Category Archives: ARC News Service

Health of the River Ure











Above: Charlotte Simons of Yorkshire Dales River Trust addressing the meeting

Some key points from the meeting at Leyburn Methodist Church Hall on Tuesday April 30.

We need to set up our own group of citizen scientists with its own committee. That’s why I have been working on a confidential (BCC) email address  list of all those who have expressed an interest, with the aim of organising another meeting.

We need to work with the Yorkshire Dales River Trust and with Yorkshire Water’s River Health Improvement team to ensure that any water testing we do will be fully accredited and accepted by the Environment Agency.

Here is a more detailed report on the speeches and questions at that meeting:

Alastair Dinsdale, chairman of the Association of Rural Communities (ARC)

Welcome and introduction:

I have lived alongside the River Ure, and its tributary Ellerbeck, all of my life.  I remember my fifth birthday party, playing in the stream and I spent many years exploring and fishing the Ure.

But I have noticed a gradual decline in the health of the river over the years, particularly in the summer months as flow rates decline.  Algae and sediments have choked out the gravels and it’s now very difficult to find a caddisfly fly larvae, a bullhead stickleback or even a minnow.  Crayfish, which were so abundant at one time, are now are almost non-existent.

But why?

In the winter months we see more frequent and much larger flooding of the river.  This winter brought the highest flood level at Wath bridge that I have seen in my whole lifetime, and the flood water barely fit under Aysgarth Yore Mills bridge.

Climate change is real and is happening.

Agriculture, which is often blamed, is in decline in the upper dale with a huge reduction in the numbers of sheep and cattle post the foot and mouth disease outbreak, plus soil health and nutrient management are improving at a pace.

On the flip side, more land is being covered in concrete, tarmac and hard surfacing, for roads, car parks, driveways, caravan sites and similar development making flash flooding much quicker.

Sewage and water treatment plants are inadequate and out-dated as they have not kept pace with house building and summer time loading. In droughts and very low flow periods a significant amount of the flow in the river has been through a sewerage system, raising temperatures and picking up nutrients. This, combined with further warming in low flow pools, is making the water toxic to river life.

Once upon a time the dales were served by local spring water supplies but nationalisation changed all that and now water falling in the upper catchment runs down the river picking up all sorts of nasties before it is drawn out at Kilgram Bridge, stored at Thornton Steward, cleaned and pumped back to the top of the dale.  It is stupid and I hate telling people how ridiculous it is.

Surely storing water in reservoirs, lakes and ponds in the upper catchment would alleviate the peaks of flooding and be there to drink or release into the river to cool and keep the river live?  It happens for the Tyne and Tees, why not here?

When ARC decided to support Aysgarth and District Parish Council in objecting to a holiday lodge development overlooking Aysgarth Falls, despite raising significant concerns that the proposed development with its associated hot tubs was likely to overwhelm the existing sewerage system, the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s (YDNPA) planning committee voted to grant permission and stated that they didn’t need to consider the impact on the river within their remit as a planning authority.

I guess that is the same with planning authorities elsewhere in the country.  How is this a sensible way forward?  We know the water companies are failing to invest and update the infrastructure.  Local authorities need to develop an integrated approach to planning and its impact on the environment, including the rivers.  What is required is change.

We want tonight to be positive and bring about accountability and change.  We need a strong group of people to monitor the state of the river, and we need to lobby to improve things before the River Ure becomes the Wensleydale sewer.

Charlotte Simons , Senior Project Manager, Yorkshire Dales River Trust, and its lead for its Wharfe Catchment Management Plan

She said that in England the main sources of pollution were: agriculture and fishing in rural areas; sewage and waste water; and diffuse pollutions such as the run-off from urban areas

The River Ure is 74 miles long with its source at Ure Head with 38 water bodies across two operational catchments before it flows into  the River Ouse. Citizens’ science came into play, she said, when people wanted to find out what the main sources of pollution were, what was causing them and how to improve the situation.

The Yorkshire Dales River Trust (YDRT) had started working with volunteers along the River Wharfe and it was the first inland water body to gain bathing water status, thanks to a large scale citizens’ science monitoring programme. The volunteers  had taken water samples along the whole length of the river and set up an accredited  citizens’ science framework. A report has been submitted by the Environment Agency. The Trust has a community data sharing platform and wants to extend this to not just the Wharfe but the Swale, the Ure and the Ouse, she said.

She continued: Such a project helped communities to influence decision making about their river. ‘You can’t always guarantee that this will happen but there’s been an awful lot of changes along the Wharfe because of the results coming out.’

She explained that on the mornings when volunteers tested water from one end of the Wharfe to the other, two sets of samples were taken: one to be tested for nutrients (phosphates) and the other for bacteria. This was because bacteria samples must be tested more quickly than those for nutrients. There had been two days of water sampling – one on a wet day and the other on a dry day. The tributaries were also included. In that way an overall picture of the health of the river could be ascertained.

‘The lessons we have learnt:  its best to look at the whole river and under different conditions – high flow and low flow. If you want to do advocacy you need to ensure you have got accurate and credible results. You need to make sure  you are following the protocol that is accepted by the Environment Agency and Yorkshire Water.

‘But before you do all that you need to be clear about what questions you are asking – what do you want to find out about the river. Because there are different ways to find out different things And then you match  your testing methods to the questions you want to ask .’

She added: ‘Citizen scientists are worth their weight in gold – we can’t do [this] without support of people in the community and without your interest on the ground.

‘What can we all do for our rivers? Be aware of the issues – raise awareness. Get to know [your river]  know your own stretch. If it doesn’t look right report it to the Environment Agency . Be more concerned as a consumer. Think before you put something down the drain.’

She emphasised that wet wipes must not be flushed down  toilets or put down drains as these combined with fat to create fat balls – which were costly to clear.

To a question, she responded that the pollution of rivers had increased since the 1980s and there was more than one source. One factor was the impact of pharmaceutical and personal care products which were entering rivers and tributaries from other sources, not just sewage works, such as sun screens when people were swimming.

Hannah Fawcett – YDNPA Farm Conservation Advisor/Catchment Sensitive Farming

She explained that catchment assisted farming was a national Defra and Natural England scheme administered in the National Park by the YDNPA.  She had worked on the Semerwater catchment scheme for ten years during which time biodiversity had increased.

The Catchment Sensitive Farming (CSF) team offers a range of help to those farmers who contacted it for  help and advice. The team could help with applying for grants through the national countryside stewardship scheme and could obtain specialist advice from a national consultancy.

The team worked  with farmers to reduce  phosphates and sediment in the Ure and its tributaries and reducing contact between livestock and water courses..  There were grants available for water quality work such as for putting in new drainage to separate clean and dirty water. But she warned that these were not 100 per cent grants and that could be a barrier to getting work done.

Clare Beasant – Yorkshire Water’s River Health Improvement Manager

She reported that the  River Health Improvement team had come into being on January 15 this year as Yorkshire Water wanted a more proactive response to working with people across Yorkshire.

‘What we don’t do is talk to people enough, and what we don’t do is listen to people enough. And that’s why we are really excited about being here tonight, ‘  she told the meeting.

She explained that what they wanted to do over the next five years was to have continuous water course monitoring of the Ure to get a good picture over its whole length.  YW wanted to work with citizens’ science teams to find out where the issues were. It also wanted to understand why waste treatment works were not operating as people would want them to and resolve problems, she said.

As the river health improvement team was quite small they did need to work with communities. ‘We can’t do it on our own. We really need your support as local groups like this and citizens’ science can help us build up that picture. We don’t have the resources  [to do all the water sampling] and so any help is fantastic. We want to be involved and we want to support you as much as we can.’

This, she said,  would include offering to cover the high cost of the water sampling kits and analysis, the latter being carried out by an independent laboratory.

Report from Mashamshire Litter Busters

Read at the meeting: We are a team of about eight volunteers that do our best to collect litter in an area centred on Masham, every week and obviously patrolling the bank and the Burn.  The Town street drains we are certain mostly drain to the Ure carrying litter – except that we hope we catch just some of it before it goes down the drains.    We sometimes patrol up river towards Marfield and down towards West Tanfield.   We are supported by Masham Parish Council who pay for our public liability insurance, high vis vests and grabbers.

If we had sufficient funds and influence I think it would be a revelation to install one of those large nets in the Ure that traps litter and transport it into Masham Market Square for all to see!  Or even at the outlets where street drains end

Nicholas Copes  read a report about the survey carried out for the Wild Trout Trust by Prof J Grey. This had shown that in some of the becks around Hawes there are very few young fish in the spawning grounds.

On his advisory visit in 2021 Prof Grey had reported: ‘Smaller tributaries are of disproportionate importance for the wild fish populations at spawning and nursery areas because of a lack of such habitat in the larger channels. While they are subject to the same environment stressors, restoration measures can achieve notable and quick results because of the smaller scale of such systems.  He noted that diffuse pollution sources of silt/soil ingress was apparent wherever livestock had access to the banks.

Hawes and High Abbotside Angling Association invested in the fish population survey of six tributaries of the Upper Ure, undertaken by Prof Grey, and has been allocated funds towards a river bank protection project  when landowner agreement has been secured.

Eddie Wyvill , the chairman of the Yorkshire Dales Salmon Group, told the meeting that he was also born in Wensleydale but in the last ten to fifteen years had seen changes which had had a massive impact upon the landscape with a direct correlation with the quality of water in the river.

He said: ‘The Yorkshire Dales was one of the strongholds of [hay] meadows. They used to be full of different kinds of grasses and full of flowers.

‘What makes a river? It’s not you and I swimming in it or canoeing in it. It’s what lives in it. And that’s the fish and the insects and that all has to work side by side. But now, due to intensive dairy farming, particularly in Coverdale, many of the hay meadows have been replaced with rye grass, a monoculture with no insects.’

He added that the fields of rye grass were sprayed with slurry and cut five times a year. ‘Just before heavy rainfall down the slurry tankers come, the whole Dale stinks …. I spoke to one of the farmers [who sprayed] 1,500 litres of slurry per acre per cut. That’s eight and a half thousand litres of slurry per acre. And some are doing it down by the River Ure – on the flood plain.

‘What is the National Park going to do about land use and about the dairy intensity? ‘ He believed  that the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority  (YDNPA) should be held accountable for land use in the Dale.

Hannah Fawcett, the YDNPA farm conservation advisor, pointed out that the Authority owns less than one per cent of the land in the national park. She and the Authority’s Catchment Sensitive Farming team, therefore, works with private landowners and farmers by offering advice  when requested.

She believed there were less cows in Wensleydale now but what had changed was the way they were managed. ‘We recognise that and we work with  dairy farmers …concerning farming in protected landscapes.’

She said there was a whole sweep of priority habitats in the National Park which were nationally and internationally important. ‘We are working with Natural England and the Environment Agency to protect those habitats and to restore them where possible.

Alastair Dinsdale said it was the changing economics of dairy farming which had led to the creation of bigger farms. There was also a problem with the wetter weather so that the animals were housed in barns for longer.  Even sheep farmers were finding the winter weather no longer fit to keep livestock outside. He pointed out that there were legal rules about what could be spread on farm fields. The fields were supposed to be tested to check exactly what nutrients were necessary before anything was spread on them.

Richard Loukota  from Thornton Rust told the meeting that according to the Environment Agency  there had been 11,612 hours of discharge of untreated sewage during 2023 as compared to 4,370 hours in 2022. This, he said, was an increase of 160 per cent.  There had been discharges for 3,233 hours in 2023 from the treatment plant between Leyburn and Harmby, he added.   The rivers, he said, are ranked and the River Ure comes 57. ‘Which doesn’t sound too bad until you realise that is 57 out of over 4,000.  He wondered  how much Yorkshire Water would spend on the River Ure and its tributaries out of the £180 million it plans to spend in this region.

Neil Smeeton, who lives at West Burton, spoke on behalf of Burton cum Walden Parish Council. He described how upset he was to see visitors allowing their children play in Bishopdale Beck.

He reported that in 2022 the sewage treatment plant at West Burton discharged untreated sewage on 138 separate days for a total of 1,079 hours. And it was only slightly better in 2023. He said:  ‘West Burton sewage treatment plant was the worst for days of discharging untreated sewage in the whole River  Ure catchment area  all the way from Hawes right down to Ripon.  And 29th worst  of all the 2,224 similar plants in the whole of Yorkshire Water area.

‘The farmer who owns the field with the outfall pipe tells me that the bank by the pipe can become so disgusting that he has to contact Yorkshire Water to come and clean it to protect his stock. A fisherman in West Burton told me that the area around the outfall pipe is often surrounded by human waste, wet wipes, condoms, sanitary products and  sometimes it just stinks.

‘Burton cum Walden Parish Council has asked Yorkshire Water to increase the storage capacity of our local treatment plant so no untreated  sewage has to be pumped straight into our beautiful Bishopdale Beck. Untreated sewage only adds to the beck’s problems from Thoralby’s treatment plant upstream.’

He and others reported on the considerable decrease in the number of fish especially in the breeding areas along the becks near Hawes.

Nathan Lawson, Partnership and Community Engagement Advisor for the YW’s River Health Improvement Team –

Apologised for what had happened at some treatment works and said  the operations team would be asked to investigate.   He assured the meeting that Yorkshire Water would follow up on these reports and expected to have funding available next year.

Robert Loukota –  reported that planning permission had just been granted for 122 houses and 27 bunagallows off Moor Road in Leyburn. But the Harmby/Leyburn treatment plant can’t cope now let alone if there are 149 more dwellings.

Clare Beasant – explained that Yorkshire Water does not give its approval for a new  housing development now unless the surface water is to be kept separate from the foul water, thus decreasing the additional  input into sewage treatment works.

One member of the audience said that if the input into a treatment plant was being increased then the size of the treatment plant should also be increased.

Ms Beasant responded that all treatment works were built with extra capacity based on the likely increase in the number of houses.

Alastair Dinsdale commented  that he could not remember when the Middleham sewage treatment  was updated.   And someone responded ‘In the 1970s.’

Ms Beasant responded that the plant at Middleham was included in the present investigations .

Marjorie Iveson said that the treatment plant for Leyburn had been built on land she and her husband had owned.  She said the land around it was full of streams. They had been approached  that week as Yorkshire Water wanted to acquire more land to extend the treatment plant.

Juliet Maddan -said that water was a very precious source, and Water Authorities were charging more and more. The latter were treating the water with chemicals, such as chlorine, which then goes into the rivers. ‘I think Water Companies need to start being honest about what’s going into our water.’ She said there were other ways of making water cleaner and palatable.

Alastair Dinsdale referred again to the decision of the YDNPA planning committee  in October and to the issue of more housing at Leyburn.  He asked if it was right for planning permission to be given before it could be shown there was adequate sewage treatment facilities. ‘We desperately need housing in the dales but I think we need to change the process,’ he said.

North Yorkshire Cllr Yvonne Peacock  Said she had agreed with Alastair at the planning committee meeting when the lodges at Aysgarth Falls Hotel were discussed.

She said that although the recommendations  of  a Highways Authority could be over ruled by a planning committee she was not sure if could over rule those of Water Companies. She would ask about that – and how the concerns expressed at the meeting could be raised during the discussions on the YDNPA’s new local plan.

‘We ought to see if we can actually over rule a planning application based on the fact that [it would] affect the river. We don’t want those houses until [sufficient sewage treatment] is in place – or make sure that the treatment plants are [updated] first.’She added that when bungalows were being built in Bainbridge in the 1970s they were told that the sewage system was good enough.  And since then there have been a  lot more new buildings. ‘It’s an excellent question Alastair and I will follow  it up,’ she said.

Pip Pointon, administrative officer of the Association of Rural Communities – ‘We want to move on, and set up a group that’s going to do similar to what had been reported concerning the River Wharfe. Because without the evidence we are going to get nowhere. And we need the guidance to do it properly.

She thanked Ms Beasant for the news that Yorkshire Water would finance the cost of sample kits and testing. Pip added: ‘Just a warning – the Association of Rural Communities has been the catalyst, has sponsored this meeting. But it is going to depend upon those among you that a group is formed  and has its own committee. That  will be separate from our association. I really do hope that comes about. ‘

Alastair added ‘ We will be really pleased if you form a strong and powerful group that will bring about the changes we all need.’

YDNPA – Planning committee March 2024

Reports by the ARC News Service on the meeting of  Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s  ( YDNPA ) planning committee on March 12, 2024  when the following were discussed:   how culvert work in Bishopdale affected a gill; amendments to approved plans for Linton Camp; a barn conversion in Dentdale; signage in Carrs Lane and shepherds huts at the old fish farm at Grassington; and detailed plans for an agricultural worker’s dwelling at Appersett.


Interfering with nature and diverting becks was not good practice,  North Yorkshire councillor Robert Heseltine told the planning committee. He wasn’t the only member who warned about bypassing nature when the retrospective application for a drainage pipe at East Lane Farm  was discussed  (see below).

In one objection a resident in Bishopdale reported seeing earth dumped on the gill behind that farm and a conservation officer’s report  did not clarify the situation. The latter stated: ‘There is material (e.g. old pipes, wire, farm waste) that has been deposited into the watercourse, but it is difficult to determine exactly how much was dumped by previous owners or tenants and how much was deposited when earth was spread over the top of buried piping/culverting most recently.’

On the YDNHPA’s Citizens Portal there are some carefully considered objections including this one: ‘The management of water is of high priority in a changing climate, and the management of upland water is critical to rural and urban areas alike.

‘The replacement of a natural gill with a plastic water pipe will cause major problems locally and downstream. At a time when various organisations, including the YDNPA, are experimenting with brush and wool leaky dams to slow the egress of water from higher moorland, it seems short sighted and extremely problematic to then allow a development which will significantly speed up the flow of water from the moors.

‘This development, if permitted, would increase localised flooding at the base of the pipe due to the inability of local drainage to deal with the increased flow, and also downstream as water from the moorland would enter the Bishopdale beck at a greater rate leading to an increased risk of downstream flooding.

‘The national park should be encouraging natural water channels with the obstacles and baffles naturally inherent, to try and slow the entry of water into lower watercourses. As the climate becomes more uncertain, this risk will be increased, and once the original gill goes out of use it will undergo changes that will prevent it coming back into future use.’

Another objector stated: ‘If flooding poses a legitimate concern, proper surveys by qualified experts should be conducted. These surveys should prioritize natural flood alleviation measures aligned with current best practices and sympathetic to maintaining the natural environment.’

This, however, wasn’t done as the Lead Local Flood Authority was not consulted .  It is not surprising, therefore,  that people are questioning the YDNPA’s ability to protect this special landscape.



‘We are supposed to be preserving nature but what we are doing here is bypassing nature,’ commented Westmorland and Furness councillor Graham Simpkins during the discussion about the retrospective application for the installation of a drainage pipe in a field near East Lane Farm buildings in Bishopdale.

The planning officer reported: ‘At the top of the field, a stone-lined trough has been formed adjacent to the gill, serving as the water intake. From here, an HDPE [high density polyethylene] pipe sits within a (now covered), trench. The pipe runs below ground adjacent to the lower portion of the gill for 140 metres, before joining into the existing culverted system, which is piped into the existing highway surface water drainage system.

‘Whilst the design solution has worked, it has been carried out without the benefit of Land Drainage Consent having been sought from the Lead Local Flood Authority [North Yorkshire Council], and without the benefit of planning permission. It has also extended the amount of straight-line culverting; by-passing the lower part of a gill that would likely have assisted in “slowing the flow” of surface water into the existing piped drainage system.’

She concluded that the work was minor in scope, had negligible landscape impact and did not adversely affect biodiversity.

The committee did approve the application in accordance with her recommendation but with an added condition about a drainage management scheme being agreed with the landowners to ensure that water will continue to flow down the gill and that the pipework only took any excess rainwater.

The applicants, Robert and Helen Brown, had informed the planning officer that water flowed down the field into the farm buildings when the gill could not take the volume of water.

North Yorkshire councillor Yvonne Peacock said they should have applied for planning permission first so that a full assessment could have been made before work started. She had asked the committee to discuss the application because a lot of people in Bishopdale had reported seeing the gill being filled in.

One of those residents had told the Authority that the retrospective nature of the application bypassed crucial stages in responsible development including a prior assessment of changes to a natural watercourse and wildlife habitats.

The Authority’s wildlife conservation officer had initially objected on the grounds that the work amounted to the infilling of a natural gill. After a visit to the site, however, the officer stated the gill still existed and added: ‘It is clear that the watercourse cannot flow all of the time or even for lengthy periods because there are substantial trees growing in the stream bed. There is material (e.g. old pipes, wire, farm waste) that has been deposited into the watercourse, but it is difficult to determine exactly how much was dumped by previous owners or tenants and how much was deposited when earth was spread over the top of buried piping/culverting most recently.’

Member Allen Kirkbride said: ‘I am not complaining about the pipe, but what I would  like to say is that the water [should be] still running down the gill but at a smaller rate and the overflow is made to go down this big pipe. So we are getting the best of both worlds.’

The head of development management, Richard Graham, commented: ‘One problem is that work has already [been] carried out.’ He said that, as far as he understood it, the pipe was there to take the water when the gill couldn’t cope and the excess rainwater then flowed onto the highway.

After the meeting when  I asked for the wording of the additional condition Mr Graham informed me: ‘The decision notice for this application has not been issued yet as we have asked the applicant to produce the drainage details that the committee asked for. When we have satisfactory details the permission will include a condition that requires the works to be carried out and maintained thereafter.’

I also asked if  the Authority could have waited for the LLFA report on the drainage before bringing the application to the planning committee. To which he replied:

‘The Lead Local Flood Authority (North Yorkshire Council) confirmed that it had no comments to make on the application but noted that the landowner would have needed Land Drainage Consent and that they would contact the landowner to discuss culverting the watercourse. Whilst this non-committal response did not help this Authority consider the issues raised by the planning application it is not a reason to withhold determining the planning application for an indefinite period. A fundamental tenet of the planning system is that planning authorities should not try to duplicate the role and remit of other separate consent regimes.’

Linton camp

‘It seems incredible to me that with the climate emergency that we should caving in to a development that is portraying itself as providing a green environment with hobbit style grass roofed huts and then sticking wood burners in,’ commented  North Yorkshire councillor Simon Myers about the application by Linton Regeneration Company to amend the approval it had been given to develop Linton Camp.

Whereas the original application included wood burners in nine holiday lodges the amended plans also have them in the 24 self-contained ‘serviced’ holiday units which will replace hotel rooms in the main building. It was due to the inclusion of so many more wood burners that the committee decided to defer making a decision.

The committee was told that planning officers had repeatedly recommended that the wood burners be omitted due to the amount of CO2 and small particulate pollutants that they emit and that this contradicted the company’s statement in its sustainability appraisal about  ‘producing an innovative and exemplar development’.

Linton Regeneration Company had responded, however, that ‘there was an absolute expectation from the target market groups that this would be a key element in the experiences being sought in the proposed development.’ The planning officer commented ‘It would appear the wood burners are an aesthetic addition rather than a practical one for heating purposes.’ The heating will include air and ground source pumps and solar panels.

She understood that the company wanted to change the proposed hotel to self-contained units as it had learnt from existing local businesses that it would be very difficult to find 200 to 250 full time and part time staff. The amended development would probably require 30 full time staff and potentially 20 part time cum seasonal staff.

The central building will have a 36 per cent reduced area than that approved for the hotel with the roof being 1.2m lower. It will contain a spa, a gym, 24-seat cinema, a two-lane bowling alley, a bar and a restaurant which will also be open to local residents and guests staying in nearby villages, the planning officer stated.

To its previous objections which included what it  saw as the excessive scale of the development and its impact on the protected landscape, Linton Parish Council added that the amendment meant a reduction in local employment opportunities.

Cllr  Robert Heseltine described the amended application as a pale shadow of the original, the latter having turned out to be a carrot for something entirely different.

He added: ‘I do think this is a massive missed opportunity. You could have done so much good on this site for local families with affordable housing.’

North Yorkshire councillor Richard Foster said the development would be highly visible in the open countryside. What had been  important to him was the provision of employment –  ‘If this had come back offering more staff accommodation I would have been far more forgiving.’

Member Jim Munday commented, however, ‘This site was derelict for over 30 years. Two years ago we agreed with the proposals to build a hotel. Two years later … the applicant has come back with a modified proposal, which is smaller, it is less intrusive. I believe we should welcome the wider range of accommodation in the National Park.  If it wasn’t for the wood burning stoves I would [approve of] this application.


The impact of the increasing number of holiday lets and second homes on local communities was discussed when considering an application which included the conversion of a traditional barn near Dent for guest accommodation.

Dent Parish Council had objected to this because it has its own policy against holiday let accommodation. It stated: ‘Dentdale currently experiences a high percentage of holiday lets and the sustainability of the village and its infrastructure will suffer because of this.’

It did support the internal reconfiguration and extension of the existing farmhouse which is beside the barn at East Clint.

Member Neil Heseltine told the committee: ‘I quite like this development – there’s lots of thought put into it. It respects the integrity of both buildings.’

He said he was extremely happy that Dent Parish Council had objected to a barn being converted for holiday lets as that brought the Authority’s own policy under scrutiny.

The present Local Plan allows for traditional barns to be converted either for holiday lets or local accommodation and the committee’s adhered to this. Permission was granted for the work on the farmhouse, the barn and other facilities.

‘I hear the concerns of the parish council,’ remarked Member Libby Bateman and referred to the government trying to do something about holiday lets and second homes as the proliferation of these was a problem for many parish councils.

Allen Kirkbride said he had every sympathy with Dent Parish Council as in his village, Askrigg, almost 40 per cent of the dwellings were holiday lets: 43 holiday cottages, 24 second homes plus several Airbnbs. ‘This is having an effect on the life of the villages. It is something we as a park authority should think about before we are taken over.’ He added that he owned two barn conversions which were  holiday lets.

Cllr Peacock told the committee that the teashop in Bainbridge could not be open every day due to lack of staff.

She said: ‘Unless you start providing homes for people to live and work here it will be no use coming to a holiday cottage because there will be nowhere to eat. We won’t  have people coming because they won’t be able to get a cup of tea or a pint of beer.’ For this reason the Authority had to consider this policy carefully when preparing the new Local Plan, she added.

Cllr Robert Heseltine also would have preferred the barn to be used for local accommodation. He commented that, to him, the barn was classic of the late 17th century. ‘I just hope the detail respects the integrity of that building.’

Cllr Foster pointed out that at that meeting the committee had approved just one house to be lived in permanently – all the other developments had been for holiday lets.


It didn’t take long for the committee to agree with a planning officer that two fascia signs could be displayed on what is now called ‘Siegfied’s Retreat’ in Carrs Lane, Grassington.

Grassington Parish  Council had objected to the sign on the front of the building at first floor level because, it said, it would be out of character with the adjoining conservation area and would set an inappropriate precedent for advertising first floor business premises.

The planning officer, however, stated: ‘The sign on the front of the building is one of two signs on the frontage. The other sign at the property [advertising an Estate Agent] is a red, white and blue sign which is prominent and bolder in appearance than the sign seeking consent. [This] sign is black with cream letters and is in keeping with the character and use of both the building and the surrounding …shops, cafes and pubs.’ She believed the sign would not visually harm the conservation area.

The owner, Alan Biggin, who introduced himself as a chartered accountant from Bradford, said that after he bought the property three years ago the upper two floors were converted into a holiday let. He felt that the sign was not too big, and was attractive as it had a traditional aura about it.

North Yorkshire councillor David Ireton said: ‘I don’t see anything offensive in this sign whatsoever,’ and agreed with Mr Biggin that the sign below it stood out much more. He told the committee that the holiday let sign  had been taken down whilst awaiting a decision on the application.


The decision to approve installing four shepherd huts for holiday lets on the site of what was a fish farm on Old Mill Lane, Grassington, was just as quickly made.

The planning officer explained that originally the applicant had applied for four holiday lodges but the Environment Agency had objected as there was a flood risk at the site. There was no objection to the shepherd huts as these will be high enough above ground level. The applicant must also have a flood management plan which includes a place of safety.

The application included a building for storing bikes and bins, plus a new garden for the applicant’s house, Riverside Grange.

The planning officer said that the proposed development would significantly aid nature recovery on the site through the removal of unsightly redundant structures and hardstanding and the enhancement through landscaping, walling and tree planting. She added that the site was already sufficiently screened and enclosed by high hedging and fencing.

Grassington Parish Council had, however, objected arguing that shepherd’s huts were not typical to the stone vernacular of the Dales; that the unmetalled access road with no turning space was not suitable; and wood burning stoves were polluting. It added that the local planning authority should have ‘special regard’ to the architectural and historic character of listed buildings, and the preservation and enhancement of the character and appearance of conservation areas.

The planning officer reported that the applicant will install bioethanol burners instead of wood burning stoves.

Cllr Foster pointed out that the fish farm employed up to two people whereas the new use would provide employment for only a couple of hours a week.

The planning officer replied that the low level of employment at the fish farm before it closed a number of years ago was not sufficient to protect this as an employment site.


The detailed designs for an agricultural worker’s dwelling at Woody Bank, Appersett, were unanimously approved.

The application was determined by the committee as it had been made by a member of the Authority’s staff.  Outline permission was granted in August 2022 and the latest application included details of the external appearance, site layout, scale of development and landscaping.

Member Neil Heseltine commented: ‘I really like the contemporary design and materials.’

In his report, the planning officer stated that two trees had been removed for safety reasons and that a tree planting scheme had been agreed.

Cllr Peacock told the committee she had visited the area recently and that the remaining trees would provide sufficient screening between the new house and a neighbouring one.

YDNPA – Planning committee November 2023

Reports by the ARC News Service on the meeting of Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s (YDNPA)  planning committee  on November  14th 2023 when the following were discussed: Dream Heritage CIC requesting permission for a caretaker’s flat in the old chapel Aysgarth; a barn conversion near West Burton;  outline planning permission for ten new homes at Long Preston; a  line of mirrors at a horse riding school at Malham; access to a holiday let at Burtersett;  and the construction of new houses at Sedbergh.

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


Permission was granted for what is intended as a caretaker’s flat in part of the old chapel at Aysgarth.

The committee had been informed that Dream Heritage CIC wanted to create a centre of excellence in Aysgarth for heritage skills, traditional crafts and youth worker training for the North of England.

Rebecca Watkins, a director of Dream Heritage CIC, told the committee that she had bought the chapel with her own money. She said that a caretaker was needed to ensure a Dream Heritage CIC project would be viable and to ensure the building was regularly maintained adding that the jobs would include traffic management.

She said the centre at Aysgarth was intended to serve not only the wider Dales communities but the community of North of England. ‘My aim is to empower the next generation to be catalysts for positive change, saving their heritage and community.’

In its strong objection to the application Aysgarth and District Parish Council stated: ‘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.’

The planning officer reported: ‘While the proposed development does not constitute a community use … it is nevertheless considered to represent an appropriate use of the building which would conserve this non-designated heritage asset. The limited amount of residential accommodation to be provided [not more than 30 per cent of the gross internal floor area] is considered to be proportionate. It is considered that the conservation benefits of the proposed development outweigh the loss of potential community use.’

Aysgarth and District Parish Council had said that Aysgarth Institute provided well-used community facilities with the maintenance, cleaning, and other facilities being carried out by the committee and local volunteers. As the Institute did not require a caretaker it questioned why one should be needed at the old chapel to facilitate the provision of community use.

At the meeting Cllr  Yvonne Peacock (North Yorkshire) pointed out that none of the local village halls or institutes in Wensleydale needed caretakers.

‘We don’t need a training centre in the middle of Aysgarth… because there’s no parking and there’s no infrastructure.’ She noted that the Dream Heritage courses in such skills as dry stone walling  would cost much more than to attend the many already available in Wensleydale.

She also questioned the suggestion that people could park at the National Park Authority’s car park at Aysgarth Falls and walk about a mile to the chapel.

The Authority’s cultural heritage member champion, Cllr Libby Bateman (parish council appointee), said young people travelling to the training centre in Aysgarth could get there by bus or by taxi from Ribblehead Station (20 miles away) if they did not have a car.

She challenged Cllr Peacock about the need in the Dales for Dream Heritage’s proposed church support programme stating: ‘We are having a terrible time in Dent with a church building.’

Cllr Peacock had told the committee ‘[Dream Heritage] are coming because [they say] we are not keeping our churches correctly. In actual fact the churches have a professional team behind them.’

In its business plan Dream Heritage stated that among the problems and needs its centre in Aysgarth would solve were for church buildings and church congregations to be supported and guided into how best to look after their buildings, congregations and communities. ‘The maintenance of such buildings is somewhat left to unskilled and unknowledgeable clergy or lay people, and thus inappropriate or absent repairs and maintenance are done on the church building,’ it said.

Cllr Peacock pointed out that as the chapel had been bought by Ms Watkins there was nothing to tie its use to Dream Heritage or its business plan. She asked if there could be a legal agreement tying the caretaker’s flat to either the business use or for affordable local housing.

Richard Graham, the head of development management, replied that the conditions on the proposed approval covered this. These are: permission solely for specified mixed use and residential accommodation tied to main use.

Cllr Peacock asked the committee to refuse permission for the application but the majority of members went on to approve it.

West Burton

Michael Bell won the support of the majority of members for his application to convert a barn on his farm near West Burton into his family home. But Mr Graham said that, as he had significant doubts about the reasons given for going against the officer’s recommendation to refuse it, the decision would be referred back to the next meeting (December 19th)

Mr Bell told the committee that his family had farmed in the area around Eshington Lane for over 100 years. He now had a successful sheep business which he hoped to increase.

He and his partner with their two children, however, lived in Leyburn. ‘The converted barn at Eshington would provide us with a family home close to the farm. I am sometimes driving to and from Leyburn two to three times a day.’

He said he had lost sheep over the years due to not being there or arriving too late and added that it was particularly difficult during the dark nights of winter.

As he had grown up in West Burton he had tried to buy a suitable property in that village but the prices had always been too high.

Burton cum Walden Parish Council supported his application stating: ‘Mr Bell… reassured the council that is concerns regarding problems with the provision of services such as water, electricity and telephone connection had been overcome satisfactorily.

‘Mr Bell also mentioned that this traditional, but now partly derelict, barn would not be significantly altered but would, in fact, be restored to its original appearance. The council was again assured that vehicular access would be restricted to the area of the new [agricultural] building in the field near the roadside of Eshington Lane with only a small footpath up to the barn.

‘In supporting this application, the council also took into account Mr Bell’s personal circumstances, in that he would be moving his young family back into the Dales, something that we understand is now an aim of the National Park Authority. The council felt it would also be better for the environment by reducing the numerous daily runs from Leyburn that Mr Bell needs to make to attend to his sheep, and also thereby reduce his overheads.’

Cllr Peacock asked the committee: ‘How many times have we been here trying to help farmers have somewhere to live where they can work in the middle of the night. He needs to be there.’

She said the application was well thought out, including storing waste bins in the agricultural building and continuing to use the parking space beside the agricultural barn.

The planning officer had stated: ‘This part of Bishopdale is aesthetically attractive, a beautiful pastoral landscape that is enjoyed by many visitors and residents. The landscape setting of the barn would be diminished significantly by this proposal due to changes to the appearance of the barn, the land around it and from light emanating from the building and site.’

Cllr Peacock pointed out the barn was close to a luxury holiday lodge site which was lit  up like the Blackpool illuminations at night.  For that reason the conversion of the barn would make little difference to view seen from the other side of the dale, she said.

Other members, however, argued that to approve the application would be against the Authority’s policy. They agreed with the planning officer that the barn was not within a settlement or a building group, nor could it be described as being ‘roadside’ being either close to a road or linked to one via an unsealed track.

Cllr Richard Foster (North Yorkshire) commented that approval had been given for barn conversions that were further away from roads.

And Cllr Graham Simpkins Westmorland and Furness) said: ‘I appreciate that it doesn’t fit with policies but that’s why we have a planning committee. If we follow policies to the letter there is no need for a planning committee. When we have policies that don’t quite fit we can discuss them and make sensible decisions based on particular facts, and this is one of those occasions when she should be looking at what the [result is] to the community.’

He mentioned the desperate need to bring young families back into the Dales and that the agricultural building was close to the road with a short footpath to the barn. He said he would prefer to see the barn retained as a heritage asset than left to fall down.

Cllr Bateman agreed because she felt that at some time in its history the barn  had been a house. Mr Graham, however, said there was no evidence for that.

Long Preston

The committee approved the outline planning application for ten new homes at Long Preston.

Cllr David Ireton (North Yorkshire)  commented: ‘This application seems to tick all the boxes for what we would expect on this site.’

The planning officer stated there would be two ‘First Home’ affordable houses, two apartments for affordable rent, six open market houses on land at Grosvenor Farm on Main Street. The two apartments would be transferred to a housing association to ensure they would remain available in perpetuity. And one of the open market houses would have a Principal Residence restriction requiring the home owner to occupy it as their principal home.

She explained that the site had been allocated for new housing development in the present Yorkshire Dales Local Plan with a capacity of nine houses.

Long Preston Parish Council had objected to the application for several reasons. These included the loss of green space and wildlife; inadequate provision of car parking spaces within the proposed development; access to the footpath which crosses the site; and concerns about the speed of traffic along Main Street.

It stated: ‘The parish council would welcome traffic calming measures to be installed on the main road to make it safer to enter and exit the proposed development. In addition the site line for the proposed entrance does not take into account the change in gradient immediately to the west, rendering the site dangerous to road users and residents.’

Cllr Allen Kirkbride (parish council appointee) asked about speed limits along Main Street. Mr Graham replied that this was a matter for the highways authority. Various issues will be considered when a full application is submitted.


Retrospective permission was granted for a line of mirrors along the south boundary of Holme Farm in Main Street.

These had been installed to assist with teaching and training at the horse riding school. The planning officer stated that the mirrors had very little visual impact from within the riding area as they simply reflected the arena and stables. The 20m long and 2.4m high metre fence on which they are mounted was visible, she said, from the public car park and the picnic area of the Visitor Centre. She did not believe this would harm the visual character of that part of Malham.

Kirkby Malhamdale Parish Council objected to the application because it was very concerned about the leylandi hedge which had been planted. It wants to see this completely removed and replaced with a hedge of local species trees and bushes. It had, however, been informed that the hedge was not a planning matter.


It didn’t take long for the committee to approve the application for the conversion of an existing garage and outbuilding at Ingledene, Burtersett, into a one-bedroom holiday let.

The planning officer explained it was originally intended to gain access to this via an existing doorway which opened on the narrow roadside verge. There was concern at the committee’s meeting on August 22nd about the impact of this upon road safety.

The applicant had, therefore, submitted amended plans showing access via a door which faced into the main house of Ingledene, with the doorway onto the road being blocked off.

‘Pedestrian access can easily be gained through the site, past the main houses to the proposed holiday cottage without the need for visitors to walk on the road,’ the planning officer said. He added that permission had been granted at the August meeting for a parking place to be allocated for that holiday let beside the proposed new garage.


Several members expressed their frustration that lintels had not been installed to the rears of over 20 houses being built at Station Road, Sedbergh.

Cllr Simpkins  described it as a joke that this had gone ahead even though the committee had, at its meeting in August,  refused permission for this alteration to the original plans.

The principal planning officer, Katherine Wood, explained that subsequently Mulberry Homes (a subsidiary of Broadacres Housing Association) had informed the Authority that construction had gone ahead without installing the lintels on the rears of the houses on plots 16 to 42 before the August meeting. Lintels were being installed to the front of the houses.

She reported that Mulberry Homes did not want to affect the building programme as the properties were already under construction. As it  had gone ahead  without planning permission the committee was asked for its view on enforcement action.

She recommended that it was inexpedient to pursue enforcement action as public views of the houses would not be affected especially as trees would be planted to increase the amount of screening. She said all the houses affected would have a rendered finish and added that there wasn’t a strong precedent in Sedbergh for exposed stone lintels on rendered properties.

‘It is, therefore, considered that the minor changes to the original design will not dilute the overall quality of the design of the housing development within the context of Sedbergh,’ she stated.

Sedbergh Parish Council had objected to the removal of the lintels as it felt this would down-grade the quality of the scheme. Cllr Robert Heseltine agreed stating  that this would undermine the aesthetic value of the houses.

Cllr  Foster said they needed to ensure a developer did not do something similar in the future. But he agreed with other members that they did not want to hold up construction.

‘I am very frustrated … but we really need these houses,’ said Cllr  Ian Mitchell (Westmorland and Furness).

And so the majority voted to accept the recommendation not to go ahead with enforcement.

YDNPA, Aysgarth Falls Hotel and river pollution

Above: the field north of Aysgarth Falls Hotel where the 14 lodges are to be built.  Aysgarth Falls Hotel is top left.

An ARC News Service report on the debate at the YDNPA planning committee on October 3 2023 when approval was given to  Aysgarth Falls Hotel  for full planning permission  for 14 hotel lodges (2 accessible, 3 family and 9 regular) and two facility buildings, together with alterations to the hotel including additional restaurant and bar area, enlarged kitchen facility, minor external layout configuration and staff accommodation. This  also included an 18-space car park, landscaping and drainage proposals including an attenuation pond. The pond will be at the north east end of the field close to the footpath.

This decision led to the Association of Rural Communities deciding to sponsor an open meeting about the health of the River Ure.  The meeting is at 7.30pm on Tuesday April 30 at Leyburn Methodist Church Hall. There will be presentations by Charlotte Simons of Yorkshire Dales River Trust; Hannah Fawcett, farm conservation advisor, Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority; and  Clare Beasant, River Health Improvement Manager, Yorkshire Water. Plus some reports and questions from the audience.

Alastair Dinsdale’s statement to the committee regarding river pollution:

Many years ago I used to empty the small sewage settling tank in the meadow which served the hotel and the youth hostel.  The system was already inundated 50 years ago and discharged raw sewage into the wood and river below. Eventually Yorkshire Water installed the small package sewerage plant below the mill cottages. This is made inaccessible to anything other than small vehicles by the tunnel under Yore Mill and will make removal of solids and other bulk materials difficult. The system discharges directly into the river above the middle falls. When i=I visited the outfall last Wednesday afternoon it was discharging milky coloured liquid with unfiltered solids sweetcorn kernals.

These sewerage plants work using bacteria and will not work with amounts of fats, oils, cleaning chemicals, disinfectants and certainly not the contents of hot tubs, which are emptied along with their chemical contents and refilled between each new guests, as standard practice. All these products kill the bacteria and render the treatment plant ineffective – useless.

According to the environment agency the Upper Dales Yore Catchment has a problem with phosphate pollution, the cause of algae blooms. Phosphates are a major ingredient of cleaning products and probably responsible for 90% of the problem in the catchment due to outdated and ineffective sewerage plants.

The applicant has put forward arbitrary figures suggesting a reduction in discharge but what sort of discharge? What goes down that pipe ends up in the Falls. Nitrates, phosphates, chlorines, medicines, and all those other nasty’s.

Capacity of the sewerage plant

Anecdotal evidence suggests that the plant was at capacity before the granting of planning permission  in May 2022 for the Yore Mill development of nine apartments plus retail, including toilets. No mention of sewerage in that application apart from to say surface water drainage will be dealt with via the existing sewerage system. Does the Authority have the population equivalent dry weather peak flow loads at high tourism season?

In view of the lack of detailed information from Yorkshire Water a full environmental assessment should be undertaken of the whole catchment area of the sewerage treatment plant as it is now – without further development.

Above : the small sewerage treatment plant near the Middle Falls which serves properties in Church Bank as well as Aysgarth Falls Hotel  Photo by Alastair Dinsdale


These proposals fail to pass the test of the statutory purpose of the National Park to conserve and enhance natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage. The proposal also fails national park policy framework on sustainable development or sustainable rural tourism – very high carbon footprint, no renewable energy,

Environmental impact, open country, legal protection etc

A lot of work has been undertaken by various agencies and landowners to reduce pollution into the river Ure. Does this committee want to act against these efforts and be responsible for causing more pollution? Yorkshire Water is listed as the worst for discharging sewage into water courses in the country. Does this committee want to be its partner in pollution?

Planning Committee debate

Polluting the River Ure will have the opposite effect upon attracting more tourists to stay at Aysgarth North Yorkshire councillor Simon Myers told Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s planning committee on October 3.

The majority of the committee voted to approve the application by Aysgarth Falls Hotel to extend the accommodation there by building 14 lodges because, as one said, it would have a positive impact on the local economy – a belief that Aysgarth and District Parish Council strongly disagreed with (see below).

Cllr Myers however had stated:  ‘I am very troubled about Yorkshire Water, as they often [just say that] “we don’t have a problem with it”, when the evidence of the objectors is that this system is at full capacity.’

He wanted an answer he said because so many water sources up and down the country were being polluted by sewerage and mentioned the River Nidd. The committee was told by local farmer, Alastair Dinsdale, chairman of the Association of Rural Communities that Yorkshire Water had installed a small sewerage package plant several years ago to serve the houses near Aysgarth Falls.

‘The system discharges directly into the river above the middle falls. When I visited the outfall last Wednesday afternoon it was discharging milky coloured liquid with unfiltered solids sweetcorn kernals. ‘These plants work on bacteria and will not work with amounts of fats, oils, cleaning chemicals, disinfectants. All these products kill the bacteria and render the treatment plant ineffective.’

He especially mentioned the hot tubs which had been included in the planning application. He continued: ‘According to the environment agency the Upper Dales Yore Catchment has a problem with phosphate pollution, the cause of algae blooms. Phosphates are a major ingredient of cleaning products and probably responsible for 90% of the problem in the catchment due to outdated and ineffective sewerage plants.’

He said anecdotal evidence suggested that the plant was at capacity before the granting of planning permission for the Yore Mill development of nine apartments plus retail, including toilets, in May 2022.  He added: ‘In view of the lack of detailed information from Yorkshire Water a full environmental assessment should be undertaken of the whole catchment area of the sewerage treatment plant as it is now – without further development.’  (see end of report for his full statement)

The parish council had stated: ‘We remain convinced that [fourteen]  lodges with their own toilets and unrestricted use of bath and shower facilities all year round represents a significant increased load on the local service compared to the limited demand from caravans and campers who predominantly use the site in the summer season only. It would appear that Yorkshire Water still have issues with the proposal.’

The applicant’s agent, Steve Hesmondhaigh, told the committee: ‘Our engineers have demonstrated and agreed with Yorkshire Water that a neutral or better than neutral outflow would result from this scheme. In other words, there will be no increase in outflow from this site as part of the planned development.’

Member Allen Kirkbride said he wanted to know more about the impact upon the River Ure and asked for a decision to be deferred so that there could be a site meeting.

Cllr Richard Foster, the head of development management, Richard Graham, and other members, however, said it was unlikely Yorkshire Water would be able to provide any further comment

Cllr Foster said: ‘Their role is to provide sewerage works in the area. We may see this as a problem but we cannot make planning decisions on the basis of that.’

Mr Graham told the committee that Yorkshire Water had not yet responded to a request for further information in addition to what was stated in the officer’s report that it had no objections to the proposed development subject to conditions requiring the development to be carried out in accordance with the drainage strategy, and subject to an undeveloped easement in the vicinity of the public sewer.

The planning officers, Mr Graham said, were quite satisfied with all the information that the applicant had submitted with the application.

Members were, however, concerned about hot tubs being beside some of the lodges. So, through the chair, the agent for the applicant was questioned about this. There was laughter at the response – that the hot tubs would be replaced with outdoor baths (so no chlorine). [The conditions now state there must be no hot tubs and no outdoor baths can be installed without approval.]

Jim Munday was one of the members who emphasised the business aspect of the application

‘This is a significant investment in the development and updating of an existing business. We should think of it for what it is – it is additional bedrooms. We have a great shortage of hotel accommodation within the Dales – there are very, very few that could take a small bus load and this would help all year round. Also, it retains staff accommodation as well as giving opportunities for further increases in staff. Yorkshire Water will say what Yorkshire Water will say.’

He believed that the lodges ‘in the back garden’ would look better than the ‘visually awful’ hard standings for motorhomes and caravans.

Mr Hesmondhaigh stated one of the aims was to stimulate further expenditure in the local economy. ‘Our aim was to produce a scheme that is sensitive to the national park setting and objectives whilst reflecting the need … to ensure that the Aysgarth Falls Hotel complex is a successful [and] financially viable facility in this key national park location.’

He said it was a two-pronged approach to planned development: to improve the facilities of the hotel especially the restaurant; to replace the caravan, mobile home and camping site with an accessible hotel room pods scheme to develop the sustainable investment in the hotel facilities; to extend the off-season and to enhance the viability of the business.

John Dinsdale told the committee that the parish council and the local community believed that some issues had been misrepresented in the planning officer’s report and by the applicant’s supporting documents.

He said: ‘The planning officer’s recommendation is to approve this application and cites planning policies designed to promote tourism, but our view is that recommendation fails to take account of all the relevant data.’

He reminded the committee that this had been listed as a Major Planning Application. That was not addressed by the planning officer in her report. Cllr Foster said he was surprised that this was not mentioned and that the application was only referred to the planning committee because the parish council had objected.

(According to the National Planning Policy Framework  permission should be refused for major developments in National Parks except in exceptional circumstances and where it can be demonstrated they are in the public interest. Consideration of such applications should include an assessment of: The need for the development, including in terms of any national considerations, and the impact of permitting it, or refusing it, upon the local economy… and any detrimental effect on the environment, the landscape and recreational opportunities, and the extent to which that could be moderated.)

Comparisons between planning officer’s report and the parish council’s objections

Planning officer: ‘Some harm will arise from the loss of the tent and touring caravan pitches but this is considered to be offset by the benefits of providing a year round tourism offer, plus economic and employment benefits in a sustainable location.’ She said the loss of 20 tent and 10 tourer pitches met the test of an insignificant loss which would be offset by the economic employment, supply chain and year-round tourism benefits.

John Dinsdale told the committee:

‘To say that the loss of facilities at this site for campervans and caravans only represents a tiny proportion of the sites in Wensleydale is a total misrepresentation of the true impact and appears to be contrary to the aims of newer policies. In reality, the loss of this site represents not 5% but 66% of the space in the immediate area. If the Street Head site is included, that is reduced to about 40%, but the other sites all quote 90% occupancy for the time they are open, so there is no spare capacity.

‘When casting the net wider to include the next nearest sites, the ten-mile radius is reached; this puts them out of walking distance, especially as campervans and caravans are usually static once they have arrived and setup for their stay. Visitors from the further sites to this area would need to drive which newer policies are designed to discourage and would only add to pollution, road traffic and the already documented serious parking problems that this area suffers from. Additionally, and quite properly, the current high cost of accommodation at the site run by the applicant and the likely cost of the proposed new accommodation has not been considered, but the loss of lower cost accommodation in the immediate area must be considered.

Planning officer: It would expand the short-stay tourism season into the quieter months and also has good potential to increase the number of day/evening visitors to Aysgarth, through the increased food and drink offers. As the site is within a ‘honeypot’ location, there is a reasonable likelihood that the proposal would complement existing tourism offers and increase spend in the local economy. The [applicants’] Guest Management Plan clarifies that just as in other hotel offers, visitors would not be required to take all meals within the hotel, only breakfast, and there is a high likelihood that other premises would also be visited during stays given the sustainability of the location.’

She said staff accommodation would ensure staff stay local to their workplace and would spend in the local area. In general, the proposal would increase the number of jobs available, and figures have been supplied to justify the suggested net gain of 17 jobs.

Parish council:

The parish council had pointed out that there was a shortage of workers for the local hospitality industry and so the additional competition would impact on other businesses nearby.

It stated: In these changing economic times touring caravans have become an increasingly important asset to boost the local economy. There is now a Shop/Post Office in Aysgarth which caters for the needs of self-catering visitors, and caravanners and campers are regular users of the facilities. The sale of these self-catering consumables makes a significant contribution to the profitability of that enterprise, and this footfall also supports other businesses in the local area. Clearly, closing the site to self-catering visitors would have a detrimental impact on the shop and damage its viability as well as having a harmful effect to the local economy generally.

The parish council also stated:

The Parish Council re-affirms the strong objection submitted on 02.02.23 .The Parish Council closed its submission in February with ‘The Parish Council welcomes investment in the businesses and infrastructure in our area and will look to support diversification, where appropriate, to deliver maximum local community benefit. We seek to engender a collaborative approach with all parties to support the future prosperity of our area and encourage everyone to communicate and engage with us’. In the five months since this submission, there has been no attempt by the applicant to engage with the Parish Council or rebut any of the serious concerns expressed by the Parish Council and residents. The amended proposal seems to merely be a rearrangement of the proposed lodges and a change to some of the materials used. We find nothing in the updated proposal that addresses the main concerns and objections.’

Impact upon the landscape:

The planning officer reported that both the Area Ranger and the Police had recommended a fence to be constructed between the footpath and the lodge site.

She stated: ‘As the footpath crosses the northern portion of the site, users of the PROW would directly experience the development in its entirety, and throughout the year rather than the existing seasonal experience. Taking account of the existing manicured and semi-engineered landform, clear relationship with the hotel building and other settlement features, and also the design quality, the development in this area would not be so unexpected to the user’s experience as to be unduly harmful.’

She also stated: ‘Whilst the proposal undoubtedly spreads the extent of development deeper into the site, the proposals for low-profile lodge rooms (including DDA compliant accommodation), is considered to be a positive means of expanding the business without providing a large extension to the hotel building itself, and the design challenges associated with this form of expansion. On balance the proposal has an acceptable landscape impact and design quality, taking account of the existing use and appearance of the site, the landscape proposals, and the sensitive design treatments.’

Parish council: The footpath follows a well-established route and crosses down the camping field behind the Aysgarth Falls Hotel. People using this footpath do so to avoid using the road and to enjoy the rural setting and visual amenity immediate area’. This development it said would damage the experience the visitors have come for and expect.

Light pollution.

The parish council argued that the terrace extension at the rear of the main building will generate significant light pollution directly over the immediate adjoining SSSI of Aysgarth Falls which it will overlook. It stated this would be a significant change and would have an impact all year round.

In her report the planning officer quoted the wildlife conservation officer who stated: ‘Concerns with regards to external lighting, and its impact on the woodland beside the River Ure can be addressed by condition.’

In the decision notice there is a condition regarding any external lighting to ensure the protection of the dark skies of the national park – but no mention of light from the terrace extension.

The parish council also listed the sewage issues, and the new late premises licence leading to noise pollution and disruption.


YDNPA – Planning committee October 2023

I have finally managed to write reports for the ARC News Service on the meeting of  Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s  ( YDNPA ) planning committee on October 3,  2023 when the following were discussed: a proposed barn conversion at Chapel le Dale; a caravan at a farm near Stainforth;  and a new agricultural building at a farm near Dent.  The debate about an application to extend Aysgarth Falls Hotel is covered separately.

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

Chapel le Dale

Cllr David Ireton  (North Yorkshire Council) got a measuring wheel and measured the visibility splay from Green Slack Barn on the B6255 near Chapel le Dale himself just to be sure he had the correct information for the committee, he said.

He disagreed with the Highways Authority that the visibility splays from the access to the barn from the B6255 were insufficient. The Highways Authority and the planning officer had recommended that the application to convert the traditional  barn for local occupancy or short-term holiday lets should be refused because the required visibility of 215 metres onto a 60mph road  could not be achieved when looking in either direction.  Cllr Ireton said he had measured 186m in one direction and 166m in the other.

He said: ‘This is an existing access. It has been used for years and there have never been any accidents. In fact, the biggest danger on that road is sheep. The applicants worked very hard with our officer to get a satisfactory design. I honestly do not think that access is a danger to the public .’

Cllr Robert Heseltine (North Yorkshire Council) commented that the committee had approved the conversion of roadside barns with much shorter visibility displays than this one had.

But Member Mark Corner said: ‘In my mind the visibility isn’t acceptable – If the barn was occupied full time and the occupants knew the road I think the risk would be lower [than if a holiday let]. This area is also visited very frequently by high speed motor bike riders who come tearing along this road. To me it doesn’t feel like a safe proposition.’

Cllr Richard Foster (North Yorkshire Council) suggested that if the access was levelled it would make it easier for vehicles to make a faster and safer exit. Cllr Ireton and the majority of the committee agreed that the decision should be delegated back to the planning officer to have further discussions with the applicant about the access.


‘There’s too many of us old farmers,’ commented Member Allen Kirkbride. He and the majority of the committee agreed that a young family should be encouraged to develop a new farm at Sherwood Brow near Stainforth.

The applicant’s agent, Sarah Ettridge, said a survey showed over 85 per cent of those currently working in farming were over 45 years old and added that the next generation needed to be encouraged to ensure that the industry remained viable.

The retrospective application for a static caravan for a full-time worker at Sherwood Brow was approved. The planning officer had explained that the agricultural enterprise was relatively new and the long-term financial viability of the business could not be demonstrated at this stage.  She said that the siting of a residential caravan there for three years would provide the young couple with an opportunity to establish the farm and then apply for a rural worker’s dwelling. The caravan must be removed after three years.

A local vet had stated: ‘As a young couple, and a progressive local business that is sympathetic to the traditions and culture of the Yorkshire Dales, every effort should be made to support them and their business – and by providing 24-hour provision it would not only benefit the health and welfare of their stock. It would be a positive contribution to their health and welfare – allowing them and their business to function to its full potential and thereby contributing to the Yorkshire Dales National Park.’

Cllr Heseltine pointed out that, although lambing and calving would be at Sherwood Brow, the vast majority of the farm land was far away. Other members regretted that this was a retrospective application and asked the young farmer to ensure he used the planning process in the future.

Stainforth Parish Council had objected on the basis that it would set a precedent in allowing static residential caravans on agricultural land and ‘creation of farms wherever they want’. This was not accepted by the head of development management, Richard Graham.

The caravan, however, will have to be moved to a less obvious position and clad in timber. The conditions included a landscaping scheme and suitable biodiversity enhancement.


The application for a new farm building at Cherry Tree Farm at Greenwood How near Dent was approved.

Cllr Heseltine remarked during the debate that the farmyard there brought farming into disrepute.

He, like other members, accepted the new building could well be used to tidy up the farmyard but there were critical comments about the application being retrospective. Cllr Foster commented: ‘Here again someone has done something without our permission and it’s really starting to annoy me because we either have a planning process or we haven’t. is there a better location on that site for this building?’

‘Yes, it is annoying. It is just as annoying for officers as it is for members,’ replied Richard Graham. He said officers preferred to enter into negotiations to get something better before anything was built.

Cllr Heseltine said that although he didn’t like anyone going ahead without planning permission the building was now there and he believed the situation could be improved if strict conditions were applied for landscaping.

Cllr Ian Mitchell (Westmorland and Furness Council) believed the main reason Dent Parish Council had objected was to highlight the fact that the planning process hadn’t been adhered to. ‘There seems to be more and more of this happening – when people just do thins and then come back retrospectively.’

The parish council had told the Authority: ‘Whilst the council recognises that the approval of this building may lead to the clearance of the farmyard (something which the council has been working with the enforcement officer on for many months), the council feels that the barn is in the wrong location and is a bit of an eyesore as you approach the village from the West. Furthermore, the council believes that the building is far too big to be a sheep barn and is more likely to be used to store machinery and hay and should be recognised as such.

The council objects to this application in the current location and suggests that the building would be better placed further to the east of its current location, tucked under the shoulder of the hill where it would be less visible.’

Mr Corner asked if they had any control over the mess on some farms. Mr Graham replied that they did have the power to serve notice to tidy up but that was separate from the retrospective application.

The majority accepted the officer’s recommendation to approve. She explained: ‘The proposed development is justified and serves the agricultural needs of the agricultural unit. The building is set on the edge of the existing building group of traditional buildings. The solar array will form a sustainable renewable energy source and the proposal will only have a limited impact on the character and appearance of the locality.’

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.

March to July 2023

ARC News Service reports from  meetings of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s ( YDNPA )planning committee when the applicatoins discussed were: on March 7 – A glamping extension to Aysgarth Lodges Holidays, the temporary rural worker’s accommodation at Kidstones Gill Bridge in Bishopdale, housing to replace Orton Works at Reeth; and the proposed conversion of a barn near Dent; April 18 – local occupancy houses at Airton and Austwick;, and the continuation of quarrying at Dry Rigg QuarryHorton in Ribblesdale, plus the ‘catch-up’ review of enforcement (including the residential use of a barn at Manor Grange Farm, Low Lane, Carperby) and statement by Association of Rural Communities about how photographs are used by the planning officers;  May 30 – 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;  July 11 – 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. She was unable to attend the meeting in January 2023. There are two reports available online: altered plans for Sedbegh housing development
and  the proposal for a camping barn near near Muker 

At the end of the meeting in March the four district councillors who were leaving the authority due to the creation of a unitary authority (Cllrs John Amsden, Richard Good, Sandy Lancaster and  Carl Lis were thanked by the chair, Neil Swain,  and applauded by the rest of the members.

