YDNPA – planning committee August 2023

Reports by the ARC News Service on the meeting of  Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s  ( YDNPA ) planning committee on August 22, 2023 when the following were discussed: development of business site by DSMC at Catchall Barn, Linton;  barn conversion on business site at Bainbridge to provide residence for vets;  proposed caretaker’s accommodation in chapel for community use at Aysgarth;  conversion of Geslings Barn at Dent; and two applications regarding Ingledene at Burtersett.

Pip Pointon reports on these meetings as part of the commitment of the Association of Rural Communities to local democracy.

Linton – It was agreed that green fields at Catchall Barn near Linton can be transformed into a business site.

Linton Parish Council had objected to the application by Diving, Survey & Marine Contracting (DSMC) of Threshfield to using the barn as an office,  the erection of four storage buildings and a covered internal storage area for shipping containers off Lauradale Lane near the junction with the B6265.

Linton Parish councillor Sarah Hill told the meeting a primary concern was that the junction with the B6265 was a dangerous one and there had been accidents there. In addition, she said: ‘The scale of the proposed development with four new large industrial storage units and 18 parking spaces is inappropriate for this site which is the gateway to some beautiful scenery.’

She reminded the committee that the fields had not been identified in the Authority’s Local Plan as a business development site and the parish council was concerned about how a change to industrial use might lead to further applications in the future. The parish council had stated earlier: ‘The preservation of the statutory protected landscape must take precedence over DSMC’s expansion plans.’

Charlie Bayston told the committee that DSMC, which he founded in 2014 and has been based at Threshfield since 2015, carries out commercial diving often using robot operated deep water vehicles, as well as its ‘bread and butter’ work on reservoirs, flood defences, rivers, culverts and bridges including in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

He said he currently employs ten local staff and could employ ten more. ‘Catchall Barn has the potential to provide us with bespoke under cover facilities with more space in which we can operate and grow. As well as offering jobs in general administration, accounting and support roles, we can teach local young people skills in hydraulics, pneumatics, electronics and engineering. Skills that will provide them with well-paid careers allowing them to live here. As a resident here I recognise the need to protect the character of the area and I am convinced that this application will achieve that.’

The planning officer explained that compared to a previous application which had been refused the proposed buildings had been reduced in height to have as minimal impact on the landscape as possible and there would be a significant number of trees and bushes planted to screen the site. She said: ‘The proposed development … is supported by a raft of wider, more strategic Local Plan policies underpinned by current government guidance. The Local Plan aims to encourage businesses to sustain the local economy and to widen the range of businesses on offer expanding out from the traditional agricultural and tourism sectors to provide a more diverse and resilient economy.’

She said the buildings would house a number of shipping containers which would be moved out in the spring and be returned in the autumn so that the equipment used for oceanographic surveys, monitoring and surveying the seabed, could be maintained, cleaned and repaired. She added that Mr Bayston had sought several times to base the business in Threshfield Quarry but the site managers were reticent in allowing developers into it.

Member Mark Corner commented: ‘I am very supportive of the business investing in the dales but my concern is the site and location. It’s a real shame and waste of resources to dig  up this green field when we have existing facilities available to use.’

North Yorkshire councillor Richard Foster, however, spoke for the majority of members when he said: ‘This is a difficult one for the parish [of Linton] but this is a successful business. It isn’t tourism, it isn’t agriculture. It is paying more than the minimum wage to its staff. For me – this is keeping people living in the local area. It is for local young people and its helping to provide infrastructure for the nation.’ As the staff came from Grassington and Threshfield he did not feel they should have to travel to somewhere such as Langcliffe Mill which had been suggested as a more suitable alternative site.

Member Jim Munday agreed: ‘What we need are careers which can actually help people to live here.’ And North Yorkshire councillor Robert Heseltine commented that the buildings would not look much different to those on a farm.

North Yorkshire councillor Yvonne Peacock said that there was a shortage of business sites in the National Park and this business was needed.

Bainbridge – An old engine shed in what was the Station Yard at Askrigg can be converted into a four-bedroom  house to provide accommodation for Bainbridge Vets Ltd even though planning officers had recommended refusal.

