Reports by the ARC News Service on the meeting of Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s ( YDNPA ) planning committee on July 11 2023. The issues discussed were: staff accommodation beside the CB Inn in Arkengarthdale; proposed barn conversions at Grinton and Thorpe; a hair salon at Reeth; urgent rail cutting stabilisation works near Dent; changes to plans for a housing development at Sedbergh; and enforcement action regarding a camping and caravanning site at Kettlewell.
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.
The majority of the members agreed with the planning officer that the socio and economic benefits of providing accommodation for hospitality staff on the old school playing field in Arkengarthdale outweighed the opposition of the local community.
Arkengarthdale Parish councillor Paul Harker told the committee it was the duty of the parish council to report that the community overwhelmingly opposed the application by Charles Cody to build a one- and two-storey building to provide accommodation for staff working at the CB Inn and the Punch Bowl at Low Row.
He said there was considerable concern about the spring water supply and drainage issues, and building on a greenfield site which had been designated as an important open space. He emphasised: ‘The main objection of the community is the building’s location. It will obscure a very well-known iconic view much admired by local residents and visitors alike. The loss of the view is a material planning consideration.’
In response the head of development management, Richard Graham, said: ‘Public views can be a material consideration. What concerns me in this particular location is that this view across the dale isn’t exclusive to this particular place. You can get that from lots of other locations and you can’t protect all of them.’
Cllr Harker disagreed with the planning officer that while that field afforded a high quality view across the valley a similar one could be gained across the car park between the site and the CB Inn.
The planning officer agreed that the field had been designated as an important open space but said this was done when it was in use by the school. The school, however, had closed in 2019. ‘It is considered that the space is no longer needed and, as such, the proposed development of the site would not represent a significant loss in terms of sporting or recreational assets in the area.‘
He reported that once the school closed the land was offered to the parish council but no alternative community need could be identified adding that ownership subsequently reverted to the applicant’s business.
A resident, Jane Ellis , pointed out that since the loss of the district council the parish council was their only local democratic representative. The planning officer’s recommendation to approve the application showed that, yet again, a decision was being made by a larger organisation which would have, she said, a huge negative impact upon the dale, over riding local knowledge.
‘In a small dale like this we work with the nature of the land not against it, and to protect its inheritance,’ she said.
Another resident, Alison Piet, commented that the Authority’s members and officers should be working with the parish council, businesses and local people as custodians of the Yorkshire Dales. ‘Why would anyone in this room want to spoil the natural beauty of Arkengarthdale?’ she asked.
Like Cllr Harker and Mrs Ellis she accepted that staff accommodation was needed but not with the loss of that view. And like them she asked why the accommodation could not be sited closer to the CB Inn rather than on the other side of the large car park.
Charles Cody, who owns the CB Inn and the Punch Bowl, told the committee that constructing the building closer to the pub was not viable. The accommodation, he said, was needed because there were now far fewer young people living in the dales seeking employment in the hospitality trade. He had tried to buy dwellings to provide accommodation but couldn’t compete in the holiday cottage market.
Parish council representative Allen Kirkbride and North Yorkshire councillor Yvonne Peacock supported the parish council and local residents and asked the committee to refuse the application. Both agreed on the necessity of staff accommodation but believed the field was the wrong location.
The planning officer acknowledged that the proposed development did not easily fit with Local Plan policies and that it would ‘cause very limited harm’ to the character and appearance of the Swaledale and Arkenggarthdale Barns and Walls Conservation Area, with the loss of the view across the valley. He concluded: ‘The social and economic benefits of the proposed development are considered to be in line with the business and employment policies of the Local Plan.’
Amendments to the plans for a hair salon and beauty treatment centre next to the business park at Reeth led to the parish council supporting the application by Hannah Allison of Swale Health Spa.
The planning officer explained: ‘The application proposals have been amended so that the building has been turned 90 degrees and positioned as close to the south west corner of the site and the existing buildings of the Reeth Dales Centre as possible.
‘As the main elevation and entrance now face north this is away from the houses on Arkengarthdale Road rather than, as originally proposed, facing directly towards them.’ This, he said, would restrict the impact on residential amenity.
Lisa Bridge, the clerk of Reeth, Fremington and Healaugh Parish Council, said that the parish council had initially objected to the proposal due to its likely impact upon neighbours and as most of it would be on a greenfield site. It changed to supporting the application after it had been amended and because the council wanted to support a local person who was seeking to expand her business. This was supported by Cllrs Kirkbride and Peacock.
But some residents did not agree. Speaking on their behalf at the meeting Dr Jackie Alexander said the building would sited on a wonderful pastoral meadow, would be visible for miles and miles and would harm the quality and intrinsic character of the landscape. She added: ‘The building is the wrong style, the wrong size, the wrong colour and the wrong height.’