In March


One of the very noticeable aspects of this meeting was how limited the photographs were in what they showed. For the application by Aysgarth Lodges Hotel the planning officer showed only two photos, both from north of the site. One showed the road junction with the A684 and the other of a nice green field with trees in the background. The officer explained that those trees screened the proposed glamping site. There were no photos of the luxury lodge site from the south side of Bishopdale. Above: The lights of the luxury lodge site are very visible at night, as shown in the centre of this photograph.

For the application about the temporary rural worker’s accommodation  at Kidstones Gill Bridge the planning officer showed just a location map and one of the chalet. But no photos to show the area where the chalet is sited.

One member pointed out that very few photos were shown of Birchentree Barn at Cowgill, Dent.

Westholme – between Aysgarth and West Burton

The site of Aysgarth Lodges Holidays was compared to Blackpool illuminations or Christmas lights.

‘Talk about light pollution, that is absolutely ridiculous,’  Richmondshire District councillor John Amsden told the committee.  But that view of the luxury lodge site was not shown to the committee members by the planning officer.

The majority of the committee accepted the planning officer’s recommendation to approve the application by Leisure Resorts Ltd to remove two holiday lodges at the northern edge of the site  and to replace them with six glamping pods. The planning officer showed only two photos – see above.

The ‘local’ members – North Yorkshire County councillor Yvonne Peacock, Richmondshire District councillors John Amsden and Richard Good, and parish council representative Allen Kirkbride from Askrigg – objected to approving the application. Cllrs Peacock and Amsden said photographs should have been taken from the other side of Bishopdale.

They also emphasised the road safety issues. ‘It’s disappointing that the narrowness of the road [from the site] wasn’t shown,’ said Cllr Peacock. Mr Kirkbride agreed and added: ‘My main concern is safety. You have to go 300m up the A684 before you get to a footpath and that section is a fast piece of road and it is dangerous.’

Cllr Peacock pointed out the unusual event of two parish councils objecting to an application. In its objection Burton cum Walden Parish Council agreed with Aysgarth and District Parish Council about the hazardous impact of the increase of pedestrian and vehicular traffic along the narrow road leading to and from the site and along the A684.

Like Cllr Peacock Burton cum Walden Parish Council was worried about flooding as there had been so much in the past at Eshington Bridge. The parish council was also concerned about the capacity of the existing cesspit. It stated: ‘We have received reports from local residents walking in the area about the unpleasant smell from this pit and the possibility that sewage is overflowing into Bishopdale Beck. Any increase would make the situation worse. Also, we have never been able to discover how the contents of the numerous hot tubs already on the site are disposed of.’

Commenting on that at the meeting Cllr Amsden said: ‘I am sick of everybody blaming farmers for pollution.’

Aysgarth and District Parish Council had also stated that the site had a long  history of providing accommodation for static and touring caravans, as well as tents, with minimal impact on the surrounding area. It added: ‘In 2007 all that was lost to the area with the conversion to use for holiday lodges only.

‘The site … is now more akin to a small urban housing development which, when viewed from across the valley, is lit up like a Christmas tree. The site is already much bigger than the original caravan park and has a detrimental impact on the dark sky initiative. Any further expansion would be an over development of the site and add to that detrimental impact. To maximise return on their investment the owners might be better to look at reinstating some of the touring caravan and camping opportunities that were lost to the area by the earlier development.’

Other members of the committee, however, accepted the view shown to them by the planning officer. North Yorkshire Country councillor Richard Foster said that the site was not high profile, but added that he did not travel that way at night. He, like others, agreed that a wider selection of holiday accommodation was needed these days.

Originally Leisure Resorts Ltd had applied to install a further 11 pods in the field on the western side of the site but that has been withdrawn.

Kidstones Gill Bridge, Bishopdale

The possible support of the Authority’s planning officers for the construction of an rural worker’s cottage in Bishopdale was described as a ‘bit contradictory’ by Cllr John Amsden.

The majority of the members agreed temporary permission could be granted for 12 months for a chalet at Kidstones Gill Bridge while Robert and Helen Brown worked with the planning department on an application which would include a permanent rural worker’s cottage there.

Aysgarth and District Parish Council had strongly objected to extending planning permission for the chalet partly because the time allowed for a temporary dwelling had long expired.  Cllr Yvonne Peacock told the committee: ‘The problem with this application is that it should have been enforced long before now. What has happened to the fact that they [Mr and Mrs Brown] were given permission for two cottages at Howsyke and they have never materialised?’

The planning officer explained that permission was granted in 2017 for two rural workers’ cottages at Howsyke in Bishopdale as part of the development of that site. She stated: ‘The case presented in the 2017 application was that the applicants [Mr and Mrs Brown] would live in the farmhouse at Howsyke and the business would be grown to increase ewe numbers from 100 to 1000. Suckler calves would be purchased each autumn.’

She added that planning permission was granted for the temporary accommodation at Kidstones Gill Bridge in 2019 and that expired in December 2020. ‘The siting of the chalet and its occupation has been unauthorised since that date. The intention was that the occupant would move back to Howsyke upon completion of the permanent dwelling, ’ she said.

Mrs Brown (who, with her husband, do not live at Howsyke) told the committee: ‘There have been huge changes made with our farming enterprise which has made us take stock. Our aim is to relocate one of the worker’s cottages we have permission for at Howsyke to Kidstones Bridge. If the temporary planning is not extended there is no alternative accommodation for the two [living there].’

When asked about the plan to have one of the cottages at Kidstones Gill Bridge the head of development management, Richard Graham, said: ‘There is an argument to have one permanent dwelling there …. our agricultural consultant is happy to go along with that rather than two at Howsykes. It is a large holding and a lot of land.’

Wensleydale farmer, Allen Kirkbride, who is a parish council representative on the Authority, commented: ‘They [Mr and Mrs Brown] had planned lots of sheep but it is more into game and wildlife than it was. They should have started at least one of the cottages at Howsyke.’

North Yorkshire County councillor Robert Heseltine and Cllr Amsden agreed with him that they did not want to see a new  house built at Kidstones Gill Bridge. Cllr Amsden compared this to a farmer not being allowed to convert a barn which was in the middle of the field. ‘A bit contradictory I think,’ he remarked.

Cllr Heseltine asked how much acreage was being farmed at Howsyke and how much at Kidstones Gill Bridge. The planning officer replied that the rural worker was employed to manage 700 acres of land and 1400 acres of woodland and the work included the maintenance of the hydro-plant which is housed in a new barn beside the chalet.

As Kidstones Gill Bridge and Howsykes were only two miles apart neither Cllr Heseltine nor Mr Kirkbride could see any justification for a new dwelling at the former. And, like Cllr Amsden, Cllr Heseltine felt that a barn conversion would be more appropriate.

North Yorkshire County councillor Richard Foster, like others, felt he could approve a 12-month extension for the chalet especially as there was no other accommodation for the worker and his partner. And Jim Munday commented that enforcement action should be taken after a year if things weren’t sorted out.

At the end of the debate North Yorkshire County councillor David Ireton asked if this would be the final extension for the chalet. He did not receive an answer.


Orton Works at Reeth was an eyesore and the majority of residents were looking forward to getting the site tidied up, Richmondshire District councillor Richard Good told the meeting.

He also commented that, at his last meeting as a member, the committee was considering the most controversial application from his area since he had joined it. He said that some residents in Hill Close were understandably concerned as their homes would overlook the new development. Orton Works, which had been a builder’s yard until 12 years ago, is accessed via Hill Close.

The committee unanimously voted to approve the application to demolish the existing buildings and to construct three local occupancy dwellings. The planning officer told the committee that the original application had been for four houses but this had been amended.

The height of two had been increased, however, so as to accommodate a third bedroom in each roof space. Reeth, Fremington and Healaugh Parish Council was concerned about this additional height and some residents were worried about their homes in Hill Close being overlooked causing loss of privacy.  The planning officer said that care had been taken to reduce opportunities for overlooking, overshadowing or loss of light to neighbours.

She added that if the site returned to being a builder’s yard or similar use the level of noise or disturbance to those living nearby would be unacceptable. The replacement of an employment site with local occupancy dwellings was, therefore, considered justifiable.


By a majority of just three votes the committee agreed that planning permission could be granted for the conversion of Birchentree Barn at Cowgill, Dent, for residential use. But this was against officer recommendation and Richard Graham said the decision would be referred back to the next meeting as he had significant concerns about the validity or soundness of the reasons put forward for approving it.

Three of those who voted to approve the application were district councillors Amsden, Good and Lancaster who will no longer be members of the Authority once the North Yorkshire unitary authority comes into existence on April 1.

The planning officer had recommended refusal because, he stated, the proposal would involve significant alterations and major structural work which would have an adverse impact on the heritage interest and traditional character of the building and the surrounding landscape. He said: ‘Given the amount of demolition and rebuild involved, the proposed development would be tantamount to the erection of a new dwelling in the countryside and, as such, contrary to the … Local Plan.’

Mr Graham told the committee that the policy to allow roadside barns to be converted was to secure a heritage asset and the demolition of two walls would not ensure that. He also said that there had been 13 barn conversions in Dentdale and there were two sites for new housing in Dent listed in the Local Plan.

South Lakeland District councillor Ian Mitchell said that those sites were never going to be developed for financial and legal reasons. He had asked that the planning committee should discuss the application as he wanted to see the building brought back into use rather than falling down and so help to provide  housing for local people.  He added: ‘I am sure this Authority can put conditions on the materials used to make sure it retains its traditional character.’ And Cllr Peacock observed that when rebuilding walls modern insulation could be installed.

Cllr Foster pointed out that a wall was likely to fall onto the road so something had to be done. Cllr Amsden commented: ‘If the wall fell on the road they would blame the farmer and his public liability would go through the roof.’  Instead, he said, the Authority should be aiming to bring the barn back into use and at helping the next generation to stay in the National Park.

Mr Graham said there was funding available to help farmers restore barns. This led to North Yorkshire County councillor Andrew Murday  asking if a barn was restored to its original structure could the owner then apply to convert it into a dwelling. Mr Graham replied that would depend upon having retained the structural and heritage integrity of the barn.

“It just seems to me to be a bit illogical,’ responded Mr Murday.

Mr Graham said that a rebuilt barn would become a modern building and no longer a traditional one.

The parish council had recommended that the barn, when converted, should be restricted to local occupancy with a legal agreement. Mr Graham said that the Authority’s policy was that barn conversions should be for local occupancy or holiday let. ‘It’s not reasonable for the Authority… to restrict to local occupancy,’ he stated.

The planning officer had also recommended refusal because the Highways Authority had advised that there wasn’t sufficient visibility from the  access due to the location of the barn on a bend on the unadopted road. Several agreed with Cllr Mitchell that the problem could be solved by installing a mirror on the opposite side of the road – a solution used by many others living in the dales.

When listing the suggested material considerations put forward to allow the members to approve the application against planning policy, the legal officer, Clare Bevan, added ‘I am not sure how’ regarding overcoming highway concerns. The other reasons were: to improve the condition of an abandoned building and bring it back into use; and the development providing additional housing for the village of Dent. Cllr Peacock asked that supporting local farmers should be included.

in April

At the beginning of the meeting the following statement was read by Alastair Dinsdale, chairman of the Association of Rural Communities:

‘At your last meeting members local to Wensleydale and Bishopdale pointed out that the photos shown regarding the Aysgarth Lodge application and the temporary chalet at Kidstones Gill Bridge (just two photos for each application) did not give a true picture of these within the landscape. And yet, when officers have recommended refusing applications for livestock sheds, barn conversions or camp sites, they have shown many photos from all angles and using various lenses to illustrate their argument that there would be a negative impact  upon the landscape. This is neither fair nor consistent, nor in accord with the Authority’s obligation to conserve and enhance the landscape and scenic beauty of the Yorkshire Dales.’

This was the Authority’s response:

‘Planning officers provide photographs so that members of the committee can see the site from relevant vantage points. It is for members to decide whether they have sufficient information in front of them to make a decision, including whether there are sufficient photographs. Members always have the option of deferring consideration of the application for further information to be provided or alternatively for a committee site visit to be arranged.’

ARC’s comment: It is obviously very important that the members do carefully consider if the photographs they are shown clearly show the impact upon the landscape.


The majority of the committee agreed that three local occupancy houses can be built on the north-west corner of Hall Garth in the village even though Airton Parish Meeting had objected and a resident had told members that the access to the site would be too dangerous.

North Yorkshire councillor Simon Myers explained that, although he understood the concerns about traffic and safety, he was also aware that suitable houses were needed in the dales’ villages for young families. He added that the planning committee weren’t able to refuse an application unless it had sustainable reasons. The Hall Garth site, he said had been tried and tested by an inspector when the Local Plan (2015-2030) was being prepared and the Highways Authority had stated it was happy with the access. ‘I can’t see any sustainable grounds for refusing this application,’ he commented.

Airton resident Catherine Coward told the meeting: ‘I cannot overstate the danger of this access. Even if the walls were lowered completely one would not be able to see cars coming out of the dip and up the hill [to the access]. It is a narrow road with no pavement. The photos you have just seen do not show the level of that rise.’

She said that among those walking along that road were children going to the bus stop and added: ‘If this goes ahead there will be an accident – it is just a matter of time.’

She was also concerned about the visual impact of the three new terraced houses on the village. ‘Airton is a beautiful historic village which has remained virtually unchanged for centuries. If building is allowed in this important open space in the heart of the village it will irrevocably damage both the character and the landscape of this lovely village. This development is not appropriate and would not help the community but harm it.’

Airton Parish Meeting also had concerns about road safety and the likelihood of archaeological remains on the site, as well as Hall Garth having  been designated on the Local Plan as an ‘important open space’ and so should, therefore, be protected in its entirety. It pointed out that the proposed development would not be completely within the area designated for local occupancy housing.

Charles Richardson, the applicant, told the meeting that his grandfather, John Richardson, had bought Hall Garth in 1935 and the ownership of it now was shared between the grandchildren and great grandchildren. Mr Richardson said: ‘I believe it was called Hall Garth because there was a large residential hall in the field many years ago. In the 1960s there was very very nearly a new school and housing development in the field. I believe the need for the school diminished and as a result nothing happened. So the field continued to be used for grazing as it is today.

His interest in affordable  housing, he said, began with reading the Malhamdale Plan in 2005 and then a meeting at the YDNPA office in Bainbridge at which there was a call for building sites in the National Park. He explained that after the site in Hall Garth had been allocated for development in the Local Plan there had then been lengthy discussions with housing associations until finally he had submitted his own application. This was originally for four houses but was reduced to three as the planning officer said that the fourth house would have been too close and would have overlooked an existing property.

She told the meeting that two small sections would be outside the allocated site: a narrow strip on the eastern boundary to increase the size of the rear gardens and a strip to the south so as to create a better access. She believed these modest increases would not impact significantly on the character of the remaining large field.

The Highways Authority had agreed that the visibility from the access would be acceptable once the wall beside it had been lowered.  Iron railings will be fixed on top so that it will be similar to the wall further south of the site.

Several members agreed with the proposal to provide local occupancy houses  and although there were concerns about road safety, the opinion of the Highway Authority was accepted.

The committee was informed that, as there might be archaeological remains there, the site will be monitored when construction begins. The planning officer assured the committee that it would be kept informed if anything was found.


The committee unanimously approved the application for a  housing development at Austwick which will now include properties more affordable to local people.

The latest proposal for eight houses to be built in Pant Lane was welcomed by Austwick Parish Council as it felt it was a better mix of housing and would benefit the community.

North Yorkshire councillor David Ireton agreed and stated: ‘[This] very much takes on board what the parish council would have accepted back in 2020. I am of a view that if developing properties in villages the provision of affordable housing should be delivered within that community. We shouldn’t be importing developments on communities, taking the money out and spending it miles away from them.’

The planning officer explained that the application approved in 2020 was for eight open market dwellings with a commuted sum being paid by the developer in lieu of providing on-site affordable houses. She said that the previous developer had, however, indicated that the required commuted sum would make the development unviable.

She said the latest application was by Venturi Homes with a different mix of eight homes: three open market; two shared/affordable ownership and three principal residency dwellings. She told members that the principal residency meant that the owners had to occupy the houses as their principal home and it was estimated this restriction reduced the open market value by up to five per cent.

She told the committee: ‘The original proposal … [was] unlikely to have a direct benefit for the immediate community of Austwick. The commuted sum… would also not necessarily cover the costs of developing four affordable houses elsewhere. The proposed amendment, however, would directly benefit the local community by providing two shared ownership affordable dwellings within the village, subject to a local connection clause which would prioritise those within Austwick Parish. The three principal occupancy dwellings would also provide permanently occupied two and three bed dwellings in the village, ensuring they cannot be second homes or holiday lets.’

Dry Rigg Quarry

Permission was again granted for a lateral and deepening extension of Dry Rigg Quarry until December 2034 after the planning officer argued that, despite having a detrimental impact upon the landscape,  there was a regional and national need for the aggregate quarried there. Quarrying was due to end at Dry Rigg by December 2021.

The application by Tarmac Aggregates Ltd was first approved in June 2021 with the legal agreement completed in February 2022. This was quashed by the High Court in February this year following a Judicial Review which upheld the view of a local resident, Kate Smith, that the officer’s report had not expressly demonstrated exceptional circumstances for permitting a major development, that it did not expressly afford great weight to conserving and enhancing landscape and scenic beauty, and that the harm to the landscape was only considered in terms of visual impact.

Both Austwick and Horton in Ribblesdale Parish Councils objected to the latest application due to the lack of dust suppression and the impact of dust pollution on local residents. The Friends of the Dales objected to the apparently never ending postponement to the end of quarrying and restoration of the site; the impact of significant HGV movements; and the proposed lateral extension of the extraction area.

Member Mark Corner, who is a vice president of the Friends of the Dales, left the room before the application was discussed to avoid any potential bias, he said.  He explained: ‘Before I became a member of the Authority in July 2020 I was an active trustee of the Friends of the Dales and was involved directly in their submission of objection to the original proposal in May 2020.’

In his lengthy report the planning officer quoted the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) that the exceptional circumstances for approving a major development within a National Park included a national need. He stated: ‘It is acknowledged that the proposal will have a detrimental effect on the visual quality of the landscape as a result of the creation of 140m of new quarry face [on Moughton Nab]. However, the effect of these works on the wider landscape character is less tangible and less severe as the character of the Ribblesdale landscape is typified by geology and natural features but also by human influence upon it in terms of settlement, farming and, critically, quarrying. The several historic quarries, including Dry Rigg, form a dominant visual presence in the landscape and are undeniably part of the landscape character of Ribblesdale.’

He stated that the quarry was one of the few in the country and of which there are only four in the north of England that produce the gritstone with the high polished stone value used for road and runway surfacing due to its high skid resistant properties. He said Tarmac had demonstrated the need for that aggregate and that the scope for mining it outside the National Park was extremely limited.

He also stated that quarrying at Dry Rigg supported 36 jobs and the local businesses that supplied it. He said: ‘In local terms 36 jobs represents a medium sized local employer making a significant contribution to the local economy and to the economic health and vitality of communities within the National Park. The proposal would guarantee the economic benefit for a further 13 years.

‘It is considered that great weight should be given to these national and local economic benefits.’

Stephen Cowan, who spoke on behalf of Tarmac, was accompanied by many of those who work at the Quarry. He said these included someone whose father and grandfather had worked there, one for 42 years. The owners of the quarry, he said, had a record of community involvement and funding large and small projects in the dales as well as working with Natural England and the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust. ‘We feel we are part of the National Park and part of its heritage,’ he commented.

Commenting on the presence of the employees North Yorkshire councillor Steve Shaw-Wright stated: ‘This does actually show that there is local employment with what I would term proper jobs with proper pay and prospects rather than minimum wage summer-time jobs.’

And North Yorkshire councillor Robert Heseltine said: ‘Agriculture and quarrying are the two traditional employment industries in the National Park.’ Like many other members he accepted the planning officer’s assessment of the national need and that approval of the application would be in accordance with the Authority’s policy.

Another North Yorkshire councillor, David Ireton, stated, however: ‘I voted against this application last time and there is nothing in this application that has changed my mind.’ Referring to the NPPF that great weight should be given to conserving and enhancing the scenic beauty of the National Parks he said: ‘I don’t see how this [application] does that. It completely ruins what we’ve got.’

North Yorkshire councillor David Noland agreed with him – and also with Kate Smith who had addressed the committee earlier.  Cllr Noland said:  ‘I don’t see how this delivers sustainable development. I don’t see how it conserves or enhances the landscape, or protects the special qualities of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. There is plenty of scope for [the aggregate to be quarried] elsewhere – and not in the middle of this glorious National Park. I think we are all aware of the damage being done to the environment.’

The conditions of the approved application include: restoration to be completed by December 2035; the hours when HGVs must not enter or leave the site or when blasting can take place;  and  a comprehensive scheme of controlling and monitoring dust.

Regarding the latter the chairman of the committee, Neil Swain, asked after the vote: ‘Can we monitor the road conditions between these two quarries to make sure they are kept clean because they have been known to be in a disgusting state at times. So please make sure they are monitored.’


When the Planning Enforcement Closures Report was presented Mr Swain commented that a number of applications had been hanging around a long time due to the Covid pandemic and he hoped this aspect of planning would get back to normal soon.

Some were registered in 2017 and were listed as being ‘regularised’. These included unauthorised building works (Bell Barn and Castle Folly) at Forbidden Corner in Coverdale.

It had been decided, however, that it was inexpedient to carry on with enforcement action concerning the  unauthorised use of an agricultural building for residential purposes at Manor Grange Farm, Low Lane, Carperby. This was registered in June 2018.  It was stated in the report: ‘Delayed decision due to sale of Yore Mill, Covid and owners’ personal circumstances.’

In May 


‘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.

In July 


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.

A Crime against the Yorkshire Dales

Statement by the Association of Rural Communities concerning local democracy  in the new North Yorkshire Council and the under-funding of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority:

A major crime has been committed against local democracy and the special landscape of the Yorkshire Dales – and the perpetrator is the government.

The government pushed for large unitary authorities to replace district councils in north England. One of these, North Yorkshire Council,  states on its website states that it is ‘being built with local at its heart and aims to be the most local, large council in England.’

But actions speak louder than words as is very obvious for those living in Swaledale and Arkengarthdale. Not only do they no longer have their own district councillor (Richard Good) but they have lost their local representative on the planning committee of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA).

Mr Good’s place on the YDNPA planning committee has now been allocated to Steve Shaw-Wright the North Yorkshire County councillor from Selby – almost 73 miles from Reeth.

Two other local district councillors have been replaced on the planning committee by those who do not live in the National Park.

Alastair Dinsdale, chairman of the Association of Rural Communities said: ‘I see this as the final nail in the coffin of democracy within the National Park. We, the community, own, live and manage the area as unpaid park keepers. We are now controlled by officers, appointed members and elected members from larger authorities around the National Park. Residents of the National Park should have the same level of local government representation as everyone else.

‘For a sustainable future we need to take back some control before the next generation turn their backs and leave, and then who will look after what we have created and managed so well?’

In addition to the problem of representation it looks as if Swaledale and Arkengarthdale will also suffer from the under-funding of the Yorkshire Dales National Park (YDNPA).

The core grant from Defra to the YDNPA has not increased for eight years – and yet seven years ago, in August 2016, the size of that National Park was increased by almost a quarter (from 653 sq miles to 841 sq miles)  .  The YDNPA stated at that time: ‘It’s thrilling that these fantastic areas [such as the Great Asby Scar, the northern Howgill Fells, Wild Boar Fell and Mallerstang ] have at last been recognised as worthy of national park status, based entirely on the quality of the landscape and rich recreational opportunities they offer.’

But what is the use of having the status without the money to do the job properly?

As the YDNPA Chief Executive David Butterworth told the Full Authority meeting on March 28, due to inflation the core grant from Defra was less in actual terms now than it was in 2010, and in real terms was worth half of what it was then. ‘We used to have a £1, now we have 50p,’ he said.

He explained that through income generation and using some of its reserves the Authority has balanced its budget and expects to meet most of its objectives which include producing a new Nature Recovery Plan for the National Park. But it still needed to cut back on some projects including wildlife conservation, trees and woodlands.

It is also re-evaluating its very successful Rights of Way maintenance programme. As the responsibility for these rests with the Highways Authorities the YDNPA will discuss funding with the new Unitary Authorities.  There is also the possibility of having card-only car parking machines at its car parks which, it stated, would save about £50,000 a year by 2025.

And there is a proposal to remove the Authority’s presence from Hudson House in Reeth from 2024/25, which would save it £31,000 a year. Authority member Allen Kirkbride, the parish council representative for the northern part of the Yorkshire Dales, described Hudson House as ‘very much the face of the national park’ in Swaledale and Arkengarthdale.

Those two dales are an integral part of the Yorkshire Dales and would have been key factors in its designation as a National Park in 1954. The barns and walls in Swaledale and Arkengarthdale are so iconic that in 1989 much of those dales became the largest conservation area in the country.

Hudson House works in partnership with several local agencies as well as providing an office for the National Park’s Ranger and its Tourist Information Centre. Mike Evershed, the chair of Hudson House Ltd, told the meeting on March 28 that its mission was to further the economic, social, cultural and environmental interests of residents, businesses and visitors to Swaledale and Arkengarthdale. He spoke, therefore, about the effect of the YDNPA’s withdrawal on residents, businesses and visitors.

He said: ’In terms of businesses and visitors, I believe it would be very damaging if the visitor centre in Reeth were to close completely. I am well aware that in recent years it has been something of a Cinderella and not a high priority for staffing or stocking. But Swaledale is one of the most iconic dales and Reeth a historic centre both for business and recreation. I believe there is scope for us to work with you to reduce costs and improve sales or, if necessary, to find an alternative way to maintain a tourist information presence in Reeth. So I would urge the Authority to work positively with us to explore alternatives before taking any irreversible steps to close the centre completely.

‘The second point I would like to make is that your local area ranger is also based in Hudson House and that does not seem to be considered. The co-location of the area rangers in the communities they serve was one of the best decisions the Authority has made. People can and do drop into Hudson House to talk about issues before they become problems. This co-location has also been of great importance when there have been emergencies, such as after the devastating flash flooding in 2019. So there is considerable concern in the local community that you are planning to close the ranger’s office as well as the visitor centre.’

The way things are going it won’t be just Hudson House which is the Cinderella but all of Swaledale and Arkengarthdale.

January to December 2022

ARC News Service report on  meetings of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority‘s (YDNPA) planning committee  in 2022.

Applications discussed: January  11 –  a proposed glamping site at Askrigg; and alterations at The Stables at Marske;  February 22 – conversion of the Railway Station at Horton in Ribblesdale, a live/work unit and dog breeding kennels at Langcliffe near Settle,  a new farmstead near Appersett, enforcement action against owner  of Bainbridge Ings Caravan site near Hawes, and an enforcement notice regarding a container at Stirton;  May 17 –  use of Colt Park Barn at  Chapel le Dale,  snack kiosk at Crina Bottom, Ingleton, a new house at Embsay, dormer window on a house at Threshfield, and opening a caravan site at Little Asby during winter; June 22 –  increasing number of  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; August 2 –  Fell View Barn and The Angel Inn at Hetton;,glamping pods at Town End Farm, Airton, and  by GTEC to convert at barn at Hawes; September 13 –  a new barn and slurry store at Saxelby Farm, Hebden, the conversion of what was  once a gym into holiday lets at Sedbergh, a possible  housing development at Grassington; and alterations to the access, garden and curtilage of Old Hall, Conistone, October 25 –  additional guest rooms for The Angel Inn, Hetton, a new Technology Centre at Sedbergh School, additional livestock housing at Gildersbeck Farm, Melmerby,  an agricultural building at Hebden; an ice cream trailer at Burnsall, and additional route for timber lorries from the Ingleborough Estate passing through Austwick to the A65; December 6 – for a local farming family to convert a barn at Hawes,  the conversion of a small shop to a holiday let also at Hawes, the redevelopment of a commercial site in Sedbergh, and  a complex application from United Utilities concerning replacing sections of the aqueduct from Haweswater which will particularly affect Killington parish.

Pip Pointon attends and reports on the YDNPA planning committee meetings as part of the commitment to local democracy by the Association of Rural Communities.

in January 


Almost all of the members voted to refuse an application by Richard Alderson to have three glamping cabins, two with hot tubs, on a field by his house on the south-eastern side of Askrigg.

Mr Alderson told the committee that he had lived and worked in the National Park area all his life but his work had dried  up due to the pandemic. “We realised we needed another stream of income to secure our long-term stability,” he said. He had initially considered having a camp site but this would have probably meant up to six cars being parked there at any one time.

He said he had been advised to consider luxury low-key cabins which would be environmentally friendly. The income from these, he said, would not only help them but enable his family with their children to move back into the area later. He added that this would “help to stop Askrigg becoming a ghost town”.  He told the committee that the glamping site would also sustain local businesses and commented:  “We believed we had identified a niche opportunity.”

He pointed out that there had been no objections from the wildlife conservation officer. The YDNPA’s building conservation officer had no specific objections but had requested that consideration be given to the impact of new development upon the character of the conservation area.

The Highway Authority had, however, recommended that the application should be refused as the public highway leading to the site was, it stated, insufficient in width to accommodate the increase in traffic. Access would be via Silver Street and the unmade Cringley Lane.

The planning officer reported: “Silver Street is narrow and single width with houses and  high garden walls to either side. This leaves nowhere for on-coming vehicles to pull off the road to pass each other.

“Silver Street emerges onto the main road at the centre of Askrigg. The parish council and residents report that it is dangerous due to the lack of visibility.”

This was emphasised by David Blake, a retired professor of music, who, after 39 years of living in Askrigg, had moved with his wife to Cringley House four years ago. He said he was speaking on behalf of his neighbours, several of whom attended the meeting.

They were concerned, he reported, that they had not been informed that the application was on the agenda for the last meeting of Askrigg and Low Abbotside Parish Council and so they had not attended it.

Mr Blake said the disturbance when work was being carried out on site was likely to be extreme and there would be continued disturbance to residents once the glamping cabins were in use. In addition, they believed the road was not suitable for heavy works traffic, and the additional vehicular use could make it difficult for emergency vehicles to gain access.

“This endeavour is entirely out of keeping with the environment [and]the landscape,” he said.

When recommending refusal the planning officer listed not only the highway issues but also that the proposed timber cabins would harm the appearance and the character of Askrigg Conservation Area and the surrounding landscape; and would cause overlooking, noise and disturbance that would be detrimental to the amenity of those living nearby.

Committee member Allen Kirkbride (from Askrigg) told the committee that the application had caused a lot of debate in the village. He summed up the arguments for and against the application before stating that he would abstain from voting.


A planning officer visited The Stables at Marske last year to check on concerns raised by Marske and New Forest Parish Council which included the possibility of the holiday accommodation being used as a “party house”.

His presentation at the planning committee was barely audible but he was heard to say that after monitoring the situation there was no evidence of The Stables being used as a party house.

Oil tanks had, however, been installed to the rear of the Grade II listed former stable block and a wall increased in height so as to screen them without planning permission.

The committee agreed that the oil tanks were necessary for the heating systems and should remain. They also agreed with the planning officer that the section of wall which had been altered looked rough and unfinished, and was possibly unsafe. It should, therefore, be repaired to standard agreed by the planning authority.

The application by the Heritage Property Group (Marsk) Ltd also included alterations to the car parking layout so as to increase the number of spaces from 17 to 34.

In his report the planning officer stated that there had been no increase in the number of accommodation units and added: “The proposed increase in car parking spaces would litter the grounds of the listed building with parked cars when in full use, which would be substantially harmful to the setting of the building and amount to over-development of the site.” He believed the increase could lead to traffic conflict on holiday change-over days.

The applicant had altered the application after being advised to have 20 car spaces which would be two car spaces per unit.

Like the planning officer, members Kirkbride and Richmondshire District councillor John Amsden emphasised the need to ensure that a local farmer could still access a private farm track. For this reason the proposed parking spaces close to that access were removed from the plans.

Richmondshire District councillor Richard Good said the parish council was particularly concerned about parking on the site and the construction of the wall. He told the committee that there was a serious parking problem in Marske especially when walkers left their cars there.

In February

Horton in Ribblesdale

Some community use of the Railway Station at Horton in Ribblesdale should be retained several committee members insisted when the application to convert it into a one-bedroom holiday let and a cafe cum bar was discussed.

The committee did give permission as long as there was a condition, proposed by member Mark Corner, to retain reasonable community use. The chairman, Neil Swain, said this condition would be drafted and if there were any problems it would be brought back to the committee.

Horton in Ribblesdale Parish Council had told the committee that the community had seen a gradual reduction in facilities over the years and so it was felt some sort of community use should be retained at the railway station. It said the station was used by community groups and that the parish council and Horton Local History Group had filing cabinets there. It did not consider that alternative community facilities in the area were suitable.

Those who objected to the application included North Craven Heritage Trust, The Friends of the Dales and Horton Local History Group.

Craven District councillor David Ireton commented: ‘The community needs that protection that they have a facility to meet for business.’

The planning officer, however, stated: ’The minor impact upon the community must be balanced against the positive re-use of this significant building enhancing the railway company’s offering.’

The application to convert the former Midlands Railway building (opened in 1876) was made by Settle and Carlisle Railway Properties (Trusts). A condition of the permission will be that the waiting room will be retained for railway users. The number of car parking spaces will be increased from five to six to provide for those using the holiday let.

The Trust stated that although it planned to open the cafe from 8am to 6pm every day, it was keen to provide a more permanent arrangement for community groups.

Jim Munday, the member champion for development management, described the application as sound as it would give a worthwhile purpose to the building for many years to come.

‘This application will focus more attention on the station and benefit rail travel. Trains are more environmentally friendly, someone else does the driving. They don’t park on the pavement and they don’t obstruct people’s drives.

But he also described Horton in Ribblesdale as being a village under siege due to 200,000 people a year undertaking the Three Peaks Walk. Many of them, he said, took the train to Horton in Ribblesdale station.

For those living in the private road leading to the railway station this can cause many problems as there was, according to one resident, an unwelcome element of drivers who did not heed the No Parking signs and could be very abusive when challenged.

‘We are senior citizens and find it increasingly stressful and upsetting having to cope with abuse. If this application is passed I would ask what happened to the ethos of the national park being jointly for the locals and the visitors alike?’ she said.

She explained that the station was a convenient place for many to either drop off walkers or to collect them. She added that she and her neighbours were often picking  up litter and that was likely to get worse if there was a cafe at the station.

During the debate parish council representative Cllr Allen Kirkbride asked if members of the Friends of the Dales should have declared their membership. Mr Corner said he was a member but thought it had been sufficient to say he had been lobbied. North Yorkshire County councillor Robert Heseltine stated he had let his membership lapse.


A registered Kennel Club dog breeder can create a live/work unit in a timber shed at Cowside near Langcliffe so that he can care for the dogs without affecting any neighbours.

The committee accepted the planning officer’s recommendation that Ian McKenna could convert the Old Diary into live/work accommodation and another shed (the shippon) for breeding kennels. He explained that such a dog breeding business was ideally sited in a more isolated location so that neighbours would not be affected by the noise, and that Mr McKenna needed to be on the site full time.

Even though a dog breeding business would not usually be classed as an ‘essential rural-based enterprise’ for which an exception to policy could be made he believed Mr McKenna’s application could, therefore, be approved.

The agent, Mike Harris, said Mr McKenna’s present accommodation wasn’t sustainable and that the pragmatic solution was to allow him to live on site where he could care for the dogs 24/7, and continue living in the area near his children.

‘I am very much in favour of small rural businesses,’ said Cllr Kirkbride. And North Yorkshire County councillor Yvonne Peacock agreed.

Cllr Ireton asked what would happen if the dog breeding business closed down.

The head of development management, Richard Graham, replied that there would be a legal agreement that the Old Diary could only be occupied by someone working in the dog-breeding business, and that it, the shippon and the grassed area used for exercising the dogs should remain in the same ownership. He assured the committee that this would be enforced.

The majority voted to approve the application even though Cllr Heseltine said that the past planning history did not sit well with many of them.

This included an enforcement notice in May 2019 to stop the use of the Old Dairy as a self-contained dwelling house, and an application to convert the shippon into a dog breeding unit being refused in April 2020. The planning officer said that a case  had now been made to support the siting of the business and accommodation in a more remote location.


A barn and a farmhouse can be constructed on a new farm – The Crag and Carr –  near Appersett, even though 29 trees along the A684 will be felled.

A planning officer reported to the committee that the 360 acre farm did not have a suitable barn for housing cattle in winter or a farmhouse. He explained that the applicants were previously long-standing tenants of the nearby East Birkrigg farm. But possession of  the farmhouse and associated farm buildings was taken back by the owner (Myles Metcalfe) in 2017 before subsequent sale.

The new barn and farmhouse will be close to another farmstead and in the only field that has direct access to the A684.  The planning officer stated.  however, that to obtain sufficient visibility splay 29 deciduous trees will be felled. These trees, he reported, contributed towards the somewhat unusual ‘green tunnelling’ enclosure of the highway.

This special feature was one of the reasons why Mr Metcalfe and David Braybrook objected to the application.

Besides questioning the proposed location of the new buildings, Mr Metcalfe said: ‘This section of the road is truly one of the most scenic in the whole of the Yorkshire Dales and it is now under threat.’

David Braybrook, who lives in Rigg House West opposite the proposed access, was also concerned about the felling of healthy trees that, he said, could well survive for another 20 to 40 years. He also pointed out that the access would be onto a dangerous and narrow stretch of road.

Like Mr Braybrook, Hawes and High Abbotside Parish Council pointed out that the traffic survey quoted was carried out in 2020 during the height of the lockdown when there were less visitors. ‘In more recent months this has increased 10 fold and it is, therefore, not a true reflection of daily life here now,’ the parish council stated.

It added: ‘We are more than dismayed at the proposal to remove trees… and we strongly object. One of the YDNP policies is to protect the landscape and support wildlife and the environment and the proposal seems in direct contravention of that.’

The planning officer reported that the Highways Authority had asked for the access to have a 4.5m set back from the road but this had been reduced to 2.4m to limit the number of trees to be felled.

The farmer, Nick Prince, said there had been a full assessment of the new farm and all other possible sites for the buildings had been discounted for reasons such as no potential for secure access or environmental sensitivity, or impact on the landscape.

He told the committee: ‘Our cattle need to be housed over winter to protect the land. Continuing to manage the farm [without] is stressful, impractical and unsustainable.’ The barn he said was also needed for calving and lambing, the storage of produce and machinery and  gaining accreditation as a farm.

Regarding the application for outline permission for a farmhouse he said: ‘We currently live in two bedrooms in my mother’s house in Hawes which is impractical for the family and unsustainable.’

He explained that it was difficult to reach the farm when the road between Hawes and Appersett was flooded; nor could they protect livestock from being stolen or take proper care of the animals if they weren’t living there.  ‘Living on site would reduce personal stress and anxiety – the worry for the welfare of the stock. Their security and their safety cannot be constantly monitored from off-site.’

The planning officer stated: ‘The proposal, including the formation of a new means of access, strikes a necessary balance between avoiding unacceptable visual and landscape impacts and safeguarding highway safety, whilst it is also acceptable in ecological terms.’ Trees will be planted to compensate for those felled, he said.

Cllr Richard Good commented: ‘I can’t see how you can run a farm if you don’t live on it.’

The committee first gave approval for the barn which must be built and brought into use before the farmhouse can be constructed. There will be an agricultural occupancy restriction on the latter.


The owner of Bainbridge Ings caravan site near Hawes has tried to make a mockery of the National Park’s planning system, said North Yorkshire County Cllr Yvonne Peacock, who represents Upper Wensleydale.

She recounted how the site had, until 2017, had a well-run camping site which enabled many to visit the area. ‘It’s a cheaper way to come and enjoy the Dales,’ she commented.

Cllr Kirkbride said: ‘Ever since they [the new owners] have taken this over they have taken us for a ride. I’m surprised it has gone on so long before we [take] action against it.’

Speaking from his experience as a Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme assessor, Richmondshire District councillor Richard Good told the committee: ‘The lack of tent camping in the area is becoming a serious problem. There isn’t a tented site that close to Hawes any more. We definitely do need it.’

The committee unanimously voted for an enforcement notice to be served following what the chairman, Neil Swain, described as an extensive but entirely justified presentation by an enforcement officer.

The officer explained that despite extensive contact with the owner during planning, enforcement and appeal processes significant breaches of planning control had continued at the site. In the field designated to be used only by those with tents there were  very visible gravel tracks and hard standings for touring caravans and campervans, a static caravan and a timber cabin which was being used as a guest washroom.

The owner had lost an appeal following the planning decision in June 2018 which required the field to continue to be used for tents only. Showing photos of the gravel track and hard standings now in the field the officer stated: ‘It is clear why the planning inspector was concerned about the use of the field for caravans or caravans.  This is exactly what the planning inspector was trying to avoid.

‘The one interesting thing you won’t find in this area are any tents. There is a sign – No tents allowed on site,’ he told the committee.

He said that approval was given in 2020 for an all-weather two-wheelings access track and grass filled grids for the field to be only used by touring caravans. He showed photos of the wide gravel track and the hard standings that are there now, again in breach of planning conditions.  ‘You can’t see any grass where the hard standings and parking areas are,’ he added.

Another unauthorised development, he said, was the installation of four cabins in that field. ‘They are permanently sited, they have fresh and waste water plumbing , they have gas installed, they have fencing and they have hot tubs.’

He explained that the planning permission in 2018 had allowed the owner to install eight camping pods on part of the site. But neither the pods nor the layout were in accordance with planning conditions. The owner lost his appeal against the enforcement notice and the officer said the matter was now moving towards prosecution.

He said there was an on-going pattern across Bainbridge Ings of breaches of planning control since the new owners took over in 2017.

In his report he warned: ‘Breaches of planning control impact adversely on the ability of the Authority to maintain public confidence in planning system and, in particular, the Authority’s ability to retain planning control over this site.’

Cllr Good agreed with Cllr Peacock  that prosecution should start immediately the six-month compliance order ended. He said: ‘We don’t want a day over six months because these are serious breaches.  I hope you enforce very vigorously as soon as you possibly can.’

To a request to start prosecution even sooner Richard Graham, head of development management, explained that was up to the legal officers and that, following the pandemic, the courts were overloaded.

The enforcement notice will be for the following:

In the tents only field: no more touring caravans, static caravans, mobile homes or campervans; the removal of the static caravan and the timber cabin; the removal of the unauthorised tracks and hard standings; and to restore the land to its previous state.

In the touring caravans only field: the complete removal of four unauthorised cabins; the removal of the gravel tracks and hard standings; and to return the land to its original condition.


It was also unanimously agreed that an enforcement notice should be served on the owner of a container in a field near Bog Lane, Stirton.

It was reported that the owner has been told since May  2018 that planning permission was required. An enforcement officer said that the owner had not responded to the latest correspondence sent by letter, email and voicemail, and the container remained in the field.

When Eden District councillor Ian Mitchell asked why it had taken so long to request enforcement action Mr Graham responded that the pandemic had had a severe impact during which the planning department had to deal with planning applications. He said it had been a difficult period and that, with recruitment, they were now getting rid of the backlog.

In May

Chapel le Dale

The Enforcement Closures Quarterly reports usually are approved very quickly and without comment. But not at the May meeting. Craven District councillor Carl Lis was the first to question how the situation at Colt Park Barn at Chapel le Dale could be described  as  ‘No Breach’ of a planning approval.

‘I am a bit confused, as is the local parish council. Its usage has increased enormously and this has created quite a big problem in terms of safety particularly by the access [to the B6479] . Where are we with this? What’s  happening with it?’ he asked.

North Yorkshire County councillor David Ireton agreed. ‘Quite clearly there is a breach,’ he said, pointing out that the original planning application approved in 1992 was for English Heritage to have sole use of the barn.

The situation was reported to enforcement because of ‘multiple use by other organisations’.

The head of development management, Richard Graham,  told the meeting that any application needed to be considered ‘without enforcement hanging over it.’ (Ingleborough National Nature Reserve applied for a lawful development certificate on March 23 this year.)

For the application by Ingleborough NNR and comments of residents click here.


Member Mark Corner then asked how it took four and a half years  to decide it wasn’t expedient to pursue enforcement action regarding the work carried out to increase the height and re-roof the building to the rear of the Forge at Hawes.

Mr Graham replied that there was a backlog as a result of Covid when enforcement had not been a priority. He reminded the committee that at the Full Authority meeting in September 2021 it had been decided, in view of the real time cuts in the budget, that enforcement would be split from development management (planning). The latter had remained as a priority programme but enforcement hadn’t.

Crina Bottom, Ingleton

The importance of enforcement was emphasised when the committee considered the application for a small, wooden kiosk at Crina Bottom, on the walking route to Ingleborough, which would be used to serve hot and cold drinks and cold food.

The owners, Adam Gough and Moira Domican-Gough, were asked to provide a management plan to show how they would ensure that no litter from the kiosk would end up on top of Ingleborough.

Referring to the piles and piles of litter at the top of Whernside Cllr asked: ‘How on earth are we going to police this to ensure that we don’t add to the problems we have already.  It’s just the issue of how they are going to guarantee that nobody takes litter from the [kiosk]  up onto Ingleborough. It’s a massive issue. We need to do something about the litter problem.’

And North Yorkshire County councillor Yvonne Peacock stated: ‘We have a statutory duty to do planning but no statutory duty to enforce. My problem would be the enforcement. This is such an important part of the National Park. Someone needs to keep an eye on this and make sure what it says in the application does actually happen.’

Mrs Domican-Gough told the committee that since they bought Crina Bottom just over a year ago they had moved many skip loads of rubbish off the site. ‘The last was a large digger that had been a landmark for about 30 years,’ Mrs Domican-Gough told the committee. ‘We are very proud of the results.’’

She assured the committee that the plates and cups would be washed and re-used. No plastic bottles would be available and there would be a recycling bin for cans. All the food would be sourced locally with the cakes being made in her kitchen. They would include items for the kiosk with their own shopping so that additional deliveries would not be required. And they would encourage walkers to protect and care for the environment and livestock.

‘We feel it will help make the countryside more accessible for some and prevent an elitist attitude towards the outdoors,’ she said.

Cllr Ireton said: ‘I don’t think there is anywhere on Whernside that serves drinks and food so I don’t think we can hold the applicant responsible for the problems that the general public create.In fact, it may reduce [the problem] as this will give them an opportunity to get a drink and a snack that is controlled.’

The planning officer emphasised that this would be a very low key and modest facility which was very unlikely to have a negative impact upon the highly sensitive open upland landscape. He added: ‘The development would offer walkers an enhanced opportunity to enjoy the landscape with a refreshing drink or slice of homemade cake.’

The majority of the members accepted his recommendation to approve the application.

YDNPA press release


The creation of a new house in Brackenley Lane, Embsay, was approved with the condition that the access, with adequate visibility splay,  must be created first.

Embsay with Eastby parish councillor Vince Smith, told the committee that if that wasn’t done the construction traffic would cause chaos. The parish council accepted the need for more housing, he said, but would  prefer one wasn’t built at the western end of Brackenley Lane where there was no footpath and which would exaggerate existing problems on a section of single-carriageway road. The road, he added, was not only used by schoolchildren but also as a back route between Skipton and Grassington.

The planning officer explained that it was due to the access onto a narrow road that the applicant had reduced the number of bedrooms from four to three. This should reduce the number of cars at the property. The plans for the garden had been altered to create parking spaces and the position of the garage had been altered.

Cllr Peacock agreed with the planning officer that this would provide a family home for local occupancy.


Previous enforcement action and a court appearance led to the latest application to retain a dormer window at High Winds, Wharfeside Avenue,  Threshfield being unanimously refused.

The planning officer reported that in February 2017 the committee had approved a much smaller dormer window to be built with materials which matched the exterior of the Edwardian-villa style of the semi-detached house. The one constructed was, he said, significantly bigger  with two larger windows plus a small central opening plus other changes to the approved plans. This led in 2018 to an enforcement notice being served and an application to retain the dormer being refused. Finally, at a court appearance in November 2020, the applicant, Andy Gould, was found guilty and fined. Mr Gould then applied to retain the dormer with new tile hanging and upvc window frames.

The planning officer recommended refusal on the grounds that, even with the alterations proposed by Mr Gould, the dormer would still harm the character and appearance of the Edwardian building and surrounding area.

North Yorkshire County councillor Robert Heseltine said the dormer did blend in with the roof and not easily seen from the Skipton to Kettlewell road. Member Mark Corner, however, commented: ‘I think it is a carbuncle on the roof.’

Little Asby

Permission was granted for Chapel Farm Caravan Park at Little Asby in Cumbria to remain open 364 days a year.

Asby Parish Council had objected to allowing the caravans to be occupied during the winter because of light pollution, concerns about drainage and flooding, and the possibility of them being used as permanent residences.

The planning officer reported that the intention was to use low-level bollard-height solar powered lights along internal roadways which would be motion-sensitive and that would be included in the planning conditions.

He and the many members expected occupancy to be low in winter significantly reducing the  possibility of drainage problems and light pollution. He added that one of the planning conditions would be that caravans could be used for holiday occupancy only.

Eden District councillor Sandy Lancaster commented: ‘I can’t see it having an effect upon anybody given that it is a cul-de-sac road – it’s very quiet.’

And then Lancaster City councillor Kevin Frea suggested that maybe, in the future, those working in the area should be allowed to use such caravans as residential accommodation in view of the high price of houses.

Mr Graham replied that residential use led to many changes in the environment around the caravans as compared to holiday use.

There was a ripple of laughter when the chairman, Neil Swain, asked if anyone else wanted to say something controversial!

In June


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.

In August


A decision concerning the application by the owners of The Angel Inn at Hetton to increase the number of guest suites at Fell View Barn has again been deferred by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s planning committee.

When proposing deferral at the planning committee meeting on Tuesday August 2  North Yorkshire County councillor Robert Heseltine said: ‘This application is anti-social and disruptive to the quiet living of Hetton residents.’

He quoted the planning officer’s report that Hetton had a quiet, traditional character and that The Angel already had a dominant and busy business in the centre of it. ‘The plan before us today will significantly exacerbate this already unacceptable dominance,’ he said.

The reasons he gave for deferment were: the inadequate and unworkable parking arrangements; significant increase in parking on the highway; the detrimental impact on the well-being and health of livestock in an adjoining agricultural barn; a new residential unit (holiday suite) within six inches (15mm) of a livestock building and the removal of any maintenance facility to the latter.

He said the construction of a residential unit and a storage shed so close to a livestock barn would completely stop any ventilation which was critical for livestock. He pointed out that planning officers would never support a substantial livestock barn being built that close to a residential unit. And he was concerned about a new 1.9m high stone wall being built 150mm from the barn.

‘It does concern me greatly that we are going to allow buildings so close to a farm and we could easily end up losing the livestock on the farm. I have seen that happen,’ said North Yorkshire County councillor Yvonne Peacock.

The planning officer stated that whether it was legal or not to construct the wall was a private matter between the owner of the farm building and the applicant and was not a planning requisite. But Cllr Heseltine and several other members pointed out that the wall was included in the planning application.

Cllr Heseltine reported that there had been a professional survey of the parking situation in the village which had concluded that the proposals in the application would be dangerous to both drivers and pedestrians in Hetton.  He said that North Yorks County Highways had not carried out due diligence on the critical parking proposals and had accepted on face value the provisions by the applicants.

Both he and Craven District councillor Richard Foster questioned the lack of parking for those employed at The Angel and Fell View Barn. Cllr Foster told the meeting that there was no bus service in the evenings and so staff had to drive to Hetton.

Some members were also concerned about the lack of biodiversity especially in the car park at the front of Fell View Barn and the impact on the appearance of the village.


The majority of the members of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s planning committee voted to approve the siting of four glamping pods at Town End Farm, Airton, subject to a new landscaping plan.

The planning officer had recommended refusal. She stated: ‘The proposed pods, lighting and associated development would form prominent and incongruous visual features within the landscape as well as introducing a high level of human activity in a landscape with a quiet and undeveloped character.’

But North  Yorkshire County councillor Robert Heseltine told the meeting: ‘This is a small scale development related to the existing business and I would have thought that, subject to tree planting, that the proposal will blend into that landscape. I do think, in this instance, that the recommendation for refusal is rather a harsh one.’

Richmondshire District councillor Richard Good agreed with him and stated: ‘This is an excellent plan. I cannot understand refusing it.’

Member Mark Corner, however, said that although the Authority had a duty to support economic development it also had a duty to conserve the landscape and the natural beauty of the dales. Unlike Member Allen Kirkbride, he did feel that in the proposed location the pods would stick out like a sore thumb. He asked why the pods could not be sited nearer to the farm instead of in the open fields.

The farmer, Chris Hall, told the committee: ‘With the support of the YDNP in 2003 my wife, Jane, and I diversified by converting a modern agricultural building into a farm shop and tearoom, and a traditional barn into three self-catering holiday lets. These businesses have been a great success – the PO [post office] is now part of the farm shop, providing another service to the community.  Town End is at the heart of Airton and needs to continue in its role within the community, ensuring its future by this small scale addition of alternative guest accommodation.’

He said that his children wanted to take over these businesses now he and his wife wished to retire but there wasn’t sufficient income to support two families. The glamping pods would, therefore, provide crucial income he explained.

The pods, he said, would be well screened from the south, west and east by the farm steading and drystone walls. ‘They would be positioned in such a way that only the top of the gables will be visible from the north above the dry stone wall, when driving south from Kirkby Malham. The planting of mature trees will further screen them.’

He added: ‘We have visited other sites where pods, shepherd’s huts and caravan sites within the YDNP have been approved and noted that they are far more visible than this proposed site. We also note that these approvals haven’t requested that dry stone walls and mature trees exist at the time of application, only that they should be put in place during the development of the sites.

‘The chosen site for the pods is the best site for them, taking landscape and the visual impact into consideration and we do want to make the least impact possible.’

He also told the committee: ‘Over 95% of the National Park is in private ownership, our farm being part of that and, therefore, it is us and other local people who farm the land and run the businesses who are the custodians of the National Park. We, as custodians, acknowledge that this is a special landscape and want to keep it as such.’

When asked later if the decision would be referred back  the head of development management stated: ‘The application will not be referred back to the next meeting but will be determined pending the submission of an acceptable landscaping scheme. We have not had an acceptable landscaping scheme yet so the application is still outstanding.’


Once again an application to convert a barn in Old Gayle Lane, Hawes, into a dwelling  has been refused by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s planning committee.

At its meeting on Tuesday August 3 Neil Heseltine, who is chairman of the Authority, told the committee that there had been no significant change in the latest application submitted by GTEC Property Holdings since an Inspector dismissed an appeal in April this year regarding the previous one. ‘To agree with it at this stage after that inspector’s assessment, would be to drive a bus through our own Local Plan,’ he commented. He added that the present application was contrary to five of the policies in the Authority’s Local Plan.

Member Allen Kirkbride, however, maintained that it did fit the Authority’s policy for a roadside barn including having had a track to it. ‘A barn of this size would have had a track to it [and] it would have been used two to three times a day,’ he said.

He and North Yorkshire County councillor Yvonne Peacock argued that it was not in the open countryside as stated by the planning officer, because there was a caravan site on the other side of the road, and dwellings and a cattle market nearby.

Craven District councillor Richard Foster said that without another use the barn would decay. He added: ‘We  have a barn policy that doesn’t specify definitively how close to a road a barn has to be. I would like to see some work done with the applicant about the curtilage  – let’s pass this and put the right conditions in.’

‘We are a bit hypocritical about roadside barns,’ commented Richmondshire District councillor John Amsden. He, like Kirkbride and North Yorkshire County councillor Robert Heseltine,  pointed out that sometimes applications to convert barns had been refused permission even when they were right next to a road, and others had been granted permission when there was no track across a field to them.

The majority of the committee, however, agreed with the planning officer who stated: ‘The traditional field barn, some 29m from the roadside and not served by an access track, does not accord with the locational requirements of [Local Plan] policy. Furthermore, the proposed development would lead to a significant degree of landscape harm through the creation olf a dwelling with a large curtilage and the associated domestic paraphernalia that would be expected with it, the proposed parking area and a widened access track. The proposal would harm the rural, pastoral setting of this visually isolated farm barn and the scenic beauty and pastoral character of the landscape.’

In September


Calls to secure the future of the last dairy farm at Hebden won the day at the meeting.

North Yorkshire County councillor Robert Heseltine was among those who told committee members that  they must secure the future of the family dairy farm.  The majority of members agreed and did not accept the planning officer’s recommendation to refuse  the application by Gavin and Helen Herd to erect an agricultural building for 70 cows with a slurry store underneath in a field near their farmhouse at Saxelby Farm.

Mrs Herd told the committee they wanted to pass on the farm to the next generation. She said ‘We are a farming family passionate about milking our cows in a traditional way. But we are afraid that without these slurry facilities and associated livestock housing we will have no alternative but to cease farming.’

She explained that they believed that by incorporating the shed and slurry store it would be less intrusive on the village than two separate structures. She said they had considered all possible sites and added: ‘We believe our planned site is the least intrusive on our village or the National Park landscape. We discussed all the possible sites with the parish council and residents.’

Craven District councillor Richard Foster said he knew the area well and also believed there wasn’t another suitable site. He told the committee: ‘If we turn this down we won’t have a dairy farm at Hebden.’

Several members agreed with Cllr Heseltine that the small dairy farms had played an important part in the development of the landscape in the Yorkshire Dales and needed to be supported through the planning process when they had to modernise their facilities in line with government legislation.

Members Mark Corner and Neil Heseltine (chairman of the Authority), however, agreed with the planning officer that the application should be refused. The planning officer said: ‘The proposed development would result in a large wide spanned building that would introduce intrusive modern development beyond the distinct and clearly defined boundary of Hebden and extend the village out to the west. The proposed development would be seen in the landscape as a stand-alone building not visually linked with the existing farm buildings and so would have a harmful effect on the visual quality of this part of the National Park.’

Mr Corner reminded the committee that the primary purpose of the National Park was to conserve the landscape and its members should not consciously allow developments which would damage it.  Both he and Neil Heseltine were concerned about the siting of the building.

The planning officer stated that the proposed site was unacceptably close to nearby dwellings and would prove harmful to the residential amenity of neighbours, and potentially their health, by reason of noise and odours arising from the housing of animals and associated farming activity.

She also reported that the Environmental Health Officer had dropped their original concerns after the slight re-siting of the proposed building. She stated:’It should be noted that environmental health responses are based on whether a Statutory Nuisance is likely  to be caused and not on the basis of how a proposal would affect ones “amenity” or enjoyment of ones property, which is more subjective but a much lower threshold.’

Member Allen Kirkbride (a parish council representative) said that for over 30 years he had had a barn with a slurry store within similar close proximity to six residential dwellings and there had been no complaints about smell or noise. He asked why the planning officer had not sent the farm conservation advisor’s report to members. (Nor was it specifically mentioned in the planning officer’s report). The planning officer replied: ‘This was an omission on my part.’

The farm conservation advisor had stated: ‘I believe [the application] would safeguard the future business of a well-established small family farm which are so important to the landscape, culture and communities of the Dales. Currently these farms are in a very precarious position and we risk losing these working assets as financial and environmental pressures are significantly increasing in the near future.

‘All dairy farms need to provide at least four months storage of slurry and ideally six months. Over the next few months new grants are being offered to help dairy farmers with financial assistance to provide this. There are issues with the location and siting of the new building but it seems that these have been largely overcome with the amended plans.’ (from YDNPA Citizen’s Portal).

Hebden Parish Council strongly supported the application stating that it wished to encourage the only remaining dairy farm in the village. It added: ‘After a site meeting the councillors are satisfied the barn is located a reasonable distance from residential properties and it was explained that the up-to-date design and structure of the building minimises noise and odour. Hebden is a working village and the council hopes that it remains as such.’