A senior planning officer reminded members that  business sites were scarce in the National Park so they needed to be strongly protected. She said: ‘It is departing quite significantly from our employment strategy by using part of the site for non-employment use. In the officer’s report it does recognise that a case can be made for some provision on the site but just whether at this scale and if this is the right way to achieve it.’

The applicants, vets Davinia Hinde and Michael Woodhouse, had stated there was a need for onsite accommodation for the supervision of hospitalised animals, supervision of junior staff, site security such as costly equipment and medicines, out of hours support for staff, overnight accommodation for staff and students, and to reduce the need for journeys through Askrigg during out of hours duties.

Askrigg and Low Abbotside Parish Council had stated that the vet’s business was an asset to the local community and an important employer. But it did not believe that the need for overnight presence on the site justified creating a large detached four-bedroom family house.

Parish council member Allen Kirkbride, however, said converting the old engine shed would be a planning gain given the condition it was in and the veterinary practice provided employment with good wages to local people.  He reported that the two other businesses on the site (a coal yard and a brewery) supported the application. ‘They were always worried about security and safety in the area. Vets living on site in a reasonable sized place would help.’ He added that there were two other possible business development sites in Askrigg.

Parish council member Libby Bateman commented: ‘There is a real need –  this business can accommodate its employees, its trainees, its next generation, and that it’s also able to do that on a site that’s near to where the business is and be able to be on call and near to the surgery if people need to bring animals in late at night.’

The majority of members agreed but asked for a  legal agreement tying the converted building to the veterinary practice.

The senior planning officer said that, as the decision to approve was against officer’s recommendation, the head of development management will consider if it needs to be referred back to the next meeting.

Aysgarth – The application by the not-for-profit organisation, Dream Heritage CIC*, to convert part of the former Methodist chapel in Aysgarth into accommodation for a caretaker, artisans and exhibitors was deferred.

The planning officer reported that it was  proposed to convert the former chapel to a mixed use comprising education and residential elements. The residential element would extend to no more than 30% of the gross internal floor area and would comprise a caretaker’s flat with mezzanine floor in what was formerly a meeting room, and a bedroom above the former vestry. The remainder of the building would be used for educational purposes by Dream Heritage CIC which runs educational courses teaching heritage crafts, building conservation and repair and traditional crafts. The proposal includes a workshop/teaching space in the principal room, with ancillary kitchen and toilet. There would be no alterations to the outside of the building.

Aysgarth and District Parish Council had strongly  objected. It’s reasons included: ‘The chapel was sold at a reduced price lower than market rate with a restrictive covenant for community use. The community has not been consulted about the potential use for the chapel. Aysgarth Institute provides a wealth of community facilities and does not have the need for accommodation. The committee and local volunteers take care of the building maintenance, cleaning, opening/closing, etc.’

The planning officer told the committee: ‘The applicant argues that the proposed use is a “community use” since their heritage work will be of benefit to the wider Dales community, and is in line with the statutory purposes of the National Park. Further, it is argued that those attending residential courses in the building will stay in local B&Bs or camp sites and thus bring economic benefits to the local community.

‘While the proposal does not represent a community use as defined for the purposes of policy, it is considered to be an appropriate use of the building. However, the application is not supported by appropriate and proportionate independent evidence, including appropriate financial, business planning, options appraisals, marketing and community engagement evidence as required by policy.’

He recommended that the application should be approved stating: ‘The conservation benefits of the proposed development outweigh the loss of a potential community use.’

Cllr Kirkbride proposed that a decision be deferred stating: ‘If a planning application is submitted for the change of use of a community facility the Authority needs to consider whether there is a need for the facility in the area. One way for applicants to try to prove that is for them to advertise the property as a community facility for a reasonable period. With the current application for the chapel the applicants haven’t done that as they believe that the use they are proposing is also a community use.

‘I believe that the applicant should come back with a business plan etc to show how this application is going to work.  This has just been put forward without showing its possible to run this sort of scheme.’

Another member emphasised the need to consult with the community.

Two representatives of Dream Heritage ClC listened to the debate and after the unanimous vote to defer a committee member said one of them ‘stormed out’ of the room.

