Reports by the ARC News Service on the meeting of Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s ( YDNPA ) planning committee on May 30 2023. The issues discussed were: a communications mast near Buckden; a housing development at Horton in Ribblesdale; a barn conversion at Thorpe; the proposal to have four luxury pods at High Fellside, Middleton; and extensions to a house at Grassington.
Pip Pointon reports on these meetings on a voluntary basis as part of the commitment of the Association of Rural Communities (ARC) to local democracy.
‘Should rural residents be denied what other areas enjoy?’ North Yorkshire councillor Robert Heseltine asked when the committee debated the application to construct a 4G shared communications mast above Buckden. The majority of the members agreed and the application was approved.
The planning officer told the meeting that the 25 metre high lattice tower would have some significant landscape and visual impacts but this had to be assessed in relationship to the need for it. He explained that the 3G mast which presently provides limited mobile phone coverage for Buckden and Hubberholme will be switched off by Vodaphone later this year.
He quoted Buckden Parish Council that the removal of the 3G service would leave the area without any coverage and the proposed new mast would benefit residents, businesses, community services, visitors and future generations.
It had also been pointed out that the provision of the new mast was part of the Shared Rural Network initiative between the government and operators that would not be repeated in the near future.
Member Mark Corner (who is a trustee of the Friends of the Dales), however, stated: ‘ Our purpose is to conserve the landscape and the natural beauty of the area and this undoubtedly damages it. Our socio-economic [purpose] should be second to that, although I do think the parish council made a very vigorous, in-depth analysis.
The parish council recognised the need for line-of-sight for signal coverage but said this meant the mast would be visible. It emphasised that the lack of mobile phone coverage would have an impact upon the quality of life and the sustainability of the social and economic community of the parish.
It added that the lack of effective mobile coverage was already having an impact upon the safety of those walking in the area, and access to health services and such cost-saving facilities as smart meters. In addition, the electric vehicle charging station in the YDNPA’s car park at Buckden was only usable by 20 per cent of users at present – and by none when the Vodaphone mast is switched off. It was concerned about the access to the site when the new mast was being constructed and the electric supply to it.
The planning officer said that the equipment for the mast would be delivered by helicopter. The applicant, Cornerstones, will also first have to obtain approval for the power source for the mast. Members were told this might be solar panels and/or a diesel generator.
Horton in Ribblesdale
Members approved the latest application for a development at Rowe Garth in Horton in Ribblesdale because they wanted to see some affordable homes built there.
North Yorkshire councillors Yvonne Peacock and Richard Foster spoke of the need for sites that were socially and economically viable even if the provision was less than originally expected.
Parish council representative member Allen Kirkbride also emphasised that new open market houses should be for permanent residence and not be used as holiday lets. And Cllr Foster commented: ‘We need to make sure the properties are built and are lived in.’
In November 2019 the committee had approved an application for a development of nine dwellings which would include four affordable homes provided by the then Craven District Council acting as the Registered Provider. By June 2022, however, Craven District Council, had informed the YDNPA that it could not do so. Without a Registered Provider the applicant stated the development would be unviable and was given permission to pay a commuted sum in lieu of providing affordable housing on the site.
This year the applicant informed the YDNPA that this was not viable either and put forward another scheme. This involves providing two First Homes, one Principal Residency, and dividing one of the dwellings to create two affordable rent flats.
The planning officer explained that First Homes had to be discounted by a minimum of 30 per cent of market value and sold only to those meeting the First Homes eligibility criteria. She said this would provide four affordable housing units which would be made available on a ‘cascade’ basis, first to Horton In Ribblesdale parish, then to adjoining parishes within the National Park, then to the entire National Park and finally to the whole of the local housing authority area.
A dwelling restricted by a principal residency condition, she said, usually led to a reduction in the market value by up to five per cent. The barn on the site will be converted to create a local occupancy dwelling.
The planning officer stated that the applicant had provided sufficient site-specific evidence to support this latest application.
Thorpe – By just one vote it was decided not to accept the officer’s recommendation to refuse the application to convert Dowgill Barn at Thorpe into a holiday let or for local occupancy. But that means it has been referred back to the planning committee meeting on July 11.
Cllr Foster was among those who argued that converting the barn into a holiday let would not only save it from falling into disrepair but also help to keep Dowgill Farm viable. Cllr Heseltine commented: ‘These are desperate times for tenanted farmers.’
Hannah Schindler, on behalf of her family, explained how the viability of the farm had changed recently. She said three generations of her family had farmed there using traditional methods. They wanted to conserve the beautiful barns and protect the wild life but needed to diversify, she said.
Cllr Foster told the meeting that although the barn was not visible from the road he believed there would be less impact upon the countryside if it was converted for holiday use only. ‘This is a good way of keeping a heritage asset and keeping a local farm viable – and the parish supports it.’
Other members, however, pointed out that the application was ‘far against present policy’. The planning officer told the meeting that the barn was 40m from the B6160 and there was no existing track to it. This meant that converting it was not in accordance with the Authority’s roadside barn policy. She did accept that converting it into a camping barn might be.
There was another very close vote following the debate about allowing four camping pods to be sited at High Fellside, Middleton near Carnforth – but this time the application was refused.
The applicant’s agent told the meeting that the camping pods would increase the variety of visitor accommodation; extend the tourism season and help to reduce the pressure on housing stock being used for holiday lets. The pods would be sited alongside an existing small woodland to minimise their impact on the landscape and there would be more trees planted to provide screening he said. He added that the landowner also aimed to introduce wild flower meadows to increase bio diversity.
The planning officer told the meeting that the proposal was for four luxury camping pods in an isolated location at High Fellside close to Middleton Bridge. Each would be clad in larch with an artificial AstroTurf roof and have patio doors opening out onto timber decking. The decking would be enclosed with stained timber balustrades. She said there would be a track for vehicles and a parking area in an adjacent field.
Several members said it would be against policy to approve such a development in the open countryside and member Jim Munday commented: ‘It’s wide open country and a super landscape… with long views.’
Parish council representative member Libby Bateman, however, said that after five years the impact upon the landscape would be minimal due to the growth of the new trees. ‘Why can’t people from away benefit from the enjoyment of this iconic landscape?’ she asked.
Approval was quickly given for extensions to be erected on the side and rear of 1 Hardy Grange at Grassington.
The planning officer explained that this had to brought to the planning committee as the applicant was employed by the Authority and there had been an objection by a neighbour.
She said the dwelling was described as a non-designated heritage asset and was within the Grassington Conservation Area. A neighbour believed that the boundary wall had monastic origins linked to Fountains Abbey but the Authority’s senior historic environment officer said there was no data on the Historic Environment Record to support this.
The planning officer concluded that the extensions would complement the property and not have a harmful impact on the residential amenity of neighbours or on historic assets.
Grassington Parish Council reported that it could not unanimously agree on comments on this application. There was no debate at the planning committee meeting and the application was approved unanimously.