After the majority of members had voted to approve the application contrary to the officer’s recommendation, the head of development management Richard Graham told the meeting that, as sound reasons had been given, that decision would not be deferred to the next meeting. The reasons were: to protect the viability of a local dairy farming enterprise in accordance with modern farming requirements; to ensure adequate safeguards for those living nearby; and that the visual impact would be reduced with a landscaping scheme.


The committee decided that the gym on the Cautley Road  once used by Baliol School can be converted into three holiday cottages.

Sedbergh Parish Council had objected because it was part of the only site allocated for business development within the parish and approval, it said, could set a precedent.

South Lakeland District councillor Ian Mitchell pointed out that the building had not been used for business purposes for 11 years and now looked appalling. He agreed with the planning officer that it was unlikely any business use could be found for it.

The officer said: ‘The gym building forms a complex with two dwellings, being in close proximity to them and sharing the same access, turning and parking area. This arrangement would compromise the type of business use that the building could be put to.’

Two members emphasised that it was already part of a residential site and that converting it to holiday lets would be a planning gain given the deteriorating condition of the building. The committee accepted the planning officer’s assurance that changing the use of the traditional building would not prevent developing the rest of the site for business uses.


Approval was given, without any discussion,  about the retrospective planning application for alterations to the access,  garden and curtilage at the Old Hall at Conistone.

The applicant had applied for permission to rebuild a collapsed wall and pier, to widen the driveway, the installation of an underground LPG gas tank, and the erection of a greenhouse, chicken shed and a log shelter.

Conistone with Kilnsey Parish Meeting had objected because, it said,  the greenhouse was highly visible; there were safety concerns about the siting of the gas tank and its proximity to neighbouring properties and a public right of way; and as the application did not include the development of the garage.

The planning officer told the committee that the siting of the LPG gas tank was not a planning issue. About the garage,  she said the applicant had been advised that ‘proving that there are no external alterations to the building, the first floor of the garage can be used for residential accommodation’.

She concluded: ‘The retention of the greenhouse and other structures, the widening of the entrance and the change of use the land from a field to domestic curtilage would have a negligible impact on the wider landscape and would cause less than significant  harm to the setting of the listed building [Old Hall].


A decision on the application by Endless Developments (Grassington) Ltd to build 23 houses and flats in Moody Sty Lane, Grassington, was deferred.

Grassington Parish Council’s objections included: building 23 instead of 20 dwellings, with only 30 per cent affordable housing when there should be 50 per cent; and the likelihood of access  and drainage problems.

The planning officer had recommended refusing the application. Her reasons included that the seven proposed affordable housing  units would not fulfil the Authority’s primary aim for allocating the site for housing which was to support the social and economic well-being of the local community. Like the parish council she was concerned about the segregation of the proposed affordable housing from other dwellings on the site.

She said that the proposed design and layout would lead to over development and inadequate off-street parking. She added that insufficient information  had been provided to assess impact from drainage and surface water runoff.

She told the committee that the developer had now asked to discuss all these issues and so she asked for a deferral.

In October


It was decided that the number of guest suites at The Angel Inn complex in Hetton can be increased.

The decision was deferred in August because committee members were very concerned about the impact of a new wall on a livestock shed and questioned if the car park would be adequate. Wellock Estates Limited, which owns The Angel Inn, had applied to create five new guest rooms and to alter the car parking provision at Fell View Barn.

The planning officer told the October meeting that an amended application there would  be a wall only at the end of the proposed extension which would be 500mm from the livestock shed.

North Yorkshire County Councillor Robert Heseltine argued that it would still be difficult for the farmer to maintain the livestock shed if there was such a small space between it and one end of the extension. He added that the three guest rooms in the extension would be so close to the shed that there would be complaints about the smells and noise. ‘This could lead to the disappearance of another Dales farming business,’ he said.

He agreed with Craven District councillor Richard Foster who commented: ‘This is over-development in a very small village. The car park will not accommodate what the business is producing.’

They proposed that the application should be refused. But the head of development management, Richard Graham, said that if the majority voted for refusal the application would be referred back to the next meeting. He explained: ‘I have doubts about the soundness of the reasons put forward. If it went to appeal officers would have to produce evidence to convince an appeal inspector that the North Yorkshire County Council’s highways engineer is wrong [about the car park] and that Craven District’s environmental health officer is wrong on health issues.’

The environmental health officer had stated that although noise and odour from the cattle shed would affect the hotel suites that would not be classed as a statutory nuisance given the temporary nature of the accommodation. They did not believe this would jeopardise the farm business but might affect the uptake of the hotel accommodation by guests. The officer explained: ‘Therefore it would be at the risk of the hotel to build new suites there. There is guidance on new agricultural buildings not being built within 400m of an existing residential dwelling … as this is for guest accommodation, I’m not aware of any similar guidance.’

The planning officer reported that the applicants had submitted an amended parking plan which showed 23 parking spaces each measuring 2.4m by 4.8m in line with the county council’s specifications. The highways officer had confirmed these dimensions were acceptable and that vehicles would be able to manoeuvre within the site.

The majority of the members felt that the amendments were sufficient and voted to approve the application.


Sedbergh School can build a Technology Centre which will not only transform the educational facilities of its own students but also serve other local schools and businesses.

The committee unanimously approved the school’s application even though the Authority’s own senior listed building officer and trees and woodlands officer had objected to the application.

Richard Graham told the committee: ‘ It has been a difficult planning application for officers to assess. There are clear elements of harm in this proposal – the removal of trees and harm to heritage assets. On the other hand there are clear benefits both to the local and wider economy.’

The committee accepted the planning officer’s recommendation to approve the application which included a replacement of the car parking area and the demolition of a toilet block.  She reported that the school with 450 employees was the largest employer in the National Park and the development would create a further seven full-time jobs.

Peter Marshall, the  school’s Chief Operating Officer, told the committee: ‘The purpose of the Technology Centre is not just for a new technology-based curriculum. It will enable the transformation in teaching to our children for tomorrow’s jobs, and to maintain our competitiveness as a major employer.’

He said that several sites had been considered but it was believed that on the north side of the listed buildings would be the best option for movement between the academic facilities and would form a new heart of the school around a central courtyard. He added that  more trees would be planted including a memorial plantation.

Member Mark Corner commented: ‘I think it’s a very impressive facility and I have got no issue with the need for it or the benefits it will bring. I just want to be convinced that all the alternatives have been assessed. I realise that a trade-off has to be made if they want students to get to their lessons quickly but there must be alternative sites which would work without damaging the trees and the historical assets.’

The planning officer  reported that several mature trees would be felled and that the toilet block to be demolished was within the curtilage of listed buildings.  She said the Technology Centre would be close to and affect the views of three listed buildings.

She told the committee, however: ‘It is considered that the proposed development would cause less than substantial harm to several heritage assets.’ She said that the benefits to the local economy and community had been considered as well as the proposed building being of high quality design and materials and added: ‘[This] would create a a visually interesting and highly sustainable feature building. The loss of the mature trees is highly regrettable. The trees have significant amenity value in their own right but also contribute to the setting of the listed buildings.’

South Lakeland District councillor Ian Mitchell said the advantages outweighed the disadvantages and the application was supported by Sedbergh Parish Council  and South Lakeland District Council.

The latter had informed the Authority: ‘The development would assist in building the wider South Cumbria area’s reputation as a centre of science, technology and engineering with the opportunity to link the centre to the advanced manufacturing and engineering businesses in Kendal, Ulverston and Barrow-in-Furness and to local universities. It would provide opportunities for other local schools, such as those listed in the Community Access Opportunities Report, to make use of the facilities and improve their education provision.’


Despite a strong objection from a parish meeting the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s planning committee voted unanimously to approve two applications for further livestock facilities at Gildersbeck Farm at Melmerby in Coverdale.

The applications by J H Simpson & Co were for a 30m extension  to an existing cattle shed and an additional livestock building. The planning officer explained that these would be in a complex of large farm buildings which were widely visible particularly from across the dale as they accommodated an intensive enterprise with 650 dairy cows and 200 dairy followers.

About the new building she said: ‘The landscape and visual impact is considered minimal relative to the scale and layout of the existing farm complex.’

The committee accepted that this applied to the extension as well and that the facilities were needed. The chairman Neil Swain commented, however: ‘I am concerned about the scale of this particular operation.’ He felt limits needed to be set within the National Park.

Coverham with Agglethorpe Parish Meeting had strongly objected. It had told the committee: the farm was overstocked and further intensification was not appropriate; the proposals were more suited to an industrial estate; all the feed stock was brought in by road and so would increase pressure on the road network; degradation of water quality of the River Cover; and the severe impact on dark skies from the existing development on the south side of the dale.


The committee also unanimously approved an application for a new agricultural building at Daisy Farm, Hebden.

The planning officer said that an unsightly building close to a listed barn would be demolished which would significantly enhance the appearance of Hebden Conservation Area. The new building, which would not be much larger than that demolished, will be on the site of an open storage area and would be seen in the context of the rest of the farm, she said.

Burnsall Parish Council,  however, objected because it believed the building would be too large for the location and its size could not be justified for the number of sheep currently on the farm.

Cllr Foster explained that it was an expanding sheep business.


The committee unanimously agreed with a planning officer that an ice cream trailer could be parked in the car park at Burnsall from April to October.

The application was brought to the meeting because Burnsall Parish Meeting had objected. It  had informed the Authority: ‘ Concerns were raised about a loss of amenity in that the ice cream trailer looks unsightly and spoils the view of what is a beautiful village green with the bridge and river in the background.’ There was also concern about the impact upon trees nearby.

The planning officer told the meeting: ‘The proposal represents a minor commercial addition addition of a small trailer to a busy car park. The development is semi-permanent and will be removed from the site for five months of the year. The proposal provides some part time employment.’

The applicant had confirmed that there was no desire to carry out tree works.

Ingleborough Estate, Clapham

Permission was granted for the timber lorries from Thwaite Wood on the Ingleborough Estate to take a different route through Austwick to the A65 when necessary.

The committee was told that when the work began the lorry drivers found it was dangerous turning left onto the A65 from Clapham Lane as, due to the length of the lorries, they crossed the white line onto the opposite carriageway. The applicant asked permission for lorries to use Greystonber Lane from the centre of Austwick to the A65.

The committee had approved an application in October 2021 for preparing for and extracting timber from Thwaite Wood, with no more than 12 lorries a week passing through Austwick along the approved route via Clapham Lane to the A65.

Residents have pointed out that lorry drivers already found it difficult to drive through Austwick where many cars were parked, and that there were also cars parked along Greystonber Lane even though it was quite narrow. The Highways authority accepted the amended route.

In December 


It was decided that the Shop on the Bridge at Hawes can be converted into a holiday let but a barn on the outskirts of the town cannot become the home of a local farming couple.

Emma Blades told the committee that converting the barn 150m from Hawes along Burtersett Road would allow her parents to remain part of the Hawes community. ‘They have now come to retirement age and want to stay in the dale where they have lived and worked extremely hard all of their lives and let the next generation go forward.

‘This barn conversion will provide an affordable retirement home and it’s on our land close to the farm where my dad can still be on hand to tend to the livestock.’  She added that if there wasn’t another use for the barn it, that and the iconic dry stone walls would be left to fall down for the dales landscape depended upon the farmers.

She explained that as house prices were so high in the dales and with no affordable housing available, her parents would have to sell some of the farm land to be able to buy property. That would have a huge impact upon the sustainability of the farm’s future, she said.

She and some members of the committee asked that young farming families should be encouraged to stay and work in the dales to help retain sustainable communities.

North Yorkshire County councillor Yvonne Peacock was one of those who agreed with her. She emphasised how close the barn was to Hawes, that there had been a track to it in the past, and that four years ago permission had been granted for one on a neighbouring farm to be converted.

But the head of development management, Richard Graham, said that converting that owned by the Blades’  would not be in accordance with planning policy as it was not a roadside barn, did not have an existing track to it, and the county council Highways Authority had objected as the visibility from the access onto the A684 was not sufficient. And, unlike the other barn, converting it into a residence would have a negative impact upon the landscape.

The Authority’s senior listed building officer had stated: ‘The [Blades’] barn has a very high landscape value. It is a landmark in a stunning setting – a barns-and-walls landscape – when approaching and exiting the east side of Hawes. This barn is not suitable for conversion as it does not seem to meet policy, and due to the harmful impact on the wider landscape the proposed residential use would have.’

The planning officer stated that creating a new access would cause more landscape harm as some of the dry stone boundary walls would have to be removed.

The majority of the committee members agreed that the application should be refused. The committee did,  however, unanimously approve  the conversion of the Shop on the Bridge to a one-bedroom holiday let.

A planning officer stated that, whilst the marketing of the shop since September 2020 did not meet the usual justification requirements for converting it to a holiday let, there was such a small loss of commercial space [30sqm] that there would be no significant harm to community vitality or employment opportunities.

One of the reasons for Hawes and High Abbotside Parish Council objecting to the application was because the original plans showed an extension on the back of the shop overlooking Gayle Beck. The planned extension was removed from the amended plans. The parish council also stated concerning the one-way road past the shop: ‘This is a very narrow cobbled street and already suffers from high volumes of traffic and associated wagons etc and does not allow parking.’

The Highways Authority, however, did not object. The planning officer reported that public parking, as for many houses in the centre of Hawes,  was available within easy walking distance.

He added: ‘The proposed development would see this vacant property brought back into economic use, helping the viability of this part of Main Street.’


Permission was unanimously given for the commercial buildings in Kings Yard off Bainbridge Road, Sedbergh, to be demolished and replaced with seven residential dwellings.

Members were told that three will be in a terraced row fronting Bainbridge Road and designed to reflect the existing Victorian houses in that road. Three will be of a modern design and built around a courtyard. Two of these will be designated as affordable housing. The seventh will look like a traditional cottage.

Peter Marshall, the chief operating officer of Sedbergh School,  told the committee that he and his wife owned the site and were, themselves, looking for a permanent home in Sedbergh. ‘We acquired the site two years ago and have worked closely with officers, architects and the developer to design a scheme which is sensitive to surrounding residential properties. With your support this development can transform this central area of Sedbergh town,’ he said, and added: ‘ The site is challenging to develop.’

The planning officer explained that a balance needed to be struck between making the best use of an awkward, tightly constrained site whilst protecting the amenity of existing neighbours. She said that the new residents would be buying into the traditional character of the area where dwellings were positioned ‘cheek by jowl’.

She explained that the existing buildings were in reasonable condition even though they hadn’t been used for nine years. The application was in accordance with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) regarding the development of brownfield sites including the number of open market houses.

There was concern about the loss of unofficial parking spaces on the private site especially as there was limited parking in Bainbridge Road. The planning officer said there will be two parking spaces for each new dwelling and spaces for those who already have access rights due to their properties backing on to the site. It was hoped that more car parking spaces would be made available in Sedbergh.

Killington and Mansergh

An application by United Utilities (UU) to replace sections of the aqueduct which carries drinking water to Cumbria, Lancashire and Greater Manchester from Haweswater was approved even though there will be significant impacts upon bio-diversity and the people living in the area.

Members accepted that this will be a major development of regional importance. The planning officer explained that new tunnel for the Haweswater aqueduct would be 53 kilometres long involving seven different local planning authorities and nine planning applications. That within the Yorkshire Dales National Park would be 6.43 hectares long through the parishes of Mansergh and Killington, with the latter especially being affected during the four to five years it would take to carry out the work.

Besides all the earthworks the application included a new valve house building within a fenced compound with vehicular access, a temporary construction compound with storage areas, and drainage infrastructure, plus local highway works along the Old Scotch Road (OSR).

The planning officer reported  that none of the routes for heavy goods vehicles (HGV) to the M6 were ideal with each raising safety concerns. ‘In different circumstances that might be grounds or refusing planning permission. But in this case, where we are considering one element of a wider scheme to upgrade a piece of regionally significant infrastructure, compromises will be necessary.’

Killington Parish Meeting objected strongly to the OSR being chosen, disagreeing with UU that it had been fully consulted. It stated: ‘OSR is a dangerous road with many blind summits and bends which even the proposed new passing places cannot eliminate. A traffic survey indicates 2,500 vehicles using it during the last week of June. UU’s proposals for a further 1,100 vehicles per week (UU’s estimate) are both dangerous and unrealistic.

‘The turn on to the OSR from the A684 that the lorries would need to make, is itself on a blind bend. This turn is from a road that is classified as one of the 20 most dangerous roads in the country. Why is this route UU’s preferred route when another two-lane route via Hophouse Lane is available but has been rejected?’

Member Libby Bateman told the meeting about OSR: ‘You can’t see vehicles coming, its full of potholes and the verges are really, really soft. If you pull off you are stuck…’

She agreed with the planning officer that others would be affected – the walkers, cyclists and horse riders who wanted to enjoy the countryside. The planning officer said that there should be signage to warn such road users.

His recommendations that there should be legal planning obligations temporary traffic orders,  ‘Haulier Rules’ to establish procedures and practices for all the HGV drivers, and for a Highway Stakeholder Group be set up were accepted.  Craven District councillor Richard Foster emphasised the need to consult with local residents and parish councillors.

Member Neil Heseltine was concerned at the plans for HGVs to be using that route not only from 7am to 7pm on weekdays but also from 7am to 1pm on Saturdays. He commented: ‘For those people to have their lives disrupted for six days a week for five years is too much. So to me I would take Saturdays out.’

He was also concerned that the compensation being offered might not be sufficient for all the negative impacts of the scheme. The planning conditions include a site reinstatement and restoration plan, tree replacement and biodiversity.

Widening the OSR in some places, providing temporary passing places, altering junctions and creating temporary compounds would, the planning officer said, have significant landscape and visual impacts due to the removal of dry stone walls and the loss of trees and other vegetation. It was reported that UU intended to replace trees on a three to one basis and to re-instate areas used as passing places and what had been high value habitat verges. There will be additional compensation for the loss of some lowland meadow.

Cllr Peacock questioned why the removal of dry stone walling by a large company was acceptable, but not for a local family to create a safe access to a barn.

YDNPA – Full Authority meeting March 2022

Reports from the meeting of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) Full Authority meeting on March 29 2022. A large part of the meeting was dedicated to deciding on how to reply to the Government’s response to the Landscapes Review (Glover Review). The ARC News Service reports on the issues of the governance of National Parks and how these Authorities are supposed to have sufficient funding for the ambitious ideas mentioned in the Government’s Response. There are links to that Response and to other reports.

Governance: The chair of a National Park should be chosen by its members and not by the Secretary of State as proposed by the Government, the YDNPA chief executive, David Butterworth, told the meeting.

The Government has argued that appointing the chairs of National Parks by the Secretary of State, in line with Defra public bodies, could provide greater continuity, strategic direction and accountability.  Mr Butterworth, however, commented “We think the chair should be elected by the body of the organisation.”

He and the members supported the Government’s suggestion to create a National Landscapes Partnership instead of a  new statutory National Landscapes Service – a Government quango which would have been responsible for appointing all the members of National Park boards. The Government disagreed with that because of “the important role locally elected members play in giving the boards democratic legitimacy”.

The Landscapes Review had also proposed that the membership of every National Park Authority should be reduced to 12. The Government, in its Response, said that it might not be appropriate to cap membership of national park boards at 12 especially for those [such as the YDNPA] which are in areas with large numbers of local authorities. It stated: “Reductions should not be at the expense of the skills, expertise and diversity needed.”

Mr Butterworth pointed out that the YDNPA would lose four of its 16 members next year when new unitary councils came into being.  He said there would be a formal paper put to members later on what the membership should be.

The consultation on the Government’s response continues until April 9  and Mr Butterworth commented: “The problem with consultations is they only ask questions they want answers to.”

Funding: At the Full Authority meeting officers and members frequently highlighted the need for sufficient financial support from the Government.  Mr Butterworth stated:

“The Government’s response recognises that they are proposing an ambitious new vision for our Protected Landscapes 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.”

He continued: “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 it identified the need for a significant increase in resources for Protected Landscapes if its recommendations were to be realised.

“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.”

For instance, when reporting on the environmental land management schemes (ELMs) which are part of what the Government sees as the agricultural transition needed to protect landscapes Gary Smith (YDNPA director of conservation and community)  said: “We would like the National Park to have a strong role in delivering the scheme and to help farmer to access it. But we don’t know how much money will go into the scheme and we don’t know how much of a priority National Parks will [have].  There is a lot of uncertainty because it is still being worked out.”

Or as Richmondshire District councillor John Amsden commented as a semi-retired farmer: “We haven’t got a clue at the moment.” Like another Wensleydale farmer, Allen Kirkbride, he warned that it could take several years for the ELMs scheme to get up and running – at a difficult time when the country could face food shortages.

The members authorised officers to to submit a response to the Government’s consultation.

Reports posted on Richmondshire Today:

Dales approves most ambitious budget

Campaigners call for complete motors ban on dales green lanes

Holding out for dales railway reinstatement a “waste of time”

Government Response to the Landscapes Review


Dark Skies and Light Pollution

This letter from the Association of Rural Communities has been published in the Darlington and Stockton Times:

It is very sad that, during this year’s Dark Skies Festival there is one part of the Yorkshire Dales where the view of the night sky is impeded by the light pollution from what can only be described as a new settlement between Aysgarth and West Burton.

The light pollution from Aysgarth Luxury Lodges is far in excess of that from any Dales’ village. When planning permission was given in 2007 for such lodges to replace the static and touring caravans which used to be on that site it would appear from the plans that the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s planning department had expected a layout and screening which would have greatly reduced the amount of light pollution from large windows and glazed doors.

We have asked the Authority what it intends to do regarding this light pollution so that all in that part of Bishopdale and Wensleydale will be able to look up and marvel at the beauty of our amazing night skies as would be expected in an International Dark Skies Reserve.

February to November 2021

ARC News Service reports on the discussions of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s  ( YDNPA ) planning committee on:  February 9 –  the  5G test-bed mast at West Scrafton; new housing development at Bainbridge; and an application regarding Marske Hall; March 23  – an application by DSMC UK for a barn conversion and a new building near Linton,  a barn conversion at Appersett , new houses at  West Witton,  and  Falls Country Park at Ingleton;  May 4 – parking barriers at a car park at Hartlington  near Burnsall and the extension of the Spar shop at Sedbergh;  June 15 – the further extraction of aggregate from Dry Rigg Quarry at Horton in Ribblesdale and a large  housing development at Sedbergh;  September 7 –  a shepherd’s hut at Starbotton; change of use of an agricultural building at Stirton;  and a laundry at Sedbergh;  October 19 – use of a bridleway to transport timber from near Clapham through Austwick, a farmer’s request for accessible accommodation at a farm at Flasby, the change of use of the former school building in Arkengarthdale, and an enforcement notice for a small laundry at Sedbergh; November 30 –  a shed to house sheep at Cogden Hall farm near Grinton, two holiday-let pods at Sedbergh; the provision of purpose-built accommodation at a farm at Flasby; and enforcement action regarding the removal of a telecommunication mast at Hartlington;

In June and September  I was unable to attend the meetings and the recordings made by the YDNPA were poor, due to the need for social distancing during the Covid pandemic. The reports from those months are not, therefore, as detailed as I usually try to provide.

I report on these meetings on a voluntary basis as part of the commitment of the Association of Rural Communities to local democracy.

February 2021

Telecommunications mast (5G test-bed) at West Scrafton

Wensleydale School students living in Coverdale are having to sit in cars parked on top of a hill to get digital connection so they can participate in lessons during lockdown, North Yorkshire County councillor Karin Sedgwick told the planning committee.

She reported that she had been told there wasn’t much point in giving students iPads if there was no broadband or mobile phone connection. Nor could doctors carry out consultations or send prescriptions online due to the lack of connectivity in Coverdale. And that was why she fully supported MANY’s application to install a mast at a farm near West Scrafton as part of the 5G trial programme.

She believed that during the public consultation the questions and issues regarding 5G had been answered and said: “Digital connectivity isn’t a luxury. It’s an absolute necessity these days.”

Matt O’Neill, the county council’s lead responsible officer for MANY (Mobile Access North Yorkshire) explained that parts of Coverdale did not even have basic 2G connectivity which was launched in 1991. “During the same period since 2G was launched we have seen the outward migration of our  young people from the dales. Rural communities and this area in particular have missed out for over 30 years on mobile coverage and broadband,” he said.

The committee unanimously agreed to approve the application by Quickline Communications to install a 15m high monopole with mobile communications antenna and equipment cabinet at West Scrafton. This, the planning officer said, was one of three masts in the MANY project supported by North Yorkshire County Council which were required to provide connectivity especially to ‘not spots’ in the Coverdale area.

About making the decision, parish councillor member Ian McPherson commented: “This is like stepping into a lion’s den. I am aware that this has been extremely controversial and that there are very strong feelings … on both sides.

“I have always been very wary about mobile phone masts not only because of their impact on the environment but also because the possible health problems that they could give rise to. But what we are essentially looking at here is how we address the issue of very clear ‘not spots’ in Coverdale… Not being able to get mobile coverage could be a matter of life or death. It is pretty clear that this [mast] will blend in well.

“I did read Professor David Hill’s letter because I place a great deal of credence on what he might say. But I’m afraid I have to say that I don’t think it fully addresses the legal side or a material planning consideration in this particular case. Although there are genuine local objections … I do consider that the local need for broadband and mobile coverage actually overrides these questions.”

Like the planning officer  he quoted the government’s guidance in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF): “Local planning authorities must determine applications on planning grounds only. They should not seek to prevent competition between different operators, question the need for an electronic communications system, or set health safeguards different from the International Commission guidelines for public exposure.”

He said: “The applicants have provided a declaration confirming that the proposed installation complies with the International Commission for Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNRP) guidelines for exposure of the public to radio frequency and electromagnetic fields. Nevertheless, objectors say that certain scientific studies are critical of ICNIRP safe exposure guidelines and consider that the development will have an adverse impact on the health of the public, wildlife and the environment and that a precautionary principle should be applied. The objectors refer to various scientific studies but none that can be applied directly to this site.”

Cllr McPherson stated: “I don’t think we have any legal position to be able to object on [health] grounds.  It doesn’t seem we have any legal right to provide a different view from that of the International Commission.”

Speaking on behalf of objectors Harriet Corner told the committee that although the planning officer’s report stated that the area selected for the 5G trial programme [covering West Witton, Middleham and Coverdale] had  limited or no coverage, 90 per cent of the premises did already have access to superfast broadband.  She quoted government policy that the number of radio and electronic communication masts should be kept to a minimum whereas, she said, the 5G programme would lead to a proliferation of them.

She argued that EE intended to provide mobile coverage from the mast at Gildersbeck and that superfast broadband now reached as far as Horsehouse in upper Coverdale.  “MANY never told its consultees that there were better alternatives. MANY project manager Mr Michael Grayson has given written evidence that the [5G] project will not go ahead without the majority support of the community. This has not been demonstrated. All that has been shown so far is support for connectivity.”

The planning officer said that there  had been 63 objections and 41 in support of the new mast.  West Scrafton Parish Meeting he said had reported that seven had objected to the project, whilst 35 had supported it because of the importance of improved mobile phone coverage both for domestic use and also personal safety when out and about.  It added: “Whilst it was acknowledged that the fibre broadband is excellent in the village the lack of a mobile signal has been a constant complaint for many years.”

Richmondshire District councillor John Amsden stated in support of the mast application: “I have been speaking to quite a few farmers in Coverdale. As you know agriculture is a very dangerous occupation. If anybody has an accident or heart condition or anything like that and they need an ambulance they have no connection whatsoever.”


Even though three local Members told the committee that the construction of five houses near the Rose and Crown at Bainbridge would be in danger of flooding and would not provide affordable homes that local people wanted the majority voted to approve the development.

Parish council member Allen Kirkbride told the committee: “Nearly the whole of the village of Bainbridge [say] this is the wrong development in the wrong place and it is not affordable to the vast majority of people. The whole field is likely to flood. I’ve known it all my life and basically it has been a bog for most of the time.

“The access has not been approved by Highways. The application fails to preserve and enhance the parish conservation area. The shared housing accommodation will not work in a rural area.”

Bainbridge Parish Council had told the committee that it was not only concerned about flooding but also that  shared ownership was not appealing to local people and had not proved successful in alleviating the housing crisis. “Local people need local properties that are available for them to buy at truly affordable prices.”

It  had supported an application in 2018 through which local people could have bought the houses at a 30 per cent discount. But the Holmbrae 2016 Residents Group (Holmbrae is some of the new housing behind the Rose and Crown) said it would lodge a Judicial Review challenge as it questioned whether the houses would be affordable when taking into account local incomes.

In February 2018 Members still decided to approve the application. In February this year the planning officer reported that the site owner and applicant had then met with the Authority in January 2019 and the options were discussed in the light of the threat of legal challenge. One of those options was shared ownership managed by a Housing Association.

The planning officer continued: “This is a national government-backed scheme aimed primarily at first-time buyers, with the homeowner purchasing a defined share of between 25% and 80% of the dwelling, and the Housing Association retaining the remaining share with an affordable rent being paid on this remaining share. Homeowners would seek a mortgage for the share that they intend to purchase with a minimum deposit of 5%. Homeowners are able to purchase more shares later as and when they can afford them; this is known as ‘staircasing’. When homeowners wish to sell, the Housing Association has ‘first refusal’ on the property and also has the right to find a buyer.”

He said that if there was no buyer for the shared ownership a house could revert to affordable rent also in accordance to the local connection rule. This means, he explained, that the houses will be first offered to those in the parish of Bainbridge, then to those in neighbouring parishes, and finally anyone in the Yorkshire Dales National Park [2,179km841m2 ] will be eligible. After that anyone in Richmondshire could apply.

The planning officer stated: “Whilst this proposal is intermediate affordable housing that will not be affordable to those in housing need on the lowest incomes, assuming that all the units sell, it will still address a clear affordable housing need as well as a recent history of undersupply within this locality, the wider National Park and the Richmondshire District as a whole.”

Jim Munday, Member Champion for Development Management, said if the houses didn’t sell they would be offered on the basis of affordable rent. “Whichever way it goes we have affordable homes,” he said and added:

“The population of the national park is in decline and its changing. We need at least 55 new dwellings a year to stop a decline. Last year only 22 were completed. We need more homes.
Secondly we have a stated policy that throughout the national park there’s a place to live for younger working age households. To help halt the decline in numbers we need more affordable homes for local people. “

Allen Kirkbride remarked: “We are all in favour of new local housing for local people but we need them in the right places – the National Park wants to get the figures up and its pointless getting the figures up if the housing you build are in the wrong places which these are.”

Marske Hall

The over-development of Marske Hall and other buildings would cause permanent harm to the deeply rural and tranquil character of that part of Swaledale, a planning officer told the committee.

Richmondshire District councillor Kenneth Good also emphasised this, as had Marske and New Forest Parish Council.  And the committee voted unanimously to refuse the application to convert Marske Hall from 10 open market apartments to a 20 room aparthotel and the kennels and Sawmill into events venues.

Cllr Good said: “Marske is a very quiet and beautiful village. It has no commercial activity at all. I think the last pub closed over 120 years ago and, apart from the church, everything else is residential or agricultural.”

He agreed with the parish council which had stated: “The parish council would welcome development of Marske Hall … but developments cannot be at the detriment of the community of Marske and New Forest.”

The parish council and residents were particularly concerned about creating a wedding venue for up to 70 people in the Sawmill rather than converting it into two three bedroom dwellings or holiday let units for which permission was granted in 2016. The parish council also noted that no consideration had been given to include local housing development or long term residential lettings.

The planning officer said that the noise seven days a week from such a venue would be catastrophic because of the impact on the peace and tranquililty due to the comings and goings of guests and the use of amplified music which were part and parcel of the wedding use. She did not accept the opinion of the applicant, Mr I Morton, that the events venues were required to make the development viable.

She reported that the applicant had asked for a decision to be deferred to that amendments to the plans could be made. But, she said, these would include the retention of the Sawmill as a wedding venue and even a reduction in the hours of use would not be sufficient. She added: “The wedding venue is considered to be harmful in any form by the nature of the activities it brings with it.”

Her other concerns included the impact of creating car parking spaces within the picturesque garden as well as the under provision of spaces for cars which could only be remedied by removing trees. She said the applicant had offered to plant more trees but had not specified where.

The parish council reported that the access and egress to the site was considered to be hazardous as it was located on blind corners and the Highways Authority had also objected. The planning officer said there could be 147 people on the site each day excluding staff.

Historic England, like the Authority’s senior listed building officer, had raised concerns about the impact of the proposed work on the historic decorative detailing inside Marske Hall. The planning officer said that the 16th century hall, which was extensively remodelled and extended in 1730, was of historic and architectural  grandeur.

The Hall, the Sawmill and the kennels are Grade II listed buildings. The committee was told that the cumulative impact of the proposed work on the Sawmill would cause substantial harm to the significances of the listed building.’

A resident, Naomi Meredith, told the committee that all the objections by residents were not a case of opposing any development in their backyard but rather the over-development of the site. This would not only threaten the very things that local walkers and coast-to-coast walkers valued such as peace and tranquillity. wildlife and dark skies,  but also have a hugely adverse impact on the farmer whose access goes through the site, she said.

Cllr Good commented: “The farmer is extremely concerned because he would have to go up and down the track with people coming and going and there is concern that the noise could affect animals.

Another Richmondshire District councillor, Stuart Parsons, informed the committee that when the main road into Swaledale was closed for any reason the county council directed traffic along the narrow road through Marske. He had driven The Little White Bus along that alternative route – “It was an absolute nightmare. The big problem was if  you met a large agricultural vehicle,’ he said.

In March:


An application which included a “massive” portal framed building being constructed near Linton was considered so contrary to policy by the majority of the committee that it was refused.

Lancashire County Cllr Cosima Towneley commented: “The Local Plan is God in this case. I personally feel that this would have been a perfectly acceptable build considering what it would have brought to the area in long-term benefits. But I think I think sometimes landscape trumps the actual wellbeing of people in the park. I am disappointed that no alternative [sites] can be found.”

Charlie Bayston, managing director of DSMC UK told the committee that the diving, surveying and marine contracting business needed more space especially as planning officers were keen for them to relocate to a place where shipping containers could be undercover.  At present, the company is based in a converted barn at Threshfield and shipping containers had been stored beside it.

The company had applied to convert Catchall Barn to provide office accommodation and safe storage, and to erect a 36m by 25m building which would be  9.2m at its highest point so that it could house a number of shipping containers. To provide a biodiversity habitat it would have had a grassed curved roof, a large amount of landscaping and tree planting, plus  ground source heat pump and systems for rainwater harvesting and reed bed filtration for grey water.  Mr Bayston continued:

“We searched for four years before purchasing Catchall Barn following [planning] pre-advice. This included looking in Grassington, Threshfield, Kettlewell, Skipton, Silsden and Crosshills without success.’ He said they had checked to see if they could move to Threshfield Quarry but after four years of trying found that space could not be allocated.

“There are currently no other alternatives available to us and if this application is rejected we see no other option than to move the business out of North Yorkshire making [our] existing employees redundant.”

The planning officer, however, advised the committee that the new building would have a significantly harmful impact on the landscape. She said: “It is a wide open and uninterrupted landscape which affords long views up the valley towards Linton and any new development on this site would detract from that. The application is for a new business development on  a site not allocated for business, not adjacent to an existing village or settlement, nor related to any other development other than the small stone barn.”

This was supported by Natural England and Linton Parish Council which had submitted seven-page letter listing its objections.  Linton resident, Georgina Wilkins, told the committee that the proposed new building would be massive and, with the large amount of hard standing, would be a blight on the landscape and set a worrying precedent. “No grassed roof or planting can minimise the impact of such a proposal on the open valley to Linton,” she added.

After the vote the chairman, Julie Martin, told Mr Bayston that she hoped he had heard the committee’s great sadness at having to refuse the application. “In other circumstances we would be absolutely delighted to approve it but I am afraid we can’t do in this case,” she said.


Barn conversions within the Yorkshire Dales National Park should only for local occupancy and not short-term holiday lets, Askrigg  parish councillor Allen Kirkbride told the  planning committee.

Cllr Kirkbride, who is a parish council representative on the Authority, said: “The Yorkshire Dales National Park is just full of holiday cottages and somehow within the new Local Plan we have got to try and make these barn conversions for local people only.”

The chairman of the planning committee, Julie Martin, commented: “Yes, I think we are all aware it’s something we need to reconsider.”

The committee was considering an application to convert Tom’s Barn at the eastern end of Appersett for a local occupancy dwelling or a holiday let. Hawes and High Abbotside Parish Council had objected because it only supports barn conversions if they are for local occupancy as it believes there are  enough holiday lets in the area.

The planning officer informed the committee that the parish council’s objection was not sustainable.  He explained that approval had been given in July 2019 for the barn to be converted into a three-bedroom local occupancy dwelling or short-term holiday accommodation. The latest application was necessary, he said, as the owners had proposed a number of changes to the original plans, including reducing the number of bedrooms to two.  This, he added,  will allow the living and dining space at one end to be full height and so better retain the agricultural character of the interior.

Member Jim Munday said that the latest plans would make for a better conversion. The majority of the members voted to approve the application.

West Witton

West Witton is expanding enough with the addition of 17 houses at the west end of the village, the parish council told the Authority. But at the planning committee’s meeting approval was given for two more new houses.

The parish council informed the planning committee that the 17 dwellings at the west end amounted to one third of the National Park’s annual housing target and would increase the size of the village by about ten per cent. It stated: “The feeling of the parish council (and many residents) is that we have enough new development in the village. It is believed that the current building development is enough for the local need.

“With West Witton providing such a high proportion of the target number of new homes within the National Park already, we feel the current expansion to the village is enough both in terms of the National Park target and the overall size of the village.”

A planning officer stated that the Local Plan did not impose a quota on development in any given settlement. He said: “The proposed two new dwellings would mean that over a decade West Witton would have an average of just over two new dwellings per annum. It is considered that this would not be excessive growth for the 7th largest village of 170 addresses and one of the most accessible within the National Park.”

He explained that the two new houses would be built within the side garden of Thistlebout which is on the north side of the A684 at the east end of West Witton. The planning application  was for the alteration and extension of Thistlebout, the construction of two houses and change of use of agricultural land to form small gardens for them.

There will be legal agreements on the two houses to secure local occupancy. The parish council had pointed out that these would be offered for sale at full market value.

The planning officer told the meeting that the parish council’s objections to the original plans had included the plan to demolish and re-site a commemorative shelter. The parish council had also  been concerned about the size of the development within the boundary of the site. Both issues were addressed, he said, in the amended plans, with the shelter to remain in-situ.

Some residents believed that the extension of Thistlebout and the new houses would have an impact upon the amenity of neighbours and views across the valley from a footpath. There was also concern that the new houses would be detrimental to the character of the village.

But the planning officer stated: “The proposed development of new build  housing, extension of an existing dwelling and the change of use of a section of agricultural land is considered to be an opportunity to secure local needs housing on a small windfall infill site that in its siting, scale, form and appearance would be acceptable and not represent an excessive growth in housing in West Witton or harm the visual amenity of the street scene or the landscape, residential amenity and privacy or highway safety.”

This was accepted by the committee without any debate.


The committee unanimously agreed to defer enforcement action against the owners of the Falls Country Park at Beezley Farm for two months to see if the mitigation measures to reduce the impact of unauthorised hard surfacing could be made more effective.

Photographs were shown to explain how the tree planting had, so far, not been sufficiently successful. The officers said that, although the areas of  hard surfacing were now far less visible it, the grass growing on the soil scattered on them was unlikely to be sufficient to withstand having caravans parked there.

The committee had deferred enforcement action in March 2020 so that officers could discuss with the owners a tree planting schedule and other ways to tone down the stark appearance of the unauthorised caravan pitches and a circular track. The latter now has a central grass strip.

At the March 2021 meeting the officers recommended that enforcement action should not be pursued and that the owners should be given more time to carry out additional work to further minimise the visual impact on the landscape.

In May:

Hartlington – By just two votes the planning committee decided that two camera-operated automatic parking barriers screened by trees and bushes can be erected at the entrance to a field at Wharfe House Farm, Hartlington.

Michael Daggett, representing the farm’s car park business, told the committee that his family had farmed at Wharfe House for 121 years and had operated a car park there for three generations.

Since 1952, he said, it had been a valued community site which had supported outdoor sports events since its inception. “The amount of traffic we are now experiencing warrants a vastly upgraded entry [and exit] system.  It will have the least amount of visual impact, significantly improve highway safety and management.”

Supporting his application, Craven District councillor Richard Foster told the committee that last year, during the Covid lockdown, the car park at Burnsall had been closed. This had led to serious problems in the village as even the emergency services could not get through the village due to the number of cars parked along the roads.

He was pleased that a different group of people had been attracted to the National Park during the lockdown and added that there were often hundreds of cars in the Wharfe House Farm car park.  He commented: “They come, they enjoy themselves, and they get out in the countryside often from urban environments. They love it.  There will be a lot more staycations this year – a lot more people will want to use the facility and I think what is proposed  is very minimalistic. The barrier area will look a bit like a sheep fold.”

He believed that the barriers would provide a better method of traffic management and stop the road being blocked by cars waiting to access the car park. Both Hartlington and Burnsall Parish Meetings supported the application and the clerk to the latter wrote: “The main reason is that it will ease traffic problems over the bridge and at the junction in front of the Red Lion. At the moment traffic backs up as car [drivers] are paying on the way in. This would allow cars to move on to the car park faster and also not block the road for through traffic.”

The planning officer, however, had recommended that the application should be refused. She stated: “This kind of development is typical of an urban car park dealing with high volumes of traffic, not an informal car park that only has a legal right to be there for 28 days a year. Whilst the barriers may be removable, the cabinets and camera would remain, and would be incongruous features in this highly sensitive landscape.

“The high visual quality of the landscape around Burnsall and the fact that it is unspoilt by unsightly modern development is one of the ‘special qualities’ of the National Park and the reason why so many people visit the area. Although this proposal is small in scale it is development of this nature which has a negative impact that erodes the visual quality and farmed landscape character of the area.” She illustrated this by showing photographs she had taken that morning.

North Yorkshire County councillor Robert Heseltine pointed out that the weather forecast had been very bad for that Tuesday morning so it was not surprising there had been so little traffic. He said that was an exceptional day. He added that the car park was not only a necessary part of the farm’s diversification but also satisfied a crucial need for the health and wellbeing of the nation.

He also called for consistency in planning, comparing the car park with the large ones at Bolton Abbey, Bolton Priory and Cavendish riverside.  “Surely what’s good enough for [them] should be good for Burnsall. I can see no substantial intrusion into the landscape with this proposal.”

Other members supported the installation of eight solar panels on the toilet block to provide power for car parking facilities and the provision of ticket machines, but not the barriers. Neil Swain commented: “I have no issue with the car park. It’s an important and necessary facility but what it doesn’t need is two rather ugly and modern barriers in the middle of an entrance way. They will stand out like a sore thumb [and] the planting scheme is out of place in that particular part of the landscape.”

The planning officer told the committee that the car park, which is generally used from Easter until the end of summer, had never had planning permission, nor had there been an application for a lawful development certificate. Under permitted development rights  temporary use of the land should be no more than 28 days, she said.

With eight members voting to approve the application and six against, the head of development management, Richard Graham, commented that, although he disagreed with the decision, acceptable reasons had been given and so it would not be referred back to next month’s meeting.  The reasons put forward were that the development would not have a negative impact on the landscape, and the barriers would help traffic management.

Sedbergh –  Members unanimously agreed to approve an application to erect a single storey rear extension at the Spar shop in Sedbergh.

Sedbergh Parish Council had objected because the extension will enable the shop to have its own butchery. This, the parish council stated, would have a negative impact upon the vitality and viability of other businesses within the town’s High Street.

The planning officer, however, disagreed. He and others also  pointed out that competition with another butcher was not a material consideration.

The agent for Spar, Abigail Kos, told the meeting: “The application relates to a small single storey rear extension to accommodate a preparation area for a new butcher’s counter. The overall retail sales area of the shop will not increase but the shop floor will be reconfigured to accommodate the butcher’s counter.” She commented that the butcher’s shop in Sedbergh had a very high reputation, selling quality meat from local farms.

Member Ian McPherson, who is a Sedbergh Parish Council warned that if the application was refused it would be approved at appeal.

In June:

Dry Rigg Quarry, Horton in Ribblesdale

The planning committee approved the application by Tarmac Aggregates Ltd to continue winning and working Dry Rigg Quarry until December 2034.

Quarrying at Dry Rigg Quarry was due to end on December 2021.   The committee was told that the new application would  allow further lateral and deepening at the northern tip of the quarry which will extend the steep, benched quarry faces below Moughton Nab. The Minerals Officer, David Parrish, stated: “This will affect the visual appearance of the site, both during the working period and in the long term. It would also mean that restoration of the northern tip area at original ground level would no longer be possible.”

He had noted: “The scar created by quarrying of the hillside below Moughton Nab is visible from a wide area and has a significant and adverse impact on the appearance of this part of Ribblesdale.” He also stated: “The existing quarry is prominent in the landscape and can be seen from public rights of way and roads over a wide area in this part of Ribblesdale. The main adverse elemtns are the stepped quarry faces that have been excavated into the hillside below Moughton Nab and the screening mounds that have been formed on the edge of Swarth Moor SSSI. The stepped faces are the result of past quarrying and cannot be restored.”  There were strong objections to the present application because of the negative impact upon the landscape within the National Park.

In their objections  Austwick Parish Council and Horton in Ribblesdale Parish Council pointed out that there was considerable dust pollution.  Austwick Parish Council stated: “The councillors believe that statements in the application documents indicate that insufficient attention has been given to this pollution problem with no sense of importance or urgency.”

And Ribblesdale Parish Council informed the planning committee: “The present dust suppression system is not effective and there is no indication that this dust will be effectively supressed during the intended working. Residents at Helwith Bridge will be subjected to dust particulates from road transport over an extended period of time and a conveyor system should be employed.

“There is a lack of blast and vibration information in relation to Foredale and there is the risk to the water supply to Foredale Cottages. Any permission granted should be reviewed after five years to determine negative effects on the community and the environment.”

Mr Parrish reported that Dry Rigg was one of a small number of quarries  which supplied high Polished Stone Value (PSV) aggregates with resistance to abrasion for use in the construction and maintenance of skid resistant roads. He stated: “If Dry Rigg closes replacement supplies from alternative sources in the UK or overseas would, for the most part, be likely to involve greater transport distances, with less availability of rail haulage and a correspondingly increased carbon footprint.”  He added that the main markets for the aggregate from Dry Rigg were in Greater Manchester, Lancashire and West Yorkshire.

A large amount of the stone from Dry Rigg is taken by road  to Arcow quarry near Helwith Bridge via a single track road past Foredale Farm and Foredale Cottages to be  transported by rail. Mr Parrish stated that in 2020 64 per cent of the stone from Dry Rigg and Arcow was delivered by rail.  Lorries from Dry Rigg also travel via Helwith Bridge to reach the A65. The company has offered a 15 per cent reduction in the existing combined road traffic limit from Dry Rigg and Arcow quarries and that more would be done to reduce the amount of dust on the roads.

Mr Parrish outlined the measures that were being proposed to moderate or compensate for the negative impacts of continued quarrying and  stated that it was essential that those were implemented and maintained effectively  with the roads being kept in a clean condition. His report also covered the issues of blasting and the impact upon Swarth Moor SSSI.

In his conclusion he reported: “This proposal to extend Dry Rigg Quarry is considered to be a major development. National Planning Policy Framework and Local Plan policy set out that planning permission for major development should only be granted in exceptional circumstances where it can be demonstrated to be in the public interest.” That, he said, included both local employment and  national considerations.

He recommended approving the application by stating: “The judgement to be made is finely balanced: the proposal would provide the local economic and employment benefits of extending the life of the quarry but it would also have adverse environment impacts. On balance, it is considered that the main impacts, other the continuation of the current visual impact, could be mitigated and compensated for and  therefore it is recommended that permission is granted subject to strict controls and mitigation measures.”



The application by Broadacres Housing Association to construct 15 open market, 17 affordable/social rented; and 17 affordable shared ownership dwellings adjacent to Station Road (A684) to the west of Sedbergh was also approved.

Both Cumbria County Council and Sedbergh Parish Council had questioned the original positioning of the access onto the A684  from the development and the proposal to fill in a large depression on the site. The planning officer explained that amendments made to the plans had, therefore, included changing the access and reducing the number of houses from 50 to 49 so that the depressions on the site could be used as open spaces which would also assist with drainage.

The councils had also raised the issue of improved pedestrian access to the town but Broadacres said this was outside its remit.

There will be a mixture of housing on the site: detached, semi-detached, terraced and bungalows. The planning committee was told that Broadacres has proposed that the affordable housing should be available to those with a local connection, and also to those living in adjoining and concentric parishes outside the National Park in addition to the usual parish cascade system used by the National Park for allocating  housing. They will also enter into a legal agreement to secure the affordable housing in perpetuity to ensure the dwellings remain available to eligible people at an affordable cost.

The planning officer stated that the development would contribute significantly towards the affordable housing need in Sedbergh and surrounding area, providing a range of new homes in a sustainable location that will support the social and economic well-being of the local community.

Item-6-Plans-List-No-2 (1)

In September


Kettlewell with Starbotton Parish Council had originally objected to permission being granted for a shepherd’s hut to be placed in the southern toft beside the recently converted barn ( Toft Gate) as it  would be upon part of an important green space within a conservation area.

The planning officer, however, pointed out that the plans had been amended and the shepherd’s hut and seating area would be sited within a walled part of the barn’s residential curtilage. He added that the change of use of the site had been approved when permission was granted for the barn conversion.

He said: “Taking account of the enclosed curtilage siting of the hut, its positioning approximately 40 metres away from the highway and public right of way together with the modest scale, it is considered that the proposal would have only a minor impact which would not adversely affect the character and appearance of the Conservation Area.”

Members were also told that the hut will be screened by trees that were planted south of the site about three years ago.

The committee voted unanimously to approve the application.


The committee also unanimously approved the application for change of use of an agricultural building at Skyrakes Farm, Stirton,  to create a workshop and commercial storage space.

Stirton with Thorlby Parish Council’s  reasons for objecting included that the proposal could lead to the need for alternative storage for  the agricultural materials and equipment currently in the building; additional traffic to the site, and that the farm was not completely “set away from public view”. It also pointed out that there were caravans stored on the site without planning permission.

The planning officer said the agricultural materials and equipment could be stored in three other agricultural buildings. He added that the applicant had agreed to reduce the height of the building so that it would be less visible from Grassington Road.  Two adjoining buildings would be demolished and so considerably reducing the visual impact of the northern part of the farmstead. With native trees to be planted to the north the appearance of the site would be improved.

North Yorkshire County councillor Robert Heseltine expressed regret at a gradual loss of agricultural buildings and a reduction of the farming in favour of other commercial ventures.


Enforcement action against the owner of a laundry at the rear of Main Street in Sedbergh was deferred because a new planning application had been received on Friday September 3.

The committee was told by the enforcement officer that the owner had indicated that he would look at introducing a noise reduction scheme.

The enforcement officer explained that in late 2020 a complaint was received that storage buildings were being converted into a public laundry. The owner was advised that planning permission was required and an application was received in November 2020. This was refused a month later on the grounds that a commercial laundry business in that location would have an adverse effect on the residential amenity of neighbours due to noise, odours and disturbance.

The committee heard that the owner did not appeal but continued with setting up the business. During a site visit by a National Park officer in July this year a dehumidifier was being installed and two of the three washing machines were in use.  The other equipment included two  dryers, a sink, washing baskets, an ironing board and a linen press.

In August there had been a complaint about noise and  this was being investigated by Environmental Health. The head of development management, Richard Graham, told the committee that a statutory nuisance did not have to be proven for noise issues to be considered by the committee when considering an application.

In October:

The Deputy Chairman of the planning committee, Mark Corner, chaired the meeting.  At that time he and two others members of the planning committee were  trustees of the Friends of the Dales. Also, at that time, on its website this group stated: ‘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.’  (Two trustees are no longer members of the planning committee and Mr Corner is now a vice president of the Friends of the Dales)

Austwick and Clapham

Despite some impassioned pleas from members and the representative of Austwick and Feizor Parish Council the planning committee gave approval for timber lorries to use public bridleways between Austwick and Clapham.

Ingleborough Estate’s application was for the creation of a timber wagon turning and timber stacking area in Thwaite Wood near Clapham, plus the maintenance and improvement of timber extraction route and the installation of a reinforced concrete crossing over a sheep underpass.

Seven members voted for approval and seven were against and the acting chairman, Mark Corner, made his casting vote in favour of the officer’s recommendation. At the end of the debate he told the committee that he was a regular user of the bridleway. ‘It is one of the nicest lanes in the dales. I don’t mind stepping aside for the occasional tractor or slurry wagon. It’s no great drama. I do feel we need to keep the number of movements [in mind] – we are talking of a maximum of 40 a year and only during the week, avoiding the periods when children are in and out [of school].’

Member Allen Kirkbride also pointed out that there would only be one wagon a day using part of the bridleway and passing through Austwick.

Austwick Parish councillor David Dewhirst, however, reported that there was considerable concern about the impact upon the village and 967 people had already signed an on-line petition objecting to the proposal.  He said half of the two and a half mile route taken by the timber wagons was along the popular Pennine Bridleway and the other half along narrow lanes with 90 degree bends and steep hills with up to 20 per cent gradients.

‘There are also a number of pinch points in Austwick going past the front doors of no fewer than 91 houses, a primary school, a pub, a shop and post office,’ he added.

Clapham with Newby Parish Council also objected to the proposed route partly because of the impact upon the safety and amenity of those using the bridleway. It stated it preferred a route, using smaller vehicles, which went towards the Clapham end of the byway.

Craven District councillor Carl Lis pointed out that when the Authority was considering routes for quarry vehicles it had been agreed these should not go through Austwick and he questioned the consistency of the planning officer’s recommendation.

He stated: ‘This part of the Pennine Bridleway is a prime example of the quality of work that has been done in this National Park. It is an incredibly important part of our network. To suggest that we should in any way damage that to me is absolutely, totally unthinkable.’

He said the only reason the planning officer had given for rejecting an alternative route proposed by the parish council was the steepness of the gradient.

Member Jim Munday asked if he would have to shove his grandchildren into a ditch when a timber lorry approached them on the bridleway.  And Member Derek Twine pointed out that advising walkers to step onto the verge was alright for those who could easily do so but certainly not for those using mobility scooters.

Christopher Guest, the agent for Ingleborough Estate told the committee that the alternative routes suggested were either unworkable, destructive to both the landscape and ecology of the area, or simply not viable economically. He explained that the majority of the woodland had been neglected for decades and if the work was not carried out it could not be sustainably managed.

The Authority’s Trees and Woodland team had reported that the woodland was affected by ash dieback and the larch and rhododendron was susceptible to a highly infectious disease (phytophthora ramoram). The estate was, therefore, keen to fell and sell ash and larch before they became worthless. Its proposed woodland management plan had been approved by the Forestry Commission.

None of the members objected to the creation of the stacking area, the proposed management of the woodland and the removal of timber. The turning bay and stacking area will be within Thwaite Wood at the junction of Thwaite Lane and Long Lane. The proposal includes the removal of 16m of drystone wall at the stacking area, the partial resurfacing of the lanes with crushed limestone, and some widening of parts of Thwaite Lane.


The National Park needs to consider the sustainability of communities including the elderly and their ability to continue to farm, North Yorkshire County councillor Yvonne Peacock told the committee when it was discussing an application to provide purpose-built accessible accommodation at Bark Laithe Farm, Flasby.

She wanted to find a solution that enabled Robert Riley to remain farming while caring for his wife and argued that the proposed purpose-built accommodation within the farmyard was the best option. This will replace a timber stable block. All the bedrooms and the toilet facilities in the farmhouse are on the second floor.

Robert Riley told the committee: ‘Wendy has mobility issues and her health has deteriorated significantly in recent years. We have reached the point where she needs specialist accommodation which is all on one level.  I am now faced with a situation where I am not prepared to allow Wendy to suffer by living in a house that is totally unsuited to her needs. Unless this is approved I face the alternative of having to move from the farm into a bungalow in a nearby town or village.’ He added that would end his farming career which was his real passion.

Allen Kirkbride supported this stating that he saw it as a farmyard development and a necessary exception.

The planning officer had told members: ‘The personal circumstances of the applicant are not of such an exceptional level that adequately justify the need for a second dwelling,’ and that, therefore, there was no policy-basis for approval.  The Authority’s legal officer, Clare Bevan, stated: ‘As a point of law personal circumstances can be a mitigating consideration but we must be satisfied that they are exceptional.’

Mark  Corner agreed with the planning officer. He said he was very sympathetic to the situation but didn’t feel they should set a precedent. He stated: ‘I can’t see why the existing farmhouse can’t be adapted. Policy is designed to exclude all but exceptional circumstances. Unfortunately getting older and less mobile is a generic challenge for all of us.’

The committee, however, decided (seven votes to six with one abstention) to approve the application by. The head of development management, Richard Graham, said that this decision would be deferred to the next meeting so that officers had time to test its validity or soundness given that it was contrary to the recommendation of the planning officer.


The committee agreed that the former school building in Arkengarthdale can be converted into a single dwelling with two bedrooms to be used for bed and breakfast.

Richmondshire District councillor Richard Good told the committee: ‘I do support the application but it’s a shame that it isn’t going to be affordable homes. What I do like about this application is that we have got bed and breakfast provision.’

The planning officer reported that, following the closure of the school in 2019, the Arkengarthdale School Building Community Group, supported by Arkengarthdale Parish Council, had the site registered as an Asset of Community Value. This had triggered a six-month moratorium that restricted the building to community uses only. The Community Group had, however, failed to raise the funds required by June last year and the building was sold on the open market. Richmondshire District Council had confirmed that the building was no longer listed as an Asset of Community Value.

Cllr Good explained that the community in Arkengarthdale had then been given six months to try and put together a scheme for community use. There had been lots of bright ideas but nothing came forward he said. The new owners, Martin and Sue Stephenson, were then able to apply for change of use.

Their application included the construction of a car port with a studio cum classroom above it, the latter to support the activity weekends being planned by the Stephensons. This, they had told the planning officer, would bring in couples, families and small groups who would enjoy the activities in the local countryside and on-site and so help generate local employment and support businesses in the area that provided accommodation.

Cllr Peacock declared an interest and did not vote.


The owner of a small laundry behind Main Street in Sedbergh was given one month to discontinue that part of his business and remove all the equipment after the committee unanimously voted to authorise the Authority’s solicitor to serve an Enforcement Notice.

South Lakeland District councillor IanMitchell told the members that it was situated in a non-commercial area which was totally  unsuitable for a laundry. And another member, Jim Munday, commented: ‘It’s the wrong business in the wrong place.’

Nigel Close Ltd had applied for retrospective planning permission for using two small, single storey outbuildings behind Main Street for the laundry which serves the business’s  three holiday lets. A previous application (minus a planning statement) had been refused in December 2020. The applicant had, however, gone ahead with setting up the laundry.

The applicant had maintained that as it was in a commercial business and service area and could be carried out without detriment to the amenity of neighbours it did not require planning permission. The planning officer reported that, since it became operational, there had been complaints from three neighbouring properties. He said the laundry use was presently resulting in noise and odour emissions from the building and site to the detriment of residential amenity.

In the original planning application it was stated that the laundry would be in operation from 8am to 5pm 365 days a year.

In November 


“We have got to send the right message out that this Yorkshire Dale National Park does encourage young farmers,” North Yorks County councillor Yvonne Peacock told the YDNPA planning committee at its meeting on November 30.

But by a vote of seven to five the committee refused the application by J Allison and Sons to erect a 54.9m by 13.7m shed to house sheep at Cogden Hall farm, Grinton.

Member Mark Corner * said: “I have no issue … with the need to have a new building on the farm. My concern is the location – it literally sticks out like a sore thumb if you look at that schematic. I just feel its in the wrong place.”