This, she said did not fit with the Authority’s Local Plan, but rather that the planning officer was shoe-horning it into policies. Trees and bushes would be lost and it would have a negative impact upon dark skies. She, like other objectors, believed the new facilities for the hair salon and therapy centre should be in the town centre.
Ms Allison told the meeting her business had outgrown its present premises in Arkengarthdale Road and they very much needed toilet and storage facilities plus disabled access. She said she had found it difficult to find a suitable property in the centre of Reeth. The committee unanimously voted to approve her application.
Approval was given for a barn at Grinton to be converted into a short-term holiday let even though the Highways Authority and the parish council objected.
Cllr Kirkbride agreed with Grinton Parish Council that Swale Hall Lane was very narrow. And the Highways Authority stated that, due to the limited visibility at the access on to the road, it considered this development unacceptable in terms of highway safety. Cllr Peacock said the road was part of the Swale Trail and so there were a lot of walkers.
She supported the parish council in its request for an affordable occupation dwelling rather than a holiday let. She said anyone living there permanently would know the road well and so there would be less danger at the access.
The planning officer, however, stated that a one bedroom holiday let was unlikely to generate a substantial number of vehicle movements onto a road which had been shown to be very lightly trafficked. There would be a turning area on the site so that cars could exit onto the road in a forward direction, he said.
Cllrs Kirkbride and Peacock supported the parish council’s argument that this was not a roadside barn in accordance with the Local Plan. Cllr Peacock said the present track to the barn was created in 2012 after the field with the original track was sold. Planning officers, however, put the emphasis on the track being in existence after 2012.
The application included the erection of a new barn to replace a modern one near that to be converted. The latter was described by the planning officer as being of simple, traditional construction.
‘How can we possibly pass something if we haven’t got the final plans?’ asked Westmorland and Furness councillor Ian Mitchell regarding the application by Network Rail to allow rail cutting stabilisation works to be carried out near Dent.
Cllr Mitchell emphasised that they had to be sure the plans were right for the sake of the landowners, the parish council, those living nearby and the landscape. It was unanimously agreed, therefore, to approve the application on the condition that Network Rail works with the planning officers, the landowners and Dent with Cowgill Parish Council to finalise the plans.
The application is for urgent stabilisation work to be carried out on a cutting near the hamlet of Stonehouse where there is evidence of instability. Network Rail has permitted development rights to carry out work on its land but some will extend into neighbouring farmland.
The planning officer reported that the objective was to avoid a landslip onto the track. When such an event occurred in 2019 the line had to be temporarily closed for emergency works, he said.
The work this time will include the installation of a new ‘crest ditch’, designed to capture any surface water and take it to an outfall at Arten Gill Beck to the north. This new ditch requires the installation of crossings to allow the farmer quad bike access to the moor.
The clerk to Dent with Cowgill Parish Council, Scott Thornley, said it recognised the importance of the work for the future of the Settle to Carlisle railway but, as a statutory consultee, it had not received the full and final set of plans. He told the meeting the parish council had not been invited to a drop-in session organised by Network Rail in June this year.
The parish council, he said, was concerned about flooding due to the increase flow of water in Arten Gill Beck during heavy rainfall. ‘The parish council has worked closely with the Highways Authority for two to three years repairing flood damage and work to mitigate local flooding and it would be remiss of the council not to prevent further flood risk in the parish.’
The planning officer stated that the plans included fitting the new ditch with baffles to slow the movement of water and so reduce the risk of flooding.
The parish council was also concerned about heavy vehicles using a narrow single track road, the possibility of dry stone walls being removed and the impact upon the residents of Stonehouse.
The planning officer said that there was the potential of residents being affected by noise, dust light pollution and heavy construction traffic. Network Rail would, therefore, be asked take measures to reduce such impacts and to limit construction hours to between 8am and 6pm on weekdays and 8am to 1pm on Saturdays. The company had, however, stated work may have to be carried out sometimes from 10pm on Saturdays to 8am on Sundays when trains were not running.
Emma Richardson, a local landowner, said: ‘Whilst we support the work, it needs to be done sympathetically towards us landowners. We need to work here, we have to have access to the fields and fells for the livestock.’ She was especially concerned about the location of the crossings.
The application includes the construction of an improved access and temporary work compound plus a haul road from the compound up to the cutting.
The quality of a housing development in Sedbergh should not be downgraded for the sole financial benefit of the developer, Sedbergh Parish Council told committee.
At the meeting members were asked to agree to Broadacres changing its approved proposal for 49 dwellings on land off Station Road by relocating the electrical substation, amending the infiltration basin and road surface colours, changing the landscaping and removing the stone window and door heads to the rears of 27 houses.
The parish council informed the Authority that it had no objection to the majority of the amendments but added: ‘[Parish council] embers, however, strongly object to the down grading of the quality of the scheme by the removal of stone window/door heads to the rears of plots 16 to 42.
‘The scheme has already changed In terms of its provision of affordable housing and to now lower the quality of the build for the sole financial benefit of the developer would deliver in perpetuity to the community of Sedbergh housing below the specification originally envisaged and agreed.
