes, and so on to the wider district or National Park area. We are not a housing authority nor are we a registered provider. Allocation of the housing is dealt with by the registered provider or the housing authority – so they make the decisions [about] who will get that housing.’ He said he would contact a housing association if there was evidence that the Authority’s criteria was not being followed.
Cllr Good told the committee that Craven District and Richmondshire District Councils were part of a consortium in Yorkshire (Yorkshire Housing) which makes the letting arrangements. ‘I don’t think we have a lot of control,’ he said.
The Yorkshire Dales can’t afford to lose caravan and camping pitches Richmondshire District councillor John Amsden told the committee.
The majority of members agreed with him and voted to refuse permission for Swaleview Caravan Park to replace a minimum of 15 of 30 touring caravan pitches with 16 static caravans. Five touring pitches would be created elsewhere.
Andrew Carter, proprietor of the caravan park, said they ensured that those staying there could not use caravans as permanent residences. Hudswell and District Parish Council supported the application and had told the committee: ‘his site has always been operated in a responsible manner, causing no problems and providing good quality longer term holiday accommodation. The applicants have tried short term lets which have not been viable and restrictive to their business.
‘Most important is their assertion that longer term lets would free more properties for those who wish to live full-time in the area, bringing more economic growth to the area.’
The planning officer stated: ‘It is this scenario that the Authority’s policy seeks to avoid. The policy was developed in response to an increasing trend for touring sites to be converted to private static sites or to more expensive lodges, or even permanent park home type sites where single statics were converted to double units without the need for planning permission. There are locations within the Park where this form of development has taken place with permanent harmful effects on the character and appearance of the landscape.’
He added that any significant reduction in the availability of short-term holiday pitches would have a detrimental effect on the Authority’s tourism strategy.
Cllr Good commented: ‘This is probably one of the better caravan sites I have ever seen. It is extremely well run. I don’t have a problem with people staying a bit longer as long as they can’t stay 12 months but I do have a big problem with reducing the number of touring caravans. There are still a lot of people who use touring vans.’
Cllr Robert Heseltine warned that if the application was approved it would create a very serious precedent.
‘This must be one of the worst examples of compliance… I’ve seen in 42 years on the National Park,’ Cllr Heseltine told the committee after seeing the slides shown by the enforcement officer, Ian Faircloth, of the work undertaken around a former Wesleyan Chapel in Ravenstonedale.
The committee voted unanimously for an enforcement notice to be served for the removal of works which were not approved in the planning permission granted in February 2021. These include the reinstatement of land to the west and south of the site; and the removal of an unauthorised car parking space and the new access to the A683.
The chapel is at the junction of the A683 with Murthwaite Lane between Sedbergh and Kirkby Stephen. The planning permission allowed an access onto Murthwaite Lane as there were concerns about oneto the busy A683.
Mr Faircloth told the committee that in May 2021 Rangers reported extensive engineering works to the west and south of the chapel exceeding those shown in the approved plans. They had also reported that the car parking area was further west of the chapel; that the package treatment plant had been installed to the south of it outside the red line development area; and terraced areas had been created in the hillside with retaining pre-cast interlocking blocks.
He stated: ‘During a site meeting on 30 June 2021, the owner advised that drainage problems had resulted in the relocation of the car park and package treatment plant. The owner indicated an intention to install stone facing to the pre-cast concrete blocks and further advised his intention to retain terraced areas in the hillside in conjunction with the installation of camping pods, a workshop/”man bar”, chicken sheds and housing for lambs. The owner indicated an intention to submit an application in respect of the unauthorised works but has not done so.’’
Mr Faircloth showed slides to illustrate that: ‘These breaches manifest on the site as a significant scar on the landscape and, although in places to be softening through seeding with grass, the overall impact remains significant and at odds with the approval for a more constrained and less visually intrusive development. The adverse impact on the visual quality and landscape character of the area is significant, and the new access to the highway has not been tested through the planning process with consequent concerns over highway safety remaining.’
Cllr Peacock commented: ‘It’s appalling what they’ve done. One thing I do not want to see is retrospective [application] because that is what often happens. They come back later expecting us to agree… because it’s already done. That gets me really cross.’
Member Jim Munday added: ‘These isolated chapels on the road to Kirkby Lonsdale are some of the most charming in the area.’
And Cllr Heseltine said: ‘This applicant has completely destroyed the simplicity of the rural setting of this remote chapel. It’s the remoteness in the landscape that gives them the character. This has been urbanised to a very significant degree and it’s not acceptable. I wish we could do more than just put enforcement on.’
Cllr Amsden wondered why enforcement action hadn’t been started earlier.