The “schematic” shown by the planning officer throughout the discussion powerfully emphasised his argument that: “The proposed agricultural building, by virtue of its siting, scale and massing, would result in an adverse impact upon the scenic beauty of the National Park landscape, would not conserve the character and appearance of the Swaledale and Arkengarthdale Conservation Area and would harm the significance of grade II listed Cogden Hall through intrusion to its natural setting.” The brown and green colouring on the “schematic” was barely visible but the long black “shed” definitely did.

The Authority’s member champion for development management, Lancashire County councillor Jim Munday, agreed with Mr Corner and stated: “This [would be] three and a half metres to the eaves and five and a half metres high. How tall are sheep?”

After the vote Cllr Peacock pointed out that the farmers would need to use tractors in the shed.

The applicant, Stephen Allison, had told the committee that the farm, which supports four households of 13 people and the long term rental of a further six households, had been Marks and Spencers’ Swaledale lamb producers of the year in 2020 and 2021.  They needed to prepare for farm subsidies to halve by 2024 and wanted to introduce environmentally-friendly measures such as not wintering sheep on the moors so as not to poach  but to protect the land.

He said: “My cousin and I have young families and we are both in our early 30s. The building is of standard width and length for what is necessary to provide sufficient housing to accommodate 336 sheep and their lambs. It is important to ensure there is sufficient access to the central passage to feed check and bed up the sheep with a tractor. The site was chosen because that is where the need is and two other farm workers live on site. Additionally no other site is available to accommodate the required size.

“We believe the concerns of the adverse impact upon the scenic beauty of the landscape and the harm to Cogden Hall farm are grossly overstated. We therefore commissioned a heritage impact assessment which concluded the building would have an entirely acceptable level of impact upon the historic environment. We also assisted with the preparation of a visual impact assessment which found the building would have a minimal impact on the landscape. The visual impact was a major consideration and much thought was given to the potential effect both on the site and the wider landscape. A landscaping plan has therefore been proposed to plant trees to lessen any impact and to break up its massing from both near and far.”

He disagreed with the statement in the planning officer’s report that the shed would be located on raised ground. He stated: “The site is in a natural dip and would additionally be further built into the ground.  It will not be over dominant and intrusive.”

Richmondshire District councillor Richard Good agreed with him. He accepted that the shed would be big. But the footpaths around it, he said, were rarely used and there was only a small gap along the B6270 where it might be visible. He added: “If you are travelling at ten miles an hour you might just see it.”

He did not feel that the planning officer had clearly explained that the sheep needed to come off the moors in winter for environmental reasons which fulfilled one of the requirements of the National Park.

This was an opportunity, he said, to encourage farming and added: “Dales farming is traditional but we have to modernise it [and] this is a great opportunity with a young farming family… with lots of new ideas and lots of enthusiasm.”

He asked the committee to remember that although Cogden Hall was a listed building it had been home to a farming family for many years and would remain so.

Supporting his call to approve the application, North Yorkshire County councillor Yvonne Peacock stated: “I was pleased to see this application because for once we have got a young farmer wanting to farm. And not only himself but his whole family and his cousins.”

She pointed out that the YDNPA has a policy of encouraging people to visit the Yorkshire Dales – and that much of the beautiful scenery they came for had been created by farmers. She argued, therefore, that it was in the public interest to encourage farmers. But farmers could not continue to farm as they had in the past.

“We don’t know what the government’s going to come up with – and we know things in the future could be very very difficult. I want to see farmers making their farms viable. If we don’t encourage them now we might find that our beautiful dales will not be [worth] visiting,” she said.

Richmondshire District councillor John Amsden commented: “This is environmental land management. It’s a management tool not just a building. There are lots more buildings a lot more prominent than this one in Swaledale. I think you ought to get Google maps out and have a look. All this government thinks about is tourism and in the next ten years agriculture is going to be in a very sad state. We are going to be importing more food [causing] more pollution.”

After the proposal to approve the application was rejected Cllr Good said that there should have been a site visit so that members could have seen the location for themselves.

One of those who voted against approval was Derek Twine who commented afterwards: “I sense that some of members who voted against would be pleased to a further application at a later date which took note of the issues about the size and the style and the location.”


The application for two holiday-let pods and a pedestrian broadwalk in the extensive private grounds of a house in New Street, Sedbergh, was approved even though the parish council had made a strong objection.

Sedbergh Parish Council felt that the application lacked merit and was concerned about the environmental impact, loss of amenity to neighbours and access and parking. There is no parking available at the pod site and the planning officer commented  that those arriving by car would have to take their chances of finding a space in Joss Lane car park. He added that many might come by bike or on foot.

Member Allen Kirkbride  said that many parts of the Yorkshire Dales had parking problems and it was getting worse. Both he and Cllr Peacock asked if this problem could be considered when planning applications were being assessed.

The head of development management, Richard Graham, told them, however, that issues with parking were not a reason for refusing an application.

The planning officer stated: “The proposals are for small-scale visitor accommodation and …is not considered to be detrimental to neighbours, highway safety, trees, the environment or wildlife in any significant way.”

He reported that no protected wildlife habitat would be destroyed and the application did include compensatory planting and habitat enhancement. He added that given the distance between the pods and nearby houses and their being sited among trees the environmental health officer believed there would be little impact on neighbours.

Just one of the committee members abstained from voting to approve the application.


After a month waiting for a final decision on their application for purpose-built accommodation at Bark Laithe Farm at Flasby Robin and Wendy Riley watched as the majority of the committee voted this time to refuse it.

In October the majority of the committee approved the application but this was against the planning officer’s recommendation and so it was referred back. At the November meeting members were told the first decision was contrary to the Authority’s policy and so was neither sound nor valid.

She stated that Mr Riley had not shown there were exceptional reasons to approve his application to replace timber stables with a detached building suitable for his handicapped wife. She said: “Clearly there is sympathy for Mr and Mrs Riley’s circumstances however decreasing mobility with age or age-related health problems is a very common condition and, it is considered, neither exceptional nor ‘special’. Many people live with such problems through adaptions to their existing living accommodation.’

Mr Corner commented: “I cannot see why the building [farmhouse] built in the 1980s can’t be satisfactorily adapted. The floor area of the house is larger than that proposed in the new dwelling.” Like the planning officer he said that, if the application was approved, the proposed design was out of character on the farmstead and would need to be reconsidered.

Mr Kirkbride disagreed and said Mrs Riley’s handicapped situation should be considered. He added that the new building within the farmstead would not stand out.

The committee, however, voted by seven to five to refuse the application. After the vote Mr Kirkbride questioned the system that did not provide Mr Riley  with the right to comment on the planning officer’s report at that meeting. (Applicants can only address the planning committee once and Mr Riley did so at the October meeting.)


Unanimous approval was given for enforcement action to be taken immediately to ensure that a 10m high telecommunication mast near Hartlington is removed.

The committee was told that the Authority had refused an application to install a mast and associated works at Dibbles Bridge near Hartlington because these would be in a prominent and highly visible location harming the natural beauty of the upland landscape and the setting of the Fancari stone circle which is a Scheduled Ancient Monument.  ESN (Emergency Services Network) and EE Ltd appealed the decision and in early 2018 went ahead with the installation of the mast.

In June 2018 the appeal was dismissed. It was then agreed that a mast could be erected at the entrance to Stump Cross Caverns and the work was completed in July 2021. The mast at Hartlington, however, has not been removed.


YDNPA – Full Authority March 2021

ARC News Service report on the Full Authority virtual meeting of the YDNPA on March 30 2021 during which an “amber warning light” was given concerning  future budgets; there were reports on supporting upland farming and about Nature Recovery; and there were calls for the right for local authorities to continue virtual meetings after May 8.

During the meeting the Authority’s chief executive officer, David Butterworth, twice emphasised that decision making should be local and not be dependent upon “two blokes sitting behind a desk in Whitehall”.

It was stated during the meeting that the YDNPA has been in the forefront of developing programmes to involve farmers and landowners in nature recovery and this is despite the Authority  (like other National Parks) having faced significant real-term cuts in core grants from the Government over the past few years.

Even so, in the Review of National Landscapes by Julian Glover it is stated that the 10 National Parks and 34 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (ANOB) in England were not effectively protecting the national landscapes. He also reported that National Parks needed better funded budgets, secured in real terms, so that they could plan ahead with confidence.  The Review recommended that a National Landscapes Service should be set up encompassing all the National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in England.  This will cover almost 25 per cent of England – and the Review also recommends that Defra should appoint all the board members of the National Parks, and the chairmen by the Secretary of State (in Whitehall?!)

Budget warning

The Authority was issued with an “amber warning light” this week – that continued cuts in the real-term value of its grants from the Government could leave it with only four priority programmes and its staff being reduced by almost a third.

The situation is so bad that the Authority’s head of finance and resources, Michelle Clyde, stated twice in the draft budget report for 2021/22 that members should see it as an “amber warning light.”

The chairman of the Finance and Resources committee, Neil Swain told the members: “In order to maintain a steady ship for 12 months…we’ve effectively allocated the whole of the general reserve to maintaining services in the next 12 months.

“Members must be really very clear that this is a budget that cannot be repeated. Unless we receive some significant increase in funding …in the next 12 months members are going to have to make some major decisions on which elements of our programmes we are going to have to think about cutting back on.”

Ms Clyde explained that between 2010 and 2015 the National Park grant in England fell by nearly 40 per cent in real terms which led to significant programme cuts and reductions in staff numbers. In addition the Authority was experiencing cuts in the real-term value of the Defra grant because it had not been increased to allow for inflation since 2019.

She told members: “The draft budget has been prepared against a background of unprecedented uncertainty. In particular, the Government’s planned Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR), which would have set our grant level for the next three years, has been postponed, and the impact of the Covid 19 pandemic on our other sources of income will continue for some time.

“The financial outlook from 2022/23 onwards may be extremely difficult as the economic impact of dealing with Covid becomes clearer. The funding of public services will be a key issue for the Government to address.

“If that approach involves significant cuts in grant then all English National Park Authorities will come under severe pressure in delivering their programmes, particularly the four priorities that have been established by National Parks England: Dealing with the impacts of Climate Change; Nature and Wildlife recovery in National Parks; the future of farming and Land Management; and National Parks for everyone – improving access and diversity.”

She stated that the budget presented to the members was affordable without resorting to any programme cuts but the future was much less certain. She added: “The impact on our programmes is very much dependant on the outcome of the CSR and the long term impact of Covid 19, as well as any changes in delivery that Defra might wish us to make in response to the (Glover) Landscapes Review.

The Authority, she said, had adopted a “wait and see” approach to the situation last year but it did not have sufficient reserves to continue to prop up its spending plans. “The likely state of the country’s finances makes the prospect of a significant cut to our Defra grant a real possibility again.”

The members were told that Defra had confirmed by email that the core grant for 2021/22 would be the same as last year with no increase for inflation but the formal agreement was still awaited.

Farming and Nature Recovery

At the Full Authority meeting it was re-affirmed that the Government’s new programmes to protect special landscapes can only be delivered by farmers and landowners working in partnership with local authorities such as the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority.

The YDNPA’s chief executive, David Butterworth, emphasised this when he commented that this was better done at a local level than by “two blokes sitting behind a desk in Whitehall”.

The members  agreed that a new Nature Recovery Plan should be prepared by March 2022 and that the objective should be that by 2040 the Yorkshire Dales National Park should be home to the finest variety of wildlife in England. It was noted that it already contains more nationally important habitats than any other national park in the country.

To create a new plan It was, therefore, essential that the Plan should be developed with local partners and with farmers and landowners, the Authority’s senior wildlife conservation officer, Tony Serjeant, stated. The Authority, he explained, only owned and managed 0.001 per cent of the land in the National Park with public agencies and charities owning less than five per cent. This meant the Authority had to work by largely influencing others.

Reporting on the Authority’s 10-year Dales 2020 Vision programme he told members:  “We have managed very well against what’s happening at national level and we can hold our heads up high and be proud of what we have done.”

Serjeant explained that the biggest challenge was recovering blanket bog and peat of which there was a large amount in the National Park. It could take 100 years he said for peat in some areas to achieve a depth of 40cm and so be recovered. Due to that only 29 per cent of priority habitats outside of Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) had reached Natural England’s definition of “favourable” condition. Within SSSIs 96 per cent were in good condition.

There had been some hugely notable successes, he said, such as increasing the habitat for dormice in Wensleydale,  and maintaining the range of red squirrel, curlew, lapwing, redshank and snipe.  The proportion of rivers in good ecological condition had also increased significantly.

“It is essential to protect what we have and aim for more, bigger, better and more joined up. That’s the approach we are taking. I am confident we that we can play our role in being at the forefront of creating nature recovery in England and the UK” he said.

He emphasised that it was necessary to get the proposed agricultural subsidy award system right so as to incentivise farmers and land managers to keep habitats in good condition and to create new ones. One example of this was the Dale-by-Dale initiative, funded by Natural England,  where  the Authority is working with farmers and landowners in Garsdale, Kingsdale, Littondale and Raydale to look at opportunities for nature recovery. The YDNPA is also working in partnership with other local authorities and national parks towards the restoration of habitats, peat uplands and woodland.

Adrian Shepherd, head of land management, reported  on the preparatory work being carried out for the Government’s “The Path to Sustainable Farming: An Agricultural Transition Plan 2021 to 2024” He told members:  “The programme will be delivered much by farmers working in partnership to protect the landscape and so I see this as a huge opportunity for the farmers who protect the landscapes as well as the protected landscape authorities themselves. There will be huge challenges to farmers. They are going to have to take on board many new opportunities.”

Many of the programmes envisaged by the Government, he said, had already been pioneered in the National Park. These include the Payment by Results trial involving 18 farms in Wensleydale focused  on hay meadows and habitats for wading birds like curlews which has been on-going for four years and now has been promised another year’s funding by Defra.

“We are the only National Park Authority in the country to deliver the national programme of catchment sensitive farming,” he said which he added would have huge benefits for farmers.

He explained that the payments currently on offer to farmers will be withdrawn over the next seven years and would be replaced with a new system which will offer a significant range of opportunities to farmers to obtain funding with a major emphasis on being rewarded for “providing public goods” . It is planned that upland farmers, 75 per cent of whom live and work in “Protected Landscapes”,  will receive funding for improving the natural environment, cultural heritage and public access.

Shepherd reported that in January Defra officials began discussions in strictest confidence with representatives of National Park Authorities and AONBs on how such a scheme would work and the level of funding that would be provided. Details are not yet available, he added and continued:

“Members will be aware that this Authority has been at the forefront of national thinking on the future support for farming in  the uplands. Our approach has been based on taking a strongly collaborative approach with farmers and landowners.” This is being led for the Authority by the Yorkshire Dales Biodiversity Forum and the Yorkshire Dales Farming and Land Management Forum.

“Members have repeatedly made clear the importance  they attach to the Authority’s role in supporting the future of farming in this National Park. As a result, the Authority has developed a highly-knowledgeable and skilled team of staff who, in turn, have helped to develop and deliver a range of local and national-level projects,” Shepherd stated.

When asked by Craven District Cllr Richard Foster how the Authority intended to balance the different breeding requirements of curlews and lapwings which did not seek tree cover and those of red squirrels which did, Gary Smith, director of conservation and community,  said the YDNPA had collected data on every single species and  habitat over the past ten years. “That’s pretty much a unique position in this country for an organisation to have,” he added.

Richmondshire District Cllr John Amsden pointed out that those on short-let farm tenancies weren’t able to participate in many of the schemes to assist upland farmers.  “I think a lot of tenant farmers will just quit unless [the new programmes] are properly managed for their benefit as well,” he warned.

Shepherd replied that the current scheme was worse for tenanted farmers as it was based upon area payments, whereas the new scheme would be based on rewarding the provision of public goods.

Countdown to end of virtual meetings

Despite an extraordinary level of lobbying by local authorities throughout the country the Government has decided that virtual meetings should stop on May 8 before all the Covid restrictions are lifted David Butterworth told the meeting.

He said that the regulations introduced last year to allow video conferencing would end on May 7 and after that face to face meetings would have to be held.

“That’s a deliberate decision by the Government – in spite of an extraordinary level of lobbying from local authorities that they want at least the option to be able to hold meetings either face to face or via video conferencing in the future,” he said.

He explained that, at present, the timetable was for all restrictions to be lifted on June 21. But the YDNPA has two meetings scheduled between May 8 and June 21 including that of the planning committee. Mr Butterworth was not happy with the two suggested solutions put forward by the Government: either to hold meetings face to face or for all powers and decisions to be delegated to the chief executive officer.

Of the latter he said: “I would be particularly keen that you didn’t take that approach [as it is] a serious one for democracy. Well, I don’t think it is.” He added that each local authority should be able to make its own choices. “The decisions should be made here and not in the middle of London,” he asserted.

The members agreed with North Yorkshire County Cllr Kenneth Good that the YDNPA should write to Government ministers to ask that virtual meetings could continue after May 7, not just due to Covid-19 but also as some local authorities, such as the YDNPA, covered large geographic areas and that, during winter, it was difficult to travel.

Craven District Cllr Carl Lis said he was disappointed by the Government’s decision as he had hoped that the advantages of virtual meetings regarding climate change and carbon footprint would have been taken into consideration.

Member Jim Munday commented: “One of the things about virtual meetings and/or hybrid meetings is accessibility. That means that everyone within the National Park has much greater accessibility to the meetings.

“This has been noted at planning committee [meetings] since we went virtual in that we have had people who can afford half an hour to give their evidence but not a whole day to travel across the park to attend an actual meeting. So there is accessibility for people in all weathers and all times.”

One member, Ian McPherson from Sedbergh, even suggested that members of National Park authorities should go on strike! He said if members did not attend meetings the message might get through to the Government that everything was grinding to halt just for the sake of a simple piece of legislation.

5G masts – the best for connectivity?

Coverdale Connect and Protect has held several Zoom meetings concerning the application to the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s  (YDNPA ) planning committee on February 9 2021 for permission to install a 5G mast at West Scrafton

Zoom meeting on February 2:

Residents throughout Coverdale would have better broadband and mobile phone connectivity via the commercial use of emergency services masts and fibre-based broadband than the 5G testbed and trial which runs only until March 2022, it was stated during a Coverdale Connect and Protect  Zoom meeting on February 2.

This group has asked the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) to refuse approval for a 5G mast at West Scrafton in Coverdale not only for environmental reasons but also until there is a thorough, impartial investigation into the impact of 5G technology on humans and animals.

When introducing the Zoom meeting Harriet Corner from Coverdale said: “I truly consider [this dale] to be one of the wonders of the world in terms of its beauty and nature. I had a rural childhood but now there’s little left of the wild spaces I used to know. The landscape is littered with masts, pylons and wind turbines.

“Let’s protect this incredible place for our children and grandchildren rather than put the landscape, the ecology and the health of our community at risk. But let’s solve our connectivity issues in a safe way that covers the entire dale.”

Anne Pilling, who lives outside Horsehouse in Coverdale, explained that MANY (Mobile Access North Yorkshire project) was a publicly and privately funded consortium supported by North Yorkshire County Council which had been given £4.4m of government funding to trial 5G in the county. She said the test area included West Witton, East Witton and Middleham but not the northern end of Coverdale beyond Gammersgill where the need for broadband and mobile phone connectivity was the most acute.

She reported that emergency service masts installed at Coverhead and Braidley could be updated to provide a commercial service and that on January 21 YDNPA had given permission for an emergency service mast at Gildersbeck.

“From my enquiries with EE this will provide 3G or 4G commercial service which should cover the [5G] test area,” she said and added that she had been told that within six months this would also provide a mobile phone roaming service.

She told the meeting that rather than the 5G test area having the least connectivity more than 90 per cent of the households in it already had access to superfast broadband. She added that fibre broadband was the gold standard as it was safe, faster than 5G, reliable, weatherproof and heat proof.

West Witton parish councillor Graham Bottley warned: “My real concern is if 5G is brought into these areas with its inferior service that will prevent [residents} ever getting fibre broadband. My view is it will harm the community in terms of worse provision of service.” He said that in the past West Witton residents had been told they would never get fibre-based broadband and yet this year it would be installed in that village.

Raymond Brown of Coverdale said that 60 per cent of residents he had spoken to were in favour of the 5G mast. He questioned the statements made during the meeting that 5G was a health risk to people and the environment. He pointed out that the World Health Organisation and Public Health England had stated 5G was safe.

Mike Sparrow responded that such agencies and the British Government accepted the guidelines and safety standards set by the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) But, he added, the Appeal Court of Turin had judged the ICNIRP to be conflicted as a consequence of its members having direct or indirect relationships with the telecommunications industry, and accepted funding either directly or indirectly from it.

“The point we are making … is that there are alternatives that would work better that wouldn’t expose us to the same potential risks.

He said he had read many academic papers in which scientists argued there were reasons to be worried about 5G and non-ionising radiation. He listed several studies which had reported on the adverse impact upon insects, animals, birds and trees.

There was, he added, the problem of latency – just as there had been with cigarette smoking. So it could take decades before the impact upon health was known. He said insurance companies were so concerned that they were unwilling to insure for any damage caused by such technology.

“If they are not going to indemnify us for any damage to our communities… how are we to believe it is safe?” he asked.

Planning officer’s recommendation

A planning officer has recommended that the YDNPA planning committee should approve the application for a 5G mast at West Scrafton.

In his report it is stated: “This project is looking at how 4G/5G technology will benefit rural communities and is specifically targeting areas with limited or no current coverage, ‘not spots’, which include the Coverdale area. The proposed installation will form an important link in the chain and needs to have line of sight with other local sites.” (These are at Yarker Bank Quarry at Leyburn and Penhill Farm, West Witton.)

The report continued: “[The] business model is to provide broadband coverage to the locations that the Main Network Operators (MNO’s) do not. These would otherwise remain as ‘not spots’ within the National Park.  “The site is not near to a statutory safeguarding zone such as a school.

“Paragraph 116 of the NPPF (National Planning Policy Framework) says that the need for an electronic communications system should not be questioned.

“It is considered that there is a justifiable need for a telecommunication site to be provided at this location.” And on health issues it stated: “The applicants have provided a declaration confirming that the proposed installation complies with the International Commission for Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNRP) guidelines for exposure of the public to radio frequency and electromagnetic fields.

“All hardware on site would carry certification that indicates conformity with health, safety, and environmental protection standards. The mast would be located a significant distance from any residential property. The siting does not give rise to any perceived health risks.

“Nevertheless, objectors say that certain scientific studies are critical of ICNIRP safe exposure guidelines and consider that the development will have an adverse impact on the health of the public, wildlife and the environment and that a precautionary principle should be applied. The objectors refer to various scientific studies but none that can be applied directly to this site.”

Among those who have objected is Professor David Hill, chairman of the Environment Bank. See: Are the Dales being used as a guinea pig?

Statement by Coverdale Connect and Protect

On Tuesday February 9th members of the Yorkshire Dales National Park planning committee will be asked to rule on whether a 15 metre high mast should be erected in the unspoilt Coverdale hamlet of West Scrafton.

The mast is part of a privately and publicly-funded 5G ‘test-bed and trial’ project managed by North Yorkshire County Council which is looking to use this corner of the YDNP to experiment with 5G applications.

Residents are being enticed by the offer of free wireless broadband and mobile phone coverage for the duration of the trial and, not surprisingly, this is attractive to the minority still struggling with poor connectivity.

Big questions remain unanswered however. Putting to one side the mounting scientific evidence that 5G has damaging effects on human health, wildlife and the environment, and the impact of mast proliferation on the aesthetics of an unspoilt corner of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, the kind of fixed wireless broadband and mobile signal that this organisation is proposing is not the best solution for our needs.

More than 90% of households in the target area already have superfast fibre broadband; fibre is the gold standard – safe, reliable and weather-proof – and it should be available to everyone in the dale. Planning permission was recently granted for an emergency services mast which we understand will provide a commercial mobile signal to the target area. So why was this corner of YDNP selected for this experiment? How is this in the best interests of the people of Coverdale? What happens when the funding runs out in March 2022?

When we ask what is going on we are met with silence or obfuscation by NYCC councillors and officers. Coverdale is an unspoilt area of natural beauty, home to rare and endangered flora and fauna. Such a treasured and rare landscape must not be put in jeopardy by a communications trial curiously mired in secrecy. It would be an abdication of the responsibility the YDNPA have to uphold their primary purpose, namely “to conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the national park” and we therefore ask the Planning Committee to defer any decision until our questions have been answered.

Mike Sparrow’s scientific studies

At previous Zoom meetings Mike Sparrow said that there was evidence that the type of frequencies used for 5G could not only have very damaging effects upon birds but also on bees and humans.

Among the peer-reviewed research he quoted was a report by the Oceania Radiofrequency Scientific Advisory Association in Australia in 2018 which stated that 68 per cent of 1,955 scientific studies illustrated “significant biological and health effects”.

The government, he said, had based its assurances to the public on the guidance provided by the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) which maintains that non-ionising radiation (as from 5G) causes harm only at tissue heating levels of exposure and no deeper biological effect.

And yet the Appeal Court of Turin had judged the ICNIRP to be conflicted as a consequence of its members having direct or indirect relationships with the telecommunications industry. The ICNIRP’s guidance was, therefore, held to be “unreliable due to bias”, Mr Sparrow reported.

In a letter to Sir Keir Starmer MP he wrote: “In order to protect and reassure the public, we believe that it is essential that the government is compelled to undertake a full public, independent and transparent enquiry into the published adverse health effects of exposure to electromagnetic radiation, prior to any further expansion of wireless telecommunications network capability. The conduct of ICNIRP and the reliability of its guidance should, inevitably, be examined as part of this process.

“A government that ignores the science, and is prepared to gamble with the health of its citizens is unworthy of trust.”

Supported with references he stated: “There are now thousands of peer-reviewed scientific studies that demonstrate unequivocal evidence that non-ionising radiation at very low levels of exposure cause significant biological harm such as:

· carcinogenicity (brain tumors/glioma, breast cancer, acoustic neuromas, leukemia, parotid gland tumors),

· genotoxicity (DNA damage, DNA repair inhibition, chromatin structure), mutagenicity, teratogenicity,

· neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer’s Disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis)’

· neurobehavioral problems, autism, reproductive problems, pregnancy outcomes, excessive reactive oxygen species/oxidative stress, inflammation, apoptosis, blood-brain barrier disruption, pineal gland/melatonin production, sleep disturbance, headache, irritability, fatigue, concentration difficulties, depression, dizziness, tinnitus, burning and flushed skin, digestive disturbance, tremor, cardiac irregularities,

· adverse impacts on the neural, circulatory, immune, endocrine, and skeletal systems,

· Damage to voltage gated calcium channels (VGCCs) in cells.”

He continued: “Representation has been made to both the Secretary of State for Health and Public Health England in relation to the adverse public health consequences implied by the body of peer-reviewed science referred to above. Government has dismissed the concerns raised, referring simply to their reliance upon ICNIRP guidelines, without any acknowledgement of the scientific evidence that contradicts such advice; or the fact that ICNIRP absolve themselves from responsibility.

“The government has a duty to protect the health and wellbeing of its citizens, including exposure of the public to ‘dangerous activities’, which includes the production of electromagnetic radiation. It has made no attempt to evaluate the risk of existing wireless EMR, or the potential risk posed by the millimetre wave EMR used to deliver wireless 5G.”

And he added that the government had failed to acknowledge or investigate substantive evidence that pointed to the severe harm caused by the electromagnetic field radiation (EMF) of 5G.

“It is ironic,” he said, “that, at a time when science is being invoked to justify the government’s response to Covid-19, the science pertaining to harm caused by EMR is being ignored; a threat which may pose an even greater long-term risk to public health.”

About himself Mr Sparrow said: “I have a background in industry (35 years covering various sectors) which culminated in my leading an international utilities construction and maintenance business. “Part of that portfolio included the construction of high-voltage power lines with associated telecommunications fibre optics. The nature of the business, and the risks entailed, meant that I spent a disproportionate amount of time focused on safety and technical standards. Hence, I am familiar with magnetic fields, induced currents and other electro-magnetic phenomena.”


February to December 2020

ARC News Service reports from Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority  (YDNPA) planning committee meetings in 2020 with settlements in alphabetical order.

Most of the meetings were held remotely due to the Covid lockdown and all the speakers could be heard clearly – which made it so much easier to provide full reports. These reports are provided by Pip Pointon on a voluntary basis as part of the commitment of the Association of Rural Communities to local democracy.

Arncliffe – March

Despite the full support of Arncliffe Parish Meeting to see an ‘eyesore’ in their conservation area replaced with an extension which it believed would improve the visual appearance of the School House, the planning committee  rejected the planning application by the owners.

The agent, Robert Groves, told the committee on March 10: ‘This [flat roof] is quite an eyesore and it is the most dilapidated part of the building. The proposed extension is modest…and it will bring about a huge improvement. It completely respects the original Gothic architecture of that part of the school house.’

He said the Parish Meeting had held a special meeting to discuss the application and had written to the YDNPA three times in full support of the proposals and revisions.

The majority of the committee members, however, agreed with the planning officer who stated: ‘The School  House is an important and distinctive building in the Arncliffe Conservation Area [which] contributes positively to the character and appearance of the Conservation Area because  of its Gothic character and appearance. The proposed extension would  undermine and harm the overall character and appearance of the building by adding a large extension of unsympathetic proportions and architecture.’

She said that two flat-roof extensions had been built in the 1970s to provide additional facilities for the school. The application was for replacing one of these with a two-storey extension with a hipped roof to provide a garage and a home office with shower room above.

Committee member Jocelyn Manners-Armstrong said: ‘Due to the scale of the proposed extension it would dominate the building. A smaller extension would get a more positive response.’

Askrigg – October

Farmer Richard Scarr was told he would have to provide further plans to show how the impact of a replacement barn on the landscape of Upper Wensleydale could be reduced.

A planning officer said that Mr Scarr wanted to replace a semi-derelict traditional stone barn with a larger modern one but, as it was in an isolated and prominent position, it would cause real  landscape harm. For that reason he recommended that Mr Scarr’s application should be refused.

Mr Scarr told the committee: ‘I am a four-generation farmer. We are traditional Dales farmers keeping Swaledale sheep and selling lambs in the local mart at Hawes. We have traditional hay meadows which we cut for hay each year.  Since my childhood the hay has always been stacked in the field barn. We feed the hay to the sheep in winter and by the spring the barn is empty and is used for lambing. This barn has fallen into disrepair with the roof collapsing. We propose to replace it with a new building serving the same purpose.

‘This will enable us to continue the traditional practice of hay making to conserve the species in the hay meadows and avoiding the plastic black bales and secure the continuous traditional farming practices.’

He said he had already agreed to reduce the size of the new building, to increase the cladding and to stone face the north elevation, plus carrying out expensive tree planting.

He continued: ‘The location is very important. It makes not only storing hay easier but also feeding it to the sheep in winter, and lambing my sheep in the spring. Over the years working in the lower fields has provided an opportunity to engage with visitors using the public footpath. This is something I have personally enjoyed and also gives lots back to the visitors who can understand a traditional dales farm and be in connection with those who live and work here. Losing this would be  a genuine loss to me and to those who enjoy visiting the National Park.’

Member Allen Kirkbride (an Askrigg parish councillor) commented: ‘As far as I can see he has done everything he can to make sure that this barn fits in and doesn’t stand out like a sore thumb.’

He pointed out that just over half a mile away there was another brand new barn that stood out just as much as Mr Scarr’s would.

Richmondshire District councillor  John Amsden agreed. ‘There’s quite a lot of barns been put up in the last couple of  years. I can see one from the top of my land on the other side of the dale which sticks out like a sore thumb because it’s on the hilltop… we also have the National Park building … which sticks out. By the time the trees have grown up I think [Mr Scarr’s] will fit in. It serves the farmer’s purposes.

North Yorkshire County councillor Robert Heseltine, however, commented that with modern tractors hay could easily be stored at the farmstead. The planning officer had said that there would be support for a new barn at the farmstead. ‘Two wrongs don’t make a right. We are not in the business of providing sore thumbs in a protected landscape,’ Cllr Heseltine said.

Lancashire County councillor  Cosima Towneley retorted: ‘We need to take a pragmatic view of this. Farming does not stand still. This is not a chocolate box landscape. People have to live. ‘

Member Ian McPherson proposed deferral and stated: ‘I would personally like to see if there is a way the construction of the building can be ameliorated to make it more compatible with the natural environment.’  And the majority agreed.

Austwick – June

In December 2014 John Blackie (then the Leader of Richmondshire District Council) and the then chairman of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (Peter Charlesworth) warned about the loss of affordable and local occupancy homes in very rural areas due to the government’s new policy which would allow a developer to build 10 or less houses on one site without having to make sure there was a provision for affordable local housing. Charlesworth stated: ‘This… is likely to more than halve the number of affordable  homes built in the National Park – homes that are essential to the long-term viability of local communities.’

Of the government’s policy Blackie said: ‘It’s a stab in the back for those who have the best interests of the future of rural and deeply rural communities at heart, and retaining the essential ingredient of young people and young families within them to maintain their long-term viability.’ (Northern Echo December 2014).

The government raised the threshold to 10 houses before which developers had to provide some on-site affordable housing. Instead they can pay a contribution towards affordable housing. The continuing frustration and disappointment with the government’s policy was very evident when the following application for a development at Austwick was discussed.

The application to build eight dwellings on land off Pant Lane in Austwick was approved even though the majority of the planning committee members were deeply disappointed that it did not include any affordable housing.

‘We are potentially giving permission for eight second homes or holiday cottages … with no specification for affordable housing,’ stated North Yorks County councillor Richard Welch .

And the chairman of the Authority, Craven District councillor Carl Lis summed up the feelings of most of the committee when he said: ‘There is no doubt that within the Austwick area there is need for affordable housing and I just find it disappointing that we can’t get that. Okay, we are going to get a financial contribution but that… doesn’t have to be used in Austwick. So Austwick loses its provision of affordable housing.’

Craven District councillor David Ireton added: ‘Small villages are requiring local need and local affordable housing. We are in danger here of somebody getting the cheque book out … and developing open market houses with no restrictions.’

As one member after another questioned the lack of provision for affordable  housing the head of development management, Richard Graham, had to explain several times why they had no choice but to approve it. He said that the Authority’s previous Local Plan had required affordable housing to be provided on a site with that many houses. ‘It was impossible to sustain that policy position because the government’s policy changed. And Local Plans have to be in accordance with the government’s policy. As it stands at the moment [the application] complies with Local Plan policy and government policy.

‘The proposal will provide a financial contribution towards affordable housing. That can be used to help bring forward sites for affordable housing where the finances are marginal. We are talking to housing associations and community groups around the National Park about bringing forward various sites purely for affordable housing.’

The government’s policy and, therefore, that of the Local Plan meant, he said, that the planning committee could not add a condition  concerning affordable housing. Cllr  Robert Heseltine requested that because he said: ‘Every applicant will put this foot in the door approach and virtually nothing will be provided in the smaller villages in the National Park.’

A planning officer  had told the committee she has encouraged the developer to include some affordable housing but complex negotiations would be required with Craven District Council and a housing association.

Two members, Allen Kirkbride and Cllr John Amsden, asked about including solar panels and charging points for electric cars. Cllr Lis agreed, pointing out that the Authority did have a policy on climate change. He added: ’We haven’t even got an indication as to the heating system. We need to encourage developers to install things into these houses which make them environmentally friendly.’

Austwick Parish Council told the committee: ‘The initiative to progress this Housing Development site is welcome as the availability of a number of new smaller houses could be of social and economic benefit to Austwick and may help to secure, for the longer term, the services and facilities we now have in place to support our community.’

It did not, therefore, object but had a number of concerns which included the lack of  on-site affordable or local occupancy housing and renewable technologies. The planning officer reported that the developer had not yet decided what equipment to use for renewable energy technologies and he had been encouraged to consider alternative sustainable sources of heating.

Members queried giving permission before these details were agreed. “It’s totally wrong because they can walk away and do absolutely nothing,” commented Cllr Welch

The parish council also asked about  the potential of surface water run-off and the developer had agreed to use  limestone chippings instead of tarmac on the access road. There will now be only one access so that a portion of a high dry-stone wall  will not be demolished. The planning officer explained that this and amendments to the design would mean there could be bigger gardens and more landscaping.

Member Jim Munday and Craven District councillor Richard Foster said it was a good development for Austwick. ‘It’s a great site and more houses are needed,’ said the latter.

And Cllr Cosima Towneley reminded the members that they didn’t have a foot to stand on due to the government’s policy.

Bainbridge – October

It didn’t take long for the committee to approve  permission for 37 additional solar panels on the rear (south) roof slope of the YDNPA office premises (Yoredale) in Bainbridge. These will have black frames and low reflectivity glass to match the appearance of the existing panels.

A planning officer stated that the application was a direct consequence of the Authority adopting a ‘Carbon Reduction Plan’. He said Yoredale was a large modern office building within the conservation area of Bainbridge. The south facing roof was visible at close range from Cam High Road but not from medium to long distance views.

Bainbridge Parish Council had objected to the installation of so many solar panels on that roof believing them to be an eyesore to anyone using Cam High Road and nearby footpaths, negatively affecting the visual amenity of the area.

At the meeting Allen Kirkbride commented: ‘An awful lot of hikers walk up that road and they look directly onto it. People pass in cars. I have no problem with solar panels – I may have a problem with the number of solar panels they want to put on.’

And another member, Jim Munday, said: ‘I’m all for carbon reduction … but in my opinion the two items of modern technology that blight our National Park [because] they are intrusive and unsightly [are] mobile phone masts and solar panels. At the moment they seem to be necessary evils but we must encourage development to less intrusive solutions to the problems of telecom and power generation to minimise the impact of those by better siting and design.’

Braidley in Coverdale – October

Before the committee could discuss an application to convert a barn near Braidley in Coverdale into a local occupancy dwelling  or holiday let the chairman, Julie Martin, stated: ‘I just want to make a few comments myself as  cultural heritage champion not least because the … building conservation officer is unhappy about this one. I do feel that it is unfortunate that this application has come forward in this form.

‘I know the site … I have gone past there many times and it is very isolated and very prominent in the landscape.  I do feel as our planning officer clearly does that  [this] is too intensive a development for this site. The application doesn’t fully meet the requirements of our design guide and that is disappointing.  Having said that I do think it is entirely possible that a smaller modified, more sensitive set of proposals would be suitable for us to approve.’

The planning officer said several times that the barn was on a sloping site and would, therefore, result in landscape harm due to what he described as a large curtilage, enlarged windows and three rooflights, especially as it could be seen from a footpath 300m away on the opposite side of the River Cover.

The majority of the committee voted to refuse the application.

Bolton Abbey – December

The committee unanimously agreed that Oliver Barker of Catgill Campsite Ltd at Catgill Farm could add four additional timber glamping pods to the three already there.

Mr Barker had removed hot tubs from the plans as Bolton Abbey Parish Council was concerned about the impact upon the private water supply. He is considering installing water storage tanks so as to apply for the installation of hot tubs later. The parish council had noted that providing water for hot tubs could affect the beck and so lead to problems for livestock and wildlife along that waterway.

Mr Barker said the present pods had proved to be a great success especially when many people were considering holidays in the UK due to the Covid epidemic. Providing more glamping pods would help to boost the local economy and provide more employment he added.

Cllr Robert Heseltine told the committee that the local water supply had always been very reliable and that the site would be well screened.

Member Neil Swain commented that it was a very good thought-out proposal.

The parish council had also reported concerns about the number of pitches at the camp site, the holding of caravan rallies,  the length of time of operation of the camp site and also parking on the lane. The planning officer said these had been passed on to the enforcement team for investigation.

Crosby Ravensworth – February

The listed Monks Church Bridge at Crosby Ravensworth needs more than a ‘sticking plaster’ repair the chairman of the parish council,  David Graham, told the committee.

‘Our community wants the bridge widened,’ he said. ‘This is a working farming modern community – it is not a preserved museum. Our farmers don’t use horse and carts. They use very large modern farm machinery.’

He added that the drivers of large delivery vehicles also had difficulties –  ‘Speed has never been a problem – it’s simply the size of the vehicles trying to use it.’

That has led to the bridge frequently being damaged, he said, with most of the repairs having  been carried out using cement mortar. This time  Cumbria County Council had applied for permission to use lime mortar to repair a 2m length of the bridge.  The planning officer reported that this would reinstate the original appearance of the structure.

David Graham, however, commented: ‘This is a  sticking plaster. It is not a solution to the problem we have got with the bridge. Our main concern is the on-going issue of bridge suitability for the modern age.’

He and another councillor, Ginny Holroyd, had taken photographs to the meeting to show how the bridge, which they said was constructed in the 19th century, had been widened in the past.

The parish council, he told the committee, agreed with the planning officer that an application recently submitted by the county council to alter the bridge would cause substantial harm to the bridge and surrounding conservation area.

He said: ‘It would not only remove important historic fabric but also result in harm to the character and appearance of the bridge itself and on the wider conservation area. That’s not something we want as a parish council either. Historic England experts suggested looking at road realignment. To realign the road would mean demolishing the wall of the churchyard, taking part of the graveyard and demolishing a two-metre high dry stone wall and taking part of someone’s garden – so totally unacceptable and totally impossible to achieve.

‘The planners have been working with Cumbria Highways developing a proposal for road markings and signage. These include 50m of four-inch wide white lines across the bridge, ‘Slow’ road markings and signage, black and white bollards at each corner of the bridge, ‘Road Narrows’ and  ‘Double Bends’ [signs], and 30 miles per  hour repeater signs – a forest of modern signage.’

He questioned how that would solve the problem and said that the parish council had written twice to the YDNPA planning department asking for it to engage with them.

‘We simply ask for a meeting on site with the planners and with interested parties so we can come up with a solution that will work for everyone. Our whole village wants a solution.’

Committee member and North Yorkshire parish council representative, Allen Kirkbride, asked for a decision to be deferred so that a site meeting could be held. But this was not accepted by the committee with some members stating that the only issue they had to deal with that day was the application to repair the bridge.

Member Jim Munday said: ‘I think this is something which needs to be worked out later but for today let’s have our sticky plaster to repair it.’ And the majority agreed.

Richard Graham, the head of development management, said: ‘We are happy to meet with the parish council. What we would like to do is talk to the county council as [it is the] highways authority.’

Allen Kirkbride requested that should be a  joint meeting of all the parties involved.

At the beginning of his submission to the committee David Graham explained that he had worked for Cumbria County Council for 34 years and for the last 10 years until he retired he was responsible for all the highways maintenance in that county. For the past 20 years he has lived just round the corner from Monks Church Bridge.

Embsay near Skipton – August

The  use of cedar shingles on the roof of new garage at Hill Top Farm, Embsay, was questioned by the parish council and by Craven District councillor Richard Foster.

‘The roofing material should be either stone or reclaimed slates instead of shingles which are alien to the character of the locality,’ stated Embsay with Eastby Parish Council.

Richard Graham, the head of development management, said: ‘One of the most important buildings in the National Park, Scargill Chapel, which is a grade II star listed building, is covered entirely in cedar shingles. Its roof is the most dominant feature of the building.

‘It is very difficult to get hold of the right stone slates for new buildings in the National Park. Some of the materials that we have traditionally used are very expensive. So cedar shingles is one material that has been used on a number of buildings in the park and we have been very happy with the way they have weathered.  Over time they weather to a grey colour that looks just like limestone. So it’s a material that, for a number of years,  we have advised people to consider.’

Cllr Foster asked if cedar shingles were included in the Authority’s Design Guide and another member said they were. (See Appendix A of the Design Guide)

The parish council had thanked the planning officer and the applicant for making what it described as a number of significant changes to the original plans. But it felt that, as the site was within a conservation area further amendments should be made.  It said that the weatherboarding on the top half of the garage should be vertical instead of horizontal to reflect the character of traditional agricultural buildings.

The committee did approve the application to erect a single storey double garage in the rear garden of Hill Top Farm – with cedar shingles and horizontal weatherboarding. The conditions included further landscaping to screen the garage.

Feetham, Low Row – July

Members again quickly agreed with a planning officer that a two extensions could be added to 1 Lilac Cottages at Feetham, Low Row.

The application by Stephen Muchmore was for a two storey extension to the west and a single storey extension to the rear of the end terrace cottage, as well as excavating part of the garden to form a level patio.

Melbecks Parish Council had objected for the following reasons: that lowering the ground at the rear would increase the potential for flooding to Lilac Cottages; the existing sewerage tank was insufficient if the cottage was upgraded and a package treatment plant should be installed; parking problems; and that increasing the number of bedrooms from two to three would reduce the opportunity for local young people to get on the housing ladder and stay in the dale. The parish council added that by extending the property it was likely it would become a second home or a holiday let.

Ed Jagger, the  agent for Mr Muchmore, however, assured the committee that the owners planned to move their family to Fleetham on a permanent basis and that the cottage would not become a second home.

He pointed out that the proposed extensions were similar but on a smaller scale to those at the other two properties in the terrace and the rear gardens had already been excavated at them.   He said: ‘The rear of the existing building [1 Lilac Cottage] is constructed into the hillside using traditional stone walling with no cavity. Consequently the back wall suffers from significant damp. The excavation of the rear garden will allow the walls to dry out and any surface water be dealt with in a controlled manner rather than running against the rear wall.’

He added that there would not be any increase in the bathroom or kitchen provision.  The proposal was for the existing bathroom to become an en-suite to an existing bedroom and for the downstairs shower room to be replaced with a new first floor bathroom.

The planning officer stated that although the availability of affordable housing was important to the Authority and was included in the Local Plan the issue was not addressed by placing restrictions on homeowners who wanted to extend or improve their properties.

Cllr John Amsden commented that it was only right to question whether the sewerage provision was  up to date. ‘We have to keep in mind the environmental issues,’ he said.

Gaisgill, Cumbria – August

Three planning applications in 15 months have meant that the Authority has not gone ahead with enforcement proceedings for the removal of a cabin at a small holding in the open countryside near Gaisgill.  Each application has been refused, the last one by the planning committee at the August meeting. The planning officer said it was likely the applicant would now appeal that decision.

The planning officer reported that the present owners bought the smallholding a few months after an enforcement notice should have been complied with. This was served in January 2018 and required the removal of the cabin and restoration of the land by August 2019.

He said that the latest application was  similar to the previous ones being for the retention of the residential cabin for an agricultural worker for a further three years.  The previous temporary permission granted by Eden District Council expired in November 2016.

Cllr John Amsden commented: ‘There is an enforcement notice on [the cabin] and it should be fulfilled. You can’t keep stringing  it along as far as possible because it has gone on too long as it is.’

Ian McPherson said: ‘My understanding is that it is perfectly possible to have an enforcement action being taken contemporaneously with a planning application. In view of the history of this I’m not totally clear why we haven’t taken steps for enforcement.’

Richard Graham explained: ‘The next steps in enforcement would be prosecution of the applicants for non-compliance. Obviously that is a very serious step for any planning authority to take against someone. If an application has been submitted then it has always been felt right to consider that and determine it prior to taking the next step of going to court.

‘There has also been a degree of delay this year due to the Corona virus outbreak and the various restrictions that have been placed on the planning system and the court system.’

The planning officer told the committee that on the small holding there was a converted barn being used as bed and breakfast accommodation and another barn which had been partially converted.

The applicants’ agent, Andrew Willison-Holt, said that the conversion work on the second barn had stopped in order to divert funds into buying more stock and  land. The cabin allowed them to develop the farm into a diversified business.

He argued that the application was in accord with what the government called a trial occupation.‘We are asking you for three years to prove our case with the expectation that after the three-year period we will be in a position to justify a permanent dwelling. All [the applicants] ask, like every other farmer, is to be given the opportunity to prove themselves regardless of the enforcement history.

Mr Graham, however, stated: ‘Where there are two dwellings that are available to the applicants it is clearly, in our opinion, not appropriate to allow temporary permission.’

Cllr Amsden said he could understand why they wanted another holiday cottage but the priority was somewhere to live without having an enforcement order hanging around their necks.

The planning officer reported that the applicants had not shown that there was a need for a full time worker on the small holding and that the cabin did harm the character and appearance of the open countryside in a tranquil and visually attractive area.

Mr Willison-Holt disagreed and stated that the cabin sat on rising land alongside farm sheds.  Neighbours, however, said it was easily visible from the road and was an eyesore which detracted from the surrounding area.

The committee agreed not only that permission should be refused but that the enforcement  notice should be enforced.

Gawthrop near Dent – October

The walk through Gawthrop near Dent has been described as one of the best in the Yorkshire Dales, member Ian McPherson told the committee.

He said this was a site of great tranquillity which exemplified the wild and peaceful beauty one expected in the National Park, and was of great interest both historically and topographically. That was why he, unlike the majority of the committee, could not support an application to convert Upper Barn at Combe House in Gawthrop into a three bedroom local occupancy dwelling or holiday cottage even though he accepted that a refusal could be overturned at appeal.

He referred to the objection made by the Friends of the Dales. Besides stating that this was a remote and beautiful location that had many features of high nature conservation importance the society also objected on the grounds that the barn did not meet the definition of ‘roadside’.

Cllr Amsden also queried this. The planning officer replied that the policy was that a traditional barn was either roadside or within a building group to be eligible for conversion. She said that Upper Barn formed a group of buildings with Combe House.

She stated that the conversion of the building to a dwelling house or a holiday let would ensure the long-term future of the listed building. ‘Without such a use, the building is likely to deteriorate over time. There is, therefore, no satisfactory alternative.’

Dent Parish Council had objected on the grounds that the barn was a heritage asset and that the planned work would be detrimental and disproportionate to such an asset. The parish council also has a policy not to support any applications for short term (holiday) lets in Dentdale as it considers the number of these to be excessive.

The planning officer  reported that the barn had been altered in 2005 when permission was granted to convert the barn into an ancillary domestic store and dwelling (the latter did not take place).

New openings had been inserted then and the planning officer had insisted that the insertion of any more would be harmful to the significance of the building. But as the barn had been re-roofed she believed there would be no loss of historic fabric by installing three rooflights. She added: ‘The harm caused to the listed building through the insertion of rooflights would be less than substantial when weighing against the public  benefits of securing its optimum viable use.’

The latest plans were also amended to reduce the amount of curtilage. She reported that there was a public right of way immediately behind the barn where the proposed new curtilage will be. However, a diversion order (not yet legally sealed)  has been made to redirect the  path further to the east. The only advice was that the public right of way should remain free from obstruction.

Grassington – October

All but one of the committee voted to approve a farm visitor attraction with agricultural museum, whisky distillery and tea room  at Gam Farm  even though there were warnings that Grassington could be overwhelmed with traffic.

‘Grassington will wonder what’s hit it,’ commented Allen Kirkbride about the increase in traffic that could be expected following the new series of  All Things Great and Small. And Cllr Robert Heseltine warned that the visitor attraction at Gam Farm could also become very popular.

Which was why Cllr Richard Foster was very concerned about the impact on Grassington. ‘I do see the need for diversification. I do see that this could be a benefit to Grassington. But the main street is one car wide with cars going  up and down.’ He agreed that people should be encouraged to park at the National Park’s car park and then walk along Main Street to Gam Farm.

The planning officer reported that North Yorkshire County Highways Authority had stated, following a transport assessment commissioned by the applicants, that it didn’t expect the increase in traffic through Grassington to be significant.

Grassington Parish councillors had been divided with some supporting the application and others being very concerned about the increase in traffic and parking at Grassington.

The application included a 25 space car park to the immediate north of the farmstead with 11 overspill spaces to the rear of the whisky distillery.

One of the owners of the farm, Chris Wray, told the committee: ‘We will encourage everybody to park at the bottom of the village … and everybody will be encouraged to see this as a day out in Grassington and to walk up through the town.’

He explained that he and his wife had built up the farm from 10 acres about 17 years ago to 235 acres now. ‘It is now home for a whole variety of rare breeds which includes sheep, goats, pigs, poultry and cattle. We are particularly proud of our cattle as we have northern dairy shorthorn [Dales Dairy Shorthorn]. These cattle were virtually extinct but we have built up a herd of 60 cattle and it is one of the largest herds in the country.’

He added that the farm was not viable with livestock sales alone. ‘I have to emphasise how everything has to link  together and unless we join everything else together it will fail.’ The application included an agricultural worker’s dwelling because, he said, it was absolutely essential to live on site.

The planning officer stated that the Wrays will  specialise in traditional farming practices and rare breeds and an agricultural surveyor had confirmed that the existing farm was large enough to require 1.4 full time workers and, therefore, a dwelling.  The planning officer said the four-bedroom dwelling would be relatively large but there were substantiated personal circumstances which included the possibility that the principal worker would require assistance sometimes at unsociable hours.

Residents had been concerned about the scale, height and prominence of the house due to it being  on the brow of a hill. The planning officer reported that the building had been reduced in height and the design had been simplified so that, within the context of the farmstead, it would not have an adverse landscape impact.

She said modern farm buildings will be converted to create the tea room, the farming museum, a stable, a craft display area and storage for the whisky distillery. A new large building  will house the distillery and, once the open farm is operational, visitors will be able to taste and purchase it.

As the whole farm is on the brow of the hill the owners have agreed to extensive tree planting to screen the site.

Grinton – March

It has taken several hearings at planning committee meetings and almost certainly a  high cost financially and emotionally to a young farming couple before they finally gained permission to convert Shoemaker Barn at Grinton into their home.

In October 2018 an application to convert the barn was approved – but against officer recommendation. So it was referred back to the meeting in December 2018 when the majority accepted the officers’ recommendation to refuse it (see Barns and Yurts). Chris Porter applied again in 2019 once he was working full-time in the family business of JW Porter & Sons which farms lands from Oxnop and Summer Lodge to Grinton in Swaledale. This meant he could apply for permission to convert the barn into an agricultural worker’s dwelling.

Member Allen Kirkbride told the committee at the meeting in November 2019: ‘This will turn an eyesore  into a home for a young family which is going to live in the Dales and farm in the Dales.’

And Mr Porter’s agent, John Akrigg, stated: ‘This Authority is aware of the fragility of hill farming and is committed to work with stakeholders to safeguard its future. If members support this application … they will do something positive and send a message to other young people that they have a place here.’

But the planning officer had recommended refusal arguing that there wasn’t evidence that the farm business’s land at Grinton did require a full-time worker even though the proposal included a new agricultural building to house rams over winter and lamb sheep in the spring. So when the majority of the members voted in favour of approval the application was once more referred back.

At the meeting in December 2019 the members again accepted there was a functional need for an additional agricultural worker’s dwelling to serve the JW Porter & Sons business. But the majority agreed with the planning officers that if the barn conversion could be approved only if tied by a legal agreement to the farm business as a whole. They did not want the converted barn to be sold later and the family then arguing there was a need for an additional dwelling at Oxnop where most of the business is located.

At the March meeting the planning officer informed the committee that he had been told  by the agent that a legal agreement could not be completed as the land ownership was complex and the business did not own any of the land. The agency stated that various family members and some non-members made land available to the business by virtue of a combination of gratuitous licences, tenancy agreements and grazing licences. This meant the applicants could not compel the various  owners to enter into such a legal agreement.

The planning officer had, therefore, recommended that the application should be refused. But after negotiations with the couple it was proposed to tie the barn legally to a person employed in full time agriculture on the land at Oxnop, Summer Lodge and Crackpot.

This was agreed unanimously. As he left the meeting Chris Porter thanked the members and staff for making it possible for  him and his wife to achieve their dream of being able to continue to live and work in the National Park.

Horton in Ribblesdale – August

The parking problems in Dales villages must be taken seriously the chairman of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, Neil Heseltine, stated last week.

He spoke after the Authority’s planning committee (of which he is a member) approved an application to which Horton in Ribblesdale Parish Council had objected on the grounds of lack of parking spaces.

‘I think we have got to take these parking issue seriously in Dales villages. I know we have got a really big issue with it in Malham. I just think we have to take that into account when we are dealing with planning applications, and take the parish councils’ objections seriously,’ Mr Heseltine said.

The committee unanimously agreed that a garage at Fourways in the centre of Horton in Ribblesdale could be replaced with a new building which will be used for the applicant’s beauty business and as a bed and breakfast letting rooms.

The application was for altering the planning permission granted in November 2019 so that the building could be larger. The planning officer said it was understood this would make the B&B more suitable for disabled guests and provide space for a carer to stay.

Horton in Ribblesdale Parish Council objected because, it said, there would be no additional parking space on the site. The planning officer told the committee that there would be the same number of spaces available as before albeit with less space around them.

She added that it was not considered that the building would have a significantly greater impact on the character and appearance of the area, nor on the amenity of neighbours.

Mr Heseltine asked if the new building could be legally tied to Fourways and that was included as a condition to the planning approval.

Horton in Ribblesdale, Arcow Quarry – August

The road between Arcow and Dry Rigg Quarries near Horton in Ribblesdale is often covered in silt Cllr David Ireton told the planning committee.

‘The times I passed [that road] it was an absolute disgrace,’ he said and asked the Authority’s minerals officer, David Parrish, what had gone wrong with the wheel washing machinery at the quarries.

Mr Parrish replied that he had not seen the road in that condition and said that anyone who did so should contact the Authority or Tarmac.

‘I agree it is important to  keep onto the company to ensure the roads are kept in a clean condition,’ he added.  Horton in Ribblesdale Parish Council had also expressed concern that vehicles running between the two quarries had led to dirty road conditions.

Mr Parrish reported that a wheel wash had been installed at Dry Rigg recently and a more modern, efficient road sweeper was being used. He added that one of the planning conditions for quarrying to continue was that the road were kept in good condition.

The committee approved an application for the siting a mobile washing plant at Arcow Quarry where quarrying is permitted to continue until 2029. The plant will be used to wash and separate mixed  materials with the higher quality aggregate being exported by rail.

Ingleton Quarry – February

Permission was granted to Hanson Quarry Products Ltd  to continue mineral extraction and processing at Ingleton Quarry until the end of December 2025 instead of finishing work there in May 2020.

Cllr David Ireton said: ‘The damage to the landscape is already done so it is sensible to get out as much as possible from the quarry.’

Allen Kirkbride commented: ‘The company seems to have done all that it can do environmentally. It’s only five years… and its a good creator of work which is something we really do need in the Dales.’

Ingleton Parish Council had informed the Authority that, with the exception of its chairman, all the councillors had been in favour of approving the application. It added: ‘With the reduction of tonnage produced by the quarry the parish council would like to see a reduction in working hours with half the stone produced being transported by railway.

‘Concerns were raised about effects on nearby dwellings and members would like to see monitors in place to closer properties. There was comment from members regarding the desertion of bird life from the area particularly with the introduction of the new crusher and it was hoped that the new bund would be completed as soon as possible.’

The planning officer told the committee that the company had agreed to three monthly monitoring beside nearby residential areas. He believed that the impact of the operations at the quarry could be successfully mitigated provided lighting, dust and noise controls were implemented, maintained and monitored.

The company’s agent, Jack Tregoning, explained: ‘It is very important to note that this quarry is one of the small number [15 or 16] in England and Wales capable of producing high specification aggregate high polished stone value gritstone … which make it the choice for road surfacing particularly on heavy traffic roads. It is relatively scarce and in high demand.’ The extension, he added, would allow them to make the best use of the one and a half million tonnes still at the quarry.

He said there had been two isolated incidents which had led to too much dust being produced and lighting being left on overnight. Steps had been taken to make sure this did not happen again. They would continue to have liaison meetings with the parish council and local residents he said and added: ‘We encourage people to report any issues and we take action where necessary.’

The planning officer said that restoration of the site was expected to be complete by 2026 especially as a lot had been done already.  He reported: ‘The deep quarry excavation will fill with water when pumping ceases creating a lake almost 100m deep with an outfall to the River Doe. Calculations indicate it may take about 12 years for the void to fill. The remainder of the site will be restored to grassland and woodland.’

The Friends of the Dales objected to yet another extension stating that the quarry should close this year and be restored. As a trustee of the Friends of the Dales the chairman of the planning committee, Julie Martin, declared an interest but said she was not on that group’s policy committee and had not taken part in its consultation process. She did, therefore, take part in the discussion and voted to approve the application. Ian McPherson also declared that he was a member of the Friends of the Dales.

Cllr Carl Lis declared an interest as he is a member of Ingleton Parish Council. He said he had not taken part in the discussion or voted at the parish council meeting.

Ingleton – March

A decision to begin enforcement action against the owners of the Falls Country Park at Beezley Farm, Oddies Lane, Ingleton, was deferred because ‘real willingness’ had been shown by the owners to reduce the visual impact of the recently installed hard surfacing  for caravan pitches.