* CIC stands for Community Interest Company.’ CICs are limited companies which operate to provide a benefit to the community they serve’  Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Dent – Geslings Barn, Deepdale Lane, can be converted into a dwelling for local occupancy or short term holiday let even though there were questions about the access track which was included in the application.

When Cllr Heseltine asked if it was a roadside barn the planning officer explained that it was part of an existing group of [two] buildings. The application to restore one of these, a grade II listed uninhabited farmhouse, had been already been approved and that included the access track of over 124m from Deepdale Lane.

Cllr Heseltine commented: ‘Prior to that there is no access track to anything – you are stretching my imagination.’

And Cllr Kirkbride said: ‘I can hardly believe this up for approval. The number of barn conversions we have had which have been turned down on a matter of 10 or 20 metres off the road.’

A senior planning officer repeated that it had been recommended due to being part of a group of buildings rather than as a roadside barn.

Cllr Bateman, the Authority’s cultural heritage champion, described the farmhouse as a fantastic building which needed to be re-used as a residence. She added: ‘I would  like to see the barn stay up. There’s no point in keeping the house and allow that to fall down beside it.’

North Yorkshire councillor David Ireland said he supported the application as the track to it had already been approved. And Mr Munday agreed stating that the work on the barn could then be carried out at the same time as that on the farmhouse.

Dent Parish Council’s objections included: concerns about the feasibility of guests getting to the property if it is used as a holiday let as any track up to the property would be steep and narrow. This may lead to vehicles being parked on the highway which would cause an obstruction as this is a narrow single track road. In line with its own policy the parish council also objected to the converted barn being used for short term lets. It stated: ‘Given the need for housing for local families in the dale, the council would prefer to see this property used as a long term let in order to help sustain the dale and its residents, businesses and school.’

The planning officer,  however, pointed out that the present Local Plan allowed for the conversion of traditional buildings to either holiday let or local occupancy or both.  The Authority, he said, was required by  law to follow the policy ‘unless and until the policy is changed’.

Burtersett – The committee considered two applications regarding changes to Ingledene at Burtersett. The first included extending the living accommodation into the existing domestic outbuilding/store; erection of a first floor extension to create an upstairs en-suite and erection of a large detached garage and store. The second was for converting the existing garage and an outbuilding into a one bedroom holiday let with hot tub.

The first application was approved and the second was deferred.

Cllr Peacock told the meeting that both the house and the holiday let would use the same parking which, with the turning areas, will be close to two neighbouring houses. She expected that both dwellings would be used as holiday lets and commented: ‘All of a sudden you don’t just have one or two cars. You can end  up with five or six cars.’ Several parish councils had reported that this was a problem with holiday lets, she said.

Both she and Cllr Kirkbride pointed out how narrow the road was through Burtersett and said there had been more traffic using it since North Yorkshire Highways had signposted it as the route to Semerwater.  Due to the parking and more cars accessing the properties from the narrow road they asked for the applications to be refused.

Cllr Bateman,  however, commented that it was not possible to predict how the house would be used. She also said that the building did need improving.

Cllr Foster felt the application was okay as long as there wasn’t an application to turn it into a holiday let. The planning officer reported that the garage will be large enough to accommodate a campervan and neighbours had been concerned about its impact upon their amenity.

There was more concern about the proposed holiday let as it was reported that the door would open directly onto a narrow roadside verge. Cllr Peacock said this would mean visitors would have to walk along the road to where their car was parked. Some might then decide to park on the road.

‘I think there is a better option here – why can’t they park round the back of the house?’ said Cllr Bateman. And Cllr Foster commented: ‘As it stands at the moment we are actually sanctioning people to walk out … into the middle of the road. I think we can refuse this on access and ask [the applicants]  to come back with another suggestion.’

The majority, however, agreed with North Yorkshire councillor David Noland that the decision should be deferred so that the applicants could find a better solution for parking and access.

Cllr Peacock requested a legal agreement to protect the railings so that none could be removed to provide access onto the village green.

The planning permission conditions include ‘hours of construction’. The parish council had asked that there should be strict times of access through the village during the period of work to reduce disturbance. The parish council was also very concerned about the potential increase in the volume of traffic through Burtersett.

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