‘Members noted the implication that this had been pre-agreed with the planning officer. We feel that such a decision should not be dealt with by delegated powers but should be for the developers to prove their case in front of YDNP members at planning committee.’
The planning officer said that Broadacres proposed to reduce the number of road surfacing materials so that the main circulation route was mostly tarmac.
Westmorland and Furness councillor Graham Simpkins commented: ‘They are actually making considerable savings with the road covering because tarmac is a lot cheaper to lay.’
The majority of the committee, therefore, agreed to approve most of the application, but not that for removing the stone window and door heads.
The decision in May to allow a barn near Thorpe to be converted into a holiday let was overturned at the meeting on July 11.
North Yorkshire councillor Richard Foster had successfully argued at the committee’s meeting in May that Dowgill Barn should be converted into a holiday let even though it is 40m from the B6160 and there is no track to it. He repeated at the meeting on July 11 that the barn could not be seen from the road and it needed to be converted not only to stop it from decaying but also to support the viability of the farm.
In support, Cllr Kirkbride said: ‘This is farm diversification – and farm diversification should be most welcome.’
The previous decision was referred back so that officers could assess the validity or soundness of the reasons for not accepting the planning officer’s recommendation to refuse the application.
At the July meeting the head of development management, Richard Graham, told members: ‘I am very concerned this would be a departure from Local Policy.’
North Yorkshire councillor David Ireton commented: ‘We have a very good policy for barn conversions. I don’t see how this barn can fit into the policies that we members adopted. It’s too isolated in that landscape.’
The planning officer stated: ‘There are other options for the reuse of the barn with a less intensive use such as a camping barn ( i.e. basic bothy accommodation / a “stone tent”) which would suit this isolated location, and therefore see the retention and repair of the barn.
‘The property, whether a holiday let, or permanent dwelling would require a safe off-road parking area. The proposed parking area would involve the removal of a length of wall to create an entrance, the stone boundary wall will be lowered to 1.0m towards the east to create the necessary visibility splays of 2m x 45m. This …would have a harmful visual impact on the rural unspoilt character of this stretch of roadside.’
She added: ‘Many businesses within the National Park are facing difficult times at the moment owing to the current economic crisis, and uncertainty over the single farm payments and the move to a post Brexit agricultural economy are affecting farming in particular.
‘The applicant currently farms 250 acres of land in sheep and beef cattle, but this has recently been reduced from340 acres as the landlord has sold off a portion of land. The applicant’s family wish to carry on the family business when the applicant retires in the future and this holiday let would assist in ensuring the viability of the farm.’
These, she said, were personal circumstances and as such could only be taken into account if they were very exceptional. ‘These reasons do not apply specifically to this applicant and the circumstances, whilst compelling, are not an exception,’ she said.
The majority of the members accepted her recommendation to refuse the application by John Schindler.
An enforcement notice will be issued to stop fields at Low Hall Farm, Kettlewell, being used as a permanent camping and caravan site.
An enforcement officer told the committee that the caravans on the site were clearly visible not only to those living nearby but also from a distance.
Member Derek Twine commented: ‘[Recently when] I was walking down into Kettlewell it was clearly visible with large and numerous white caravans and campervans and this significantly marred the enjoyment of the view and the heritage view.’
The enforcement officer showed photographs of how close these were to some residences. She stated: ‘The unauthorised use of the land as a permanent caravan/camp site has introduced a more intensive use than had previously taken place. Photographic evidence shows that there are times when the site accommodates a large number of caravans and campervans.
‘Clearly this level of usage generates a significant degree of noise and activity arising from vehicles arriving and leaving the site and activity from visitors on the site setting up camp and enjoying meals outside sometimes until late hours. Given the close proximity of residential properties, in many cases only separated from the campers by a low stone boundary wall, this level of noise and activity would undoubtedly be disturbing to a level exceeding what residents would reasonably expect.
‘Furthermore the stationing of caravans and campervans against the wall separating the site from resident’s gardens clearly undermines privacy enjoyed by residents in their gardens and homes. The unauthorised use adversely affects residents enjoyment of their gardens and properties to a high degree and is a significant increase in what had been the case previously.’
She reported that the application for a Lawful Development Certificate for a permanent seasonal camping and caravanning site had been refused and that an appeal had been lodged. The owners’ agent had requested that no formal enforcement action be taken until that had been determined.
She continued: ‘Waiting for the outcome of the appeal will mean that there is potential for this site to continue to cause harm for residents for another year. If a [enforcement] notice is served it is open to the owners to also submit an appeal against the notice and potentially the Planning Appeal and Enforcement Appeal can be dealt with at the same time.’
She said that as an unregistered site it could still be used, under permitted development rights, for caravan rallies that last no longer than five days, and for camping and caravanning for 28 days in a year.
The majority of members voted for an enforcement notice to be served.