The head of development management, Richard Graham, told the committee: ‘There is a real willingness to resolve the situation. They have offered to do work to reduce the visual impact of the site with a range of measures including tree planting.’ He explained that some of the suggested work would require planning approval and the applications would take time to prepare.

Cllr David Ireton pointed out that the caravan site was near Ingleton Quarry and a large car park. He added that tourism was a key part of the area’s economy.

Member Jocelyn Manners-Armstrong, however, believed that approval should have been given for enforcement action but with a longer time for compliance because of the history of the situation.

The enforcement officer had reported that an enforcement case had been opened in June 2017 when she had seen that land had been excavated to level the field. On a later visit she saw that aggregate had been laid forming a formal circular track and hard standings for siting caravans. Tarmac had been laid on the newly created gateway.

The agent had maintained that the 1992 planning permission was not clear and the works carried out were permitted as a requirement of the site licence. The enforcement officer, however, stated: ‘It is clear that the conditions and reasons within the planning decision notice support the conclusion that short stay caravans refers to touring caravans. The planning permission does not authorise the siting of any static caravans.’

She added that Craven District Council Environmental Health Team had confirmed that there were no provisions for levelling the land, the laying of hard standings and for the installation of tracks under the terms of site licences for touring sites.

She reported that the field was located in a highly visible location and the engineering operations had resulted in a fairly naturalised grassed field being materially altered. It would be possible to see the hard surfacing even when  the site was closed between January 14 and March 1 each year. ‘The extent of the engineering operations carried out to date are wholly inappropriate for a touring site having a harmful impact on the natural beauty of the National Park landscape,’ she said. (The hard standings are very apparent on a Google Satellite map.)

Cllr John Amsden suggested that the aggregate should be replaced with grasscrete because that would blend in better.

Langcliffe, Settle – August

With just days to spare an application to develop part of the disused Langcliffe Quarry was fully supported by the planning committee so that Craven District Council could make a ‘meaningful start’ by Tuesday September 1 in order to obtain European Development Funding for the project.

‘This will be the last opportunity to obtain a European grant so we do need to move forward. I can understand some concerns about conservation but I think that it is an industrial site and it needs to return to some sort of employment [use],’ said Richmondshire District councillor Richard Good.

The committee was told that the proposed development represented the only credible solution to have come forward for the site for decades which would not only result in a significant level of employment in the area but would also secure the long term sustainable management of the Craven Limeworks monument, habitats and woodland at the quarry.

The committee’s chairman and member champion for cultural heritage, Julie Martin, said: ‘Any application may not be absolutely ideal but I think this is a one-off chance to secure the site for the future and secure its management. I certainly feel it’s going in the right direction and, on balance, we should approve it.

‘It’s unfortunate that we haven’t had a site visit prior to determining this application for various reasons not least the time constraints that we are working under.’

She declared an interest as a trustee of the Friends of the Dales and said she had not been involved in any way with that society’s objection to the application.

The committee was informed that Historic England considered the development to be well thought-out and designed to reference the history of the site and to enhance the industrial feel of the monument, as well as securing its management, the detail of which it expected to be laid-out in a Management Plan.

Members decided that many details of the application could be determined by planning officers. As it was not fully approved that application did not, therefore, provide the basis for work to start on September 1.

So a planning officer, under delegated authority, approved a separate application by Campbell Driver Partnership to demolish a disused industrial building on an adjoining site in the quarry. This approval was given on August 26 – the day that the consultation period ended.

The committee was told that the main application also needed to be approved to provide a degree of certainty when obtaining funding for the overall development. The applications affect sites associated with the Craven and Murgatroyd Limeworks which is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and the Stainforth Sidings within the Settle-Carlisle Conservation Area, all owned by Craven District Council. Neither development site includes the Hoffman kiln (a continuous burning horizontal lime kiln) which is a key feature of the Scheduled Ancient Monument.

A planning officer told the committee that the quarry ceased operation in the 1930s and was then used as a landfill site until 1993 when it was capped and restored to grassland. The committee was told that the district council’s Environmental Health officer has requested a further investigation into any potential contamination in the landfill area.

The main application split the development site into sections: the construction of six new buildings and the conversion of two stone buildings on the area nearest to the Hoffman kiln ‘all designed to respect the retained historic buildings’; more contemporary industrial style buildings further south; an industrial depot with a single storey workshop and store on the existing car park; and a new car park on the former quarry floor. Much of this, she added, was in the allocated site for business development in the Local Plan.

Cllr John Amsden pointed out that the proposed wooden staircase to the new car park would not be in accordance with the Disability Act and said there should be wheelchair access.

The chairman of the Authority, Neil Heseltine, asked if there could be a rail link to the quarry and also about how the loss of 0.8 of the one hectare of Open Mosaic Habitats on Previously Developed Land (OMHPDL) will be compensated for. Such land has been defined as a UK Priority Habitat.

The planning officer replied that the district council’s ecologist was confident replacement land could be found but more clarification was needed before the application was fully approved. She reported that the applicants had agreed to reduce the size of the car park so that less of the priority habitat was affected.

Natural England has requested a landscape assessment and the district council has confirmed it will sign a legal agreement to secure the conservation management plan for the whole quarry. The district council has agreed to reduce the scale of buildings, retain trees and to have new trees planted. Provision also has to be made for bats if the buildings they are roosting in are demolished or converted.

A lighting assessment and plan has also been requested to evaluate the impact of the development on the dark skies of the National Park.

Further conditions may also be required to safeguard the amenity of those living in a privately owned cottage in what was part of the former limeworks workshop. In her summary of objections the planning officer listed: the lack of assessment submitted with the original application specifically relating to the historic environment and to ecology; the increase in traffic crossing the public footpath; the need for a better cycling infrastructure; the development being too large; the need for renewable energy and the potential for flooding. The planning officer reported that one of the planning conditions would be that there should be a sustainable drainage system.

As usual the YDNPA, unlike neighbouring district councils, did not provide full details of objections and representations on its website.

Linton Camp – October

Permission was granted for a 67 bedroom visitor complex with a spa, a gym,  a bar and a restaurant to replace the now derelict Linton Camp even though there were many objections from local parish councils.

Ms G  Wilkins, who spoke on behalf of the Linton community, told the committee:  ‘Running a hotel and spa at this scale would require around the clock activity creating noise and light pollution and thereby destroying the tranquillity of the area.’  It would, she said, have a detrimental impact upon the local Dark Skies Festival for generations to come.

Linton Parish Council had informed the Authority that it considered the amount and scale of the proposed development to be excessive and inappropriate in such a rural location within the National Park. It stated: ‘Government planning policy advises that such major developments should be refused in National Parks unless there are exceptional circumstances. No such circumstances exist.’

Member Neil Heseltine said there were many concerns about the scale of the development and asked for clarification about the definition of a major development.

The head of development manager, Richard Graham, responded that there were two pieces of legislation referring to ‘major developments’. In the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) it was defined as a test as to whether or not a development, due to its scale and setting, would have a significant adverse impact that would compromises the purposes of a designated special landscape. According to the NPPF it was up to the planning authority to decide if a proposal was a major development or not.  He continued:

‘Officers do acknowledge that [this] is a relatively large development in a sensitive landscape. However, because of the nature and the setting of the site and the nature of the proposals we believe that the effects… can be mitigated such that they wouldn’t have a significant adverse impact…’

Under another piece of legislation, he said, a major development was categorised as being over 1000 sq m or more than 10 dwellings. ‘Because the same term is used its often confused that the major development test refers to anything that’s over 1000 sq m or over 10 dwellings. That’s not the case. It’s a decision made based on the nature, scale and setting and potential impact of the development would have. As officers we considered that this proposal isn’t a major development.’

Craven District councillor Richard Foster was obviously not fully convinced for later he pointed out that an application to extend a caravan site had been refused on the basis of being a ‘major development’.  ‘This seemed to be not major because it was a derelict site,’ he said.

Allen Kirkbride commented that some years ago  there had been a lot of objections to the development of a derelict site in the centre of Askrigg. ‘One of our main arguments was traffic – that cars would be going in and out endlessly. The fact of it is that  you don’t notice its there. A lot of people park up for days at a time and they go out walking. They have brought an awful lot of financial input in the Upper Dale. The development has been nothing but a success in Wensleydale.’  He  said he was impressed at the lengths the developers had gone to to hide the site near Linton.

Cllr John Amsden commented that the site was an eyesore and something had to be done with it. To that Cllr  Robert Heseltine responded: ‘This site has shamefully been neglected with virtually no management or care for many decades,’ and asked if, by approving the application, the owners were being rewarded  for having let the site become an eyesore.

The planning officer told the committee that Linton Camp, which was established in 1939 to provide holiday accommodation for city children, was classed in the Local Plan as an allocated business opportunity site which included visitor accommodation.  She stated the site was highly prominent in an attractive open landscape and that the proposed development was extensive with part of the hotel extending into the greenfield area. She said the height of the building had been reduced so that it would not be so visible and would have  a curved grass roof. The applicant  had also reduced the number of units from 61 to 49 and the scale of the lodge developments, with the latter partially below the ground levels of those outside the site.

‘The siting of the buildings represents the most sensitive solution to ensuring that such buildings work with the topography to minimise their landscape impact,’ she said.

Neil  Heseltine also asked what protocols the Authority had in place to ensure that all the conditions included in the approval of the application would be discharged.

The planning officer responded: ‘We will carefully word conditions to make sure they are carried out at the appropriate times in the development. Some will be at a relatively early stage and will need to be confirmed and the details agreed with us. We work with the developers very closely to make sure that the details are what we anticipated when permission was granted. If conditions are not complied with we have the option to enforce those conditions.’

Cllr Cosima Towneley stated: ‘I will support this on the grounds that I think it is innovative – a very good plan and it will have long term gains for the National Park.’

The majority agreed and voted to give permission to the head of development management to complete all the detailed work on the application including conditions. These will include: tree planting and landscaping, archaeological evaluation and recording, lighting strategy [to try and minimise impact on Dark Skies], noise mitigation, and the implementation of a sustainable travel plan.

Thorpe Parish Meeting and Threshfield Parish Council had also objected to the application and, like Linton Parish Council, were especially concerned about traffic congestion on the narrow roads around the site.   The very detailed objection from Linton Parish Council included photographs showing the problems that had been experienced in the last few years.

‘The sustained influx of visitors to the YDNP and to Linton specifically has placed a number of unbearable burdens on the local community. The local services are already failing to cope with visitor numbers. If approved the development would add a material, additional population to the village and broader area that is failing to cope with the current influx of visitors, traffic, litter and anti-social behaviour. We feel that this would irrevocably destroy the delicate fabric of the community that makes the Dales such a unique special place,’ It stated.

Low Row, Swaledale – March

The planning committee unanimously approved  a much reduced extension to Hazel Brown Farm Visitor Centre.

Cath Calvert, who created the visitor centre in 1996 to supplement the income of their farm in Swaledale, told the committee: ‘At this stage I would like to hand over to the next generation. I am very fortunate that my daughters, Ruth and Beth, are keen to step up to the challenge.

‘I feel this is a great opportunity not only for the farm but the tourism offer in the Dales.’ She added that they had worked with the planning officers to try and adapt the application. ‘We appreciate your support,’ she said.

The original application included a first-floor extension to the centre that would have five hotel-style rooms but the Highways Authority and local residents objected because of the increase of traffic using the access lane from the B6270.

At its meeting in February the planning committee deferred making a decision to see if a solution could be found. The Highways Authority recommended refusing the next application,  again because of the limited visibility at the junction with the B6270 even though the five hotel-style rooms had been removed. It stated: ‘The intensification of use which would result from the proposed development is unacceptable in terms of highway safety.’

This led to further discussions between the applicant, Ruth Calvert, and planning officers. The planning officer told the committee at the March meeting that the visitor centre would continue to operate in accordance with the opening times agreed when permission was granted for the visitor centre with opening times restricted to 9am to 6pm and limited operation to the months March to September.

He said that given that there would be no extension of the building and no change of use, it was reasonable to assume that the number of vehicles using the sub-standard access would remain at a similar level as now. The Highways Authority had now raised no objections but the planning officer added that a management plan, secured with a legal agreement, was necessary to ensure that only groups which had booked in advance to visit the centre could use the cafe and play space. Many schools book educational visits to Hazel Brow.

The reconfiguration of the ground floor of the visitor centre was, therefore, approved so that it will become a multi-purpose area with a cafe, reception and play area, and that glazed doors could be inserted so as to provide more light.

Permission was also granted  for converting the Joiner’s Shop into two holiday  lets or for local occupancy (with legal agreement). The access to the Joiner’s Shop is different to that to the visitor centre.

In his report the planning officer stated: ‘It is proposed that courses and workshops based around traditional farming techniques such as butter making, spinning and weaving, as well as yoga and photography, would be provided at the visitor centre.’

Member Allen Kirkbride commented: ‘I am pleased that in the month since we deferred this that the planning officer and the applicant have been able to get together and come up with a good solution.’ He added that for years the visitor centre had been very popular tourist attraction with many people going there to experience farming.


The committee quickly approved an amendment to the application from Hazel Brow Farm Visitor Centre which for a path to be relocated so that it wouldn’t affect the amenity of a neighbouring dwelling.

The footpath will provide access from the visitor centre with holiday accommodation to the main road in Low Row.

Malham – July

It was agreed that a small barn adjacent to the village green at Finkle Street in Malham can be converted into a takeaway refreshment kiosk.

Kirkby Malhamdale Parish Council reported that there had been a high level of concern in Malham about the application for several reasons. These included wanting to protect the village green and any increase in car parking.

It stated: ‘We have extreme problems with parking already in Malham and are working with Area 5 Highways and NYCC to implement further traffic management initiatives in Malham village, some of which will be established and finally implemented during 2020 after many years of effort on our part.’

Rachael Caton, who had made the application with her husband  Ashley, told the committee during its virtual meeting: ‘Our family have lived and worked in Malhamdale for over 100 years and we are very respectful of the surrounding village green and the need to protect its unique status.

‘The concerns of local residents have been very carefully considered in the management plan submitted as part of this application and these are reflected in the proposed conditions relating to opening hours, lighting, signage, bin storage and the lack of parking for customers.’

She said there would be no seating for customers outside the kiosk which would be accessed from a new door onto their own land.  ‘The barn benefits from the footfall of walkers [going] to Gordale Scar via a permitted footpath which runs across our farmland.’

This farm-diversification project  would not only provide walkers and cyclists with locally-sourced refreshments but also  employment as both she and her husband were busy farming, she added.

The planning officer told the committee that staff and deliveries could use the existing track to the barn. There would be limited seating available inside for those waiting to be served with takeaway food.

He explained that the barn was substantially rebuilt around 2009 and so was not considered to be a traditional agricultural building. Some of the features introduced previously will be removed, such as replacing the ornate arch over the cart opening with a simple flat lintel, and blocking up one of the new windows on the upper floor.

He added: ‘Malham is a key visitor centre in the National Park. The proposal makes use of an underused building within a prominent location. [It] would contribute to the attractiveness of Malham as a visitor location of more than local importance. This is an important factor in consideration of the potential impact of the Covid-19 global pandemic on the economy of the National Park.’

Local councillors including Cllr Richard Foster were happy that the concerns of the parish council had been met.

Mansergh – December

The application by Gareth Cowan for two additional holiday lodges at Hawkrigg Lune Valley Park at Hawkrigg Farm, Mansergh, was also unanimously approved.

Mansergh Parish Meeting had told the Authority: ‘Whilst most people were sympathetic about farms needing to diversify to maintain income, a substantial majority believe that the existing 20 lodges is enough. The site has grown considerably over the years in small numbers and, in the event of this application being approved, there will be another next year to extend again.

‘Any extra lodges will add to the traffic problems already being experienced on the road leading from the B6254 to the farm entrance. This road is now extremely busy due to there being a horse livery yard further down … and there is a big increase in the number of cyclists and walkers.’

Kirkby Lonsdale Town Council did not object because, it said, as only two lodges were proposed and natural screening was already in place. But it did state it would oppose any further proposed additions.

Mr Cowan told the committee that the additional lodges would be a benefit to the local farm shop and that they encouraged those staying at the lodges to participate in community events. He added: ‘This is our home and our livelihood.’

Members agreed that the two additional lodges would not have a detrimental impact on the landscape and accepted the advice of the Highways Authority that the slight increase in vehicular use was unlikely to have a significant material affect on existing highway conditions.

Millthrop, Sedbergh – July

Land available for housing in the Yorkshire Dales was so precious it should not be wasted a planning officer told the committee.

A planning officer stated this at the end of her lengthy analysis of the application for permission to erect eight new houses on land opposite Derry Cottages in Millthrop, Sedbergh. The committee voted unanimously to accept her recommendation that the proposal should be refused.

She reported that 15 dwellings could be built on the site rather than eight, and that was a wasteful use of land. She said: ‘On the face of it, it would appear that the proposed layout has been contrived to avoid the provision of on-site affordable housing contribution particularly through the provision of large executive-style homes on the majority of the site. Fifteen units would go much further to delivering the Authority’s housing objectives as well as delivering more community benefit.’

She stated that half of the proposed houses with their gardens would take up two thirds of the site and that the design and layout of the proposed development was contrary to the prevalent character of Millthrop which, in a good proportion of the hamlet, has a very high density.

The proposal was for a terrace of four properties, semi-detached houses and two large detached ones. The planning officer  did not feel that any of the houses were in keeping with the Authority’s design guide and said:  ‘The larger semi-detached dwellings are neither a bespoke modern dwelling nor a good barn conversion style. It is considered that they are a poor hybrid that cherry picks architectural features from each building type and mixes them together in an unsuccessful manner.’

Member Ian McPherson, who is a Sedbergh parish councillor, commented: ‘Millthrop is arguably one of the most attractive hamlets in the Park. It is far too attractive to be spoiled by the proposed development.

‘This application offends in almost every particular. It is seriously flawed.

‘First of all there is the failure to meet the density required which, if it had been done, would have required on-site affordable housing.  Second, we  have heard the design, siting and layout are inadequate and would be detrimental  to the character of Millthrop.

‘Thirdly, we have many, many instances where the applicants have failed to provide adequate information requested by the planning officers regarding, amongst other things: the impact of the development on neighbouring amenity; surface water run-off; the problems regarding foul sewerage and highway safety.

‘On top of which the applicants have been particularly unwilling to engage in constructive discussion with the planning officers on alternative ways forward.’

Sedbergh  Parish Council had told the Authority that although some new open market housing would help to balance the market locally it was concerned about  highway safety issues  and the concept of the developer paying a commutable sum towards affordable housing instead of building some. It stated: ‘As the application represents a significant development for the  Parish it was unanimously felt it would be better if the developer could be encouraged towards other options that would actually benefit the community.’

Three members of the committee (Julie Martin, Ian McPherson and Cllr Robert Heseltine) had declared an interest as they were members of the Friends of the Dales, which had objected to the application. Martin, who was re-elected as chair of the planning committee, declared that she was a trustee of the Friends of the Dales and stated: ‘I haven’t been party to any discussions on this issue.’

All three said they believed they could participate in the planning committee discussion and vote – and did.

Stainforth – July

Stainforth Parish Council had objected to the application for a lambing shed on land west of Sherwood Brow because the building had already been erected and as it was close to the roadside.

Cllr David Ireton commented that it was a shame that the farmer, Mr Newhouse, had not applied first but all the committee members agreed with the planning officer that the retrospective application should be approved.

The planning officer explained that the building was set down from the road and its eaves were roughly at road level. He showed pictures to support his argument that the timber-clad shed was not too visible and would not have a negative impact upon the landscape.

He said the lambing shed would serve the needs of a small farming enterprise and that no alterative sites within the owner’s ownership had been identified that were still easily accessible.

Tebay – May

A camping cabin purpose-built for providing holiday accommodation for the disabled can be erected at High Woodend Farm overlooking Tebay.

The chair of Tebay Parish Council, Adrian Todd, informed the committee that if the farm was not allowed to diversify if would become uneconomic and cease to exist.

And a member of the committee, Allen Kirkbride, pointed out that such specialised accommodation for handicapped people was very rare in the Dales.

A planning officer had recommended that the application should be refused because the cabin with its decking and parking area would be in such a prominent position on a hill that it would harm the character and visual quality of the rural landscape.

Member Jim Munday agreed and stated: ‘For my money one of the best sights in Britain is when you drive north from the Sedbergh turnoff of the M6 and on the east side of the road you see the Howgills. They are fantastic. Sadly, in my opinion, this structure would stand out like a sore thumb in what is an outstanding landscape.’

Another member, Ian McPherson who is a Sedbergh parish councillor, disagreed. ‘I know this area very, very well. The view that you get of Tebay [from the M6] is a mix of commercial, agriculture and residential housing. This is a matter of interpretation but I cannot agree with Mr Munday that [the cabin] would stand out like a sore thumb. I do not think you will notice it at all.

‘I think credit can be given to the applicants for the thought and consideration that they have put into planning this particular building and putting it in the only place they feel is viable for their farm to continue to be a working farm but provide good facilities as well.’

In his statement to the meeting Cllr Todd, said: ‘The application is for a single camping cabin providing much needed purpose-built disabled family accommodation for tourists in the Upper Lune valley. The cabin is specifically and carefully designed to include a wet room, fully adapted kitchen and other essential disabled facilities. Tourism is vital to the local economy, and it is important that the needs of every sector are catered for.

‘The building [will be] within the curtilage of the farm and located on the only suitable site taking into account the practical needs of this small working hill farm which is a factor that [planning] officers have failed to appreciate or properly and sensitively consider.

‘The survival of this upland livestock farm – and the way of life that goes with it – is hanging in the balance. If the farm is not allowed to diversify it will become uneconomic and cease to exist. This would be a devastating blow to the local community which places a very high value on its agricultural heritage.’

In her statement the applicant’s agent said: ‘Due to health and safety, accessibility and animal health reasons there is no option to locate the cabin elsewhere within the site that is less open. The chosen location allows the cabin to nestle against the backdrop of the existing farm buildings.’

The majority of the committee voted to approve the application against the officer’s recommendation. That usually meant the application would be referred back to the next meeting. But on this occasion Mr Graham stated that it would not be as members had put forward very good reasons and material considerations for approval.

These were that the development would provide an opportunity for farm diversification; provide tourism accommodation specifically designed for disabled and wheelchair-using visitors; the structure would not be overly prominent or out of place in the landscape; and that the design was innovative and would not be unduly harmful to the landscape.

Thornton in Lonsdale – February

Even though Thornton-in-Lonsdale Parish Council had been unanimous in its opposition to the siting of six luxury timber camping pods at Kirksteads on the A65 near Ingleton the committee approved the application.

The parish council had questioned the need for the pods as, it said, the parish was already well served by similar types of holiday accommodation. The planning officer, however, reported that in 2013 a visitor accommodation study had identified a gap in the provision of sustainable short stay self-catering accommodation. Cllr Lis agreed because, he said, the pods would provide a cheaper option for those wanting to stay in the area.

The parish council was mainly concerned about the access from Masongill Fell Lane onto the A65 and what it described as the dangerous pedestrian access to local amenities.

Highways North Yorkshire, however, had no objection and an engineer stated: ‘There are several other camping/caravan sites in the same vicinity which could have similar comments so I cannot see why this particular application will create a safety issue of people walking along the A65.’

Cllr Lis commented: ‘The parish council has tried to do something about the speed of traffic on that road but the argument that comes back constantly from Highways is that there haven’t been any accidents on that road. But if would be good if Highways looked at it longer term.’

Following a question about the access from Cllr Richard Foster, Richard Graham said a condition could be added that there should be no access from the pods through the rest of the site where there are two buildings one being the Escape Bike Shop and the other housing the applicant’s plumbing, electrical and security business. These businesses have access onto the A65 via a slip road.

The planning officer said there had been considerable discussion with the owner about the siting of the pods so as to minimise the visual impact. They will now be close to the existing buildings and one of the conditions is that there will be a substantial amount of planting to screen the site.

Allen Kirkbride observed that if the application was for a barn conversion it wouldn’t have got over the first hurdle as the new twin-wheeled access track was so long.

The committee unanimously approved the application.

West Burton – June

If someone wanted to know all the reasons why an application for a barn conversion should be refused they should look at that for a barn in Eastfield Lane, near Eshington Bridge, West Burton, said member Ian McPherson. The application was refused.

The planning officer reported that the barn was roofless and that  there was a large full-height crack on the right hand-side of the eastern gable. As there was no structural assessment, it was not known how much rebuilding work would be required to make it sound enough for conversion into a three-bedroom family home, he added.  Nor were there any details about the provision of electricity, telephone or broadband access.

The highway authority had objected as the access to the site would require significantly improved visibility splays, a larger parking area and passing spaces along the narrow lane.  The highway engineer had noted that the proposed parking area would obstruct access to the agricultural building for which permission has already been granted. This might mean that the parking area would have to be enlarged and so intrude further into the field, the planning officer said.

The applicants had stated that the access to the traditional barn would be on foot from the parking area and the planning officer believed this could mean that a paved path would have to be created.

He pointed out that traditional barns could only be converted into dwellings if they were within existing settlements, building groups, or in suitable roadside locations. As this barn did not have a track leading up to it, it was in the open countryside and was not covered by that policy he said.

The committee was told that it was much the same application as that refused by an officer under delegated powers in 2018.

Cllr John Amsden had asked for the committee to consider the application because the applicant, Mike Bell, had said he needed to be near his farm to look after his livestock. The planning officer reported that there was nothing in the application to show that Bell had an essential full-time agricultural need to live and work on the land.

Cllr Amsden accepted that there was  a lack of information from the applicant. ‘As you are going to refuse it, he will just have to come back again with more information,’ he said.

Cllr Robert Heseltine commented: ‘If an application came back it would have to have full justification for agricultural [need].’

When answering a question from Cllr Towneley Mr Graham stated: ‘A bunk barn or camping barn is a much easier use than a dwelling and most camping barns require very little work to be done…to enable them to function. I think a well-designed camping barn in this location would probably fit with policy as it wouldn’t require curtilage. It wouldn’t require an extension, it wouldn’t necessarily require services to be provided, car parking, or any of the other attendant things required for the more intensive use that a permanently occupied dwelling requires.’

West Stonesdale – May

A young couples’ dream of diversifying their farm by the re-occupation of  a Victorian moorland house near Keld in Swaledale  has been held  up due to lack of information and wildlife surveys.

The majority of the members voted to refuse an application by Mark and Linda  Rukin to restore the two bedroom  house known as High Frith at West Stonesdale, replace the roof to the rear lean-to and create a twin  wheeling stone track to the property.

The head of development management, Richard Graham, told the committee that the decision could have been very different if the planning officers had received all the information they had requested over the past four years.

When asked why it had taken four years Mr Graham replied: ‘This was a finely balanced application. If you keep on asking for the information knowing these issues can be resolved and it might result in a positive recommendation then that’s what you do. We haven’t brought this application to committee at the drop of a hat just asking for refusal. It’s taken a long, long time and a lot of consideration. What’s been a little disconcerting or frustrating is that we only found out last week that the applicant had actually been changed. The ownership had been changed over two years ago.’

When presenting the planning report he said that this wasn’t a case of a young family in need of a home to be able to stay in the Dales as they already had one. The proposal was, he explained, for High Frith to be re-occupied to form an open market house.  It was, he said, in a very remote upland location characterised by its wild natural beauty and tranquillity.

‘The  house would need to be connected to central services which will entail providing 500 metres of electricity line. The agent says that this could be undergrounded but it is not clear that the very high cost or the feasibility of doing this has been properly investigated. It is not always possible to underground electricity cable in upland locations particularly where the bedrock is very close to the surface.

‘In addition, the building has potential to support bats and protected bird species. Unfortunately the original applicant considered that a proper survey would be an unnecessary expense. The lack of a proper survey of the building for protected species is a significant stumbling block. Without that information the Authority cannot discharge its legal duty under the Habitats Regulations and the Habitats Directive. The Authority would be acting unlawfully if permission is granted without a proper assessment.’

‘On one hand the proposal would conserve a traditional building albeit not one of any special significance. On the other hand there are questions about undergrounding power lines and protecting wildlife that have not been adequately addressed. The proposal would realise an asset for the farm business but in doing so would have a negative impact on the scenic beauty of a wild and tranquil upland landscape through the creation of a new track, the re-occupation of the building with lighting and curtilage developments, all of which is required for a house in permanent occupation.’

A statement from the applicants, Mark and Linda Rukin, was read: ‘We are a young couple and we have always lived and worked in the area. We’ve got two daughters aged six and four and we are expecting our third child in August. We are both from farming families in Swaledale and our goal is to continue living and working in the dale whilst raising our children. In the current climate with the future of farming being so uncertain, we’ve been encouraged to diversify where possible. We hoped that re-occupying High Frith would help to provide an additional income to allow us to continue farming traditionally in the uplands.

‘As custodians of the countryside, we’d hate to have to watch the former dwelling fall into a worse state of disrepair and become an eyesore, which we know will happen without some attention but without a use we just cannot justify any spending on the property.’

The Rukins pointed out that over time the stone used to resurface the twin-wheeling section of the track would blend into the landscape the same way as many other farm tracks have done.

Several members of the committee agreed with Mr Graham that the decision was a finely balanced one and that the  lack of information, and especially the survey of protected species, was a major stumbling block.

However, Cllr Robert Heseltine commented:  ‘To my mind the only justification for re-occupation would be the agricultural land management need and that would be with a clear agricultural tie.’ He also argued that a family dwelling in that remote location would be unsustainable due to such issues as the provision of local authority services and other services.

Cllr Richard Foster wanted to know what the family intended to do with the house if it was restored. He commented: ‘If its going to be sold off its not really going to help the farm business [but] holiday accommodation would.’

Member Allen Kirkbride proposed that the decision should be deferred for a month to give the family time to provide the information requested. He didn’t feel that the new proposed track would be so visible and pointed out that in Swaledale, Malhamdale and Upper Wharfedale there were many solitary farm houses  up on the moors.

He said:  ‘To have this one lived in again would be a great benefit.  For the wildlife species the applicant is willing, if approval [is given] to do a wildlife survey up to the standard that is necessary. He can’t really see the point of having to spend a lot of money (he’s a dales farmer) to do a survey if it’s not going to get planning permission.’ Cllr Foster, who is a dales farmer, was not impressed with the reluctance to pay for the required surveys.

Supporting the call for deferral Cllr John Amsden said: ‘We have got to bring these houses back again. Is the National Park going to keep these barns and old  houses in good condition or are you going to leave it to the farmers to do it? There’s a lot of houses high up [on the moors] and we want to bring these houses back [into use] again. It’s ridiculous just letting them fall down.’ He added that there had been  a curtilage wall and a track at High Frith many years ago.

Cllr David Ireton asked what would happen if the application was refused.  Mr Graham replied that the applicants would have six months in which to come back with a fresh application without having to pay another application fee. He added: ‘The list of information that members require and what we have asked for in the report is going to probably take longer than a month to provide.’

And so the majority voted to refuse the application.

Yarnbury – May

An application cannot be rejected because of supposition and rumour stated Cllr  Cosima Towneley.

The committee unanimously approved a listed building application for internal alterations to the ground and first floors of Yarnbury Lodge in Old Moor Lane, Grassington, plus changing a door to a window after accepting the advice of the head of development management, Richard Graham, that the works would not cause significant harm to the Grade 2   listed building. The alterations include creating two new bathrooms.

In a statement to the meeting Maria Ferguson,  the agent for the owners (Mr and Mrs Law) explained that the alterations related almost entirely to an extension which was built in 1998 and had no historic significance.

She told the committee: ‘There is suspicion and rumour that they intend this to be a commercial shooting lodge…or a hotel. This is not the case. There is no secret in the fact that Mr and Mrs Law live in London. Mr Law hails from the North of England and it is important he has a base here. His parents still live in the North. The intention is to use the property solely as a private residential dwelling for himself, family and close friends.’

She added that in objecting to the application Grassington Parish Council had failed to recognise the significant sum required to restore the property nor the economic benefits to the area as the Laws intended to employ locals to carry out the work. She explained that the Laws had also applied to improve and alter The Smithy which was near Yarnbury Lodge so that his parents could use it.

Cllr Richard Foster commented that it was a shame to lose two family homes but he accepted that the Laws did intend to live there some of the time. He  also accepted Mr Graham’s advice that there was no reason to turn down the application.

Grassington Parish Council had commented that the application sought to change the internal layout from an historic family home and office to what could only be described as a mini hotel. The parish council asked what justification there was for such a change which would inevitably mean the loss of a historically significant building.

The Authority’s senior listed building officer stated that the amount of bathrooms was an issue because of the increased moisture content within the historic building; the application of waterproof materials such as paint and tiling could trigger more damp in an historic building; the number of bathrooms exceeded what was proportionate to the use and upset the balance between service rooms and other rooms expected  in a historic house; and that the amount of tiling and bathroom fixtures would have a visual impact and the associated pipework could result in loss of damage of historic fabric and features.

A planning officer reported that in the mid 19th century the house had once been the home of the Duke of Devonshire’s mineral agent. He stated: ‘Yarnbury Lodge is an imposing  house. It is listed in its own right but the listing description notes that it was probably part of the development of the whole site in association with the development of the lead mining industry at that time.  There are four houses within Yarnbury, all the buildings within the area are listed and much of the surrounding area is a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

YDNPA–Planning Committee Review and Impartiality

At the YDNPA’s virtual Full Authority meeting on Tuesday December 15 members discussed the review of the planning committee arrangements, and there was a response to the statement by the Association of Rural Communities about whether or not the chairman of that committee should be seen as an impartial facilitator.

Review of planning committee arrangements

Changes to the way the public can relate to its planning committee could be seen as an erosion of democracy or accountability  the Authority’s members were told.

A review of efficiency and effectiveness of planning committee arrangements including the recommendations by a working group led by Jim Munday were presented at the Full Authority meeting. These included  limiting the attendance at site visits to Authority members and officers only; and permanently reducing the five-minute slots for public speakers at committee meetings to three minutes.

The Authority meeting was told that the arrangements for public speakers had been changed with the introduction of virtual meetings. There were now three-minute slots – one in support of a planning application; one for objectors; and one for a parish council representative. These were allocated on a ‘first come, first served’ basis with  the applicant taking priority in support of an application.

Member Mark Corner commented: ‘I think we need to be careful how its communicated. It could be seen as an erosion of democracy or accountability in terms of the speaking time and the inability to attend a site meeting.’

The recommendation to restrict attendance at site meetings was approved. Richmondshire District councillor, John Amsden, had commented that it was democratic to have some of the public at site meetings so that they could understand the situation. ‘You have got to let the public see what you are doing and [that you are] doing it properly,’ he said.  

South Lakeland District councillor Ian Mitchell pointed out that at face-to-face meetings prior to the pandemic there were occasions when a five-minute slot for public speaking was shared by two people. Richmondshire District councillor Richard Good agreed and added that with complex plans five minutes could be needed.

The Authority’s Chief Executive, David Butterworth, assured the meeting that once it was possible to hold face-to-face meetings again  the members would be asked if they wanted to return to allowing five-minute slots.

It was agreed to replace the Authority’s ‘reference back’ procedure with a formal system of deferral so that officers would have time to test the validity or soundness of a decision being made by the committee contrary to the recommendation of a planning officer.

The members also accepted that if a parish council disagreed with an officer’s recommendation concerning a minor ‘householder development’  (such as alterations to existing dwellings) that application would no longer have to be referred to the planning committee. But the planning committee might still be asked to consider such an application if it was ‘called-in’ by a member or referred by an officer.

In June the Authority had already agreed that the frequency of planning committee meetings should be changed from monthly  to once every six weeks.

The chairman of the planning committee, Julie Martin, pointed out that the conversion of barns was often a contentious issue.

She said: ‘We are in a situation now where over the last two to three years a  half to two thirds of all completions and permissions are barn conversions and I don’t think that was actually our policy intention. That, to me, is extremely disappointing. The reason for this is that we are not getting other forms of housing coming forward. We have got to get to grips with that in the new Local Plan.’

Gary Smith, the Deputy Chief Executive, told the meeting that the problems they faced with seeing more houses built within the National Park – economic, political and now Covid-10 – added up to a perfect storm.

‘What we want and what we need is affordable housing and probably smaller properties. But what the builders and companies are telling us is that they can’t afford to build any, otherwise the sites are unviable.. That is a problem that none of us have come up with a brilliant answer to in the last 20 years.’

Should the chairman be seen as an impartial facilitator?

The following was read on behalf of the Association of Rural Communities at the beginning of the  meeting:

The Association of Rural Communities is very concerned that at the Authority’s planning meeting on November 17 the senior legal officer stated that the chairman could speak at the beginning of the committee’s discussion about a planning application.

It is generally understood that the chairman should be seen to be an impartial facilitator of such a meeting. That is why those chairing meetings are usually advised that, if they do want to express their views, they should do so at the end of the discussion.

In its own code of conduct the Authority does not provide any specific guidance for chairing planning committee meetings. But it does state: ‘It is important … that planning decisions are made openly, impartially, with sound judgement and for justifiable reasons. The aim of this code of good practice is to ensure that in the planning process there are no grounds for suggesting that a decision has been biased, partial or not well founded in any way. Do come to meetings with an open mind and demonstrate that you are open-minded.’

If the chairman expresses a strong opinion at the beginning of the discussion about an application, as happened on November 17, how is it possible to demonstrate that they are impartial and open-minded, and have come to the meeting intent on listening to others and allowing members to come to a consensus? Maybe there should be specific guidelines for those chairing planning committee meetings.

This was the Authority’s response read by its chairman, Neil Heseltine.

The Chair of Planning Committee is …a member of the committee and as such she is entitled to take part in the debate like any other member they are not merely as an impartial facilitator. There is nothing in legislation regarding local authority meetings or in the Authority’s standing orders which prevents the chair from speaking first during a debate.

The advice given by the legal advisor to the planning committee on 17th November was correct. … the recording of the application in question is currently available on the Authority’s website and it is clear that Mrs Martin spoke as part of the debate after the officer’s presentation, the public speaker and after members had had an opportunity to raise points for clarification.

Mrs Martin made it clear at the start of her comments that she was not making a proposal and that she did not subsequently move any motion either for or against the proposal.There is no evidence that Mrs Martin stifled or influenced the debate by speaking first.

The application was determined after a number of members had contributed to the debate and the recording of the item demonstrates that members came to their own view on the application when making a decision.

From the November 17 report

The chairman, Julie Martin, began the committee’s debate by  stating: ‘I want, as cultural heritage champion, just to make a few remarks about this application myself.’

At which Richmondshire District councillor (RDC) John Amsden broke in: ‘You are supposed to be just chairing the meeting… the chair should speak at the end of the debate… not at the beginning.’

The Authority’s legal officer, however, Claire Bevan, stated: ‘She is perfectly entitled to speak at the start of the debate.’And Mrs Martin continued and during her statement she said:  ‘I do feel that there are strong reasons for refusal of this application…’

Another RDC councillor, Richard Good commented: ‘I am surprised that you are allowed to speak because at other authority’s that I sit on, you would not be allowed to speak until the end.’

During the debate member, Ian  McPherson, agreed with her and stated: ‘I do pay a great deal of heed to what she ways with regard to matters of historical interest and impact because she is a member champion [and], as she mentioned, she is a consultant in this area. So I do give that a great deal of credence.’

A Farmer’s response to a YDNPA consultation

Declining farming businesses result in damage to the landscape, and the chairman of the Association of Rural Communities, Alastair Dinsdale, is concerned that the policies of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority are helping to create that.

As a Wensleydale farmer he found It impossible to fill in the “Exploring our options” response form produced by the Authority as part of its consultation on its next Local Plan. Instead he sent the Authority his own analysis:

Community Sustainability – the options were : no new homes; 30 new homes per year; or 70 new homes per year.

To achieve a vision of a generations of people living and working within the landscape, to have a flourishing local economy that underpins a landscape, is of benefit to the nation, and to be a home to strong, self-reliant and balanced communities, you need to have residents, of all ages, with homes to live in and jobs to provide them with an income and services to provide basic education, health, transport, communication, recreational and cultural needs.

The National Park has set itself targets in the past and failed to meet them, and it has a duty of care to the local communities alongside its other duties. It should also recognise the positive contribution the local communities make to the nature and character of-the national park. The negative impact of the park planning policies on the communities can be easily seen by comparing communities inside the park to those just outside its boundaries. The park authority needs to not only prevent any further decline but also try and restore some of the decline suffered over the last 30 plus  years.

An approach by target will not allow the Park Authority to look at housing as part of the larger picture, and targets have achieved very little in the past. If the Park Authority is  to achieve its vision it needs to take elements of each of the options it outlines according to the circumstances of each application. Policy instruments have failed to stabilise the local population and are no more likely to work in the future.

As the planning authority has control of building design and location then they have it within their power to ensure there is no impact on cultural heritage and no building in areas likely to flood regardless of the absolute number of new homes built in the Park in any time period. The Park Authority has the opportunity not only to approve building in areas where such  problems are not experienced but also to work with other agencies to improve water quality and help reduce the impact of flooding lower down the river catchment areas.

The Park Authority should have the knowledge and expertise to advise prospective house builders of the best choices for location, and construction to minimise GHG emissions. And the planning authority should have more vision to be pro-active and helpful not obstructive. The authority should also come up with plans to show how residents can make old, sometimes listed properties, that may have been the height of design decades or centuries ago, fit for purpose now, in a cost effective way.

Carbon Futures

The three  options outlined are too rigid. The Park Authority needs to remain open minded and have room to alter its plans as scientific knowledge grows. GHG emissions affect us internationally. This has been very clearly demonstrated during the current coronavirus crisis. If you reduce flights and motoring then the GHG emissions fall dramatically.

The policy should be mindful of what is created locally and the planners should be proactive in promoting and suggesting good practice but the authority also needs to lobby for stronger action for the rest of the UK – and internationally.

The whole country should have an aspirational target of zero carbon but is it the role of the park authority to set a policy to target such a policy independently and to implement planning policies in line with that? It will create an even more distinctive line between the population of the park and the population outside the park. It should not be that this policy creates an environment where only those who can afford the aspirations can live.

A community requires affordable housing if it is to be balanced and there is a risk that pursuing a carbon zero policy out of line with the rest of the country will damage the local communities even further. The Authority also needs to clarify its policy with regard to solar panels, wind turbines and water power generation. The natural environment might suggest that the national park would be a suitable place for this type of investment and way of achieving carbon neutrality however the visual impact seems to have the over-riding power to stop such development. Is this inconsistent with the vision the park authority has outlined?

Finally how does the Authority reconcile tourism and its duty to bring more people to the park with its ambition for carbon neutrality? Even eco-tourism does not necessarily mean carbon neutrality. People still usually travel in some form of transport that produces GHG emissions. people still want to stay in comfortable, warm accommodation.

On-Farm Development

Again the three options are too rigid, and lacking in a pro-active approach. There needs to be flexibility and a creative approach that recognises the needs of all involved and the planning department reality should not act in isolation without consulting the other departments within the authority – for instance the farm advisory group.

The idea that re-wilding is the answer is questionable. Tree planting and peat restoration are long term projects and will not compensate either for carbon emissions generated by transport or for loss of income from current farm use at the moment. There will be minimal scope-for farm diversification, particularly in the short term while the projects become established and the tree planting will require a significant amount of time and money investing to ensure the 6ees are not damaged and grow to maturity. Damage by rabbits and deer can cause a significant number of saplings to fail.

Has the park authority drawn its data suggesting there will be significant savings in emissions from operations, fertiliser use and livestock from national statistics or from a study of farming operations within the national park? The farming within the national park will produce significantly less emissions than farms outside the park, on perhaps less rugged terrain and with a friendlier climate. There would be some saving but not as much as on arable farms or from large industrial livestock units. The type of farming in the park is also friendlier to the soil and will return nutrients to the terrain in the form of muck without moving large quantities of artificial fertiliser internationally.

There is also some debate about the amount of carbon capture that permanent pasture holds. Some suggest that it retains more carbon than forestry. More data will undoubtedly become available about this, but if the policy of the park was to encourage the removal of that pasture in the immediate future it would be very short sighted. There is no definition given of what is meant by nature friendly farming and by intensification. Are the three options mutually exclusive? At what point does a farm become intensive? The options are somewhat simplistic in their approach and fail to recognise the complexities and overlap of the three options.

The farming community makes a huge contribution to the appearance of the landscape. The farming community also possesses a huge a mount of knowledge about the landscape on a farm by farm basis, and knowledge and skills to maintain that landscape. The farming businesses within the national park sell their goods in a market place outside the national park, and have to compete with other businesses outside the national park. They have to abide by regulations relating to many aspects of their businesses that are set nationally and  internationally but which are made harder to comply with and more costly by their location within the national park. In many ways the control over their property has been-eroded and to some extent confiscated by the national park to the ‘national benefit’. This is now also happening to the wider local community with the erosion of their representation on the planning authority.

Where there is a declining farming business is where you find most damage to the landscape. There is no surplus labour, or finance to buy labour, for maintenance of walls, barns, historic features, paths, gates, weeds control, etc. And there is no spare labour or money to invest in trees, hay meadows, leaky dams, hedges, etc.

There is also considerable scope for farmers to help with GHG emissions, not simply by tree planting, re-wilding and peat bog restoration -  none of which habitat is necessarily the best for tourism, but also perhaps simply by maintaining pasture. The Park Authority could also be pro-active in schemes to use methane for instance in bio-digesters, or to install wind turbines.There are a lot of ambitions which the Park Authority profess to want to achieve, that are often dismissed simply because of visual appearance. There are also visions that the authority claim to seek that are damaged by excessive tourism. For instance the bird population, including populations of curlews, lapwings and oyster catchers had much successful years when access was restricted in the spring. This happened both in 200L during the foot and mouth crisis and during the current Covid crisis. How is the Park Authority going to reconcile it’s conflicting visions?

The Park Authority should be fighting to-keep the farming community and culture strong in an environment within which it has operated for centuries. It is part of the heritage of the area and it provides employment. The current coronavirus crisis has shown what happens that jobs in the hospitality and tourism sector may not be secure, whereas the farming employment has kept going. There is a real danger in planning policy resulting in all employment being reliant on one sector.

Finally the resources to finance environmental schemes – whether the ELMS scheme or some other scheme that may come along – are going to be severely damaged by the huge debts created by the coronavirus crisis this year and there is no guarantee that the re-wilding schemes can be funded or that diversification wiil be viable if farming incomes cease or planners make it too difficult to comply with regulations and compere in the national marketplace.

First workshops at Immanuel Kindergarten, S Sudan


Above: girls collecting soap after a workshop

Carolyn Murray’s appeal  to help teenage girls in South Sudan is already having a major impact in the deep south of that war-torn country.

Her appeal is for funds to run an educational project aimed at helping teenage girls in Yei (pronounced Yay) so that they did not have to sell themselves to pay for soap and food for their families as a result of the Covid-19 epidemic.

The project has been pioneered by Malish Simon Lo Thomas, head teacher of Immanuel Kindergarten in Yei which Carolyn has supported for many years.

Malish was delighted that all the 30 girls invited to attend the first five-day workshop turned up. Thanks to the donations received by the Immanuel  Kindergarten charity it was then possible to hold a workshop for teenage boys.

Malish reported: “All the girls and boys are really very happy with the training and they said ‘let this kind of awareness continue’.

“They are really thankful with the administration of Immanuel Kindergarten and all those who are supporting the school.”

At the end of each day of the workshops some of the students helped to create a radio drama which was broadcast in Yei and other parts of South Sudan, as well as three awareness radio talk shows. “It is a really good programme and it will keep the girls and boys very busy,”  said Malish.

Other head teachers are now asking Malish to organise more training sessions  but he has warned them that additional funds will be needed to extend the project until the end of the year.

He added, however, that thanks to the support from the charity 300 girls and boys from 20 schools in Yei will be able to attend workshops.

The donations pay for meals at the workshops and stationary materials. But most of all, especially as part of the training during the workshops is about Covid-19, each student receives a bar of five pieces of soap to take home afterwards.

Carolyn stated: “The feedback has been very positive from the students. Basically, I think it’s someone taking notice of them and caring.”

Donations at

Death of Local Democracy in National Parks?

Death of Democracy in the Dales.

Tuesday June 30 was a black day for local democracy and representation in the Yorkshire Dales National Park according to the Association of Rural Communities. And it has warned that it is likely there is worse to come – disenfranchisement from local democracy for a quarter of England’s population.

At the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority virtual meeting on Tuesday the majority of the  members accepted a recommendation to slash the Authority’s membership from 25 to 16 to try and fend off the even more radical proposals in Julian Glover’s Landscapes Review. These include the creation of a new body, the Natural Landscapes Service, to oversee all National Parks (NPs) and Areas of Outstanding National Beauty (AONBs).

The Chief Executive, David Butterworth told members that Glover’s proposals on governance in the Review were quite startling. ‘He maintained that the main Boards should be between nine and twelve members all nationally appointed.’ And Butterworth warned that, even during the Covid-19 pandemic, the work on implementing the Review’s proposals had been made a priority by the government.

‘The introduction of a National Landscape Service … is proceeding at an astonishing pace. This is why we need to grasp this particular issue and get it sorted because, if we don’t, it will be sorted for us and not necessarily in a way we might find helpful for the Park or its communities,’ he said.

Member Nick Cotton commented: ‘We have got an express train heading towards us and we have to be aware that change is going to be inevitable.’

He was a member of the the working group set up to evaluate the membership of the Authority. He said: ‘We were caught between a rock and a hard place, the devil and the deep blue sea, the frying pan and the fire. We were forced into looking at every option that we had and if we didn’t make a difficult decision we would have an even more difficult decision forced upon us.’

Butterworth explained: ‘Glover and the panel working alongside him felt that National Park Authorities (NPAs) had lost sight of their national remit and the national purposes for which they were established. They hadn’t been successful in combating the decline in nature conservation; should be doing more to combat climate change and were too parochial. Our visitors,  like our staff and our boards, were not diverse enough. These issues were best addressed by more and better central direction through the establishment of a new body, the National Landscapes Service.’

He added that both the working group and the Authority’s Audit and Review Committee to which it reported had felt that Glover had seriously undervalued the importance of not only local representation but the important links that NPAs have with local communities through the services they provide.

‘It is not the size of the committee that matters. It is the efficacy of the membership. I find it much easier to work with those who are willing to work and not sit and simply talk,’ commented Lancashire County councillor Cosima Towneley

Jim Munday, deputy chairman of the Audit and Review  Committee, agreed with Butterworth that this was the best way forward. And, like the Glover Review, argued that the Authority’s membership should be more in line with the boards of charities and private companies. ‘We have to do this. This is a practical, pragmatic solution… and we have to move forward.’

Craven District councillor Robert Heseltine, however, retorted: ‘The National Park Authority is a public body… it is a local authority in its own right. It is not a private charity nor is it a private company. It is a public body and it should have proper public, democratic representation. Personally – these recommendations are a retrograde step for our rural areas and more importantly a retrograde step for the democratic process.

‘With the substantial geographical expansion of the Yorkshire Dales area that we have just assimilating to be followed by a 36 per cent reduction in membership is illogical, it is demeaning for local democracy, it is unnecessary and it is unwise. Also, to reduce the national representation in a national park down to four demeans the national interest in national park governance.’

He was one of the five members to vote against the recommendation. Another was North Yorkshire County councillor Richard Welch who stated: ‘Today isn’t D-Day, it’s a treble D Day: Death of Democracy in the Dales.

He spoke of how he regularly attended parish council meetings to report on what was going on in North Yorkshire and in the National Park. It was doubtful, he said, that he would be able to continue to doing that about the National Park. This was because, in  future there would be just one Craven District councillor on the YDNPA board – and just one from North Yorkshire County council who might not be from Craven. It meant less democracy and accountability, he said.

Allen Kirkbride pointed out that with 16 members the YDNPA would have fewer members than any other NPA. He argued that, given the geographic and population size of the YDNPA, 20 members would be more ideal.

It was also noted during the meeting that Lancaster City and Lancaster County Council would be over-represented with the reduction in membership. By law each local authority is entitled to appoint a member to the YDNPA: three county councils and five district councils. The membership of 16 will include eight Secretary of State appointees of which four are parish council representatives.

After the meeting the Association of Rural Communities commented: ‘The government’s decision to extend the boundaries of the Yorkshire Dales Park has led to the absurdities which now exist in the membership of this quango: that a Lancaster City councillor will have the same voting power as the single representative of Yorkshire County Council even if the former represents only a population with the Park of 139 while the latter will represent 2,689. That is no criticism of the individual councillors.’

Further comments from the Association of Rural Communities:

Compare that to the situation in the Lake District where there is just one county council. Its National Park Authority describes itself as ‘The Voice of the People’. Its Board includes five Cumbria County councillors, five from district councils and ten Secretary of State appointees (including parish council representatives). In addition to that it has the Lake District National Park Authority Partnership consisting of 25 organisations with representatives of public, private, community and voluntary sectors. This Partnership approach was recommended by Julian Glover’s Landscapes Review.

The Review begins by stating: ‘The underlying argument of our review, which covers England, is that our system of national landscapes should be a positive force for the nation’s well-being.’

It proposes that the  National Landscapes Service should be set up to bring the 44  National Parks and  the Areas of Outstanding National Beauty (AONBs) in England together as ‘part of one family’. The Review notes that 24.5 per cent of England is already covered by these national landscapes. And it expects that even more areas will be designated as national landscapes.

The sting is,  however, ‘in the tail’ when it proposes that all National Park Board members should be appointed by the National Landscapes Service and the chairs of Boards by the Secretary of State. That means a quarter of England would be taken over by the government and a new quango.  The Review contends that  this is because the government – and the taxpayer – pay for these national landscapes.  But what of all the services that the county councils are providing in those areas  such as highway maintenance, schools and  bus services. And how is the work of farmers and landowners valued? Without them who will physically maintain those special landscapes? And what of the communities?

So, while proposing to completely undermine local democracy  and representation, the Review states:

‘Our system of national landscapes works best when it works with people on its side. We can all agree that a village that is lived in, with an active school, people who work, and who are part of a living tradition, is better than a sterile place that is full of shuttered homes, empty pubs and derelict shops.

‘If we are serious about demonstrating the value of “lived in” landscapes to the global family of national landscapes, then we need to be serious about the people who live in them, and show how it’s possible to offer meaningful social and economic support for them.’

For that reason it proposes new purposes for the National Parks: Recover, conserve and enhance natural beauty, biodiversity and natural capital, and cultural heritage; actively connect all parts of society with these special places to support understanding, enjoyment and the nation’s health and well-being; and foster the economic and community vitality of their area in support of the first two purposes. If there is conflict between these greater weight will be given to conservation in line with an updated ‘Sandford Principle’.

The Review states: ‘We also think it is essential that communities have a voice in decision-making, which is why we want to keep local authority and parish representation on planning committees, and introduce community seats on Boards.

‘We’ve found local people often feel National Park Authorities are remote, despite the heavy presence of locally-elected representatives. The most is not made of Secretary of State appointees.’

So – the Review proposes to stop the selection of any Board members by local authorities and instead have all members centrally appointed.

The Association of Rural Communities has frequently pointed out that those who are most remote from local people in the Yorkshire Dales National Park  are often the Secretary of State appointees (not including parish councillors) and the local authority councillors on the Board who do not live in the National Park. This has been a constant complaint of local residents since the 1980s.

Light Pollution near Aysgarth


When a friend begged me to go and take some photographs of Aysgarth Lodges Holidays site in February I didn’t realise how important they would be later. Even though that was the ‘low season’ I was shocked at how much light pollution was emanating from that site just before the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s Dark Skies Festival.  The site, which is close to Bishopdale Beck, is now closed due to the Covid 19 lockdown.

In the photograph above the Aysgarth Lodges Holidays site is that illuminated by strings of lights in the middle. Above it to the left is the eastern end of Aysgarth.

In February the Association of Rural Communities, Burton cum Walden Parish Council and Aysgarth and District Parish Council questioned the Authority about the situation at the Aysgarth Lodges Holidays site.

The owner of the site, Leisure Resorts Ltd, has now made a retrospective planning application to the Authority for the siting of a caravan for use as a reception/office and site wide lighting plan.

The Association  has told the Authority that the application does not answer the concerns of many local residents or the  two parish councils about light pollution.

In its Design and Access Statement the company states concerning lighting: ‘The type of lighting provided on site is low-level lighting which will prevent unnecessary light pollution in this sensitive environment. The location of individual lights has been selected in order to provide light and therefore safe passage for customers accessing and egressing their holiday units and moving around the site during the evening and early morning when natural light levels are low. Every effort has been made to minimise the number  of lighting bollards used whilst providing a safe and usable environment.’

In the application it is stated that the reception/office unit (below) complied with the statutory definition of a caravan and therefore reflected the form of the holiday lodges located on the site.


see also New Village in Bishopdale

The lodge site was developed on Westholme farm in the 1970s by Margaret and Tom Knowles into a family holiday caravan and camping site. From 2007 to 2008 Mr Knowles tried for over a year to to make the Authority aware of how and why the site was being turned into a luxury lodge site with no place for campers or touring caravans. He told the Authority that when he and his wife were running the site it was not visible from the other side of Bishopdale.

With the Association of Rural Communities he campaigned to protect the right of campers and those using touring caravans to enjoy the beautiful landscape of the Yorkshire Dales.

February to December 2019

ARC News Service reports from YDNPA planning committee meetings in 2019 with settlements in alphabetical order.

Pip Pointon reports on the YDNPA meetings on a voluntary basis as part of the Association of Rural Communities commitment to local democracy in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

John Blackie – At the beginning of the meeting of the planning committee in August 2019  the chairman, Julie Martin, asked everyone to stand for a minute’s silence in memory of John Blackie. She said: “He has made an enormous contribution to this committee over the years and an enormous contribution to his own community.”

February 2019

The split in the committee so evident at the December meeting was less apparent this time – but was clearly visible in the voting concerning the proposed new agricultural building at Throstle Nest Farm, Thornton Rust. There again the decision depended upon the chairman of the planning committee, Richmondshire District councillor Caroline Thornton-Berry, voting with seven others in line with the officer’s recommendation to refuse the application. Most of the elected representatives voted to approve it. But this time, at least, there was a more open debate compared to the meeting in December.

Conversion of barns and traditional buildings:

After tensions ran high in December about barn conversions the planning committee found that even the most straight forward of applications were on the agenda at the February meeting.

When asked about this by Richmondshire District councillor Yvonne Peacock the Authority’s head of development management, Richard Graham, replied: “I am concerned that officers’ interpretation of policy is somewhat determined by members’ interpretation of policy. So, in the interests of consistency in decision making… it is for the best interests of the Authority that these are brought to the committee.”

All five of the applications for converting traditional roadside buildings were quickly approved: three  from Wharfedale and two from Arkengarthdale –  for the Old Butcher’s Shop at Langthwaite, and Neddy’s Barn, East of Eastfield on the  Arkengarthdale Road.

Dan Gracey, the agent for the owner of the Old Butcher’s Shop, described it as an interesting little building in the centre of Langthwaite. The back of the building facing the beck is lower than the front and that will contain two bedrooms and a bathroom. The kitchen and living room will be in the upper floor which is level with the road at the front.  Mr Gracey said the owner had worked closely with the planning officers to achieve an acceptable design.

The planning officer told the committee that the conversion would maintain the character and appearance of the building and would not harm its setting within the village.

North Yorkshire County councillor John Blackie welcomed both this application and that for Neddy’s Barn as Arkengarthdale so needed local occupancy housing.

Richard Coates read a statement by his son, Thomas, about why he wanted to convert Neddy’s Barn into a two-bedroom dwelling. Thomas recalled that when he attended Arkengarthdale School there were 34 pupils and now, he said, there were only three. He explained he had gone on to qualify as a joiner and had the skills to work on the conversion himself, making it affordable to him.

He said: “I would like the chance to preserve this building for the future while also providing a home for myself. This is my one chance to remain in the Dale.” He added that he would maintain the agricultural character of the barn and there would be minimal impact upon the landscape because no external alterations or extensions were needed.

Cllr Blackie commented: “Wasn’t it wonderful to hear somebody of the age of 21 prepared to stay in the Upper Dales for the rest of their life.”

