The YDNPA’s planning committee was told by an enforcement officer at its meeting on February 2022: ‘Breaches of planning control impact adversely on the ability of the Authority to maintain public confidence in planning system.’
The importance of consistent and appropriate enforcement was again emphasised at the planning committee meeting in May 2022.
The Association of Rural Communities (ARC) has heard complaints about the lack of appropriate enforcement for many years. For instance, why should a farmer jump through so many hoops to get planning permission for a new barn or sheep shed when someone else just has one constructed without permission?
Carperby cum Thoresby Parish Council has been trying for years to get the Authority to take action concerning an unauthorised campsite. And then there is all the light pollution from Aysgarth Luxury Lodges which ARC reported to the Authority in May 2020 and again in February 2022, and subsequently wrote a letter about to the D&S.
The meeting in October 2021 was chaired by another trustee of the Friends of the Yorkshire Dales. On its website this group states: ‘The issue of development control in the Dales is often a thorny one and Friends of the Dales helps by providing an independent watchdog role.’
Personally I’m not sure how it can describe itself as being independent when its trustees are chairing YDNPA planning meetings.
Farmers and the Dales’ landscape
The importance of farmers and landowners in conserving and protecting the beautiful landscape in the Yorkshire Dales National Park was again emphasised at a Full Authority meeting of the YDNPA last year. It was good to hear how the Authority’s specialist teams are working with them to obtain some very encouraging results.
I was left wondering quite what the future will bring. At the meeting the members were told very clearly how stretched the finances of the Authority are after years of real-term cuts in its core budget.
The government does not propose to accept the recommendation in Julian Glover’s Landscapes Review that a new quango, the National Landscapes Service, should be set up to oversee the 44 National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) covering almost 24.5 per cent of England.
This would have meant that the population of almost quarter of England would have lost the right to local democracy and representation as it was proposed that all the board members of National Park Authorities should be appointed by that National Landscapes Service.
The government stated: “We disagree with [the] proposal that all members be appointed nationally given the important role locally elected members play in giving the boards democratic legitimacy.”
Nor does the government agree that all the boards of Authorities should be limited to 12 members. The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) had already decided to reduce its membership from 25 to 16 – a move which one member described as Death of Democracy in the Dales. See: Death of Local Democracy in National Parks?
In its response to the Landscapes Review the government accepted that there were National Park Authorities, like the YDNPA, which cover several local authorities. It added: “Reductions should not be at the expense of the skills, expertise and diversity needed. In cases where a large board is necessary or advantageous, clear guidance on structuring and organization may boost efficiency.”
But it does accept the recommendation that the chairs of National Park Authority boards should be selected by the government because this “could provide greater continuity, strategic direction and accountability”. The question is – accountability to whom if they are not selected locally? The Yorkshire Dales National Park has experienced having a chair remaining in office for eleven years and it was not a good experience.
In his report to the Full Authority meeting in March 2022, the YDNPA Chief Executive, David Butterworth, stated: “The Government’s response recognises that they are proposing an ambitious new vision for our Protected Landscapes [National Parks and AONBs] and that the scale of the ambition must be matched by equivalent resource to ensure effective delivery. However, it goes on to state that there is limited scope to increase the core grant. The proposition is that the ambitious vision will be funded, to a large extent, through private sector investment and commercial income. The proposed National Landscapes Partnership will have a key role in securing this income.
“There is no robust analysis of the financial implications of the Government’s response to the recommendations contained in the Landscapes Review; but nor was there any financial analysis in the Review itself, other than that it identified the need for a significant increase in resources for Protected Landscapes if its recommendations were to be realised. The Government’s response sets out a bold and ambitious vision for Protected Landscapes but no new money for National Parks. At the time this report was put together we still do not know our settlement for 2022/23 and beyond but if, as expected, it is flat cash then there is a gap between the Government’s vision and the reality of our resources. Consequently, it will be important to manage expectations.”
When, in 2009, local newspapers stopped sending reporters to YDNPA meetings the Association of Rural Communities was very concerned at the lack of independent reporting especially as the YDNPA has such a major impact upon those living and working in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
It is very encouraged that there is now a Local Democracy Reporter (Stuart Minting) reporting on YDNPA meetings. Pip Pointon continues to post reports, on a voluntary basis, so as to continue as full a record as possible, especially of planning committee meetings, as part of the Association’s commitment to local democracy.
Members of the Association’s committee regularly monitor and report on YDNPA planning meetings – see below.
The Association’s chairman, Alastair Dinsdale, has highlighted the importance of farmers to the beautiful landscape of the Yorkshire Dales.
Also see the report of the Full Authority discussion : planning committee -review and impartiality.
YDNPA planning committee reports:
September 2021 – not the usual report as the sound recording provided by the YDNPA was so bad
June 2021– not the usual report as the sound recording provided by the YDNPA was so bad.
YDNPA – inconsistencies and gobbledygook – more from the October 2012 planning committee meeting
Full Authority Meetings:
Full Authority March 2019: there were two reports posted on the Richmondshire Today website written by the Local Democracy reporter – one concerning the approved plan for new local occupancy housing behind the Rose and Crown and the other regarding whether the YDNPA should go paperless or not.