Askrigg – February

Three representatives of the Askrigg Foundation charity  had to wait several hours before the planning committee considered – and unanimously approved –  an application to create three affordable dwellings for rent in perpetuity at the foundation’s buildings in Askrigg.

“It’s great isn’t it? So pleased with the decision and all the support we had. Now the hard work starts in earnest,” commented Betsy Everett.

This approval means that the charity can not only renovate the retail unit and relocate the office to the ground floor, but also convert the upper two storeys into residential flats and the rear building into a cottage. This is the third community-led housing scheme in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, the others being the three-home scheme completed in Hudswell last year, and a four-home scheme at Arkengarthdale for which planning permission has been granted.

Askrigg – March

A large field barn at Long Shaw near Bainbridge may be beautiful and large enough for a family home but converting it would be against policy the planning committee decided by an eight to seven vote.

Edward Scarr told the meeting that it would make a suitable family home given its location on the family farm. “It would be ideal for my work. We have four young children under the age of six and want to convert the barn into a family home.”

He said that he and his wife, Gwen, had always lived and worked in Wensleydale and converting the barn would enable them to raise their family on the farm. Mrs Scarr attended the meeting with their daughter Faye who was born in late February.

They heard several committee members speak in support of the planning officer who had stated that the YDNPA’s policy required that to be suitable for conversion a barn had to be in an existing settlement or building group, or be close to or adjoining a road.

He reported that the barn at Long Shaw was 110 metres from a road and would require a long track to be created and a significant length of walling to be moved to provide access to a road.

He added: “Although the proposed works to the barn are relatively well designed, it is in a very prominent and exposed position in the landscape. Its conversion to a permanently occupied dwelling would have a negative effect on the landscape that arises from the replacement of a simple, unadorned traditional farm building with a dwelling that has car parking, lighting, curtilage development, new access road and significant alterations to the existing roadside walls and the character of the road itself.”

Julie Martin agreed that this would be an intensive use of the barn which would have an impact upon the landscape. “It has been demonstrated there is a need but not at that location. The applicant has been asked to explore an alternative option,” she said.

Mr and Mrs Scarr had been told that, as it was accepted there wasn’t sufficient housing at the farm for the required number of agricultural workers, it was possible that an application for a new build dwelling at Yorescott Steading , where the ewes were lambed, would be acceptable. To this North Yorkshire County councillor John Blackie remarked that a new build might have more impact upon the landscape than a sympathetically converted barn.

Another North Yorkshire County councillor, Richard Welch, pointed out that many farmhouses were far from a road. “In ten years time you wouldn’t know it was a barn conversion,” he said.

Eden District councillor William Patterson agreed and asked if the YDNPA was going to pay for the upkeep of such buildings in the future – or would the owners be expected to keep them up as a national asset? He and others were concerned that if it was no longer needed for agricultural purposes and was not converted into the dwelling it would fall into disrepair and disappear.

“Is it true that we would rather see a non-designated heritage asset [disappear] when there is a family who wish to make use of it?” asked Lancashire County councillor Cosima Towneley. “I can not think of a better way of using an agricultural heritage that will otherwise go to waste,” she added.

Austwick – March

Permission was granted almost as quickly for the conversion of a detached stone building at Fleet House in Wharfe, near Austwick, into a one-bedroom dwelling either for holiday let or local occupancy.

Austwick Parish Council supported the conversion because it would reinstate some traditional features and secure the future of the redundant small barn by creating a viable use.

It did, however, ask that there should be conditions regarding external lighting and for the removal of all permitted development rights. These were included by the planning officer.

Cllr Towneley asked about parking especially as the parish council had requested that there should be clear, workable, enforceable and permanent provision for at least one car parking space. Richard Graham, the head of development management, said that the Authority could not regulate that.

The planning officer had told the meeting that the barn was adjacent to a non-metalled road within the hamlet of Wharfe and the design of the proposed conversion was considered to be high quality.

Aysgarth – November and December

David Peacock had applied for permission to convert Yore Mill into two apartments, six holiday let apartments and one local occupancy apartment in conjunction with a visitor centre, some business, light industrial and retail use and the re-instatement of the hydro-electric turbine.

Aysgarth and District Parish Council had told the Authority that it supported the application and  would appreciate it if the application dealt with quickly as the  listed building was in a dangerous condition and needed to be restored and maintained as soon as possible.

The North Yorkshire Highways had, however, recommended refusal because of the absence of adequate on-site parking spaces. It noted that if those staying at Yore Mill parked in the YDNPA  car park they would have to cross the bridge where there was no formal footway. “Pedestrians would be expected to walk in the carriageway to the detriment of road safety,” it stated.

When recommending refusal the planning officer stated: “The proposal to convert Yore Mill into a mixed used development without sufficient dedicated car parking would cause congestion in and around the Aysgarth Falls area and displace car parking from the nearby public car parks which would be to the detriment of road safety and the amenity of residents.”

The applicant’s agents had informed the Authority that there were some late developments regarding car parking provision and so asked that a decision should be deferred to the next meeting.

As officers considered this was appropriate in the circumstances it was unanimously agreed to defer the application to December 10.

December – In December members were informed that Mr Peacock had come to an agreement with the YDNPA to pay for a new space at the nearby national park centre car park and to buy nine annual passes, as there were only three car parking spaces at the Mill. As the officers said that this went some way towards alleviating the car parking problem the committee approved Mr Peacock’s application to convert the Mill.

The offices said that finding a future use for the Mill as soon as possible was necessary to prevent the fabric of the building declining any further.

Barbon – March

“This is  our first conflict with the Yorkshire Dales National Park,” Cllr Robert Groves, the chairman of Barbon Parish  Council told the meeting. Barbon in Cumbria became part of the National Park in August 2016.

The parish council had objected to an outline application for a single storey dwelling on some land in Moorthwaite Lane, Barbon.

Cllr Groves explained that the site had serious drainage problems and  added  that previously the refusal of planning permission for any residential development there had been upheld at appeal because any building would fill in one of the open spaces in the village which were an important part of the character and appearance of Barbon.

The planning officer explained that as Barbon was in one of the new areas of the National Park  the application had to be considered in accordance with the South Lakeland District Council’s Core Strategy. He said this had changed since the last application regarding that site and the new policy allowed for “infilling” development between residential properties.

He told the meeting that the applicant’s plans included flood alleviation measures,  and that the low profile of a bungalow would not be harmful to the distinctive characteristics of Barbon.

Lancashire County councillor Cosima Towneley said she hoped the Authority would be quite strict about the design when that was submitted for approval.

She abstained from voting but all the rest of the members voted to approve the application.

Barden – February

The application to convert the former Wesleyan chapel at Barden to a local occupancy dwelling or holiday let and the provision of pedestrian access to the existing car parking area was very quickly approved. The planning officer  reported that there would be four bedrooms and four bathrooms with the garden, including a  hot tub, in the existing enclosed area outside.

Storiths – the Chatsworth Settlement Trustees had applied to convert Harry’s Barn at Storiths into a single bedroom dwelling for local occupancy or holiday let. This again had a small enclosed area outside sufficient to accommodate a hot tub. The planning officer pointed out that the piggery attached to the barn looked to be in poor structural condition but was still an undesignated heritage asset as was the rest of the barn.

Cllr Blackie asked how such buildings were defined as undesignated heritage assets. Mr Graham said this term had come into use about six years ago. “Many of these buildings are over 100 years old. With the materials and traditional construction methods they often have a history. They may look somewhat dilapidated but you can describe them as a heritage asset because of their contribution to the landscape.

Eden District councillor William Patterson then jokingly asked if all the heritage assets had asbestos roofs.

Beamsley – November  and December

The majority of the members refused the advice of an officer to approve an application by the Chatsworth Settlement Trustees for Bolton Abbey Estate to change the use of a dwelling, barn and agricultural buildings to form offices, storage buildings and workshops at Red Lion Farm, Beamsley partly because this would mean a tenant farmer and his family would have to move out of their home.

Colin Winterburn told the committee: “It seems to us that the Estate are intent on removing the indigenous population. We farmed 144 acres until we got notice to quit on 100 acres.”

He said they still had 44 acres on which 60 cattle would be kept. If they have to move they would also have to close their farm shop.

Joanna Winterburn had told the committee: “This is a frightening experience for me, my family and it affects a lot of other people all in aid of creating storage and offices.

“Without successive tenancies the young generation will move out of the area in search of security, taking with them the skills passed on through countless generations.”

Richmondshire District councillor John Amsden said it wasn’t right to kick a tenant farmer out to provide storage facilities and commented later: “It’s the farmers who keep the landscape looking lovely for tourists. They don’t do it for you lot, they do it for a living and it’s a very hard living.”

The Chatsworth Settlement Trustees’ agent, John Steel, said that several members of staff and equipment had been displaced when the Tithe Barn on Bolton Abbey Estate was restored. Of Red Lion Farm he stated: “This site offers a very convenient location on a single complex that can accommodate the Estate maintenance teams.”

He added that the Estate was offering the Winterburns an alternative home and compensation that greatly exceeded the statutory minimum and alternative farm buildings but would not allow any more buildings to be constructed.

He continued: “The 44 acres we believe cannot generate sufficient income to support two full-time workers. The farm shop … opens three days a week and the income generated has never been of sufficiently high level where it needs to be taken into account for reviews. Whilst the long-standing tenant is facing change it is a change that will not make the family homeless nor deprive them of the ability to continue farming.”

But North Yorkshire County councillor Robert Heseltine quoted the Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) that neither the new home nor the compensation being offered would guarantee that the Winterburns could continue farming as they currently do and stated: “If this application is successful it will be the final nail in the coffin of this Dales’ farming business. “

They had, he said, farmed with the security of an Agricultural Holdings Act tenancy and added: “It appears there is a break down in the trust needed between the landlord and tenant. What is needed is [time] to reconcile their differences.”

He reported that there were alternative sites as there were hundreds of traditional and modern agricultural buildings on the Bolton Abbey Estate many of which were either not used or under-used.

Ian McPherson asked how anyone would feel if someone came along and said their home was needed for storage purposes and pointed out that even if the shop wasn’t economically viable it was being used and was highly valued by the community. Both he and Mrs Manners Armstrong questioned how approval could be in accord with human rights legislation.

Mrs Manners Armstrong pointed out that interference with someone’s human rights had to be justified as in the public interest. “I do not agree this is justified as in the public interest,” she stated. She, like other members, did not believe the officer’s recommendation was in line with the Authority’s policy regarding change of use as the modern farm buildings were not redundant.

She added: “To approve this would be in conflict with our first purpose – to conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the National Park. And if a Dale’s farm has been in functional operation for 300 years is not a cultural heritage I don’t know what is. To me we have to protect this – this is very important”.

Or as Mrs Winterburn said: “We have worked all our lives to pass this farm onto our children. Should the application be granted not only our lives but the Dales’ communities and the lives of future generations will change for ever.”

December – Planning officers told members that it could be shown there was a continuing need for the premises for farming and that there were exceptional consequences for the Winterburn family as well as losing a community shop if the  application by the Bolton  Abbey estate was approved.  The majority of the members voted to refuse the application.

Carlton in Coverdale – February

Cllr Peacock told committee members that they should go and see the high standard of workmanship Andrew Dent had carried out when converting the former Church of England School and Good Shepherd Church in Carlton in Coverdale before making a decision about some of the uPVC windows he had installed.

But the majority of the members refused his retrospective planning application as they agreed with the planning officer that by replacing the late 19th century windows at the front and the side of the building with uPVC ones he had harmed the character of what was described as an un-listed heritage asset.

Planning permission was given in 2011 to create an extension and two local needs dwellings side by side facing the highway. Mr Dent explained that he bought the building in 2013 and decided to have one dwelling in the front and one at the back so that he did not need to break through external and internal walls to create doors. He also installed uPVC windows rather than wooden ones which, he told the planning officer, would have cost about £50,000.

“The south facing windows did not have any frames. The glass was just set into the stone. It would be impossible to create the original look. New windows were, therefore, essential,” he said. He added that only by installing the uPVC windows could he meet the fire escape regulations. He described the uPVC frames as being a neutral, earthy colour rather than yellow.

Cllr Blackie told the meeting that the windows were installed four years ago but only came to the notice of the Authority when Mr Dent wanted to bring the planning permission in line with the latest policy which allows converted buildings to be used for short term holiday lets as well as local occupancy even though he plans that the dwellings will later be for two of his three sons.

Mr Dent not only offered to sign a legal agreement but also asked for the same planning  condition as had been approved some years ago on the uPVC windows installed in a Grade II listed building in Carlton. This required any future reglazing to be agreed with the Authority.

The planning officer reported that the internal conversion of the building carried out by Mr Dent was considered acceptable in principle and there was no longer any need for an extension. It had been agreed he could retain the uPVC windows at the back.  She maintained, however, that the windows to the front and side of the building could have been upgraded far more appropriately and showed members pictures of alternative solutions.

Mr Dent said about his work on the church and his former school: “It was so important to me to get the details correct and in keeping.”

Carperby – July

Aysgarth Station, Carperby

Approval was given for new track to be laid at the former railway station, across the road bridge and along 200m of the former track bed which overlooks the National Park’s car park.

The owner of Aysgarth station, David Smith of West Coast Railways, will lease the former track bed from the Authority now that planning permission has been given. The approval was also for him to make private use of the railway for storing and moving locomotives, carriages and goods vehicles.

His agent, Steve Davies, who is also a director of the Wensleydale Railway, told the committee that Mr Smith’s plans for the old station would provide the best opportunity to reconnect Aysgarth station with Redmire.

This was queried by Richmondshire District councillor John Amsden who said the latter would only be possible if someone was willing to invest £1 million pounds per mile.

Like other members he did not feel that there would be much noise from the site especially as the approval only allowed for 12 locomotive movements a day, 36 days of the year. A planning officer stated that steam operations would be limited to one to two days a year.

It was  pointed out that there was already a lot of noise and pollution due to the National Park car park and the number of people who visited Freeholders Wood, the SSSI which almost surrounds the station site.

The planning officer said  that 35 trees will be removed many from along the sides of the raised track bed by the car park. She explained that area had been colonised by trees as the track had not been used for so long.  One of the conditions will be a landscaping plan to show where replacement planting would take place, she told the committee.

Ian McPherson, the Authority’s member champion for the environment, said he would support the application but asked that the progress of the project should be carefully  monitored. He added that the landscaping plan was important to ensure that wildlife corridors were protected. He noted that in certain areas of Britain Network Rail was destroying vast tracts of trees against the wishes of the Department of Transport.

North Yorkshire County councillor Richard Welch pointed out that Mr Smith’s company owned the carriages at Hellifield which were now covered in graffiti. “Are you confident that this is not going to end up the same?” he asked.

Mr  Davies assured the committee that he was.

He said: “Two years ago we sold Aysgarth Station to what turned out to be the best possible buyer [Mr Smith].

“The Wensleydale Railway was in a significantly difficult financial situation. Aysgarth was a major millstone around our necks. We were servicing a £200,000 outstanding mortgage. The station building was falling down and there was actually no way the station could be realistically retained as part of the commercial portfolio of the railway.

“The sale of the station allowed the railway to pay off significant debts and it is an absolute fact that since that sale we have not looked back.

“We, as a board of directors, agreed that because Mr Smith had such ambitious plans for the site that we would support him in delivering this planning application. So I am effectively on secondment, if you like, from the board of the Wensleydale railway. And our vice chairman, Carl Les, has formally endorsed our support for this project.

“The second element of this project and with the mechanics of this application is that we believe that this provides the best possible opportunity to reconnect Aysgarth with Redmire. Mr Smith has the resources and personal ambition to start taking the track back towards Redmire.

“If you grant this application what you will not find is this is will become moribund and yet another undelivered major project. So your faith in the project will be met by a full investment to make this a reality.

“The sale of Aysgarth station …. caused a rift within our membership [and to]  those who were absolutely convinced that Aysgarth [station] represented the jewel on the way to Hawes and Garsdale the sale was unthinkable and there was significant resistance.  The successful delivery of this project will, I think, go a huge way towards healing some of the wounds. It will show that Mr Smith and the Wensleydale Railway did not make a bad decisions and that we are going to be in a position to optimise the chances of re-connecting Redmire with this station.

“I think we have gone a long way in satisfying the statutory requirements, particularly in terms of ecology, but the key issue is that although this is fundamentally a private venture it undoubtedly has major public benefits.”

Cautley near Sedbergh – April

Permission was granted for a barn at Cautley Thwaite Farm to be partially converted into a local occupancy dwelling or short-term holiday let.

Sedbergh Parish Council had questioned leaving part of it as a barn as it felt converting all of the building would better ensure long-term maintenance of a heritage asset,  provide valuable family scale accommodation and that it would remain as a single planning unit.

The planning officer, however, stated: “The retention of part of the byre (including internal stalls) in the southern end of the building is supported as this area contains older timbers and furniture that pre-date the barn itself. It is likely that some materials used in the construction of the building were salvaged from an older barn on or near the site. By not converting this area to habitable accommodation, allows the historic features to remain in place as evidence of the past history of the building.”

She added that the existing access to the barn could be used to provide a parking area behind the barn as a new dry-stone wall would be built to screen them from open view.

Cracoe – September

The majority of the committee agreed that two extensions can be added to No Name House in Cracoe despite the objections of the parish meeting.

North Yorkshire County councillors Robert Heseltine recognised that Cracoe Parish Meeting seemed to be very much against the application but added: “Every concern that the parish meeting has brought has been overcome by the applicant in negotiation with the planning officer.”

The parish meeting’s objections included: the proposed extensions would overcrowd an already narrow lane; the proposed number of two parking spaces would be disproportionate when the number of bedrooms was increased from four to five; there were no extra parking spaces nearby; and the positioning of a flue for a new wood-burning stove. It stated it would not object to the replacement of the rear conservatory with just one of the extensions if its  height, size and roof pitch were the same.

The planning officer reported that the garden room which will replace the conservatory was not significantly greater in size, would be largely screened by a tall fence, and would not overshadow the neighbouring property.  The applicant, Richard Johnson, had agreed to place the wood-burner flue higher up so that smoke from it could not affect the neighbours.

The two-storey cat-slide extension on the other side of the house followed local precedent and would not, the planning officer said. have a negative impact upon neighbouring properties. He added: “Overall, it is considered that the proposal will have a sympathetic appearance within the site and the setting of the neighbouring listed building.”

As some residents were concerned about the future use of the garage the conditions included that this could not be converted into living accommodation without the written approval of the Authority.

Cracoe – December

A request by Craven District councillors Robert Heseltine and Richard Foster for a site visit was turned down by the committee. Cllrs Heseltine and Foster argued members should see for themselves how  a proposed new agricultural building at Meadow Croft in Back Lane, Cracoe, would have a negative impact on the landscape and the amenity of neighbours.

But the majority of the committee agreed with  North Yorkshire County councillor Richard Welch and Lancashire County councillor Cosima Towneley that the planning officer had worked hard with the applicant to find a suitable site. The officer explained that the original application for a larger building submitted by James Bowdin was refused because it would have been on a much more prominent site and 20m from a neighbouring property. This application for a smaller building next to Mr Bowden’s house would be 24m from a neighbouring property.

A neighbour, Helen Pullin, however, told the committee that due to the building being on higher ground it would still be overbearing  even if dug in by 200mm to help reduce its height, and the trees to be planted to create screening would be only 15m from her property. Like Cllrs Heseltine and Foster she maintained that the building would still have a negative impact on the landscape.  They agreed with Cracoe Parish Meeting that there were better sites for the building and that it would still be too large.

They also asked how a smallholding of two acres and 30 sheep was sufficient to qualify for an agricultural building.  “Are we setting a precedent?” asked Cllr Foster.

The head of development management, Richard Graham, responded that the applicant was also a self-employed dry stone waller. He, therefore, needed the building not just for storing winter feed and lambing in spring, but also to store agricultural machinery.

Craven District barn conversions – April

Six out of the eight barn conversions in Craven District approved by the  planning committee on April 9 will be primarily for holiday accommodation.

David Staveley, however, made it very clear that he wanted to convert Lane Head Laithe at Throstle Nest, Eshton, into a three-bedroom home for him and his wife on the family farm. North Yorkshire

County councillor John Blackie commented: “I don’t think any member could make a more compelling case for the approval of this application than David Staveley himself. What better case can you make for a redundant building.”

The Highways Authority had, however, objected because it did not believe there was sufficient visibility at the access onto the road. The planning officer reported that about 12m of the boundary wall would be set back to improve visibility.

And Mr Staveley stated: “We are very aware of the danger as we have been using this as a farm access for 19 years.”

Even a planning officer described Nether Hesleden Farm Barn near Litton as being in the open countryside and it is in the Littondale Barns and Walls Conservation area.

He explained that the power supply to this roadside barn could be undergrounded from Nether Hesleden Farm, that there would be little change to the exterior of the building, and that the garden had been reduced to the minimum. He added that the converted dwelling would be used primarily as a holiday let.

North Yorkshire County councillor Richard Welch said: “I can’t think of a more classic example of what defines a roadside barn. I can’t see any problems with it. It ticks all the right boxes in the right places.”

The application to convert Ellis Laithe at Grisedale Gate Farm near Threshfield was solely for conversion to a holiday let. The planning officer stated that only the existing openings would be used and the proposed parking and external area would be modest and contained within the existing width of the walled lane to the south. No extension is required.

An application to convert this barn into a home for a farm worker was refused by the committee in December. The planning officer told the committee that the Authority was discussing with the applicant the possibility of applying to build a family home at the farm. Ellis Laithe will now become part of the farm’s holiday letting business.

Stirton-with-Thorlby Parish Meeting had told the Authority that not all residents were happy with Manor Farm Barn in Thorlby being used solely as a holiday let. As with most of the other applications the owners, Trustees for Roman Catholic Purposes Registered (TRCPR) had applied for both local occupancy or holiday let in line with the Authority’s conservation policy for roadside barns and those within settlements.

The agent for TRCPR, Robert Hodgkiss, told the committee that the application was not contentious and was in accord with national and local policies. It would, he said, have a sustainable use within the village once converted.

Three of the applications were made by the Chatsworth Settlement Trustees (Bolton Abbey Estate). For speed of approval none matched those dealt with by the planning committee in February.

The Trustees applications to convert the former Wesleyan chapel at Barden and Harry’s Barn at Storith were submitted on January 7 and approved by the planning committee on February 12 which might be a record! Both will have hot tubs installed as they will be primarily for holiday accommodation.

Those two applications did not require any amendments whereas the three submitted on January 17 did. The amendments to the plans for the Shippon at Stank House to the west of Bolton Abbey included moving the hot tub to a less obvious position!

Permission was granted for the conversion of both the Shippon and the barn at Stank House, which is already used as a holiday let. The access to the complex is via an existing private driveway.

The third application from the Trustees was for the conversion of Laneside Barn at Hazlewood to the east of Bolton Abbey. This is near two cottages on what the planning officer described as a very quiet lane.

She said that the proposed garden and parking would be contained in the yard serving the barn and so would be screened from public view.

The eighth successful application was by the artist Victoria Russell to convert a toft barn at Starbotton into a studio and dwelling (see below)

Embsay – March

Permission was granted for four bedroom dormer bungalow for  local occupancy to be built in Millholme Rise, Embsay.

Cllr Vince Smith attended the meeting on behalf of Embsay with Eastby Parish Council which had objected to the application. He explained that the parish council believed the height of the proposed building would set a precedent for higher builds in that area.

The parish council also wanted an area of hard standing to be created on the site before construction began so that vehicles were not parked on the road especially as it was close to a junction and a bend. But the planning officer said it was not possible to do that as any hard standing would hamper the developer’s ability to construct the building.

She told the meeting that the applicant, who lives next door to the site, had asked for a  higher ridge height so as to have space for two bedrooms in the roof space. She said the overall ridge height would be the same as for the original approved scheme with a negligible difference in the height of the eaves.

Fremington – March

The committee unanimously approved the application by Mr and Mrs Peter Catchpole to convert Little Barn at High Fremington in Swaledale into a one-bedroom local occupancy dwelling.

Mrs Catchpole explained that they were living in rented accommodation and wanted a Dales home of their own.

Several residents had, however, objected and they were represented by Chris Whittaker. He disagreed with the planning officer that there was sufficient visibility splay from the proposed access as it was near to a blind bend and crossroads. Nor was it always a quiet road for, he said, during a cycling event 4,000 riders had raced up it.

He did not accept that the proposed extension was not significant as it would increase the size of the barn by 42 per cent and added that the amenity of those living in the house close to the barn would be affected.

The planning officer reported that the neighbouring house was 3.9m away on the other side of the narrow road. The plans had been amended so that the windows overlooking that house were smaller and glazed, he said.

He stated: “It is recognised that the proposal would introduce a degree of domestication into a site that currently exhibits a largely agricultural and undeveloped character. However, the proposal is relatively small in scale and, further to amendments to the scheme, is not considered to adversely affect the immediate setting of the barn. It should be noted that the wider landscape impact of the proposal is negligible given the lack of public views from longer distances.”

He also believed that the package treatment plant would not affect the two properties to the south of the barn.

The conditions include creating a photographic record of the barn before conversion and a written scheme of investigation regarding excavation and archaeology as the external work would be close to Fremington Dyke. This was one of the linear dykes in Swaledale which formed part of the boundary of an early, post-Roman, British political area or kingdom (Out of Oblivion).

Gaisgill – May

Despite a plea from a farmer for more time the committee refused planning permission for a wooden cabin at Gaisgill to continue to be used as a temporary dwelling for a further three years.

Neil Plant of Rayne Holdings said that the smallholding at 3 Rayne Cottage, Gaisgill, was being developed and the wooden cabin was still needed. “Just give us a chance. Three years is going to make a difference,” he said.

Eden District councillor William Patterson supported him and stated: “I can’t see the problem with giving the chap a chance to build up a small holding.” And North Yorkshire County councillor John Blackie added that many Dales farmers had started their farms that way.

But the head of development management, Richard Graham, reminded the committee that in December 2017 it had approved enforcement action to be taken for the removal of the cabin as the three-year temporary permission given in 2013 had expired.

A planning officer had told the committee that when Mr Plant had requested pre-planning advice in October 2018 he had been told that he had not shown there was a functional need for a full-time worker to live at the site and that the business could just as well be run from one of the nearby converted barns owned by Rayne Holdings.  The officer added that the current and previous owners had had two and a half years to remove the cabin from the site.

Authority Member Julie Martin commented: “We don’t have any clear evidence that this is needed for a agricultural worker and we don’t have evidence at this present time that this is a viable business. We do have evidence that there is alternative accommodation. I think we have to follow through otherwise we undermine our own decision [in December 2017].”

Eden District Council granted permission in May 2019 for the change of use of one of the two barns from a holiday cottage to an unrestricted residential dwelling.

The committee voted by ten votes to seven to refuse the application.

Garsdale – March

Permission for an outbuilding beside Rose Cottage in Garsdale to be converted into one-bedroom short term holiday accommodation was granted very quickly as the application was not considered by the committee until after 6pm. (The meeting began at 1pm.) The planning officer quickly explained that it was a 19th century former garage alongside Rose Cottage within a roadside group of stone build cottages on the A684.

He said that the proposal represented a reasonably sensitive conversion and would not have a detrimental impact upon the landscape, residential amenity or highway safety.

Garsdale – May

Cllrs Blackie and Peacock questioned the length of track required to provide a barn conversion in Garsdale with safe access to the A684 at Aye Gill Farm.

They compared the length required (about 160m) with that proposed for a barn conversion at Long Shaw near Bainbridge which was refused in March this year.  The track for that would have  been 110m long.

The head of development management, Richard Graham, emphasised that the barn near The Hill in Garsdale was a roadside barn in accordance with the Authority’s policy. That at Long Shaw was not a roadside barn and a length of walling would needed to be moved back from the road to provide sufficient visibility at the access, he said.

The planning officer reported that there would be no loss of walling at the access onto the A684 at Aye Gill Farm

Remarking on the photographs shown of the proposed track to the barn in Garsdale, Cllr Peacock said: “This looks to me like a farm track.” She noted that drivers in some small cars would have difficulty negotiating it and that the officer had not included any recommendation about improving it.

The planning officer described the building in Garsdale as being a substantial early 19th century bank barn standing beside the A684 some 7k to the east of Sedbergh. “It stands in an isolated and locally  prominent position on top of a bluff. The barn structure is basically sound and no rebuilding of walls is necessary,” he said.

The owner has agreed to demolish the additions to the barn which were added in the 20th century.

The committee unanimously approved the application to convert the two-storey stone barn into a three bedroom dwelling for local occupancy or short term holiday letting.

Gayle – February

It was agreed that a large roadside barn “in the wilderness” along Beggarmans Lane near Gayle can be converted and extended to create a “horse assisted learning” business.

The planning officer told the committee: “The applicant’s therapy is geared towards people who have experienced post traumatic stress disorder as well as people with stress and other mental health issues. As well as horse-assisted learning the applicant [Caroline Penman] would use the building as a base for Paleo eating, Craniosacral therapy and mindfulness. The location has been chosen by the applicant for its tranquility and wild nature which is considered to aid the therapy.”

The two-storey Dodds Hall Barn is around two miles south of Gayle and has a stone walled enclosure which will be used for car parking. The planning officer reported:

“What is proposed in this location is a very high intensity employment use requiring the erection of a large first floor extension to the building and the erection of stables, [two] shepherds huts  and an outdoor interaction area in the surrounding land. The whole field would also be used for equestrian purposes.”

He added that the addition of a large extension, the fact that the barn was not adjacent to or within an existing settlement and that the business was not land-based, meant that the application was not in accordance with policy and so any approval would require a departure from the Local Plan.

Although it was reported that Ms Penman had run a similar, successful business in Cyprus the planning officer warned that there was a degree of risk should this venture fail once Dodds Hall Barn had been converted.

The senior listed building officer had reported: “The external stairs and floating FF extension with balcony and covered GF terrace underneath has a harmful impact on the heritage significance of the barn’s and Dales vernacular architecture in general, and would be visible from the road.”

The committee, however, accepted the planning officer’s  argument that the proposal had been relatively well-designed to work with the site itself to minimise its landscape impact and impact on the building. He said: “Whilst the extension to the building is significant, it is relatively lightweight and would only provide internal living space to one floor with the ground floor forming a sheltered area [for  horses].”

He added: “This is a relatively unique site and a unique proposal that would result in economic and social benefits in the locality and has support from the parish council.”

Hawes and High Abbotside Parish Council had told the committee: “It offers a completely new dimension to the all-important tourist sector in the Upper Dales – horse assisted learning. The site and the surrounding landscape entirely fits the description of a wilderness, although the town of Hawes is just seven minutes’ drive away.”

The planning committee approved the application for the conversion and extension of the barn to provide visitor accommodation and manager’s dwelling, a change of use of land for equestrian purposes, provision of  all weather riding surface, car parking and erection of stable building.

Grassington – May

The  committee very quickly approved a planning application for alterations to Yarnbury House in Moor Lane, Grassington, even though the parish council had asked the Authority  to investigate the true intentions of the applicant.

The committee heard that Grassington Parish Council strongly suspected that this was an attempt to change the use of the property to another shooting lodge without having to make a formal application for change of use – something it would oppose.

The parish council said that the application gave the appearance of wanting to enhance and increase the living accommodation and added: “How can this be done when the bedrooms will be reduced from four to three, but more features such as a boot room and a drying room are added, together with the conversion of the double garage?”

The application included altering the outbuildings and garage to become ancillary living space to Yarnbury House.

The planning officer reported that there had been lengthy discussions with the applicant and that the proposed scheme had been significantly amended so as not to cause substantial harm to the listed building.

She added: “Neighbours have raised the issue that the house may become a shooting lodge or used for some kind of shooting enterprise and that the applicant is a sporting company not a private resident. The agent has confirmed that the site will be used as a private domestic dwelling.”

The agent, Maria Ferguson, emphasised this at the meeting. She said that her client had bought Yarnbury House so that he and his family and friends could enjoy the countryside and sporting activities.

Grassington – June

The majority of members agreed with the planning officer that the proposal by Jason and Claire Simpkin to use a large field and construct two buildings for a small campsite would have too much of an impact upon the landscape.

The officer commented: “The concerns with the current proposal are a matter of scale rather than a matter of principle.”

She said that a modest campsite and one building for facilities in the northeast section of the field adjacent to the B6265 Hebden Road would be acceptable. The Simpkins planned to use all of a one hectare field on a plateau above the River Wharfe for approximately 25 seasonal pitches. They proposed two buildings, one to provide facilities for the campers, and the other to include the manager’s accommodation. Mr Simpkin told the committee that Grassington did not have a campsite.

He read a letter from the Grassington Chamber of Trade which noted that there had been a dramatic drop in the footfall of tourists in the town in the last couple of years and that the creation of a family friendly campsite would lead to an increase. “I hope this development will enable a greater range of visitors to Grassington, especially young families,” Mr Simpkin said and added that his plans were in line with the National Park’s statutory purposes.

He had informed the Authority that a smaller campsite would not be a viable business. He argued that having a manager on site would help to alleviate some of the concerns raised by residents such as the possible increase in noise and nuisance, and the impact of lighting.

North Yorkshire County councillor John Blackie agreed that having a manager living on the site would be helpful and added: “I am amazed that Grassington hasn’t got a camp site. Campers spend far more in the local economy than any other form of tourist and so keep the shops and services going.”

Other members, however, accepted the officer’s contention that a two-storey stone building to house an office and reception on the ground floor and a self-contained manager’s flat on the first floor was too much. The planning officer did not accept that a seasonal site for 25 tents needed a manager to supervise it, especially as there was a site for 24 tents at Kettlewell which did not provide such accommodation.

She reported that the proposed new buildings would replace a static caravan and the dilapidated remains of a railway carriage. She said there was also concern about the possibility of campers walking along a road to the village where there was no footpath as that would be the shortest route to the pub.

Grassington – September

The first and second floors of a former butcher’s shop in Grassington can be converted into a two-bedroom dwelling the committee agreed.

An internal passageway will be created to provide access to the apartment, the planning officer said. She added that the external alterations would be minimal being the insertion of three roof lights, the re-opening of a blocked-up window and the re-use of an existing door.

She commented: “The proposed development would see the loss of the upper floors from a potential business use, but there is still a large ground floor shop remaining together with two quite substantial store room areas.” The applicant had pointed out that the upper floors had not been used for 20 years.

Some residents had queried  the siting of wheelie bins behind the premises but the planning officer said that the land did belong to the applicant. “Whilst the storage of wheelie bins in this location is not ideal, they would not have such a harmful impact on the amenity of neighbours to warrant the refusal of planning permission,” she stated.

Grassington Parish Council objected to the  application because there was of the lack of parking in that area. The planning officer reported that the occupier of the dwelling could obtain a parking permit for the National Park Authority car park nearby.

Committee member Craven District councillor Richard Foster, commented that even though there was a lack of parking spaces in Grassington the conversion of the upper stories of the shop would be a great use of that space.

Approval was given on the basis that the applicant would sign a legal agreement restricting use of the flat  to the local occupancy criteria set out in the Authority’s Local Plan or to short term holiday let.

Grassington – December

The committee unanimously approved an application for a single storey lean-to extension at the rear of a house in Main Street, Grassington, and for stone steps and a wrought iron handrail at the front.

The planning officer reported that the applicant had explained that the steps beside an existing wall were required to provide safe level access down a slope which was steep and slippery in bad weather.

Grassington Parish Council had objected to the steps because they would not be in keeping with the village and would create an obstruction and therefore a danger to road users. It added that the steepness could be mitigated by walking where the slop was less severe.

Grinton – November and December

The planning officer had recommended refusal of the Porters’ application to convert Shoemaker’s Barn because they had not proved a need for an agricultural worker’s dwelling at Grinton and because: “The proposal would lead to the creation of a fake and prominent ‘traditional barn’ that never previously existed which would result in a harmful and disruptive effect on the understanding of the historic landscape and the significance of the Barns and Walls Conservation Area.”

Richmondshire District councillor Richard Good commented: “I find it difficult to say that we need to keep it like that because it is in a conservation area… because it is ugly.”

John Akrigg, the agent for Chris Porter and his wife who had applied to convert Shoemaker Barn to create a family home for themselves, said: “Without the retention of the people who possess the skills to safeguard these landscape features the Dales that we all love and fight to protect cannot be sustained. One day the Swaledale [sheep] may be the icon for the Dales but the herds will have disappeared.”

He added: “This Authority is aware of the fragility of hill farming and is committed to work with stakeholders to safeguard its future. If members support this application today they will do something positive and send a message to other young people that they have a place here.”

Cllr Kirkbride argued that the Porters wanted to restore the barn to how it had looked years ago. They would do this, he said, by removing concrete extensions, lifting the roof slightly to the height it had been before a fire many years ago, and re-inserting windows where they had been previously. “This will turn an eyesore into a home for a young family which is going to live in the Dales and farm in the Dales,” he said.

The alterations over the years had meant that less than 30 per cent of the original barn remained but another member, Jocelyn Manners Armstrong, said: “I do think the applicants are in a difficult position here and it is partly the way our policies are constructed that puts them in that position and, therefore, we have a bit of responsibility to try and help. On one hand we say there’s not enough of the original building left for us to say it is a traditional building [that can be converted]. On the other hand we say that it would be a new build in the open countryside. There is an interesting traditional building which they do want to restore.”

She explained that she had voted against the Porters’ application in December partly because it was for a holiday let or a family home. But this time it was for an agricultural worker’s dwelling and she, like many other members, accepted there was a need.

The planning officer stated that there wasn’t evidence that the land at Grinton did require a full-time worker even though the proposal included a new agricultural building to house rams over winter and lamb sheep in the spring. The new agricultural building would be sited behind the barn.

He said that Porters should consider creating a new dwelling on land owned by their extended family at Oxnop or at Gunnerside – or apply to add an extension to their present home at Grinton.

Cllr Kirkbride pointed out that the farm enterprise had land from Grinton to Gunnerside and so needed agricultural workers at either end as well as at Oxnop. For that reason the agricultural need should be based upon the farm enterprise as a whole he said.

Member Ian McPherson commented: “Given the need to support and nurture and enhance farming in the Dales and in view of the fact of the reports relating to individual members of the family and their health concerns…. I feel the benefit of the doubt should be given to the applicants.”

December –  The majority of the committee again voted to approve the application to convert Shoemaker’s Barn into a dwelling.

Planning officers stated that the conversion of the derelict barn into a home on the basis there was a need for an additional home for the farm business and that it would get rid of an eyesore were acceptable reasons even though they had previous had felt it was an unnecessary development.

Hawes, Halfway House – February and October

The committee was told that four cars being parked on the former track bed at Halfway House near Hawes might prejudice the re-opening of the railway between that market town and Garsdale.

Ruth Annison, who convened the meeting at Hawes last summer to discuss the re-opening of that six miles of railway, told the committee: “Halfway House is one of the very few critical sites for railway reinstatement. The possibility of access and parking for four cars encroaching on the track way is a serious matter so that I have already given formal notice that, if necessary, we will report this application to the Secretary of State.”

A professional engineer, Tony Smare, said that it looked as if establishing a new train service on the former branch of the Settle-Carlisle railway was achievable, and asked if alternative parking at Halfway House could be investigated before the application was approved. Richmondshire District councillor Yvonne Peacock agreed with him.

The application was for full permission to convert the barn attached to Halfway House into a separate local occupancy dwelling.  The planning officer said that as the Authority’s policy was to support the reinstatement of the railway line the application had been advertised as a Departure to the Local Plan for a period expiring on February 22.

He reported that the conversion of the barn would have a neutral impact upon the landscape and that a dry stone wall would be built to divide the present garden between the two dwellings.

He told the committee that although the existing car parking area on the former track bed would be increased to accommodate two more cars the track bed would remain unaltered and would be reversible should the railway be reinstated.

The head of development management, Richard Graham, reported that the owners of Halfway House also own the track bed there, using some as curtilage and some for parking. Neither he nor the Authority’s chief executive officer, David Butterworth, felt the issue was big enough to be considered by the Secretary of State.

Mr Butterworth commented: “In the 21 years that this Authority has been in existence I don’t think there has been a single application that a Secretary of State would even consider calling in. I don’t think this one will be either. So it’s up to members to make a decision.”

Cllr Blackie asked, however, that the representations made at the meeting should be carefully considered and if there any issues that couldn’t be resolved the application should be brought back to the committee.

The majority of the committee, however, accepted Mr Butterworth’s advice and voted in favour of the officer’s recommendation.

October –

Hawes and High Abbotside Parish Council asked the committee to hold a site meeting at Halfway House so that the members could see for themselves how dangerous the access was.

In February the committee had approved an application to convert the barn next to Halfway House into a local occupancy dwelling. The owner then applied for it to be used for short stay holiday lets as well.

Allen Kirkbride  agreed with the parish council that, as the access was by a corner on the A684, it would be far more dangerous for short stay visitors who didn’t know the area well than for anyone living there permanently. It was also pointed out that the Highways Authority had objected each time to the application because of the access.

Like the parish council Mr Kirkbride also wanted to see the barn converted solely for local occupancy.  “This was specifically for local occupancy. [The owner] could have said in February that it would be dual purpose. Now he comes along and changes his mind. “

The majority of the committee, however, disagreed with him and the new application was approved.

Hawes – February

An enforcement notice will be served on the owner of Bainbridge Ings Caravan Site at Hawes for the removal of camping pods which were described by Cllr Blackie as grey-painted abominations and by a planning officer as “wholly alien features within the landscape”.

The planning officer read the following letter from Hawes and High Abbotside Parish Council:

“Councillors were appalled at the ‘Pembroke’ pods that have been installed which look completely out of keeping on the site at Bainbridge Ings. The bright orange fencing around the stone chipping base adds to their unacceptable appearance.

“It was pointed out they have been installed close to Old Gayle Lane, along which many local people and visitors enjoy a circular walk on mainly flat ground, often with young children in push chairs, starting and finishing at either Hawes Town Centre or Gayle. At this time there are few leaves on the trees by the edge of the site so they are in full view.”

The parish council had objected to the loss of almost all the camping pitches on the site and pointed out that many regular visitors had said they could no longer afford to stay there. (A glamping pod on the site is advertised at £249 per week.)

At the planning meeting Cllr Blackie said that in the past the site had been covered with tents during the summer and that campers were the best supporters of the local economy.

He described how the parish council had been heavily involved in seeking modifications to a previous application by David Khan of The Lodge Company North.

The planning officer reported that the four Lune Valley pods included in that application had been considered acceptable due to  their dark stained timber, curved shape and being arranged in an informal circle.

She said that the four Pembroke pods,  however, were larger and have an unusual shape –  “akin to a portacabin with a triangular insert bisecting the body and protruding above the flat roof. The structure is clad in a dark battleship grey material with orange wood panels. Each pod has a horizontally boarded timber enclosure around it and the pods are laid out in a line.

“The structures have an uncompromising and unsightly appearance, lacking any aesthetic or architectural merit,” she added.

Mr Khan told the committee that the Pembroke pods were lower in height than those originally planned and so would be easier to screen. He said that a comprehensive planting scheme had been agreed with the Authority.  He had been assured by the supplier that the orange fences would weather to a cedar colour. He explained that he had invested heavily in the site and needed a variety of accommodation to attract people.

The committee, however, unanimously agreed with the planning officer that the Pembroke pods did harm the natural beauty and visual quality of the National Park landscape as they were highly visible and incongruous, and represented poor design. Mr Khan was given three months to comply with the enforcement notice to remove them along with the fences and the hard standings, and to reseed the affected area with grass.

Hawes – March

There was applause when the majority of the committee voted to refuse an application to convert the Methodist Chapel and Sunday School into five holiday lets. This, however, was contrary to the planning officer’s recommendation and so has been referred back to the meeting in April.

The planning officer stated: “The willingness of the parish council to set aside the problematic elements of this proposal illustrates the dilemma at the heart of this application. The buildings are part of the town’s heritage and as such are worthy of retention and a viable economic use that would ensure their future. However, it is difficult to envisage a new use that will not have the same parking and access problems as this proposal.”

Hawes and High Abbotside Parish councillor Sheila Alderson told the meeting: “There is absolutely no parking outside the chapel.” Both she and Jack Sutton, who lives near the chapel, said that the small area of parking at Town Foot, opposite the doctors’ surgery, was used by residents who had nowhere else to park their vehicles. When that space became full vehicles were parked on the pavement.

“You take your life in your hands when you try to access Hawes,” commented Mr Sutton.

The meeting was informed that the developers, Matthew and Sally  Faulkes with Ian Morton and Heritage Apartments Ltd,  had proposed that five annual parking permits at the Dales Countryside Museum (DCM) car park could be purchased for those staying at the holiday lets.

The agent, Rachel Ford, explained that the conversion of the building would cost over £500,000 so local occupancy was not viable. The application was, she said, compliant with the Authority’s policy and the provision of more  holiday lets would bring more visitors to Hawes and so be good for  local businesses. She maintained that the holiday lets would not have an impact upon residents and  that there would be a reduction in traffic compared with when the building was used as a church.

Cllr John Blackie disagreed stating that it had mainly been used on Sundays and many people had walked to it. Both he and Mr Sutton questioned that those using the holiday lets would want to walk 300m with luggage from the DCM car park especially when it was raining.

Cllr Alderson said the parish council was very concerned about Chapel Lane, which it described as an important access road for local residents, being blocked when people were unloading or loading luggage at the proposed  holiday lets. The parish council could not understand why the Highway Authority had not objected to the application.

The planning officer explained that according to the National Planning Policy Framework a development should only be prevented or refused on highways grounds if there would be an unacceptable impact on highway safety, or the residual cumulative impacts on the road network would be severe. He added: “The Highway Authority has no objections but requires a Construction Management Plan to be provided to include parking for operatives, the loading, unloading and storage of plant and materials.”

He said that the developers had shown that the building was no longer needed by the community and could be sensitively converted.

North Yorkshire County councillor Richard Welch commented: “I couldn’t think of a more insensitive conversion for the local residents and  how it will affect their  lives. We are creating a nightmare for local residents.”

Another North Yorkshire County councillor, Robert Heseltine, compared the development with trying to pour a pint into a quart pot.  And Allen Kirkbride added: “A large use [of this building] with lots of holiday cottages is going to make life in Hawes quite unbearable at times.”

The parish council had pointed out that the government through its Homes England Agency was now actively promoting community-led developments  of affordable housing with very substantial grants. This made an affordable housing scheme  for the Methodist chapel far more viable. “We would be prepared to accept some of the drawbacks if we saw clear benefits for the community,” Cllr Alderson said.

Cllr Blackie told the meeting: “The parish council has no doubt that no change is not an option but it questioned what is proposed is the best use. The word that comes to mind is over-development. Simply – there is no room for what is proposed. Something on a lesser scale would have been more acceptable.

“But they want to squeeze every square inch out of the former Methodist chapel. The trouble is with doing that – they will spill over their requirements to compromise the amenity of local residents who live in that very densely constrained area just near Town Foot. There are 14 houses – some are holiday lets and some are used by local residents. They have a right to enjoy their amenity.  Something less ambitious, something less profit-making would actually be more acceptable.”

Before the application was discussed by the committee Cllr Blackie said there had been a complaint from the applicants concerning whether or not he should be involved in speaking or voting. “There is a clear threat that if I do, the applicants may well wish to take legal action against the Authority. I want to say that I have never ever in 21 years of sitting on this planning committee – or at Richmondshire District Council –  had a complaint made in this way.

“I have never been accused of bias in the way that the applicant has accused me of bias. The bias comes from the fact that I had and I still run holiday cottages.”

He said he had taken legal advice many times and been told that he could take part in deciding holiday cottage applications so long as he had no financial interest. He explained that he had made it clear that he had expressed a preliminary view on the application in writing and verbally previous to the meeting, but had come to the meeting with an open mind as he was legally obliged to do.

“This seems to be an attempt to fix the jury but I have done absolutely nothing wrong. Threatening both me and the National Park is undermining the planning process.”

When she addressed the committee Ms Ford stated concerning that complaint that it had never been their intention not to have Cllr Blackie involved or to speak but to make the Authority aware  of some issues.

Ms Ford, who is the head of planning for the Leeds-based agents Bowcliffe, had written to the Authority previous to the meeting  that Cllr Blackie was biased against the application because he ran a holiday cottage company in the Dales. She had also complained about his behaviour at a site visit where, she said, he broke the code of conduct by using that as an opportunity to lobby against the plans.

She stated: “If Councillor Blackie proceeds to vote on the application …., to vote against the proposal and if his vote turns out to be decisive, then my clients will have no option but to explore potential legal claims against the council. I strongly suggest that Councillor Blackie plays no further role in the decision making process for my client’s application.”

From Hawes and High Abbotside Parish Council report:

Methodist chapel. – The councillors and others at the meeting agreed that strong representation should be made to the planning appeal hearing concerning the former Methodist chapel.  The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) refused an application to convert the chapel and hall into five holiday lets.

It was agreed that the key issues were the lack of parking, severe congestion caused by bad parking,  and the increase in the number of holiday lets rather than affordable housing.

One man who lives near the chapel stated: “We are completely surrounded by holiday lets. We have lost all our privacy.”

He and the parish council also emphasised that the lane behind the chapel was a public highway.

Affordable homes. –  The meeting was told that three out of ten dwellings in Hawes were now holiday homes or second homes.  Andrew Fagg said: “In four years’ time it is conceivable that there will be fewer than 50 pupils at [Hawes Primary] School.

Hawes –  June

Permission to convert a barn close to the business park at Hawes into a home for a local young family has been recommended for refusal by a Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority planning officer because it is, she argues, in the open countryside.

In her report to the YDNPA planning committee meeting on Tuesday June 11 she describes the barn north of The Shearlings off Hardraw Road as a high quality non-designated heritage asset which makes a positive contribution to the landscape in an area that is readily accessible by visitors walking the Pennine Way.

In this she follows the advice of the Authority’s senior listed building officer who states: “This barn is a key feature in this location, along this very popular public footpath. It is not a roadside barn, but a landmark building set in the middle of a field, with a very fine landscape backdrop.“The proposed domestic conversion of this building would therefore have a negative impact, in particular the creation of a residential curtilage with car parking, extension and new openings.”

Hawes and High Abbotside Parish Council, however, completely disagrees.

It has informed the planning committee:“The applicants, a local couple, Ashley and Katie, who have two young children attending Hawes Primary School … are committed to remaining in Hawes for the rest of their lives and they have set their heart on converting the barn at The Shearlings and making it their family home.

“It is located on Ashley’s father’s farm holding, his father being Neil Iveson, one of the most renowned of sheep dealers in the North of England.” Ashley had told the parish council that he worked from home using the Superfast Broadband service in Hawes, in a highly specialist position within the horse racing industry.

The parish council explained: “This occupation allows him some time to help his father gather sheep for sale at the various Auction Marts in the Yorkshire Dales and beyond, especially Hawes Auction Mart, or to supply them to customers on the firm’s books. Accordingly the converted barn would be very convenient for this dual role. The extension proposed for the barn would be to provide a home office for his work.”

It continued: “Several [parish councillors] commented that this is exactly the type of young local family we need to retain in the Upper Dales, and [that] this is what the YDNPA in its policies and its public messages has been broadcasting in the media for 18 months now.”

The parish council pointed out that the barn was off the road to the Upper Wensleydale Business Park, was opposite the Community Fields and near the 120 unit Brown Moor Caravan site, as well as sitting neatly within the enclave of Brandymires. Hawes Fire Station is 50 yards away.

The parish council stated that the barn had not been used for some 15 years and the access to it would be hidden by the extensive lairage agricultural building used to hold sheep in transit. (Which cannot be said for the nearby sewage works.)

The parish council had supported the YDNPA planning committee when, in February this year, it accepted the recommendation of a planning officer to approve the conversion of a large roadside barn “in the wilderness” along Beggarmans Lane near Gayle to create a “horse assisted learning” business even though he said this was not in accordance with policy.

The application was for the conversion and extension of the barn to provide visitor accommodation and manager’s dwelling, a change of use of land for equestrian purposes, provision of all-weather riding surface, car parking and erection of a stable building.

And at its meeting last month the committee approved an application for a barn in Garsdale which a planning officer described as being a substantial early 19th century bank barn beside the A684 which was in an isolated and locally prominent position.

Meeting on June 11:

A young couple’s request to convert a barn at Hawes into their family home was turned down by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s planning committee on Tuesday June 11.

Ashley Iveson told the committee: “I ask you to give me and my family an opportunity to live and work on the farm holding that’s been part of my family for generations – and an opportunity to live in a town that we love for the rest of our lives. I would not like to raise my children anywhere else.”

Hawes and High Abbotside Parish Council and North Yorkshire County Councillor John Blackie supported him in the assertion that the barn could not accurately be described as in the “open countryside” as it was close to Brandymires and the caravan park on Hardraw Road, and to the business park, Hawes Fire Station, the water works and the sewage works. It is even closer to Mr Iveson’s father’s lairage agricultural shed.

Mr Iveson said he was particularly disappointed at the way in which the planning officer had criticised this large shed. She had reported: “The shed is in an unfortunate position and is a visual detractor in the area. It is important that this does not set a precedent for further harmful development.”

Mr Iveson commented that the Authority had given planning permission for the shed: “It seems to me that the officer is using her obvious dislike of the shed against my completely separate development,” he said.

The Hawes and High Abbotside Parish representative, Jill McMullon, told the committee that she met many in the community through her work with the Upper Dales Community Partnership. She said she had previously served as a Richmondshire District councillor and had chaired that council twice and been a member of its planning committee for ten years.

She said: “At Richmondshire District Council we always tried to take the local community with us at planning. Now that’s not always possible but our track record was far, far better than yours.”

The Iveson family was, she said, a perfect example of the young family the National Park needed to retain if there was to be a bright future for the local community in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales.“What is the point of the National Park making a priority of retaining and attracting young families to the Upper Dales, shouting this from the roof tops, and then coming forward with a report which seems to go out of its way to scotch the aspirations of a couple and their children to live in our community for the rest of their lives?”

She added that the report completely missed the point that the barn and the lairage shed belonged to the same farming business. “This application is a test of the real intention of the National Park Authority – are you going to walk the walk, or are you just talking the talk?”

Committee member Ian McPherson, however, said that once again there was a conflict on the committee between personal views and policy. He quoted the planning officer’s report which stated: “The barn in question is a field barn surrounded by agricultural land. It is not located within the settlement boundary of Hawes as defined in the Local Plan. It is not within a group of buildings. It is not a roadside location (it is approximately 90m from the Brunt Acre Industrial Estate road) and it is not served by an existing track. For these reasons the development does not comply with policy.

“The dwelling would not provide rural workers accommodation nor be an affordable property.” Mr Iveson had emphasised that, if converted, it would be a local occupancy dwelling, not a holiday let.

In her report the planning officer stated: “The barn in question being located immediately adjacent to the Pennine Way and within walking distance of the amenities and facilities of Hawes town centre would make an ideal camping barn. There is therefore an alternative economic use for the barn that would not require the level of intervention proposed by this development.”

Cllr Blackie commented: “I am bewildered about the suggestion [for] a camping barn. A camping barn, in my view, would create for more upheaval in the landscape than a domestic dwelling. It would also attract cars to be parked indiscriminately in the industrial area.”

He pointed out that in May the committee had approved a barn conversion where a 190m track was required to provide access to a road and reminded the members that there were different interpretations of the Authority’s policies to those of the planning officer. “Today I think she has got it wrong,” he said.

Cllr Blackie, Allen Kirkbride, a parish council member of the committee, and Hawes and High Abbotside Parish Council emphasised that the barn was on a farm holding and that the proposed extension would provide an office for Mr Iveson who works from home as a specialist horse racing reporter as well as helping his father with the lairage business.

Committee member Jim Munday said he had read the parish council’s submission with great interest. “It’s full of character, it’s full of Dales’ interest, it’s got a hero and a heroine, and there’s a lot there which one empathises with.”

But he also felt it perpetuated the myth that the Authority refused many applications for barn conversions. “We’ve approved 110 barn conversions in the last three years and refused only nine. We like to say Yes and we usually do,” he added. He agreed with the planning officer that the committee should refuse Ashley and Katie Iveson’s application.

After seven members voted to refuse the application with four wishing to approve it, Cllr Blackie noted that, following the local elections, two Richmondshire District councillors had not yet been appointed to the Authority’s planning committee. He, therefore, asked for the decision to be deferred to July so that the two new members might have a chance to consider the issue.

The legal officer Clare Bevan said, however, that the committee had already decided not to approve the application.

After the meeting Julie Martin, who chaired the meeting, stated: “I feel very sorry for the applicants in this case. We have a flexible policy, which has already seen more than 150 traditional buildings converted to residential and business uses. “It was very clear that this proposal would not meet the criteria set out in the policy – not least because it has no access to a road. Whoever has been advising them has really let them down. I strongly urge people to please come and talk to our planning service at the earliest opportunity, so as to avoid this sort of disappointment and expense.

“Not all barns are suitable for conversion, particularly those away from the roadside in prominent positions. If there’s a doubt about whether or not a conversion is within policy, pre-application planning advice will clear it up before any expectations or hopes are raised and before any money is spent on professional services.”

Mrs Martin (a trustee of the Friends of the Dales) was deputy chair of the planning committee until Caroline Thornton-Berry stood down as a Richmondshire District councillor.

Hellifield – June

“This is where I would like to retire to in a few years’ time,” Michael Stapleton told the committee concerning the proposed conversion of a barn at the farmstead at Little Newton, Hellifield, near Long Preston.

The planning officer explained that the main problem with that at Little Newton was the relatively poor condition of the barn including the partial collapse at the first-floor level on the front wall. The original plans included taking down and rebuilding the front wall.

The planning officer pointed out that this was in conflict with the Authority’s policy that buildings should be capable of conversion with no more than minor structural work.

She added: “Furthermore, much of the historic significance of the building is due to the evidential value of the windows and doors visible on this frontage, which would be lost if the front wall was rebuilt.”

Part of the barn had once been a farmhouse.After an independent assessment it was agreed that the walls could be retained by using special shoring systems.

Hetton – April

The small village of Hetton in the  Yorkshire Dales had  to retain the services of a Queens Counsel at considerable cost in its bid to stop Michelin-star chef, Michael Wignall and his partners, from turning the Wine Cave at the Angel Inn into a fine dining restaurant with the loss of 16 car parking spaces.

Andrew Armstrong, representing Hetton cum Bordley Parish Meeting , told the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s planning committee last month, that the parish meeting had felt obliged to do this because residents believed that a considerable increase in on-street parking would have an unacceptable impact on highway safety and the community.

The planning committee was told that Michael and Johanna Wignall and their partners, James and Jo Wellock, wanted to create a fine dining restaurant at the Wine Cave. But their plans included the removal of 16  car parking spaces in the rear yard, the construction of a rear extension,  and the creation of a landscaped courtyard.

In March the planning committee did approve plans for internal and external alterations at the Angel Inn including extensions at the rear. Hetton cum Bordley Parish Meeting objected because, it said, the increase in guest bedrooms would lead to more cars being parked along the road especially if the parking area behind the  Wine Cave was no longer available.

The parish meeting was so concerned when the planning officer recommended approval for the applications by Wellock Property Ltd that it asked Lichfields Planning Consultancy for advice.  Justin Gartland, the chairman of that consultancy, told the committee in March: “It is not acceptable practice to suggest that the parish meeting should secure its own consultancy.”

The parish meeting’s representative, Andrew Armstrong, said: “Hetton parish meeting has been obliged to go to the length of employing the Queens Counsel who represented [the Authority] at the 1995 planning appeal.” The Authority’s decision at that time to refuse a planning application involving the Angel Inn was upheld at the three-day appeal on the grounds that it would be detrimental to highway safety and the amenity of the local community. Mr Armstrong said that the same issues still applied.

Carl Tonks of the cTc transport consultancy told that meeting that a survey had been carried out in September 2018 using a nationally accepted data base. This had shown, he said, that there would still be significant capacity for car parking within the area even after the proposed alterations at the Angel Inn and the Wine Cave.

The parish meeting, however, argued that the survey had been carried out at a quiet time in the village and when the rear car park at the Wine Cave was operational.

Also at the March meeting Charles Reeday, a farmer whose house is next door to the Wine Cave, told the committee that the alterations to it would greatly affect his garden and home. “We already suffer noise from the Angel across the road but the rear of our house is away from this.” They would not be able to escape the noise if the back of the Wine Cave was developed, he added.

Another resident, Richard Jackson, said the increase in noise and light pollution would have an impact on the neighbours. Mentioning the expense of employing a QC he said: “We are wondering how and why the National Park is still considering to give approval. What more is it  possible for the village and the parish meeting to do?”

As the majority of the committee at the March meeting did not accept the planning officer’s recommendation to approve the application the decision was referred back to that on April 9.  The head of development management, Richard Graham, reminded members that the traffic survey had been carried out in accordance with a nationally  accepted model to industry standards and that evidence would be needed to counteract that.

North Yorkshire county councillor Richard Welch commented: “This is the over development of the site and detrimental to the residents and other road users. It will also have a detrimental impact on the residents’ amenities.”

The committee unanimously agreed with him and refused permission for the application.

Horton in Ribblesdale – November

An application for nine new houses and a barn conversion at Horton in Ribblesdale was approved with the strong recommenation that a pedestrian footpath to the village should be provided.

The chairman of Horton in Ribblesdale Parish councillor Martin Hanson told the committee that the need for a footway along the B6479 could not be ignored. “This is an extremely fast piece of road despite being a 30 limit. The parish council has sourced and provided a permanent speed camera on a location directly opposite this development and it showed a peak speed of 75mph. In Horton there is no highway lighting. All the lighting is footway lighting sorted out by the parish council. If there is no footway we can’t put in footway lighting.”

The committee asked for a footway to be included in the site plans. But it would be up to Highways North Yorkshire to provide a footway which linked it to the village the planning officer said.

She also told the committee that there would be a serious impact upon the access to the development site if the present lean-to on the barn was not removed. North Yorkshire County councillor Robert Heseltine said that  replacing the lean-to at the front of the barn with a new one at the back did not respect the integrity of the building.

The access to the development will be at one end of a terrace of  four stone and slate terrace cottages which will comprise the local affordable  housing on the site. The five open-market self-build houses will be in a loose farmstead layout, the planning officer said, with one being a new-build farmhouse-style dwelling and four others to look like modern agricultural buildings with timber cladding and metal roofing sheets.

Member Neil Swain  said the latter should be relatively easy and cheap to construct allowing people to build their own homes.

Ian McPherson, however, did not  like the distinct separation between the affordable homes and the open-market ones.  The planning officer explained that this was for purely practical reasons as Craven District Council  will hold the freehold for the affordable homes as the Registered Provider.

She reported that shares for those four houses would range from 25 per cent to 75 per cent subject to the income levels of the prospective purchasers and ownership would be capped at 80 per cent. The district council will enter into legal agreements so that those houses will remain affordable for perpetuity.

Like Cllr Hanson, Craven District councillor Richard Foster commented that it was a shame that it had taken so long since the development was planned in 2012 because now the village’s  school and  shop had closed. He and other members hoped the development would encourage young families to move into the area.

North Yorkshire County councillor Richard Welch, however, asked if young couples would want to move to the village as there was no school for their children and an irregular bus service.

A local resident, Julie Rose, also questioned the likelihood that young families would want to live there. “The only people who want to move to the village now either want second or retirement homes,” she said.

She told the committee that the development would not be in keeping with the style of the surrounding residential properties especially as there would be three different designs on the site which, she argued, would not blend together.

The planning officer reported that the developer had amended the scheme so that the affordable houses and parking area would not be as close to existing houses and so have an impact upon the amenity of neighbours.

Before the debate began there were declarations of interest by North Yorkshire County councillor David  Ireton and Cllr Heseltine. The chair, Julie Martin, declared an interest as a trustee of the Friends of the Dales which had responded to the consultation on the development. She said she had taken no part in preparing that and so would vote. Cllr  Welch said he would speak but would not vote as he had attended discussions about the development at county council meetings. There was a need for transparency in the eyes of the public he said.

Ingleton Quarry – December

David Parrish explained that due to a recent appeal court decision the a decision concerning the application by Hanson Quarry Products Europe Ltd to extend its permission to continue working at Ingleton Quarry until until December 2025 instead of ending in May 2020 should be deferred and this was agreed.

The Friends of the Dales had objected to the proposal to extend the operational life of the quarry. It stated: “The 2015 application secured an extension until May 2015 to allow reserves remaining in the quarry to be extracted. We are now told a further five years are needed. The quarry should close to schedule and be restored.”

The chairman of the Authority’s planning committee, Julie Martin, is a trustee of the Friends of the Dales.

Killington – March

When an 18th century barn at Aikrigg partially collapsed during a severe storm the owners were heartbroken, Ian Dawson, the chairman of Killington Parish Meeting told the planning committee.

He explained that the owners had been given permission to convert the barn into a home for themselves and a base for their business. “We would welcome this new couple,” he said.

They had applied for permission to reconstruct the partially collapsed barn to form a dwelling but the planning officer pointed out that this would now amount to a new open market home which did not comply with the South Lakeland Core Strategy.

South Lakeside District Council had given permission in 2014 for the two other barns on either side of that which collapsed to be converted into open market dwellings. They are in a remote location near Killington.

Ian McPherson argued that the impact of the barn on that group of buildings, the beneficial impact on the visual quality of the surrounding landscape, the reason why it collapsed and that South Lakeland District Council has approved similar applications were valid material considerations for approving the application even if it was not in accordance with policy.

Cllr Towneley agreed and added that there would be considerable loss in the archaeological heritage of the hamlet if the barn was not reconstructed.

Twelve out of 15 of the members voted to approve the application. As this was against the officer’s recommendation it was referred back to the April meeting at which the majority of the committee again voted to approve the application.

Keld – October and November

A young farmer, Chris Rukin, explained to the committee the problems he and his family would have with condensation if  the bathroom window in the converted barn they were living in was removed and blocked  up.

The planning officer stated that the modern window, which was installed without permission,  was at odds with the traditional agricultural character of the building. When this was  combined with the proposed extension [on that gable end],  the result would be a complicated and unbalanced appearance detrimental to the significance of the Barns and Walls Conservation Area,” he said.

He told the meeting that officers had worked with the Rukins to create an acceptable proposal for the single-storey extensions and removal of the bathroom window. That proposal was approved in July this year – but then the  Rukins applied to keep the bathroom window.

Mr Rukin explained that the problems with condensation had become severe once he and his wife were living there permanently. As he was working on the farm there was a lot of washing. “The condensation was getting into the walls and starting to smell. When it was used as a holiday cottage there wasn’t the same level of showers and baths. Since the window has been installed we have had no problems. We don’t want to go back to that situation.”

Allen Kirkbride, North Yorkshire County councillor Robert Heseltine and Richmondshire District councillor John Amsden agreed that such a young farming family deserved their support.

And Jocelyn Manners-Armstrong said: “In my opinion this would be seen as unreasonable and disproportionate to refuse permission for this very specific reason when there is a legitimate basis for requiring it [the window].”

The chairman of the committee, Julie Martin disagreed and stated: “As the cultural heritage champion I believe we should take a strong line and refuse it.” She said that she appreciated the damp issues but the officers had been exceptionally helpful and accommodating.  Part of the deal struck earlier in the year, she explained, had included the removal of the unauthorised window. “Its a bit like reneging on the deal to come back to retain the window,” she added.

The deal was for a single-storey extension on the east elevation to provide additional ground floor living accommodation, and a single storey lean-to extension on the south elevation to provide toilet and wash facilities for the campsite on the farm.

Eleven out of 16 of the members voted to grant permission for the extensions and retaining the bathroom window. The reasons they gave were that the window didn’t materially harm the appearance of the building and that it was necessary .

As this was against officer recommendation the decision was referred back to the November meeting.

Langcliffe – May

There were gasps when an enforcement officer showed the committee a photograph of the fully fitted modern kitchen inside “The Old Dairy” beside Cowside Barn at Langcliffe.

She said that when she visited the building in June 2017 she was told it was mainly being used as a kennel facility even though there were some kitchen units, a sink, a cooker, a bed and a sleeping bag alongside the designated area for dogs. She was told that the only time it was occupied was when additional care was needed for the dogs and new litters.

When she went there in November 2018, however, she found that the building had been converted into a three -bedroom dwelling house. Two of the bedrooms are en-suite and there is a bathroom and living area. All the windows and doors had been replaced with uPVC double glazed units. Outside there are hanging baskets, decking, a BBQ, washing line and garden furniture.

The enforcement officer showed photographs of how the interior of the cabin looked in 2017 – and then those taken in November 2018 which so surprised the committee members, especially the black and white kitchen with large extractor fan.

She reported that the owner intended to apply for a Lawful Development Certificate to prove the lawful use of “The Old Dairy” as a dwelling house from March 2013 to December 2018.

She stated: “Despite the owner’s assurances that the outbuilding has been occupied as a self-contained dwelling house since March 2013, no supporting evidence to prove the lawful use of the building has been forthcoming. The fact that there was a bed and basic kitchen facilities within the building does not demonstrate that the building has been occupied as a self-contained unit of accommodation .

“At the time of visiting in 2017, the building did not appear to be in use as habitable living accommodation. It appears that, prior to the works being carried out to convert the building in late 2017, it was used as an ancillary out building and as kennelling facilities in connection with Cowside Barn.”

The enforcement officer added that a smaller building had been constructed without planning permission next to “The Old Dairy”. She said that when she visited in April 2019 there were seven dogs and three litters (24 puppies) in that building.

Richmondshire District councillor Yvonne Peacock commented: “So many people in the Yorkshire Dales never do anything without asking for planning [advice or] permission. To me it is only right that we respect that.”

For that reason, she said, the Authority should take enforcement action when something had been done without planning permission.

The committee agreed that the Authority’s solicitor should serve an Enforcement Notice to secure the cessation of the use of “The Old Dairy” as a dwelling house; the removal of internal fixtures and fittings including the kitchen units and appliances; and the removal of the decking and fence.

The original recommendation was for a three-month compliance period but the committee agreed this should be extended to six months to provide time for those living there to find alternative accommodation.

Langcliffe – August

Langcliffe Parish Council disagreed with the Authority’s planning department about how contemporary design can be introduced to traditional buildings.

It objected to the application to the plans for re-instating a cart entrance with timber and glass at The Barn in Low Fold, Langcliffe, because, it said, “glazing on the front elevation would introduce a negative modern feature to the traditional neighbouring building design, and would impose a visual impact on the historic village.”

The planning officer, however, quoted the Authority’s Design Guide which states: “alterations to dwellings present an excellent opportunity to introduce contemporary designs and materials even on traditional buildings.”

The applicant, Kevin van Green, said he and his wife had carefully studied the Design Guide, employed an architect with decades of experience of traditional stone properties,  and  liaised with the planning officer when working on a high quality design which reflected the setting of the village.  They plan to use it as their family home.

The planning officer noted that the proposed design would mean that previous unsympathetic alterations which had affected the barn’s original agricultural character and appearance would be removed including replacing a flat roof on a single storey extension at the rear with a more traditional catslide roof.

Mr van Green said that the proposed alterations would reduce the amount of glazing by 20 per cent. In addition, it had been agreed, following the parish council’s objection, to reduce the amount of glazing on the cart entrance.

He told the committee: “We believe that the barn presents an opportunity to show how contemporary design can fit comfortably into the surroundings. Our design will greatly improve the functionality of the interior spaces allowing light in. It is in keeping with the area given that  glazed cart entrances are not a new concept to the Yorkshire Dales National Park.”

With just one abstention  the members voted to approve the application. This included the demolition of the existing porch and chimney; installation of metal balustrade to balcony and four new rooflights and a flue to the roof; and the replacement of windows, doors, guttering and downpipes.

Long Preston – December

Permission was granted for the construction of 16 new affordable homes off Green Gate Lane in Long Preston even though the parish council had felt this would be over-intensive use of the site.

The planning officer explained that in 2014 and again June 2017 permission was given for 13 affordable homes to be built where there had been a large industrial building and a yard. The new application was for eight affordable homes for rent, and the others to be affordable through shared ownership with a Registered Provider retaining the freehold so that they can never be sold outright. She said that the total number of bedrooms had only increased by one.

Long Preston Parish Council stated it did not object to the affordable housing development but, besides what it viewed as over-intensive use of the site, was very concerned about the safety of children walking to and from school as the roads and lanes around the school were narrow with no paths or pavement.

Cllr Welch agreed with the parish council that the access into Green Gate Lane from Maypole Green was very narrow. Like other members he emphasised the need for affordable homes and said: “We have lost two schools [in this area] in the past few years. We would rather have extra houses than lose schools.”

The planning officer pointed out that there was a footpath from the development site to close to the school.

Jocelyn Manners-Armstrong pointed out that the plans included no bungalows for elderly people and asked if any lifts would be installed to help people access the second floor flats. “We are supposed to think about housing for life. And sometimes even young people need lifts,” she commented.

Mr Graham said that suggestion would be considered. And the planning officer added that the application included a mix of housing to allow for various needs. The housing varies from three-bedroom houses to  one-bedroom flats.

Mallerstang – August

The telecommunications mast at Hazel Gill Farm, Mallerstang can remain an Iron Grey colour.

When Eden District Council gave approval for the construction of the telecommunications base station in October 2016 one of the conditions was that all of it should be Olive Green in colour. EE UK Ltd, however, had erected a mast which is Iron Grey.

The members shown a photo of this and unanimously agreed that it blended into the landscape as well as an Olive Green one would. The planning officer noted that it would be even better if the white antennas were also painted grey.

Mallerstang Parish Meeting had agreed with the two objectors who were concerned that varying the conditions on the mast at Hazel Gill Farm would have an impact upon that further up the dale at Castlethwaite.

The planning officer stated that the landscape context of the Castlethwaite site was different and added: “Any proposal to vary the condition controlling the colour of that tower would have to be considered on its own merits.”

Maulds Maeburn – August

It was unanimously agreed that a causeway will not have to be constructed to the rear of a new house beside the River Lyvennet at  Maulds Maeburn.

This had been one of the conditions included when Eden District Council approved the plans in July 2016 for the construction of a house in the garden of 1 Stepping Stones. The objective was to provide  a safe escape route if there was serious flooding.

The site is within the Environment Agency’s flood zones two and three and the original application required the provision of a Flood Risk Assessment. It was for that assessment  that the causeway was included – but it would have been over the village green and Crosby Ravensworth Parish Council would not give permission for it.

Mike Archer told the committee that after he applied to have the condition removed there were 15 letters of objection. These included the request that the application for the house should be reconsidered now that Maulds Maeburn was within the Yorkshire Dales National Park; that no new houses should be built in flood areas; and that the proposed house would harm the character of the village and the Conservation Area and create parking and access difficulties.

Mr Archer said that many of the objections had been made as a result of an anonymous email being widely circulated. That email, he said, had shown an image which misrepresented the design of the house. He added that the house would fit in with traditional buildings in the village and would be built in accordance with the requirements of the Flood Risk Assessment.

The planning officer reported that Authority could only agree to lift a condition but not revoke the approval given by Eden District Council.

Maulds Meaburn – October

A large number of the issues raised by Crosby Ravensworth Parish Council about the application to build three terraced houses  on land adjacent to the village institute in Maulds Meaburn had been dealt with before the meeting said the chairman, Mrs Martin.

The planning officer reported that outline permission had been granted by Eden District Council in September 2016.  He said that in accordance with some of the points made by the parish council the present application stated that the window and door frames must  be made of timber and not white UPVC; porous surfacing material should be used on the access road and car parking area so that surface water will be retained on the site and not contribute to any flooding along the road; and the front gardens should be enclosed by a traditional dry stone wall.

The parish council had argued that six parking spaces was inadequate and that could lead to parking congestion by the village institute. The planning officer’s report stated that one more parking space has been added and that the houses should be built to a high quality design that reflected the  local character.

The planning office reported that some of the other issues raised by the parish council had already been dealt with by the District Council when outline planning permission was given.

The planning committee approved the application.

Ravenstonedale – December

Mr Graham assured members that the Flooding Authority would be asked again if sufficient measures would be undertaken to ensure that the construction of a local needs house in the garden of Coldbeck House in Ravenstonedale would not increase the possibility of flooding in that area of the village.

The majority voted in favour of permission being granted once that assurance was given. Both Ian McPherson and Cllr Welch emphasised that the main problem was the possibility of flooding and a resident, Diane Palmer, told the committee that on that issue the Authority had a duty of care.

This had formed part of the objection made by Ravenstonedale Parish Council which was presented by Scott Thornley. It had argued that the construction of the house would have a negative impact upon spacious layout of what was possibly the oldest part of the village and is a Conservation Area. It disagreed that this was an “infill site” and was concerned about the impact not only on neighbours but also the remaining section of the historic mill leat as well as how  removing several  trees would affect the red squirrels.

The planning officer maintained that this would be an infill site in accordance with Eden District Council’s planning policy. He said the applicant had modified an earlier application due to the issues raised by the parish council and residents. The proposed house was now smaller and there would be a flood attenuation tank below ground on the southern side of the site plus a permeable surface for the car parking area.

He said that the high retaining wall around the existing garden would severely limit views into the site and restrict any impact upon neighouring properties.  He added that the mill leat would be retained.

The applicant, Christopher Kelly, told the committee: “We have worked hard with the National Park officers and we believe that this new house in this location would have minimal impact.”

Reeth – October

Two committee members put forward a very common sense solution to how to protect the amenity of neighbours once a new garden has been developed behind the Burgoyne Hotel: create a deep cultivated bed along  the boundary wall.

Some residents of Hill Close had objected to the development of the garden because it would be so easy for hotel guests to look down on them over a wall which is only 1.3m high. The planning officer told the committee that the material consideration was the severity of the impact on the amenity of neighbours. He had, therefore, suggested imposing conditions to mitigate the impact.

One of these was that a screen wall or fence should be erected two metres from the boundary. The hotel owner, Ian Hewitt, explained that this and a condition excluding the public from the chef’s garden were overly onerous. He wanted the chef’s garden to be part of the hotel experience for their guests.

Lancashire County councillor Cosima Towneley was the first to suggest a flower bed and then Jim Munday said: “The simple thing is to have a cultivated bed along the wall of an appropriate depth to prevent anybody from looking over the wall.”

The committee agreed and also felt that there wasn’t a good reason to exclude the public from the chef’s vegetable garden. They were told by the planning officer that the vegetable plots would enable the hotel to grow its own food which would assist in the viability of the business.

Residents were also concerned about the possibility of large events being held in the garden accompanied by loud amplified music. Mr Hewitt told the committee  that the grass area of the new garden would not be suitable for  marquees  and added: “We don’t intend to have events there.”

The conditions, however,  included that there should be no formal functions or events  in the new garden; no tents, marquees or other temporary shelters;  no playing or broadcasting of amplified music or speech; and guests not being allowed to be in it after 10pm.

Once the amendments to the conditions had been agreed the majority of the members voted to approve the application for change of use of the land.

Permission was also granted for the demolition of a single storey detached outbuilding at the rear of the hotel. The planning officer explained This narrow brick building with rusty corrugated metal roof was built as a shower block during World War II when the hotel had been requisitioned by the Ministry of Defence. The space created by its demolition would be used for guest car parking Mr Hewitt said. As it is one of the few structures built for military purposes in the National Park during that war there must be a full archaeological recording of it before it is demolished.

Sedbergn, Gypsy and Travellers’ site – May

The 21-day site for Gypsies and Travellers at Scrogg Bank Field, Cautley Road, Sedbergh, has been a complete “godsend”  Sedbergh Parish councillor Ian McPherson told the committee.

Cllr McPherson, who has been a member of the Travelling and Settled Community Respect Group for ten years,  proposed that only a five-year temporary permission should be granted for the site and this was unanimously approved. The application was for permanent permission which Sedbergh Parish Council objected to because, it said, this would enshrine the use of the site by Gypsies and Travellers for the long-term.

The provision of the site covers the period when Gypsies and Travellers are going to and returning from the Appleby Fair. Cllr McPherson told the committee: “This field over the last five years has been a complete godsend.

“It means that instead of Travellers being here, there and everywhere and putting their horses to graze on the school playing fields and using ditches [as latrines] has largely ceased. Without this field it is felt that matters would return to the bad old days.”

The committee was told that when in use the site for no more than 100 caravans at one time will be supervised at least twice a day by South Lakeland District Council (SLDC)  officers and the Police. An enclosed skip and bin bags will be provided and the SLDC will clear away litter and waste afterwards. Portable toilets will be provided.

John Bucknall, a trustee of Pendragon Estates which owns the two farms adjoining the site, told the committee: “The Gypsies have their own codes of cleanliness. Some, in preference to using the sanitary facilities provided on site, use the hedgerows, adjacent fields and our farm entrance as latrines.”

He recounted how last year one of the tenant farmers found  teenagers had driven a ewe into a gill and appeared to be attempting to steal two lambs. Some horses had also been put to graze on a farmer’s field. “Grass is gold. These are our best meadows,” Mr Bucknall said.

“We live in a state of virtual siege in the house and on the farm while the Gypsies are encamped. We cannot leave house or farm unmanned at any time and we feel at constant risk of intimidation and trespass. Our tenants are in constant fear of stock being injured or stolen,” he added.

He understood the need to provide such a site and appreciated the achievements of the public meetings. He said he had been able to discuss their difficulties with Billy Welch, the Gypsy leader [Shera Rom] at one of those meetings.

“As the conditions of the fair constantly change, I support the five-year temporary permission,” he said.

Richmondshire District councillor Yvonne Peacock commented that Sedbergh was fortunate to have such a site. She explained that Bainbridge village green was now a managed site for the Gypsies and Travellers over the period of the Appleby Fair when there was no charge to use the public toilets. Residents did often feel intimidated she said and found it difficult when generators were being run until midnight.

Eden District councillor Ian Mitchell did not take part in the discussion and did not vote as he is a member of the Appleby Fair Multi-Agency Coordinating Group. This year Appleby Fair begins on Thursday June 6 and ends on Wednesday June 12.

Sedbergh – May

Unanimous approval was given for the conversion of a barn in Joss Lane, Sedbergh,  into two dwellings for either holiday  lets or local occupancy even though a degree of rebuilding may be necessary.

A planning officer told the committee that some of the single storey walls and the upper part of a gable wall were unstable. “The majority of the walling and the most important features of the barn would be retained. The degree of rebuilding is therefore justified on heritage grounds,” he said.

But David Parratt, on behalf of his mother-in-law who lives in The Old House adjacent to the barn, stated: “We consider that the building appears unsafe and would require rebuilding.” He added that major intervention would probably be required.

Sedbergh Parish Council had initially objected to the application because, it stated, the barns exhibited apparent defects, including leaning walls, displaced masonry, open joints and cracked lintels.  After seeing amended plans it no longer had any objections.

Mr Parratt was also concerned about the impact upon the amenity of those living in The Old House especially if the new dwellings became holiday lets, and that a package sewage plant had not been included in the plans. The committee agreed that the latter should be included.

The agent for the applicant, Ian Swain, said that The Old House would not be overlooked by the new dwellings as the barn was at an angle to it.

Ian McPherson, who is a Sedbergh parish councillor, commented that he regularly walked past The Old House and the barn. “The barn has been crying out for renovation for a long time. In my view it would make an excellent holiday let or local occupancy dwelling.”

Sedbergh – June

Approval was given for the 18th century bank barn in  Howgill Lane at Sedbergh to be converted into a local occupancy two bedroom dwelling.

The planning officer told the committee: “The building in question is a characteristic Dale’s barn that is prominent in public views when travelling along Howgill Lane. However, the proposed conversion scheme has been sensitive to the character of the building and amounts to minimal external change to both the structure and its surroundings.”

Sedbergh Parish Council had stated that it considered the development would improve what was currently an eyesore on the outskirts of the residential centre of the town and at the same time retain a heritage asset in a sympathetic manner. It would provide valuable accommodation for a local family subject to the appropriate 106 restrictions.”

Sedbergh – August and September

The only time  members disagreed with an officer’s recommendation at the meeting concerned  the application for change of use of the two upper floors the premises at 6 Finkle Street, Sedbergh, to a two bedroom flat with a new external door to provide access to the ground floor of the flat, plus change of use of the remaining ground floor and the basement from retail and storage to A1 retail.

The majority of the members decided that turning the upper floors back to residential use did not constitute “new build” and so the owner should not have to sign a local occupancy legal agreement as requested by the planning officer.

Cllr Kirkbride said that, in this instance, the Authority’s Local Plan was wrong and several agreed with him that the economic well-being of Sedbergh had to be considered.

The planning officer, Mr Graham and the Authority’s legal officer, however, all argued that changing the use of part of the first floor from commercial to residential meant that the two-storey flat did now require a local occupancy restriction in accordance with Local Plan policy.

Planning permission was granted in September 2016 for part of the first floor to be used as a café and the rear courtyard to be an al fresco dining area.

Jacky Baines told the committee that she had created a café in part of the first floor with the hope that it would attract more business to her ground floor shop. But the business had still became unviable and the ground floor is now rented to someone running a flower and gift shop.

She said that as she had bought the building in 2014 as an open market property (shop and flat) she would now make a considerable loss if she signed a local occupancy S106 legal agreement for the flat.

The planning officer reported that the proposed re-instatement of a separate ground-floor entrance to the flat was acceptable but he had recommended refusal of the application because Ms Baines had declined to sign a local occupancy legal agreement.

Simon Arnold, chairman of Sedbergh Parish Council’s planning committee, told the committee: “[The flat’s] use as a café was a tiny snapshot in the building’s life. It involved no structural change and only occupied part of the first floor and added: “When we heard that an S106 was being insisted upon we felt this was being unnecessarily incorrectly applied. “

It would, he said, deter new business activity in the town and so increase the risk of ground floor commercial properties being left empty. “We as a parish are keen to preserve Finkle Street. It sits in the traditional centre of our town. Anything that provokes empty properties [works] against the viability of the other businesses and creates a damaging first impression for people visiting the town. We feel that Sedbergh needs a mixture of housing. Small properties like this provide a valuable foothold on the open market.”

Sedbergh Parish councillor Ian McPherson, who is a parish council member of the Authority, said he had asked for the late submission from Mrs Baines’s agent to be circulated. He told the committee he had not participated in any discussion about the application beforehand.

The agent, Barbara Hartley of Garsdale Design Ltd, stated that when they were first advised by telephone by the planning officer that a local occupancy legal agreement was required for the flat they had asked that the parish council should be informed. This request was refused and so Garsdale Design had done so.

She quoted the Local Plan policy which stated: “that new housing within settlement boundaries on sites of up to five dwellings will be restricted to local occupancy.” She said: “The flat at 6 Finkle Street is not new. The top two floors have been used as residential for the major part of the building’s life. We do not think that the intent of [the] policy was ever to re-designate the occupancy of existing dwellings when, for a relatively short period in their lives, they have been used for an expansion of a ground floor business.

She continued: “A negative planning decision on this application will have major implications for Sedbergh. It will set an undesirable precedent for the business community. There will be a reluctance to expand any business knowing that if that expansion fails and they wish to reinstate the residential use this will have huge financial repercussions for them. It has much wider implications for Sedbergh and its effort at attracting new business to the town.

“One of the main remits of the Authority is to support sustainable communities. We agree that housing type and occupancy is one of the remits. But in the service towns such as Sedbergh the economy and the viability of business has equal importance.”

This point was picked up by several members of the committee and led to Lancashire County councillor Cosima Towneley‘s proposal to approve the application without a legal agreement as there were, she said, material considerations. These were that the flat had been designated as residential not long ago and that a legal agreement would restrict local economic growth and create commercial disbenefits.

Neither the legal officer, Claire Bevan, nor Mr Graham were convinced. And the chairman, Julie Martin, commented: “We need to be clear on the reasons.”

Cllr McPherson stated: “I am normally a sticker for absolutely sticking to policy, but I am not certain that this is new housing as required by [policy]. There was certainly a new use but there has been a very rapid… request to revert back to the original use. I am not really convinced, and I don’t think others are convinced either, that this is the kind of new housing that was envisaged when this policy was made.”

He added that to apply the policy would create a situation that would seem quite ridiculous to third parties. It could be interpreted, he said, as being against local people who find themselves in a situation where they could suffer financial loss.

Cllr Kirkbride said: “We should be there helping communities. I am a great believer in local housing but the policy we have is totally wrong. We need to do something when the time comes [to preparing the new Local Plan] to alter this.”

North Yorks County councillor David Ireton also queried the policy as he, like several other members, felt this was clearly an example of a shop with accommodation above it.

Jim Munday, however, argued that anyone who bought the property and ran the shop on the ground floor would qualify for local occupancy. And Mr Graham commented that the policy was part of the Local Plan which was only adopted in 2016. “It is not the purpose of this committee to make up policy on the hoof. We are taking the first steps to create a new Local Plan but this is the policy at the moment.”

He added that the policy was part of the Local Plan which was only adopted in 2016. “It is not the purpose of this committee to make up policy on the hoof. We are taking the first steps to create a new Local Plan but this is the policy at the moment.”

To this Cllr Towneley said: “Officers recommend but it is this committee to decide and we can do that in any way shape or form that we wish.”

Ms Bevan countered this with: “But [members] still have to decide in accordance with what the law says, which is in accordance with the Local Plan unless they identify material considerations.”

Eight members voted to approve the application without a legal agreement. The four who voted against this included the chairman.

Mr Graham said that as this was against officer recommendation the decision would be referred back to the September meeting.

September –

The majority of the committee again voted in favour of allowing the two upper floors of 6 Finkle Street in Sedbergh to become a residential flat again without the imposition of a legal agreement that it must be for local occupancy. (Such agreements can include holiday lets.)

The head of development management, Richard Graham, reminded members that at the August meeting a planning officer had recommended refusing the application because the owner had refused to sign a legal agreement.

The majority of the members, however, agreed that turning the upper floors back to residential use did not constitute “new build” and so did not require any legal agreement. They were also concerned that the imposition of such a legal agreement would have a negative impact upon businesses in the centre of Sedbergh.

As that was contrary to the officer’s recommendation the issue was referred back to the September meeting.  Mr Graham said that the housing policy was aimed at delivering more affordable housing for local people. He did not accept the possible “material considerations” put forward last month but rather suggested others which could be used to support a decision that was not in accordance with policy.

He said: “Changing the use of the upper floors to residential in the circumstances in this case would not have a material effect upon the delivery of affordable housing for local people. The proposal would create a two-bedroom flat which, in this location, would be a relatively affordable form of accommodation and is less likely to become a second home or a holiday let than a house would be. But, of course, that cannot be guaranteed.

“There is a wider consideration here that [such a legal restriction] would hamper flexibility of businesses to use their premises and that may frustrate some of the economic objectives of the Local Plan.”

Jim Munday argued that imposing a legal restriction was in accordance with the Authority’s Local Plan especially as it wanted to attract more young people to the National Park.

But seven of the 13 members disagreed and confirmed the decision to approve the change of use of the two storeys without a local occupancy legal restriction.

Sedbergh – August

The conversion of a potting shed into holiday letting accommodation was described by the chairman, Mrs Martin, as a novel application.

Cllr McPherson pointed out that this would be invisible to the public but set within the beautiful gardens at Greenbank. He described the latter as an interesting house with extensive gardens which were open to the public several times a year.

The application for one-bedroom accommodation and including a small extension was unanimously approved by the committee.

Settle – June

The committee quickly approved the application by Andrew Morrell to convert a Grade II listed barn at Cleatop Park, Settle, partly to be used as a holiday let, and partly to create a private garage and artist’s studio.

Mr Morrell had originally wanted to add a glazed artist’s studio on the east elevation but this did not conform with the Authority’s policy which is based upon conserving traditional barns.

Smardale – April

Violent and anti-social incidents at a care home for vulnerable children in Smardale have created so much fear in that small community that the residents appealed  to the planning committee not to allow even more youngsters to reside there.  But their request has been refused.

Gloria Venning told the committee in March that the trained staff at Cloverdale, run by A Wilderness Way Holdings Ltd,  weren’t even able to control two children. She reported that the Police had been called when a staff member locked herself and another child in a safe room while a distressed teenager was left wandering around the area with a knife. She said there had been six incidents at Cloverdale so far including arson and anti-social and sexual behaviour.

“In less than two years this property has been transformed from a family home … to an offenders’ institution,” she said.

The planning committee accepted the request of Eden District councillor William Patterson to hold a site meeting mainly to see how difficult it was to reach Smardale. Cllr Patterson and residents pointed out that the nearest Police station was 30 miles away and the only route into Smardale was via a single-track road.

At the meeting on April 9  however, the planning committee by eight votes to six, gave approval for change of use from a dwelling house to a residential institution capable of housing six children.

At that meeting Cllr Patterson refuted a statement by a committee member that the residents of Smardale were prejudiced.

“If the people of Smardale were prejudiced they would have fought for it not to be there in the first place,” he said.

Rosemarie Lees on behalf of Waitby and Smardale Parish Meeting told the April meeting: “We agreed not to oppose the original application for four vulnerable children to be there – indeed we sought to welcome them.” She said the planning officer  had trivialised the residents’ major concern – the fear of crime.  “The fear is real – the incidents are serious,” she said and added.

“We have totally lost confidence in the management of Wilderness Way. The company does not communicate with residents.”

She and others pointed out that the nature reserve at Smardale was being publicised as a major tourist attraction by the YDNPA. But visitors would have to walk past Cloverdale to reach it.

Richmondshire District councillor Yvonne Peacock was especially concerned that the application was for the change of use of Cloverdale from a dwelling to a residential institution.  She warned that members needed to be very careful as they didn’t know what sort of applications might be made in the future.

The agent for A  Wilderness Way Holdings Ltd told the committee that the objective was to make Cloverdale similar to a family home for the vulnerable children residing there.  She said that Ofsted, which inspects and regulates the services at Cloverdale, had asked that it should have the capacity to take up to six children in an emergency.

A Certificate of Lawfulness was issued in December 2017 confirming it could be used to provide care and accommodation for no more than four children under the age of 18 with the support of two carers on a 24-hours shift rota basis. To be able to accommodate six children with six adult carers Cloverdale needed to become a residential institution.

The agent added that the aim was to have a care home where the children could enjoy the wonders of the National Park.

The planning officer stated: “The proposed use would deliver a significant social benefit for the wider community in that it would provide care and respite for children/young people to recover from experiences that have rendered them vulnerable. Cloverdale is considered to be an appropriate location for such a use given its rural setting being ideal for therapeutic care and being remote from the home areas of children/young people where there may be significant risks to the success of their care.

“Concerns based on the fear of crime are not compelling given the lack of a reasonable, cogent evidential basis linking the use with criminal activity and given that the Police are satisfied with the applicant’s Statement of Purpose and admissions process.”

The chairman of the Authority, Craven District councillor Carl Lis, said that the Police and Ofsted were the experts – and Ofsted had asked for the residential capacity to be increased.

Committee member, Jocelyn Manners-Armstrong, stated: “This is an excellent location making a positive contribution to these children’s lives.”

And another member, Jim Munday, added: “This is about providing a safe home for vulnerable children. What is missing … is serious dialogue between the applicant and the local population. It’s important that the applicant and local population sit down and talk this through.”

Stainforth – March

Residents asked the committee to refuse an application for a hot tub in the garden of a holiday cottage beside Stainforth’s 18th century Grade II listed bridge because the noise made by those using it detracted from the enjoyment of the natural environment and tranquillity of the area.

Cllr Richard Welch supported them and stated: “This should be refused as it is beside a historic bridge and a footpath and so did affect the quality of life and the tranquillity of the village.”

But the majority of the other members accepted the planning officer’s argument that there would not be a detrimental impact on the visual amenity of the area, nor would the heritage significance of the bridge be affected. One of the conditions, however, is that it should only be in use between 9am and 9.30pm.

The application by the owner of Bridge End holiday cottage for the replacement of two existing sheds and the siting of an electric hot tub was, therefore, approved.

Frank Underwood, on behalf of Stainforth Parish Meeting, explained that the electric hot tub would replace one which was heated by a  wood burner.  On occasions those using that hot tub had created a lot of noise he said. He added that the National Park was also responsible for the social and well being of residents.

“How a hot tub is fostering the social and well being of the local community escapes me,” he commented.

A resident, Viv Mills, told the committee that 19 residents – almost one fifth of the community – had sent in letters of objection and added: “It is clear from the number of objections that it doesn’t fit in with the historic nature of the area.”

She said that Bridge End was unique in the village because it was the only holiday cottage causing problems and the daily time limit on the hot tub would not solve these as it could be in use all day.

The owner, Lianne Butler, said a higher fence would be installed to screen the garden. The hot tub was, she added, near the pub’s beer garden, brought in business for the pub, and attracted families to stay at Bridge End.

Starbotton – April

Despite a warning by a parish council that the conversion of a barn at Starbotton would lead to further inappropriate development in a conservation area created to protect a medieval “toft” system the planning committee approved the planning application by artist Victoria Russell.

Kettlewell with Starbotton Parish councillor Ian Macefield  told the committee  that Tom Lear Barn was an integral part of Starbotton’s medieval toft (croft) system.

“The toft system is the key charm, character and essence of the village,” he said.

The planning officer agreed that the barn had a very high heritage significance as there was evidence of it originally being of cruck construction and so likely to date from the late 16th century.

She said there  had been extensive negotiations over the design to produce a sensitive scheme which would also enable the owner  to use it as an artist studio as well as a two-bedroom local occupancy dwelling.

The parish council had objected to the original plans because they included a glazed gable which, it said, was out of character with the barn and other buildings in the conservation area.

This was not included in amended plans. Instead there will be patent glazing providing light to the first floor. The planning officer stated: “Although patent glazing can be a significant feature on a roof, on this building it will appear as a single strip of glazing running the length of the rear roof and will avoid the requirement for several roof-lights or new windows which would alter the simple character of the barn and impact on historic fabric.”

A committee member, Julie Martin, pointed out that the Authority’s senior listed building officer had commented extensively on the application but that had not been included in the planning officer’s report. She noted that this had happened with several reports to the committee that day.

The parish council had also objected to the proposed access. The planning officer explained that access via Back Lane or Long Lane had been considered but it was concluded these  green lanes of medieval origin were too narrow and unsuitable for modern vehicles. It was also unlikely, she said, that Ms Russell would obtain legal right of access down those lanes.

Instead the application included using a track across the toft but stopping a short distance from Tom Lear Barn. The medieval wall line is to be reintroduced in order to separate the majority of the field from the proposed parking and garden, she said.

“It is considered that the important landscape setting of the barn and the Conservation Area will therefore be retained, with some enhancement in the form of the reinstated medieval wall line compensating for the introduction of the track within the field,” she added.

The parish council, however, had stated: “The proposed track will have a serious visual impact, being visible from the footpaths above the village. In addition, the track and the soakaway  on a medieval toft will require earthworks on a potentially important archaeological site.”

Cllr Macefield said that Back Lane was at least 8ft wide and was already being used for access to Tom Lear Barn and the Quaker burial ground. He added that a vehicle with good ground clearance could be driven over the hump back bridge along that lane.

The parish council was also concerned about the installation of a cattle grid as this, it maintained,  would be an alien feature in a medieval village setting.  It added that a cattle grid was not especially good at controlling stock and would present a danger to children and small animals.

Swarth Moor – July

The farmers who have grazing rights on Swarth Moor near Helwith Bridge in Ribblesdale were not  consulted before Natural England applied to the Authority for permission for a restoration project which which will include the creation of water-filled ditches.

The planning committee heard that Natural England’s project would involve the  construction of peat bunds for rewetting raised mire and the excavation of three mitigation ponds for great crested newts, as well as a viewing platform and a boardwalk.

Stainforth and Horton-in-Ribblesdale  Parish Councils had objected to the application because: the grazier’s hadn’t been consulted; the ponds could be extremely hazardous to the livestock being grazed on the common land and  the impact of an increase in the number of visitors on the wildlife on the moor especially the roe deer. These concerns were also raised by Austwick Parish Council.

Colin Newland of Natural England told the planning meeting that since submitting the application the agency had met with Swarth Moor commons rights holders. He said he had been told that they were concerned about the long term management of the moor and the impact on graziers’ livelihoods.  “One of the outcomes of that is that we will take forward a Countryside Stewardship Scheme for the common,” he said.

Committee member Allen Kirkbride, who is chairman of Askrigg Parish Council, commented: “It seems that the farming community who graze this area have been just an after thought for Natural England who should know better.”

He agreed with North Yorkshire County councillor Robert Heseltine that a few decades ago landowners were given tens of thousands of pounds to grip and drain the peat moors. “Now they are being given tens and thousands to fill it in,” he said.

Another parish council appointee, Chris Clark, spoke from his own personal experience: “We’ve blocked 125 hectares and the results of that have been an increase in biodiversity, improved irrigation, and carbon sequestration. On top of that we have had absolutely no problems with the stock getting stuck or drowned.”

The committee was informed that, as common land was involved, Natural England would have to obtain the consent for its plans from the Secretary of State. It was, therefore, expected that the graziers would make representations to the Secretary of State.

A planning officer told the meeting that the project was aimed at halting and reversing the long-term decline of a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)  by enhancing the lowland raised bog. “This is a national priority habitat which is very rare in the National Park and uncommon elsewhere,”  he said. The project also aimed at protecting the home of a population of great crested newts. He added that roe deer were not legally protected. He maintained that the project would have a positive impact on the condition of the SSSI.

The majority of the committee voted to approve the application.

Thornton Rust – February

A Wensleydale farmer was refused permission to construct a new agricultural building even though the committee was told by a parish council chairman that there was no chance of finding a site nearby that didn’t flood.

The planning officer stated that as the farmer,Nigel Thornborrow, did not want to reduce the size of the proposed building at Throstle Nest Farm on the A684 near Worton, he should locate it further away from the road.

Cllr John Dinsdale, chairman of Aysgarth and District Parish Council, Mr Thornborrow,  Cllr Peacock, and Cllr  Blackie, all tried to explain to the committee that the farmhouse and buildings were on a hill surrounded by fields that flood regularly, as does the road. Mr Thornborrow had applied to demolish two old farm buildings and replace them with one large one. This, Mr Thornborrow said, would house his farm machinery and also his livestock when a barn nearby flooded.

When shown a diagram of  how much larger the building would be compared with those to be demolished many members agreed that it would be too close to the road and have a harmful impact upon the landscape.

North Yorkshire County councillor Richard Welsh commented: “I think it would stick out like a sore thumb”.

The parish council,  however, had told the committee: “The current agricultural buildings [are] in an unattractive derelict and potentially dangerous state and need replacing urgently. The proposed replacement building is in line with the existing building and should cause no concern.

“The Council consider the proposed development to be a planning gain as it will improve the landscape visually and will assist with the development of a local family business.”

Threshfield – August

An application to sub-divide Sunnybank at Threshfield into two dwellings was unanimously approved.

Threshfield Parish Council had informed the committee that it did not support the application because, when approval was given for the single-storey extension in 2009, it was meant to be maintained as a single dwelling with single ownership. It was also concerned about the access from the B6265.

The application was for creating a home for the disabled applicant in that extension. He has agreed to sign a  local occupancy legal agreement.

The planning officer stated: “The proposed development will increase the housing stock in Threshfield and provides a single store residential unit which is ideal of a disabled resident.”

When Craven District councillor Richard Foster proposed approval he pointed out that there were very few bungalows in the National Park.

Threshfield – October

Permission was granted for a shed to be replaced in a garden at Park Grange Cottage.

Threshfield Parish Council had objected to the application because, it said, the new shed would be bigger than the existing one and so too big for the area. It would also be higher than the existing shed.

The planning officer told the meeting that the footprint of the new shed was smaller than the existing one and the ridge height would be 20cm higher. He stated that the new one would fit in the same space which was bounded by three walls. “The proposed development will result in an improvement to the appearance of the site,” he said.

New ‘village’ in Bishopdale

Above: Aysgarth Lodges Holidays site is in the foreground.

Aysgarth Lodges Holidays site between Aysgarth and West Burton looks more like a village than a campsite, Cllr Rowland Dent told Burton cum Walden Parish Council on Tuesday February 4. The parish council was also concerned about the impact upon the Yorkshire Dales National Park’s Dark Skies initiative. It’s Dark Skies Festival to celebrate the stunning dark skies of the National Park, so free from light pollution, begins on February 14.

The administrative officer of the Association of Rural Communities, Pip Pointon, told Burton cum Walden Parish Council that the Association had asked the YDNPA’s head of development management, Richard Graham, last week about the situation at the site particularly regarding light pollution.

The Association, she said,  had stated that there was a large amount of glazing to be seen on the other side of Bishopdale and a lot of light was also visible from the A684 when approaching Aysgarth.

She told the parish council that Mr Graham had replied that an officer would check on the situation.

Cllr Dent commented on Tuesday: “It has come to my attention quite recently, since the trees were gone, that on a night it looks more like a village than a campsite. I just wondered how much of it had planning permission and if it was permitted development.”

The councillors noted that all the lodges on the site were changed last year. The chairman, Cllr Jane Ritchie, added that the parish council had not been informed of any planning applications concerning the site since 2007. She said that the parish council had seen nothing to object to when it saw the original plans. Approval for the subsequent changes to the plans had then been made by a planning officer under delegated powers without consulting the parish council again.

The clerk was asked to write to Mr Graham asking that the parish council receive copies of any further replies to the Association of Rural Communities.

Cllr Ritchie said: “The other thing we need to mention is that the National Park is particularly trying to support the Dark Skies  and if they are serious about that, and there are people in this village who are keen on that, then that should be part of their inspection [of the lodge site].”

For a bit more about the history of this site click here.


Adam Hurn–an obituary


Above: Adam Hurn (right) with Adam Henson

Over 300 people attended the gathering at Askrigg on November 26 to celebrate the life of Adam Hurn where he was remembered for being a wonderful, caring vet with a tremendous appetite for adventure.

The celebration was held at Bainbridge Vets and one participant commented afterwards: “Adam’s enthusiasm for life and living came across so powerfully. Peoples’ warmth and affection for him, their respect and admiration shone through.”

Local farmer, William Lambert and his family commented: “Adam was a wonderful vet and friend to the whole farming community and we will miss him dreadfully.”

Nobby Dimon scripted the story of Adam’s early life for the celebration and this was enacted by Dan and Amy Cockett.

Adam was born in London in November 1951. His family moved to Manchester when his father, a TV film director, was involved in the early days of Coronation Street, and Adam was s sent to a preparatory school on the South coast. It was there, during his lonely walks, that he became interested in animals. He then attended Westminster School and should have gone on to Cambridge University but was unable to do so due to illness. So instead he hitched lifts to Greece and after a year there gained a place at Liverpool University to study veterinary science.

It was in the university’s sports centre that he met Vanda and they were married in September 1975. Following graduation he first worked with a practice in Liverpool which led to him not only being the vet to Police dogs but also to Knowsley Safari Park. At the latter his jobs included castrating a cross-eyed tiger and lancing very large boils on elephants.

From Liverpool he moved to a mixed practice in Saffron Walden and then a friend from his Westminster School days challenged him to volunteer to work with UNAIS (International Service with the UN).

He and Vanda at first declined because they had two young children. But then, in October 1981, they became possibly the first family to volunteer, he as a vet and Vanda as a teacher. They travelled to a very remote part of Bolivia with their five-year-old and one-year-old daughters, Alice and Daisy, to work with the Guarani Indians. Their new home had no running water nor electricity.

One of Adam’s key projects was to show how, with good management, pigs could be bred to make maximum use of soya and maize and so provide an income and food for families. He also developed a simple water filtration scheme to improve the quality and health of villagers. While in Bolivia they adopted their son Marcos.

When they returned to England four years later Adam was looking for another challenge. He had worked as a student in Bainbridge and was happy to accept David Metcalfe’s invitation to join the practice in Wensleydale.

He served the community as a vet for nearly 30 years and one of his client’s commented: “He was a most rare human-being: wise, thoughtful, considerate, compassionate…the list goes on, including the-best-vet-ever!”

Vanda recounted that the most challenging and heart breaking time for them was during the foot and mouth outbreak in 2001. With David in quarantine she said Adam worked frenetically to try and save the animals of all the farms. “He was constantly phoning the Ministry in Leeds to challenge decisions,” she added.

Following that he was interviewed by Adam Henson for the BBC’s Countryfile programme about the broad range of vet work in the Dales.

Retirement gave Adam and Vanda the opportunity to travel overland through South America from Mexico to Buenos Aires, during which they spent over a month back among the Guarani Indians – who now had running water, electricity and even broadband.

At the funeral at Skipton Crematorium Vanda said: “Life’s an adventure. It certainly was with Adam and I’ve loved every minute of the adventure – from our early days in Liverpool… to Bolivia, India, Spain and our wonderful Wensleydale.”

At the celebration at Askrigg Adam’s huge sense of adventure was also remembered. His love of windsurfing was described by David West-Watson. “We have travelled to some very windy locations for some ‘intense water therapy’. Adam suffered the same bug as me – he loved it when it was extreme – the slight fear and enormous exhilaration,” he said.

Adam went on windsurfing courses in Brazil, Spain and Ireland, as well as at Tiree with Peter Hart, described by David West-Watson as a teaching guru for windsurfers. Hart sent the following email:“Adam was the inspiration for the saying ‘age is just a number’. After four days of gales when others were flagging, Adam would be out there bouncing around like Tigger from Winnie the Pooh … “

Adam’s insatiable spirit of adventure was also well known in Wensleydale. Will Daykin described the adventures the Wensleydale Mountain Biking group had had thanks to Adam finding “short cuts” by looking at Google maps. “We have an annual Christmas ride down from Tan Hill. Adam’s ‘extra bit we could do’ actually involved a section of rock climbing,’” Will said.

The others who participated in the celebration included: Adam’s daughter, Alice Hurn; Helen Appleton ; Andrew Fagg; Peter Nettleton; Richard Fawcett; and Dan and Amy Cockett.

Vanda especially thanked the staff at the neurosurgery unit at the James Cook University Hospital and neurosurgeon Mr Varma. She spoke of how Adam established a mutually respectful relationship with Mr Varma, the neurosurgeon, and they discussed all the details of his treatment including when to stop it.

He died at home in Bainbridge on October 10. “Adam felt he had the best possible treatment,” Vanda said.

Donations are being shared between two Askrigg charities: Low Mill Outdoor Centre of which Adam had been the chair, and Yorebridge Sports and Leisure Centre of which Vanda is the chair. Donations can still be made via or Yorebridge Centre, Askrigg, DL8 3BJ tel. 01969 650060.

Pen-y-ghent cafe


It was sad to hear  that Pen-y-ghent cafe in Horton in Ribblesdale has been closed this year (see  John Lester’s comment).  Peter and Joyce Bayes not only ran the cafe for many years before  handing over to their children but also founded the Three Peaks of Yorkshire Club.  I first posted the following article in 2009:

Left: Peter Bayes (centre) watches as Iain Main enjoys one of the cafe’s trademark pint mugs of tea, while a walker clocks in after completing the Three Peaks challenge. About his walk along the Three Peaks route  in the  summer of 2009  Iain commented: “I have been coming for many years. I come to be quiet, for solitude and to commune with nature. But at stiles and gates it was like queuing to get into the Marks and Spencers January sales. Sometimes there were 50 people waiting to get through. I don’t begrudge the charities but over a thousand people in a space of 12 to 14 hours is going to take a toll on the undeveloped parts of the path. It’s a great service to the charities but there needs to be a debate with the National Park  Authority about the wear and tear on the landscape and the amount of litter.”

On Saturdays throughout the summer Horton in Ribblesdale is overflowing with walkers taking part in the Three Peaks challenge to raise funds for charities. It has been Heart Research UK’s biggest annual fund raising event for 15 years and, like many other charities, it provides its own support and safety systems.

But for many undertaking the Three Peaks challenge there is still nothing like clocking out and in at the world-famous Pen-y-ghent cafe and enjoying its trademark pint mugs of tea and home-made cakes. Since 1965, when Peter and Joyce Bayes moved to the village, they and their children have turned the cafe into an institution among the walking fraternity. And many are proud to wear the shirts or badges that go with completing the trek over Ingleborough, Whernside and Pen-y-ghent within 12 hours. This entitled them to join the Three Peaks of Yorkshire club instituted and run by the Bayes.

The ping of them clocking back in is a constant background noise throughout summer afternoons except when the cafe is closed on Tuesdays. The family bought an old clocking-in clock from a Lancashire mill many years ago to keep up with the number of walkers who wanted to use their free safety service. For after a long day the Bayes don’t close at 5.30pm and put their feet up. Instead they remain on duty waiting for the last tired walkers to sign back in.

The Bayes family are concerned about the impact of big charity events upon residents, landowners, other walkers and local businesses. In a letter to the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority in 2008 the Bayes stated: “Our business adheres to a guiding set of principles and ethics which are informed by a sense of responsibility for the impact that our customers have on both the immediate locality and the wider landscape.” They have helped large groups to find alternative routes by collaborating with the department of physical education at Leeds University.

Footnote: Joyce died in 2012 and Peter died on January 28 2022.

YDNPA and farming in the Dales

Farmers could be facing a huge adverse economic shock, members of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority were told on Tuesday September 24.

The risk is so great that they agreed unanimously that the Authority’s working group on the Future of Farming and Land Management in the Yorkshire Dales National Park should continue.

Ian McPherson, the Authority’s member champion for the Natural Environment who has chaired the working group since its inception in June 2017, told the meeting: “We began to realise that the future of farming was probably the single most important issue facing the Authority at this time.”

He pointed out that the Authority’s head of conservation and community, Gary Smith, had warned that farmers were  entering an even deeper state of turmoil during this period of political uncertainty. “The situation is changing from day to day,” commented Mr McPherson. He said the working group, which includes farmers, should have the widest possible remit so that it could keep abreast of changing circumstances

Mr Smith had asked how the Authority wanted to influence the design of the new Environmental Land Management scheme. “We really want to build on the fine work that is going on in Wensleydale,” he told members.

Recently retired farmer, Richmondshire District councillor John Amsden, reminded the members that it was the farmers in the National Park who managed the land not the Authority. “Its hard work and a lot of them are tenant farmers. They are working seven days a week, long hours and are often lonely as in a lot of cases the farms are one-man bands.”

He therefore suggested that Dales farmers should be paid £25,000 to £30,000 a year to manage the countryside.

North Yorkshire County councillor Robert Heseltine commented that one in six of all jobs in the Yorkshire Dales were connected with farming.  He added: “That’s a lot of families who rely on farming.”

Dales farmer and the Authority’s member champion for sustainable development, Chris Clark told the meeting: “The adverse economic shock is a huge reality for this Authority.” He warned that the economic viability of farms must be kept in mind when considering policies that have nature and climate change at their heart and added: “There’s no point in having  ‘pay by results’ unless this includes the viability of the farms.”

The members had already  voted unanimously to declare a ‘”Climate Emergency”.

Mr Smith reported that the Authority had reduced its own greenhouse gas emissions by 62 per cent and had directly funded projects in the National Park that were removing around 500,000kg of carbon dioxide emissions each year through planting trees and peat restoration. He said the Authority  has effectively been ‘net zero carbon’ since 2013.

“By next year it is likely that we will be sequestering twice the amount of greenhouse gas emissions than we will be emitting,” he said.

Julie Martin commented: “I think this is an absolutely fantastic and really important opportunity for us to lead what is a very, very crucial area for all of us, but perhaps particularly for our young people. I know from my own children how important it is. And we are in a key position to inform and motivate others.”

Cumbria County councillor Nick Cotton said: “I think we should be really proud of what we have done. Let’s see how we can concentrate our efforts on those two things – peat restoration and tree planting, which have already proved to be so successful.”

The importance of planting trees was also emphasised by the Authority’s head of Ranger services Alan Hulme during his report on the impact of the flash floods which hit Langthwaite and Lower Swaledale on July 30. This event was a warning that flooding could occur at any time of the year and not just in winter, he said.

He showed slides of the devastation caused by the rocks and debris which had been swept down the valleys by the flood water. “The debris on the fields is mostly contaminated as there is lead in the area,” he said. This, he added, would take years to rectify.

About three and a half kilometres of rights of way had been either washed away or covered by landslides and debris, he reported. In addition, 16 bridges had been lost 11 of which were on rights of way as well as several footbridges. He  emphasised that the tourist trade in the area depended a great deal on rights of way being open.

He told members: “The bridges are our big loss. It will probably take about two years [to repair them]. The cost to us, we think, will be about £600,000 to restore rights of way. We are making some headway already by utilising some of the local community’s equipment, contractors and volunteers.”

He and several members praised the community’s response and resilience and the way groups of volunteers had come from other areas to help. They were grateful for the funding being made available and for the way Richmondshire District Council had responded.

Richmondshire District councillor Stuart Parsons hoped that money would continue to be available for several years through some form of long-term sustainability fund.  “It will take years to repair the damage,” he said.


For over 20 years the Association of Rural Communities has urged the YDNPA to recognise the importance of farmers in managing the beautiful landscape of the Dales. This has again been emphasised by the association’s present chairman, Alastair Dinsdale, who farms at Carperby. See: YDNPA and the importance of farmers.

YDNPA and John Blackie

An ARC News Service report about the beginning of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s (YDNPA) meeting on September 24 2019. There were tributes to John Blackie by the chairman of the Authority and by the Association of Rural Communities (ARC) ; a call by Hawes and High Abbotside Parish Council for the Authority to be called to account over disparaging remarks about John Blackie; and a question from the Association of Rural Communities about a possible conflict of interest.

Carl Lis’s tribute as chairman of the Authority to John Blackie

He said he and John Blackie were members of the Shadow Authority which was set up on April 1st 1996, the year before the new Authority was created. Prior to that, he explained,  it was a committee of North Yorkshire County Council. He continued:

“Over the years John was always a massive advocate for his local community and the evidence of his personal achievements are there for everyone to see. That was evident at our conference last week when one of the tours centred on Hawes and highlighted some of the community issues that John’s input had been so [effective]. Everyone here I am sure will remember the tenacity John exhibited in supporting many, many local issues. The threatened closure of the Friarage Hospital was one of the notable ones but there were many others.

“I am sure all of us here today would have received emails on a whole range of issues over the years, many of them extremely detailed but always passionate. Some of them sent in the very early hours of the morning. That was John. I’m convinced that there will never be anyone quite like him. It would be wrong for me to suggest we always agreed but entirely appropriate for us to respect his memory and his achievements. With that in mind could I ask that we all stand to observe a minute’s silence in memory of John Blackie.”


There were two speakers during the Public Question Time

Jill McMullon, chair of Hawes and High Abbotside Parish Council:

She said that the comments that had been made about John Blackie at the July meeting of the Authority’s planning committee when he was absent had been described as  ‘nothing short of disgraceful.’ She added that at the meeting in July it was suggested that Hawes and High Abbotside Parish Council should hold Cllr Blackie to account. She continued with the following as agreed at the parish council meeting on August 12:

‘The Parish Council would like to make the following statement “disparaging comments made about Cllr Blackie are rejected as inappropriate and entirely untrue. The Parish Council and several members of the public in attendance wish it known that any comments made by Cllr Blackie in regard to the planning applications in question, are wholly supported.  Furthermore, the Parish Council feels that it is the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority that should be held to account on this matter”.’

Pip Pointon on behalf of the Association of Rural  Communities (ARC):

In August the Association of Rural Communities requested the advice of the Authority’s Monitoring Officer on the possibility of there being a conflict of interest arising from the chairman of the planning committee being a trustee of the Friends of the Dales. The Friends of the Dales states that it is a campaigning group and has often lobbied the Authority especially concerning barn conversion applications.

The Association was told that it would receive a written response from the Monitoring Officer – but as yet it has not received one.

The Association was also very concerned at how three Authority members made non-agenda statements at the beginning of the July planning committee meeting in which they criticised John Blackie. Allen Kirkbride reminded the committee that Mr Blackie was not there to defend himself.

When the Association queried this later Cllr Carl Lis stated : “At this difficult time for the Authority with Mr Blackie’s demise, I would suggest that if ARC wants to have a serious discussion about how we – and the local district councils – might tackle the difficult and complex challenges around the availability and affordability of housing, then I would genuinely welcome that.”

So why not honour Mr Blackie by remembering how he fought consistently for over 20 years for affordable housing for local people?

He had often begged the planning committee to be flexible enough to find a way to allow young families to create homes out of redundant barns. Because Mr Blackie did that again at the June planning meeting one member in July asked Hawes and High Abbotside parish council to call him to account.

This Association knows of no parish council in the Upper Dales which would call Mr Blackie to account for the way he tirelessly championed the cause of individuals and local communities – even from his hospital bed. If ever someone should have been honoured nationally for championing local communities it was Mr Blackie.

The chairman of the Friends of the Dales has called for a review of the Authority’s barn conversion policy because it was concerned about ‘aspects of the working of the policy which permits the conversion for residential purposes of barns regarded as being “roadside”’.

The Association of Rural Communities has been told that the Authority will instead begin the process of updating its Local Plan. When doing so, this Association hopes that the Authority will keep in mind the number of times parish councils have asked that local occupancy should be the priority when barn conversions applications are considered – especially as in the past few years the majority of barn conversions have been for business use, mainly for holiday lets.

Cllr Carl Lis’s  Response

Thank you both for your statements

In relation to your comments about Mr Blackie, as I referred to earlier, I worked with John from Day 1 of this Authority in 1996. We both came to understand and accept that there would be some fairly robust discussions at times. It was his nature. He could take as good as he gave, and I think we would best honour his legacy now by looking forward.

Before we can do that, though, I have to deal with ARC’s allegations about Mrs Martin.

All Members of the Authority are aware of the rules regarding declaring interests at meetings when relevant to an item of business and participating when the item of business is debated and voted upon. Mrs Martin’s involvement with the Friends of the Dales is a matter of long-standing public record. Like all other Authority Members, she has completed a register of interests, which can be viewed by the public on the Authority’s website.

Many District Councillors, County Councillors and Members of National Park Authorities are also members of other organisations that campaign on particular issues or express views on individual planning applications. Your statement appears to suggest that none of these Councillors should be able to sit on the Planning Committee. That just can’t be right. I’d suggest that the issue here is simply that you don’t like the Friends of the Dales.

Looking to the future, I wrote to you some months ago offering to meet representatives of ARC to see if we could find a more helpful and constructive way of working. I haven’t given up on that possibility, so I shall write to you again after this meeting to make the same offer. In doing so, can I ask you please to provide some basic information about ARC. For example, do you have any objectives, a constitution, or elected officials? How many members are there and, if those members are public bodies such as parish councils, can you say who they are?

I’m sure you’ll agree that it is important that our Members and the public can understand what ARC is, and what its members’ interests are.

Press release by ARC immediately afterwards:

ARC didn’t make allegations against Julie Martin. It questioned the Authority on an issue of conflict of interest.

One of ARC’s founder members was the late Stephen Butcher. When he became a Craven  District Councillor and represented that council on the YDNPA he stood down as a member of ARC so that there would be no question or possibility of a conflict of interest.

We have chosen to be independent – to provide a local democracy service and to monitor the YDNPA – something which many in the National Park appreciate and support.

For more about ARC see Association of Rural Communities and that information has been available on this website for years.

Also see: John Blackie, the Rural Summit and that complaint.

Hard Banks Barn Ice Cream Parlour


Left to right: Andy Singleton and Gillian and Adrian Harrison outside Hard Banks Barn

A beautifully restored barn in lovely countryside with an ice cream parlour hidden inside has proved to be a magnate for locals and visitors alike in Wensleydale since Saturday September 21.

On the approach along the A684 from Aysgarth Hard Banks Barn looks like a well-renovated traditional building that fits so well into the undulating countryside around it.

“You cannot tell from the outside what is within – which sort of makes it a nice surprise,” said Gillian Harrison who manages the ice cream parlour in a joint venture with her husband, Adrian. And it is a wonderful surprise to walk inside and find a light and airy ice cream parlour where the atmosphere is enhanced by the late 18th century beams.

The designer, Andy Singleton, commented that it was not where such a traditional barn was situated but rather the way It was restored. He had assured the National Park planning officers that the barn conversion wouldn’t have a detrimental impact upon the landscape and was delighted with the result.

Part of the airy atmosphere inside is due to his creative use of the original ventilation apertures. He had had the splayed reveals inside widened and small glass “windows” inserted without changing the outside appearance of the barn.

“I think those appealed to everybody. It’s a bit higgledy piggledy but that adds to the character,” Gillian commented.

Their Wensleydale Ice Cream comes from their own Jersey cows and is manufactured at their farm at Thornton Rust. There are now three generations of Harrisons at the farm: grandparents Maurice and Anne; Gillian and Adrian and their two children.

Gillian and Adrian explained that they hope the ice cream parlour will enable the family to support themselves without turning to intensive farming methods. “You’ve got to have additional revenue. There are so many variables in farming and it’s a big risk [business] with small margins,” Gillian said.

Hard Banks Barn, they believe, will show just how much everything in the Dales is intertwined in what is very much a man-made landscape. Even the colour of the grass depended, they pointed out, on the fertiliser used and the animals which graze on it.

They plan to have cows grazing near the barn and to display pictures to show how the milk is processed into ice cream. And their customers agreed that the ice cream is superb.

There are tables and chairs downstairs and more in the ‘Minstrels Gallery’ above. Alongside the ice cream there are also coffee, cakes and waffles. Adrian and Gillian are employing five local part-time staff to help Gillian with another making the ice cream. And they are very grateful for the support of Maurice and Anne Harrison.

The parlour is attracting a wide age range of people and Gillian was delighted to see children larking about outside and rolling down the grassy bank.

One Monday they hosted children from the BAWB federation of schools who were taken there by their parents as an after-school treat. “The parents said it was so nice because there aren’t many places they can take the children for a treat,” said Gillian.

She and Adrian were also very happy to see people going to the parlour for their sweet course after their Sunday dinner. “I always wanted it to be like a ‘pudding’ barn,’ she commented.

They believe the ice cream parlour fills a niche market in Wensleydale and helps to attract tourists. And they and their staff can – and do – tell tourists about other local attractions. They are looking forward to continuing to work with the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority to make the ice cream parlour a success, especially its tourist department and the Dairy Days project.

The Harrisons are very grateful to all those who helped to make their dream come true and for a grant from The Yorkshire Dales LEADER programme. They plan to hold an official opening in a few months’ time in memory of John Blackie for all the work he put into the project.

During the winter the ice cream parlour is open from 10am to 5pm Thursday to Sunday each week.

In November 2014 I posted a report on the obstacle race the Harrisons were facing as part of my coverage of the Rural Summit in Leyburn that was organised by John Blackie. 

Below: Hard Banks Barn. The brown patches will disappear once the grass has grown. 

YDNPA Planning Committee, John Blackie and “cherry picking”decisions

July 9 – July 16: What a week! On Tuesday July 9 I attended the YDNPA planning committee meeting – which began with statements which were not listed on the agenda (see below). Finally Askrigg parish councillor Allen Kirkbride reminded the committee that John Blackie was not there to defend himself. John had been admitted to The Friarage Hospital in Northallerton the day before.

That week I didn’t write any reports after that meeting because there was a lot to do in preparation for my husband’s Memorial Meeting on the Saturday.

And it was on that Saturday morning I heard the sad news that John Blackie had died.  John could be acerbic – but he was a formidable and relentless champion for all those living and working in the Dales. The last time I spoke to him – about 10 days before he died – he recounted with considerable joy that he had helped someone get transport to hospital.

It was so typical of him that he would put aside his own health problems to help others. But sadly it was also typical that he was criticised for his determined championing of local people, especially young families, at a National Park meeting. I’m glad I could support him when, in 2014, there was an unsuccessful complaint against him. That complaint was supported by Cllr Carl Lis, who is now chairman of the YDNPA.

I do know that dozens of people supported attempts to have him honoured for his work. Maybe the file is stuck somewhere on a dusty shelf…


“John Blackie isn’t here to defend himself.. and he has been attacked by several members,”  Allen Kirkbride firmly interjected at the beginning of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s  ( YDNPA ) planning committee meeting on Tuesday July 9.

When the planning meeting started Gary Smith, YDNPA director of conservation and community, was in the chair as the first items on the agenda were membership of the committee and then the election of the chairman. But before he could get  on with that  Craven District councillor Carl Lis, who is the chairman of the Authority, asked for a statement to be read out as Cllr Blackie and others had raised questions about who had been allowed to attend and vote at the meeting in June.

Mr Smith read the following: “In June Mrs Pattison was perfectly entitled to be at that meeting. National legislation related to the membership of National Park Authorities under the Environment Act makes it clear that where a member is appointed by one of the local authorities to serve on the National Park Authority they remain a member up to the point where that Authority appoints somebody else to replace them. If that goes on for more than three months then the authority ceases at that point.”

Cllr Lis than said how disappointed he was that Mrs Pattison was not at the July meeting because she was so upset at the way her attendance in June had been questioned. He said that Cllr Blackie had phoned her.

Member Jim Munday then read a long statement he had sent to the press the day before much of which had been published by Richmondshire Today along with the suggestion by Hawes and High Abbotside Parish Council that it should hold a vote of no confidence in the National Park. Mr Munday stated:“I hope that the people attending the Hawes and High Abbotside Parish Council meeting next week will hold their chairman John Blackie to account.”

At the meeting he ended with: “And finally I do hope that Mr Blackie will not be tempted to bully the staff. The staff  here are doing a job with a policy that he and the rest of us devised and agreed.”

North Yorkshire County councillor Robert Heseltine said he agreed with everything Mr Munday had said.

Mr Smith tried to carry on with the agenda  (none of what had been said by Cllrs Les and Heseltine and Mr Munday having been listed on the  agenda).  But not before Cllr Kirkbride  pointed out that Cllr Blackie was not there to defend himself. (Cllr Blackie had been admitted to the Friarage Hospital, Northallerton,  on Monday July 8 and died there on Sunday July 13.)

Once Julie Martin was elected as chairman, and Neil Swain as deputy chairman (both being  Secretary of State appointees), and the minutes of the last meeting were approved, Mrs Martin said there would be a five minute adjournment while she was briefed on the next item on the agenda. And that was this statement by the Association of Rural Communities:

“This Authority states that its code of practice ‘is to ensure that in the planning process there are no grounds for suggesting that a decision has been biased, partial or not well founded in any way.’

“Last month it was emphasised once again that the members of the planning committee should make decisions according to policy. But do you?

“At the meeting in February a planning officer made it very clear that a decision to approve the conversion of Dodds Hall Barn near Gayle would not be in accordance with policy. The committee accepted his recommendation to approve the conversion of the barn to provide visitor accommodation and a manager’s dwelling for a ‘horse assisted healing business’.

“This included a stable block and a large two-storey extension with a balcony. How does that compare with the tight restrictions which have been placed on other barn conversions or the reasons that have been given to refused an application?

“How then can you say to a local young couple seeking to convert a barn into a family home that you consistently adhere to policy? It looks instead as if you are cherry picking.

“For many years it was accepted by the planning committee that decisions should be deferred until newly elected district and county councillors could be there to represent their constituents. At the June meeting a request to defer a decision until the new Richmondshire District Council members were in attendance was refused. And yet Margaret Pattison was allowed to attend and vote even though she is no longer a Lancaster City Councillor.

“This is not a personal comment regarding Mrs Pattison. Nor is this about just the rules…

“How can this be seen by the public to be acting with integrity and fairness?”

Mrs Martin stated: “We don’t normally respond directly to public statements but given the seriousness with which we treat this particular issue we will provide a full written response to all the points you have raised.”

For the statement from Hawes and High Abbotside Parish Council and Jim Munday’s response see post on Richmondshire Today.


Above: Dodds Hall Barn on Beggarmans Lane, Gayle

Below: the barn at Hawes which was described by a planning officer as being in the open countryside.

This is the response from Cllr Carl Lis, chairman of  the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority to the statement and questions made by the Association of Rural Communities:

Thank you for your public statement at the National Park Authority (NPA) Planning Committee on Tuesday 9 July. It raises a number of allegations that are of concern to the whole Authority rather than simply the Planning Committee, so I have decided the response should come from me as Chairman. Please accept my apologies for the delay in responding but I took the judgement that the sad news of Mr Blackie’s death should not be overshadowed by this issue.

I will turn first to the issue of determining planning applications. As you know, all planning applications must be determined in accordance with the Development Plan unless material considerations indicate otherwise. That is a matter of law. This is because planning policies – which have been adopted after wide public consultation and formal examination by a Planning Inspector – should not be set aside without sound planning reasons for doing so.

The application for development at Dodds Hall Barn (essentially for visitor and manager accommodation and equine business) was considered to be contrary to the Development Plan. Whilst it me the locational requirements of policy L2 (being a roadside barn because of its curtilage and pre-existing track), the policy concerns centred on the intensity of the use and the impact on the landscape. However, on the particular facts of that application, the Committee concluded that there were material planning considerations, in the form of social and economic benefits for the local area, which justified approval.

The application for the development at the Shearlings, Hawes (conversion of barn to dwelling for local occupancy/holiday let) did not meet the locational criteria under L2, and there were no material considerations identified to justify approval. Again, the Planning Committee considered all the points that were made at the meeting and resolved to refuse the application.

When making decisions, the Authority always tries to apply some flexibility where material (i.e. lawful) considerations allow, something I understand ARC would want us to do. But with the best will in the world, that flexibility cannot lawfully extend to allowing any development anywhere simply because the applicant is ‘local’.

It is telling to note that in the case of Dodds Hall Barn the applicant sought pre-application advice from the Authority , and amended the proposal to bring it more in line with policy. Unfortunately, in the case of the Barn at the Shearlings (and the 3 other barns that have been refused in Upper Wensleydale), the applicants did not seek pre-application advice from planning officers. If they had, they would have been advised of the clear policy conflict at the outset. There is clearly an issue here when nearly half of all the refusals under L2 have occurred in one small part of the National Park – and we will be taking steps to try to encourage people to get proper advice before risking their money and time.

On your second point, the terms of membership of the National Park Authority are set out in national legislation. The law provides that if a member is waiting to be replaced on an NPA following an election, that individual continues to be an NPA member until a new appointment is made by the appointing authority (subject to an upper time limit of three months). We are still awaiting notice of a replacement appointment from Lancaster City Council following the elections in May. Accordingly Ms Pattison was fully entitled to take part at the June meeting as a Lancaster City Council appointee. That has been the law for over 12 years.

I was surprised that you chose to raise this issue in relation to Ms Pattison. At the May Planning Committee, Mrs Caroline Thornton-Berry not only attended the meeting but she actually chaired it, even though she was no longer a member of Richmondshire District Council at the time. I do not recall you raising any concern in relation to that instance.

Finally, at this difficult time for the Authority with Mr Blackie’s demise I would suggest that if ARC wants to have a serious discussion ab out how we – and the local district councils – might tackle the difficult and complex challengers around the availability and affordability of housing, then I would genuinely welcome that.


Association of Rural Communities

The Association of Rural Communities stands for local democracy in the Yorkshire Dales National Park and consistency in planning decisions.

This Association continues to be an independent watchdog on planning in the national park – unlike the Friends of the Dales which says it is and yet has two of its trustees as members of the Authority’s planning committee. As part of its commitment to local democracy its administrative officer, Pip Pointon regularly attends and reports on the meetings of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s (YDNPA) planning committee on a voluntary basis. For her reports see ARC News Service.

The Association of Rural Communities was founded in 1995 during a period of intense anger against what was then the Yorkshire Dales National Park committee and its chairman at that time, Cllr Robert Heseltine.

People wanted to see more consistency and fairness in planning decisions, and more democracy and accountability. One of the Association’s prime objectives was to work for the economic and social well-being of those living and working in this national park. This was added to the purposes of national parks by 1997 – but is so very important today when the rule of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) quango has been extended to include more districts in Cumbria and Lancashire.

The Association campaigned for secret ballots and limited terms of office for the chairmen and vice-chairmen of the YDNPA – and that was finally introduced in November 1999. Before that they were elected by a show of hands, and Cllr Heseltine had been chairman for 11 years.

Members of the Association’s committee have monitored the YDNPA planning committee meetings since the late 1990s. Back then the Association called for applicants and objectors to have the right to address the planning committee – something which is now accepted practice.

The Association has questioned the YDNPA about other inconsistencies over the years, and in 2001 even pointed out that the members of the Authority’s planning committee should be provided each month with the minutes of past meetings so that they could make informed decisions.

The Association’s chairman at that time, the late Jim Cunnington, also asked the planning committee to defer decisions until newly elected district and county councillors could be there to represent their constituents. This became accepted practice – but has now been discarded by the planning committee.

It was the Association’s late president, Tom Knowles, who spotted in 2007 that an officer, under delegated powers, had made a decision which seriously undermined the YDNPA’s ability to fulfil one of its statutory purposes – to promote opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of national parks by the public.

The Association alerted the planning committee to the precedent set by the officer in allowing the removal of pitches for tents at Westholme caravan site near Aysgarth on the basis that this was a “planning gain”.   The result is that a site which had catered so well for touring caravans and campers, including those participating in the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme, has become a luxury lodge park where it costs about £600 per week to stay during the summer season. (For how the Westholme site started see Margaret Knowles.)

The planning committee took steps to contain that damaging decision and in June 2014 accepted that camping was “a low impact form of visitor accommodation” which enabled poorer families to come and enjoy this beautiful countryside and that this significantly benefited the economies of local communities. The new Local Plan will  provide even greater protection for camping and touring caravan pitches in the National Park.

We need your support if we are to successfully lobby for more democracy within the  Yorkshire Dales National Park and to act as a watchdog on the activities of the Authority. We want the voice of the people living and working in this area to be heard – locally, regionally and nationally.

The membership is £10 per year. The Register of Members is held by the Administrative Officer and is kept completely confidential. You can send us comments via reports on the ARC News Service of this website.

To cut back on costs many more decisions are being made by planning officers. So parish councils and residents need to be even more vigilant when planning applications are advertised locally. Applicants and residents can contact the district or county councillor who represents their area on the YDNPA planning committee and request that an application should be discussed by the committee if they are concerned about the possible decision that just one planning officer might make.

YDNPA and the cost of the boundary extension

The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) not only needs a Local Plan which includes all the new areas added in August 2016 but must also commission  its own socio-economic study.

“Our policy making and our decision making is only as robust as the evidence on which it relies. The evidence we have available is based upon assumptions, analogies and anecdotes,” Jocelyn Manners-Armstrong said at the YDNPA’s  Full Authority meeting on Tuesday December 18.

Peter Stockton, the Authority’s head of sustainable development, told the meeting: “In the past we sort of begged, borrowed and stole the evidence from our district [council] colleagues and it never quite fitted with our own planning area. The problem is that it is skewed to the towns outside [the park]. So we never quite got that deep rural information that we needed. We don’t really know how many people live in each district of the National Park.

Approval was given for the Authority to commission an independent socio-economic study of the National Park to provide baseline facts for a new Local Plan and also for the review of the present one.

Mr Stockton commented: “Generally speaking Local Plans are worth tens of millions of pounds … to developers, landowners and to people who are making use of the infrastructure and the development that needs undertaking.”

He explained that when the boundary was extended the YDNPA inherited seven local plans some of which were out of date. During the  Full Authority meeting on Tuesday the Eden District Local Plan was adopted.

But members decided that the Authority must now begin preparing a new, single Local Plan for the whole of the National Park.

Mr Stockton reported: “Within the new parts of the National Park (especially Eden) there may be a perception of unnecessary and additional bureaucracy being ‘imposed’. It is also by far the most expensive and resource-intensive option.”

As several specialist consultancies (including the socio-economic one) would be needed he added: “The costs are likely to be significantly higher than the current budget projections for the ‘Development Planning’ programme.”

Nor did the planning department have sufficient staff to carry out all the work required to get the new Local Plan adopted within three to four years. His proposal that a senior policy and performance officer should be employed to assist with this was accepted.

Member Chris Clark said: “It now seems sensible to have one plan rather than several. We need it to breathe life into the vision we have come up with in our Management Plan.”

He argued for a wide-ranging socio-economic study to provide benchmarks for a park-wide Local Plan and added: “There will be costs and there will be a significant amount of time and staff resources required but to me that is where we need to start this planning policy.”

The socio-economic study, he said, would provide a solid foundation for robust decisions and would set the options for long term strategy.

North Yorkshire County councillor John Blackie warned that the Authority needed to find consultants who understood deeply rural areas and that even more resources could be required if the Authority was going to produce such a Local  Plan within four years.

Both he and Lancashire County councillor Cosima Towneley asked that the county councils (North Yorkshire, Lancashire and Cumbria) should be consulted, as well as the district councils and Lancashire City Council, as the former provided so many important services such as transport, schools, health and social care. It was agreed to amend Mr Stockton’s report accordingly. 

In March Mr Stockton will report to the Full Authority about the commissioning of the socio-economic report.


In September 2016 the Association of Rural Communities asked Richard Graham, the head of development management, if additional staff would be required following the boundary extension. He replied:

“The number of planning staff has not increased since 1st August. The additional work generated by the enlargement of the Park has been dealt with by officers working additional hours. The Finance and Resources Committee has approved a reorganisation of the Authority which includes some additional resources for Development Management in technical support, minerals planning and planning enforcement.”

YDNPA and the importance of farmers


Above: Alistair Dinsdale at his farm in Wensleydale

The developing partnership between farmers and national park officers could save some hill farms from dereliction if and when the single farm payment is phased out the Association of Rural Communities was told at its annual general meeting at Kettlewell.

Its chairman, Alastair Dinsdale, who has a dairy farm at Carperby in Wensleydale praised the team at the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) which is involved in pioneering some of the agri-environment schemes that could be rolled out nationally.

He has been involved in the three year agri-environmental scheme which was funded by the EU to test the payment by results in Wensleydale and several other areas of the country. The government is now directly funding those for a further two years.

Mr Dinsdale said he was encouraged by the way the YDNPA’s team was working with the farmers. “The involvement of the National Park has been quite impressive. It has grasped that there is a clear link between farming and the landscape.

“I feel we have a partner. It is wholly different from years ago when the Authority didn’t acknowledge the social and economic importance of those who lived and worked in the national park.”

This is something that the Association of Rural Communities has campaigned about for over 20 years.

Mr Dinsdale was, however, still very concerned about the future of hill farming. He said: “Without the Single Farm Payment the vast majority of the agricultural hill businesses are not sustainable. The environmental payments which are emerging will have great difficulty in matching that funding which is desperately needed to keep these people on the land.

“I am sure people will leave the land. Given the [average] age of farmers, the farming community will look at this as the final straw. We may have a period where we see dereliction in certain areas.

“The people who are developing these new policies haven’t grasped that this funding [Single Farm Payments] is necessary to produce a living off these farms.”“We need to make sure that the funding coming in for the environment will keep people on the land and keep the National Park looking like we all want it to be.”

In his speech he especially remembered the association’s founder, Tom Knowles, who had inspired them to campaign for more consistency in planning and a better working relationship between Authority’s officials and those living and working in the National Park. He also paid tribute to a former chairman of the association, Stephen Butcher.

Both Mr Knowles and Mr Butcher died this year. “I don’t think people have acknowledged what they really achieved,” he said.

He thanked Jack Heseltine and Pip Pointon for continuing to monitor the Authority’s planning committee meetings and Mrs Pointon for producing ARC News Service reports on behalf of the association.

Full Authority Meeting, December 2018:  Review of Designated Landscapes

It was agreed at the Full Authority meeting that the government should be informed  about the significant and central role of farmers and landowners in maintaining the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

The members approved the Authority’s Review of Designated Landscapes which was then submitted to the government. This will be used to compile the government’s review of National Parks and Areas of Natural Beauty (AONB) as part of its 25 Year Environment Plan.

The YDNPA review stated: “The Yorkshire Dales NPA has a close working relationship with farmers and land managers. This has been developed over many years with the Authority sometimes running its own local agri-environment schemes, as well as supporting the delivery of national schemes (and occasionally directly delivering them).

“The most high-profile example currently is the ‘Payment by Results’ pilot project in Wensleydale. This builds on the wider work of the Northern Upland Chain Local Nature Partnership and the Northern Hill Farming Panel, which identified the need for action to support ‘High Nature Value farming’. In particular, it identified a need for ‘a more collaborative approach to the delivery of agri-environment schemes, using the skills and knowledge of HNV farmers to deliver environmental outcomes in a way that allows the whole farm to work and make sense as a system.”

The review continued: “From our experience through the pilot [scheme] and the wider feedback from farmers we believe that National Park Authorities should be involved in the direction, co-design and delivery of the new environmental land management scheme. The aim being to provide a system that is responsive to our landscapes and farming practices; that better integrates and works alongside local farmers and land managers and ensures positive outcomes for nature and those who work the land.

“These schemes should be: locally-tailored and locally-administered; based on a more collaborative approach that uses the skills and knowledge of the sort of High Nature Value farmers found in the National Park; paid by results not by adherence to a tangle of rules and prescriptions; and focus on delivering multiple benefits (biodiversity, water management, heritage etc).”

The review also considered the socio-economic impact of National Park and AONB authorities on those who lived and worked in those areas especially at a time of large demographic shifts (including the movement of young people),  the huge increase in the number of second homes and holiday lets, and the reduction in key local services such as transport, post offices and the roll-out of broadband and mobile telecommunications.

It stated that there were significant market failures in relation to housing and a chronic shortage of affordable housing and added: “These are national rather than local or even just rural issues.”

Richmondshire District councillor Yvonne Peacock emphasised that the YDNPA should have a duty to the social and economic wellbeing of those who lived and worked in the National Park.

And North Yorkshire County councillor John Blackie said that the way forward was to encourage more self-help projects like those in Hawes. He also described the Right to Buy scheme for Housing Association tenants as being one of the biggest threats to providing local affordable accommodation in the National Park. “Right to Buy threatens the communities that we have here,” he said.

North Yorkshire County councillor Robert Heseltine and Cllr Peacock questioned the statement: “There is a wide recognition that National Park Authority boards are too large and cumbersome. In the YDNPA the board is also unrepresentative of the population at large [as a consequence of the 2016 boundary changes].”

“Small is not always beautiful,” commented Cllr Heseltine. He felt that the membership of 25 on the YDNPA board was right because sufficient members were required to ensure good representation.

Cllr Peacock commented that the Yorkshire Dales National Park was so diverse that a wide spread of board members was necessary.

It was agreed not to change the report, however, especially as it pointed out that the YDNPA would be carrying out a governance review in 2019 and 2020.

The full report can be seen at: Review of Designated Landscapes – Submission.

YDNPA – Barns and Yurts

ARC News Service: Reports on the YDNPA (Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority) planning committee meeting on Tuesday December 11 2018 regarding the following: reference back refusals concerning Shoemaker Barn at Grinton; Mike Barn near Appersett; and  Pike Hill Barn near Hawes; as well as holiday yurts at Low Abbotside; a proposed barn conversion at Threshfield; and a building for a biomass boiler at Stirton Tithe Barn. Cllrs Allen Kirkbride, Yvonne Peacock and John Blackie were very critical of the way the reference back decisions were dealt with:

Businesses involving young families are not appreciated by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, Askrigg parish councillor Allen Kirkbride told the committee.

“I am not pleased with the way today has gone and how the Authority appears to be reacting,” he told other members of the committee.

Richmondshire District councillor Yvonne Peacock agreed with him. She warned that the Authority was going back to being as divided as it was 20 years ago.

And North Yorkshire County councillor John Blackie stated: “We want to attract young families. We want to retain young families. We want to attract new businesses. [But] we have been kicked in the teeth by a planning system that is there to shape our future not ruin it.”

They spoke out about the way three barn conversion applications had just been dealt with when discussing an application for seven seasonal yurts at West Shaw Cote Farm, Low Abbotside in Upper Wensleydale.

The head of development management, Richard Graham, told the committee that the barn conversions should be refused as the landscape would be harmed if they became dwellings. For each application Cllr Blackie and Cllr Peacock asked the committee to consider the needs of local young families.

Cllr Peacock pointed out that it was young farmers like the one who wanted to convert Shoemaker Barn at Grinton into a home for his family who maintained the walls and barns. “You cannot expect to sustain our communities and to look after our landscape if we don’t actually have people wanting to live and work in the dales,” she said.

It was very unusual that no committee members spoke against the three barn conversions. Yet when the vote was called seven lifted their hands in support of the officer’s recommendation for refusal while seven supported the applications. The counting was almost inaudible and it wasn’t clear that the chairman, Richmondshire District councillor Caroline Thornton-Berry had also voted against approving the applications. Nor did she clearly state after each vote what the results were.

It was also unusual for the Authority’s Chief Executive Officer, David Butterworth, to attend a planning meeting. Mr Graham told members that if they did grant permission the decision might be unlawful.

For the voting about the yurts at West Shaw Cote Farm no announcement was needed as every member approved the application – even though the officer had recommended refusal.

Cllr Kirkbride had questioned the way a “long-range” photograph had been used to support the officer’s argument. “That must been at least two and a half miles away at least… to make it look worse than it actually is,” he commented.

He pointed out that the yurts would be there during the summer when the trees were in leaf and so there would be more screening. The nights were also shorter – and so there would be far less impact upon the National Park’s dark skies status.

Mr Graham agreed that this decision would not be referred back but the applicants will be asked to plant more screening. “Bushes not trees,” said Cllr Thornton-Berry.

After a long afternoon she asked the committee to make a quick decision about an application for a children’s playhouse at Hudswell which the planning officer had recommended for approval. The voting was so fast it was lost among the scraping of chairs and chatter. And there was no announcement about the result. (It was approved)

North Yorkshire County councillor Richard Welch commented afterwards: “As someone who sits on other Authoritys’ planning committees this is the only one which has a reference back procedure.”

He recalled that at the October meeting  of the YDNPA planning committee the majority of members voted to approve an application for a house in a haulage yard at Hebden for a local family. This was against officers’ advice. He continued: “I wonder what happened in the following month when, at the November meeting under reference back, it was refused by nine to eight. What happened to make five members change their minds?”

The YDNPA press release following the meeting: Landscape conserved with barn decisions

Decisions made by Planning Committee today have helped to conserve the open, farmed landscape of the Yorkshire Dales, the Park Authority Chairman Carl Lis has said.

Members voted to refuse applications to convert three barns near Appersett, Hawes and Grinton because of the harm such conversions would do to the landscape. Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority Chairman and Planning Committee member, Carl Lis, said:  “I need to stress that we are permitting lots of barn conversions – 99 of them since 2015, against eight refusals – but they do need to be in the right locations.

“Approvals for the three applications today would have led to landscape harm, in part because such developments would bring with them new tracks, car parking, lighting, overhead lines and the other facilities necessary for residential use.

“Some Members made the argument that we should have approved the applications in order to help the applicants find an affordable home.  I think it is not a case of deciding between looking after the landscape and looking after local people.   The two must be taken together, as it is the fantastic landscape of the Park that provides the engine for the local economy.”

Mr Lis added “I can understand the disappointment of the applicants, but if they believe we have made the wrong decision they have recourse to appeal to an Independent Planning Inspector.”

Shoemaker Barn, Grinton

At the October meeting of the planning committee the majority of the members voted to approve the application to demolish an agricultural building and convert a stone barn into a dwelling. Grinton Parish Council supported this not just because it would improve the appearance of the site but  as it would also provide a home for a young family. The application included a new agricultural building to be constructed nearby.

As that decision was against officer recommendation it had to be referred back for confirmation. At the December meeting Mr Graham stressed that members had to put forward acceptable material considerations to support any decision which was not in accordance with the Local Plan. He stated that two of the considerations put forward by members could be considered: that the improved appearance of the site represented a planning gain; and that it would support sustainable communities and provide an opportunity for a home for a local family.

He argued, however, that as so much of the barn would be rebuilt plus the addition of two porches and a rear extension it would look like a modern building rather than a historic barn. He said: “A large modern farm building and a large modern-looking dwelling in this location would detract from the visual quality of landscape and would not preserve or enhance the historic character of the Conservation Area.”  This could not, therefore, be described as a material consideration he added.

“The provision of a house for the applicants specifically can not be a material consideration unless there are exceptional personal circumstances involved. Personal circumstances are rarely sufficient reason to outweigh policy… It has not been demonstrated that this proposal represents the only opportunity for the applicants to live in the locality, or that their current accommodation in Grinton is not suitable, or that there is an essential need for them to live at this location,” he said.

Cllr Blackie commented: “Here is an opportunity to be flexible and to support a local family who will add to the sustainability of the local community.

Mike Barn, Lanacar Lane, Appersett

At the October meeting a decision on this application for the barn to be converted for local occupancy was deferred as the majority of members were in favour of approving it contrary to the officer’s recommendation. The reasons given by members were: the barn fulfilled the “roadside” criterion as in the Local Plan; there were dwellings nearby and the residential use would not have a harmful impact upon the area.

Mr Graham told the December meeting that the barn did not “physically adjoin the boundary” with the road and did not have an “immediate definable curtilage”.

Cllr Blackie pointed out that Mr Graham’s report did not give the distance between the barn and the road.

He asked how this compared to the distance between Tug Gill Lathe and the B6160 in Wharfedale. The application to convert Tug Gill Lathe was approved by an appeal inspector.

Mr Graham accepted that Tug Gill Lathe was further. He added that the appeal inspector had stated that its curtilage did meet the road. “That was a mistake. I think the inspector’s decision was a very cruel one and I don’t think [we] have to stand by it.”

“That’s something I have never heard before in a planning committee in 21 years,” commented Cllr Blackie.

North Yorkshire County councillor Richard Welch compared barn conversions to many of the farmhouses which were often quite a distance along a track from a road.  Converting barns could enhance the landscape he said and added:

“It makes it look as though people live there. It is not a museum, not a chocolate box scene to be put on postcards. Providing barns are converted sensibly there is no difference between them and a farm house.”

Pike Hill Barn, Ashes, Hawes

A decision on this application was deferred at the October meeting as, yet again, members had been inclined to disagree with the officers.

At the December meeting Cllr Blackie explained that Pike Hill Barn was within one of the small enclaves that formed part of the community of Hawes and so the application was in accordance with the Local Plan.

He also asked why Mr Graham’s report did not include the fact that the owner of the barn had amended his application to include local occupancy as well as for holiday lets.

Ellis Laithe, Grisedale Gate Farm, Threshfield

One young couple with their baby waited all afternoon for the committee to discuss their application to convert a barn into an agricultural worker’s dwelling.

Frank Kitching told the committee that he needed to live close to the family’s farm as he helped with caring for the livestock. During the two-month long lambing season he said he slept in his pick-up at the farm.

The planning officer reported that there were three holiday lets at the farm and argued that one of these could provide a home for the couple. He said that no financial information had been provided to prove that the holiday lets were essential to the farm business. He accepted that there was a need for permanent on-site accommodation for Mr Kitching.

Jocelyn Armstrong-Manners said the committee did need more financial evidence concerning the  holiday lets. And Cllr Kirkbride wondered if the plans could be amended so that the proposed extension would be on the gable end of the barn.

It was agreed, therefore, to defer making a decision.

Stirton Tithe Barn

Permission has been granted for a building to house a biomass boiler and to store pellet fuel in the car park beside the Tithe Barn at Stirton.

Clive Armstrong, who now owns the barn with his wife, told the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s planning committee on Tuesday December 11: “We feel passionate about preserving our environment for future generations.” For this reason they aimed, he said, to install a zero carbon footprint heating system at the barn.

Planning permission for the 17th century barn to be converted into four offices with car parking spaces for six vehicles was obtained by the Trustees of Roman Catholic Purposes  in November 2014. Mr Armstrong said they now intended to have only  three offices and one of these would be for his wife’s business, Dignicare.

One of the reasons Stirton-with-Thorlby Parish Meeting objected to the new building was because it would reduce the parking spaces to four.  Heather Longbottom, on behalf of the parish meeting, told the planning committee that it would not be possible to park on the road near the barn due to the bends and narrowness of Stirton Lane. Residents, she said, were also concerned about the possible increase in large vehicles  using the lane.

Her husband, Peter Longbottom, questioned the efficiency of biomass heating in the barn conversion and felt that the proposed building would detract from the appearance of the Tithe Barn. He was also concerned about having access to repair the wall between his meadow and the car park at the barn.

Mr Armstrong said that, if in the future more parking spaces were required, there was land available.  He told the committee that only two deliveries of pellets would be required each year and by wagons which were well under the weight restriction on that lane.

They had originally intended to attach the new building to the barn but the Authority’s conservation officer was concerned about the impact of this upon the character of a listed building.

The building will be clad with vertical timber boarding with a mono pitched roof of reclaimed stone slates. One of the conditions was that the flue should be removed should the building no longer be used to house a biomass boiler. The committee agreed with  the request of the parish meeting that the whole building should be removed should that occur.


Pip Pointon reports on the YDNPA meetings on a voluntary basis as part of the Association of Rural Communities objective to encourage democracy in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

February to November 2018

ARC News Service local democracy reports on YDNPA planning meetings in 2017 provided on a  voluntary basis by Pip Pointon. Below are reports on the decisions made regarding applications from the following towns and villages: Appletreewick, Arkengarthdale,  Bainbridge, Bolton Abbey Estate, Coverham (Forbidden Corner) , Dent, Embsay, Fremington, Grassington, Hartlington, Hartlington Raikes, Hawes,  Hebden,  Kettlewell, Long Preston,  Malham , Maulds Meaburn,    Newbiggin-on-Lune, Oughtershaw, Rylstone, Stalling Busk,  Swaledale (telecommunications masts,Thoralby, Threshfield, West Witton.

The issues discussed included telecommunication masts in deeply rural areas (see also Swaledale Telecommunication Masts below), and barn conversions.  See also the appeal decision regarding an application to convert Tup Gill Lathe near Kettlewell.

There are no reports from the August meeting (due to my wedding celebrations) nor from that in October (as I was ill).

Quote of the year:

At a meeting of Aysgarth and District Parish Council the chairman of the YDNPA planning committee, Richmondshire District councillor Caroline Thornton Berry was asked about inconsistencies in how applications for garages had been dealt with in a Dales village.

Cllr Thornton Berry replied: “You are dealing with humans and the planning officers are all different. They all have different takes on everything. That’s what you are up against. There is no total consistency.”

Transparency and Accountability:

The Association of Rural Communities was very concerned that the planning department was becoming less transparent and accountable. In June it made the following statement to the planning committee:

“At the Full Authority meeting in September 2017 [YDNPA] Members agreed that the functions of the Authority’s Development Management should be streamlined.

“One of the criteria was that the information should already be readily accessible to Members and the general public. It was argued, therefore, that the monthly list of decisions made by officers under delegated powers was unnecessary because there was a wealth of information about planning applications available on the Authority’s website. It was stated that this data could be searched by date and location in any parish.

“The emphasis there should be on ‘in any parish’. There are now 112 parishes in the National Park. We would estimate that it could take two days to carry out an overview of decisions regarding any one issue such as barn conversions. That is not making information easily accessible to either Members or to the general public.

“In fact, the Association of Rural Communities would argue that information is remaining hidden especially as it can be very difficult even for Members to contact individual officers. The standard auto-reply from one officer urges enquirers to contact him by email, stressing how difficult it is to maintain contact by telephone.

“We do understand that the planning service is under-staffed and under pressure – but surely in the 21st century it is possible to generate lists of decisions by officers and to make those available on the Authority’s website? This would greatly improve the transparency and accountability that the Authority has stated it wishes to achieve.”

This request was refused – and so that lack of transparency continues, as it does in other ways.

When studying planning applications it is frustrating that the YDNPA does not make it possible to view all the comments it receives unlike Richmondshire District Council. Residents in Middleham could read all the arguments for and against a proposed glamping site in a field north of Curlew Barn on East Witton Road, Middleham (17/00892), Middleham, compared to what was available about the Forbidden Corner applications on the YDNPA website. The ARC News Service can – and does – report on what is said during the five minutes allocated to objectors at planning committee meetings. The written objections, however, often give far more detail.

Debate about barn  conversions at the June meeting

Even strong legal advice about the consequences did not stop the majority of the members confirming that two barns – at  Oughtershaw and Hartlington Raikes – could be converted into dwellings.

Parish council representative Ian McPherson told the meeting: “We [the Authority] went to the trouble to get Counsel’s opinion. It is a very thorough and detailed opinion. If we don’t stick to policy … we will be letting ourselves in for the consequences as Counsel sets out.

He added that those members who agreed to approve the applications after such advice were on a different planet to him.

Julie Martin commented that if they breached their own criteria it would be difficult in the future to adhere to the policies in the Authority’s Local Plan and Jocelyn Manners-Armstrong reminded the committee: “Our policy is basically a conservation  based policy – and that is our primary purpose.”

Richard Graham, the head of development management, summed up the Counsel’s advice by stating that consideration had to be given to the impact  upon the character and appearance of a traditional barn, its landscape setting and upon the historic significance of the building.

Most of the committee, however, did not agree with the planning officer that the conversion of both of the barns should be refused because the proposed alterations would detract from their heritage significance and the landscape. The planning officer also argued that the proposed extension to that at Oughtershaw was significantly too large.

North Yorkshire County Councillor John Blackie pointed out that Counsel had stated it was possible to have a large extension or alteration that did not have a significant effect on a building, just as it was possible for a small extension or alteration to have a significant impact. So just measuring an extension did not reveal if it’s size was significant or not.

He added that the converted barn without the extension to house a utility room would not suit the needs of a young farmer with a family living in such a remote place as Oughtershaw.

Parish council representative Chris Clark said: “If that barn is not converted it will fall down. It is already deteriorating and there are holes in the roof. I would rather see a family in a roadside barn with the extension than have a barn which falls down.Its only a few yards away from Oughtershaw hamlet.”

The planning officer had also argued that the barn at Hartlington Raikes was too far away from the road to be described as a roadside barn.

North Yorkshire County Councillor Robert Heseltine reminded the members that an appeal inspector had overturned the Authority’s decision to refuse a barn conversion at Tug Gill Lathe near Starbotton which was a similar distance from a road.

He did, however, want the Authority to reconsider its policy of allowing dual use of such barn conversions, removing the permission for holiday lets and retaining just that for local occupancy. And he did not like the use of telescopic lenses on cameras when officers were seeking to illustrate what they believed would be the impact upon the landscape.

“It is important to take care of the landscape but also to care for the people who live here,” said Richmondshire District councillor Yvonne Peacock. She added that it was proving very hard to get new affordable  homes built in the National Park and so barn conversions were very important.

Appletreewick – February

A planning officer’s recommendation to approve a retrospective application to retain an area of hard-standing near the New Inn in Appletreewick was accepted. This was on condition that there was an approved Management Plan and that only pre-organised groups will have the right to camp at the site.

The Management Plan would include the provision that the field gate should remain shut and locked at all times with only authorised key holders able to have access. This would be in accordance with the requests made by Appletreewick Parish Council. Residents are also concerned about how the security of the site is monitored and the control of litter and noise.

The hard standing was created by Yorkshire Water when it was carrying out work at the sewage works. It was reported that the owner does plan to cover it with earth from the site and then to seed it with grass.

Some residents had questioned the size of the hard standing but the planning officer believed that it was needed to accommodate up to six cars and three larger vehicles carrying equipment when Scout groups were camping at the site.

Arkengarthdale – November

There was unanimous approval for the application by the Upper Dales Community Land Trust Ltd to build four affordable homes for rent in perpetuity on land adjacent to the Methodist Church in Langthwaite, Arkengarthdale.

Arkengarthdale Parish councillor John Watkins told the members that when he bought his home in Arkengarthdale 20 years ago it cost him less than £70,000. Today it would sell for around £270,000. ‘For me that is simply not affordable. Home ownership in Arkengarthdale and indeed the rest of the Dales is now the privilege of the older and the fairly well off. And that’s why our communities are dying off in my opinion. What is badly needed are nice affordable homes to rent such as the ones under consideration here’.

The chairman of Arkengarthdale Parish Council, Stephen Stubbs, said: ‘Arkengarthdale Parish Council is very excited abut the prospect of four affordable homes being built for rent for perpetuity in Arkengarthdale. They’ll be primarily for young people to live in, and will encourage them to bring up their families here and so keep the future bright for our deeply rural communities, because a Dale without the presence of young families does not have a future at all.’

Mr Stubbs and Mr Watkins are both directors of the Upper Dales Community Land Trust. Another director,  North Yorkshire County councillor John Blackie, told the planning committee how important the development was to Arkengarthdale and then went and sat with the public and took no further part in the meeting.

The planning officer commented: ‘This is an encouraging proposal for community-led housing made by a community land trust that would help increase the supply of local housing for the local community. The proposal would address a proven local need that is supported by the Housing Authority and there are no alternative sites within the housing development boundary that could deliver affordable housing.’

Richmondshire District councillor Yvonne Peacock said that such community-led housing schemes were an excellent way to solve the problem of providing affordable homes.

The YDNPA’s member champion for development management, Jim Munday, said after the meeting: ‘It is very encouraging to see this community-led housing scheme being proposed. The Upper Dales Community Land Trust, led by John Blackie, deserves considerable credit for making it happen.

‘The Authority has been pleased to be able work closely with the Trust, the local community and the housing authority, Richmondshire District Council.’

Bainbridge – February

The committee also approved the application to construct five affordable dwellings on land to the rear of the Rose and Crown.

Bainbridge Parish Council supported this and had pointed out that the real incomes of farmers and those employed in agriculture had substantially declined in the last few years to a point that open market housing was no longer affordable.

“Above all councillors felt that they wanted to be able to keep local people in the place where they want to be.”

But some residents are not sure the proposed development could be described as affordable housing and so set up the Holmbrae 2016 Residents Group. The planning committee deferred a decision in December because this group threatened legal action.

The Authority reported that In a letter from its solicitors this month  the Holmbrae 2016 Residents Group reaffirmed its position that it would seek to quash any decision to approve the application by way of judicial review. The letter, it said, reiterated previous objections based around the lack of evidence that the dwellings would be affordable and attached a report that they have had prepared by a consultant. The report disagreed with the need for five affordable dwellings within Bainbridge Parish, argued that alternative infill sites have not been fully considered, questioned the support for discount for sale properties rather than requiring affordable rented accommodation, and disputed the affordability of the proposed dwellings to those in housing need.

The planning officer has recommended that the application should be approved. He reported that even though the area behind the Rose and Crown was outside the housing development boundary it could be considered as an exception site as long as it was a small scale development where all the  houses were all restricted by legal agreements to be “affordable” to local residents who were in housing need “on a cascade basis”.  There was, he said, a considerable backlog in the provision of affordable homes in the Upper Dales.

He believed the new houses would reflect the character and appearance of other dwellings nearby and would have no negative impact upon the conservation area or on the amenity of other residents.

He stated: “The National Park has a static (potentially declining) and ageing population – a serious demographic problem identified in the Local Plan. The Authority’s Housing Strategy aims to release more land for housing to address this problem and support the social and economic well-being of local communities. The provision of more housing for sale to local people at a price below the market price in Bainbridge will contribute to the strategy and support the sustainability of the community.

Cllr Peacock said that such community-led housing schemes were an excellent way to solve the problem of providing affordable homes.

The YDNPA’s member champion for development management, Jim Munday, said after the meeting: ‘It is very encouraging to see this community-led housing scheme being proposed. The Upper Dales Community Land Trust, led by John Blackie, deserves considerable credit for making it happen.

‘The Authority has been pleased to be able work closely with the Trust, the local community and the housing authority, Richmondshire District Council.’

Bainbridge – November

The committee unanimously approved the application to build five ‘affordable dwellings’ on land at the rear of the Rose and Crown.

Cllr Peacock stated that the term “affordable housing” did not just mean to rent but also to buy. She explained:

“There are many, many local people who want to live and work in the Yorkshire Dales National Park who would not be eligible for property and they cannot afford to rent on the open market, which is now evidently higher than any mortgage. And they cannot afford to buy open market houses. They are in housing need. In the last six months a huge amount of work has gone into making sure that these are affordable houses.”

She was supported by Cllr Blackie who said that unless there was a 30 per cent discount on the new houses many local people would not be able to afford them because of the price increases caused by properties being bought for second homes and holiday accommodation. The committee was told that 30 per cent of the housing in the National Park was now holiday accommodation.

“Bainbridge is thriving but it still needs young families. Without young families your community does not have a future.” he added.

The six month delay in approving this application was due to a review being commissioned by the YDNPA following the threat by the Holmbrae Residents Group (HRG) that legal action might be taken.  The HRG questioned that the development at Bainbridge would be in accordance with Local Plan policy in respect of assessing the need for such affordable housing. It added: ‘The Authority has adopted a flawed approach to the question of whether the development can be described as affordable housing taking into account local incomes.’

In his report to the November meeting the head of development management, Richard Graham, stated that, even with the discount, two of the houses would only be affordable to those with the highest earnings available in National Park. With the discount the cost of the  three-bedroom houses has been estimated at £185,000,  £196,00 and £182,000, and the two-bedroom houses at £147,000 each.

Mr Graham  pointed out that the number of private lettings in the Upper Dales has fallen dramatically from a high of 92 lettings in 2012 to just nine in 2017. In the same period the median rent had increased from £477 a month to  £594pcm. He reported that most of the cheaper houses which those on low incomes could buy were small stone built cottages that were more expensive to heat and were often in remote areas and had no gardens. He added that insufficient affordable houses were being built each year to fulfil the estimated need.

The new houses at Bainbridge would, he said, be built to modern building regulations and would have adequate parking and garden space for families. In addition to each house being subject to legal agreements which will apply the 30 per cent discount with a local occupancy restriction there will also be a clause restricting purchasers to those in housing need. This would be vetted by Richmondshire District Council as the housing authority.

Mr Graham stated: “The Authority’s Housing Strategy seeks to widen the range of affordable housing to meet the needs of local families and first time buyers and attract younger working households to live in the National Park.” He added that there were no suitable sites within the housing development boundaries of the Upper Dales villages. That at Bainbridge is outside the housing development boundary and so comes under the policy for rural exception sites.

Bolton Abbey – September

It would be a sacrilege to change a 200-year-old barn at Bolton Abbey in any substantial way, Cllr  Heseltine, told the committee  – and the majority of the members agreed with him.

Lancashire County Council councillor Cosima Towneley, however,  reminded the committee that the agent, John Steel, had warned that if permission was refused the Chatsworth Settlement Trustees of the Bolton Abbey Estate would not appeal. “Why should anyone pour any more effort into a building which is absolutely no use?” she asked.

At present all that the public can see of it is the corrugated roof Mr Steel said. He explained that the Estate expected the cost of converting the barn into a two-bedroom holiday let, including using insulated dry lining for most of the interior, to cost just under half a million pounds.

The planning officer commented: “The internal finish …would have the appearance of a modern property. The proposed dry lining of this building would harm its heritage significance and could put the long-term survival of its fabric and features at risk of accelerated decay.” He stated that insulated lime plaster would be better as it was a breathable material.

The Estate, however, believed that if lime plaster was used the barn would not be fit for use as a holiday home, said Mr Steel. He added that the Estate had submitted seven sets of amended plans during its discussions with the Authority and Historic England. One of the biggest changes had been to agree to thatch the roof with ling (heather). “This will be sourced from the Estate as it would have been when the barn was originally built,” he explained.

The planning officer reported that the large threshing barn and adjacent walled-off cow house dated from the 17th Century or early 18th Century and was one of the largest surviving example of its type in the northern English uplands. It has partly reset cruck trusses, low eaves  and remnants  of heather thatching under the sheeting on the roof. The cow house, he said, had a particularly wide doorway which, it was believed, was widened in the late 18th C to accommodate the famous 1,132kg (312 stone) Craven Heifer.

Historic England assessed the barn and cow shed as a listed building in November 2017  about four months after the Estate applied to convert it. Some of the committee members agreed with the Authority’s  listed building officer that conversion to any domestic use, including holiday accommodation, would have a detrimental effect on the high heritage significance of the building.

The planning officer told the members that until a few weeks prior to the meeting the officers had hoped to come to an agreement with the Estate but then there were problems concerning what type of interior wall covering to use and the proposed car parking and curtilage area. He said that an alternative parking area had been suggested which the Authority and Historic England believed would have a less damaging impact upon the historic layout beside the barn.

“Because the applicants are not prepared to change [these] we reluctantly recommend refusal,” he stated.

Cllr Allen Kirkbride, the parish member for the Upper Dales, commented: “I am very disappointed there hasn’t been agreement between the two parties. It is a historic building [and] what has been done to the roof is criminal.”

He voted in line with Bolton Abbey Parish  Council which had not objected to the proposal but the majority of the members  accepted the officer’s recommendation.

Coverham– February

Middleham Town Council  did not object to Bell Barn being re-developed to provide catering facilities beside the Saddle Rooms but pointed out that this was yet another retrospective application, requested more conditions and suggested that the owner should be asked to pay towards the cost of repairing the road to this tourist attraction.

It stated: “Council notes that this is a further retrospective application and is unhappy that this appears to be an established practice by this applicant [Colin Armstrong]. The important contribution of the site to the local economy is fully recognised by the council, indeed we include the Forbidden Corner within our Middleham business forum and wish to support them as we do all other local businesses and enterprise.

“It is disappointing always only to be able to comment in retrospect, when construction has been undertaken without any permission. Planning rules apply equally to all businesses and residents.”

The council is also concerned about the road conditions around Forbidden Corner. It pointed out that there would be an inevitable increase in traffic levels along the narrow roads through Middleham and past the Low Moor racehorse training gallops. These, it said, were not maintained for heavy use and the surfaces deteriorated rapidly.

It added: “The council wishes the planning authority to consider placing a condition that the applicant should contribute towards the additional costs of retexturing the road, particularly from West End, Middleham to Tupgill Park entrance, including taking account of the surfacing needs for use by ridden, shod horses.”

It also asked for a condition which will protect racehorses on Low Moor. It stated: “Council asks the planning authority to take account that there is no vehicular right of access … across Low Moor to the northerly entrance to Tupgill Park. The Moors are  held in trust by the council and leased to Middleham Trainers’ Association. The route is clearly signed as a private road and Public Bridleway only.”

It was now, however, being frequently used  by large goods vehicles and delivery vans going to and from the Forbidden Corner. As a result it was very worn and damaged causing considerable risks to valuable racehorses and their riders.

It continued: “Council objects strongly to extending opening hours for the altered structure: business hours for the Forbidden Corner have been restricted on grounds of the potential danger to ridden horses and disturbance created by vehicles moving through Middleham at night and during the morning training hours from dawn to 1pm.”

The opening hours considered acceptable for Bell Barn by the planning officer are 12am to 11pm Monday to Saturday, and 12am to 9pm on Sundays and Public Holidays.

While the YDNPA’s visitor services manager commented that the re-development of Bell Barn was positive in terms of local employment, local services and produce, and the wider tourism economy, the senior  listed building officer was less impressed.

The latter stated: “The application has failed to adequately take into account or conserve the heritage significance of the site or of the recently demolished stable block. The replacement building includes details which imitate traditional features, but without any demonstrable historic context, and is likely to give a false impression of the site and its historic development.”

The planning officer’s recommendation to approve was accepted by the committee.

He reported: “The re-development of the  courtyard building which has occurred has created an additional indoor visitor facility at an existing visitor attraction and has potential benefits for the local community.

“Although the development has resulted in loss of part of an undesignated heritage asset the former stables are not considered as having been worth of retention for their own sake.

“The siting, design and appearance of the redeveloped courtyard building is considered to be acceptable and has not caused significant harm to the landscape, residential amenity or highways safety.”

Coverham – June

Yet another retrospective planning application for a site connected to Forbidden Corner at Tupgill Park, Coverdale drew an exasperated sigh from Cllr McPherson.

But a planning officer said that as most of the application site was hidden from view the work which had been carried out would have little impact upon the landscape. The committee, therefore, accepted his recommendation to approve the application for permission for grading and drainage channels on land to the rear of the Ashgill buildings, the provision of rear access, parking areas, construction of an oil tank compound, planting, landscaping an ancillary works. The application was described as part retrospective as not all the work had been completed.

Cllr  McPherson commented: “Whenever I see an application with Tupgill Park on it my heart sinks, simply because I know it’s going to be retrospective. I would like them to know we really have had enough.”

The planning officer explained that there had been a significant development in the working relationship between the owner of Tupgill Park and the YDNPA. The Authority had received one application (for the demolition of Ashgill Cottage) prior to work starting, and another for an extension to Ghyll Cottage where work had only just started. The application to demolish Ashgill Cottage and replace it with a building containing four self-catering holiday units had been withdrawn, he added.

The Ashgill complex, he reported, was on the hillside above the Forbidden Corner and consisted of the main  house, several cottages, stable buildings, yards and a  horse walker. It was, he said, a commercial race horse training and equestrian centre.

Middleham Town Council informed the Authority that it had several concerns about the application. These included the “piecemeal development on a large site with no coherent design strategy”, the consistent pattern of retrospective applications and the use of the private road to the north of the site.

The  Council stated: “There is ongoing vehicle traffic from the site across Middleham Low Moor owned by this Council and leased to Middleham Trainers’ Associaition. It causes undue wear on a private road and affects the horses under training and crosses a bridleway. The operators of the Forbidden Corner make no attempt to restrict this.”

In response the planning officer observed: “The proposal is a comprehensive solution to the access, parking and drainage issues affecting a definable area of the Ashgill complex.

“As the private road [is] owned by Middleham Town Council they would know who has the right of access and can control it accordingly. The National Park’s Access  Ranger notes that the right of way is indirectly affected but has not objected.”

Dent – November

A small barn next to the Stone Cross in Main Street, Dent, can be converted into a three-bedroom holiday let even though Dent Parish Council strongly objected.

The majority of the planning committee agreed, however, that it was better to let it be converted than for it to fall down.

South Lakeland District councillor Ian Mitchell told members that the parish council’s main argument was that converting the barn into a holiday let did not meet the YDNPA’s policy on sustainable development.

The parish council had stated: ‘Increasing the number of properties in Dentdale that are available as holiday lets does not contribute to the sustainability of the community. There are already holiday lets in the village which are under utilised (some being empty for many months including during the summer). There is a need for housing for local occupancy and the constant sale of property to be converted to holiday lets means there are less opportunities for local housing.

“If something is not done about this now, the community will die. The loss of the primary school would be a tragedy in this community and without housing for families this will happen. The Census revealed that the population has stopped growing for the first time since 1970.

“The existing open market housing stock remains very attractive to people wishing to retire to the National Park, while this external demand pushes up prices beyond the reach of many local families and first time buyers. The Census also revealed that 22 per cent of housing is now second homes or holiday lets.”

In response the planning officer said: ‘While the views expressed by the parish council are understood and it is recognised that there is an acute need for more local occupancy dwellings across the National Park generally, it is important to remember that the conversion of traditional buildings (acceptable uses) policy is a conservation orientated policy not a housing policy.

“The aim of the policy is to secure the long term future of traditional buildings in a manner that conserves their intrinsic value in locations able to accommodate the intensity of the new use.”

Embsay –April

The committee agreed with Embsay with Eastby Parish Council that a raised patio in Brackenley Lane would have an unacceptable impact upon the amenity of neighbours.

Embsay with Eastby parish councillor Judith Benjamin told the meeting that those standing on the 60cm (almost 2ft) high patio could look directly into the garden and a private room next door. She said that this would be a breach of the Authority’s own guidelines to avoid  any tall extensions along a boundary which would be overbearing or dominating if viewed from a neighbour’s window or sitting out space.

She added that the two metre high fence proposed with the approval of the planning officer would not remedy this, and that the fence would be overbearing and over-shadow the neighbour’s garden.  “The only logical solution would be a reduction in the height of the patio.”

She also asked that the width of the patio should be decreased so that it did not reach up to the neighbour’s boundary.

The planning officer had stated “The construction of the raised patio is unfortunate as it is an  un-neighbourly development which gives the neighbours a perception that their privacy is more greatly affected that would be the case if the patio was at ground level. Nevertheless it is considered that the patio does not afford a greater degree of overlooking … The proposed two metre high fence will screen views from seated patio users and will help to reduce the perception of overlooking.”

Cllr Heseltine agreed with the parish council that the patio was an un-neighbourly extension as people would stand there and so be able to see much more.

When the majority voted to refuse the application Mr Graham commented that this could lead to enforcement action. He said the decision would have to be ratified at next month’s meeting.

This decision was confirmed at the meeting in May. The members agreed it was high enough to have a significantly harmful  impact upon the privacy and residential amenity of a neighbour.

Fremington  – Dales Bike Centre

The new management plan for the Dales Bike Centre must be enforced Cllr Blackie told the committee.

Like the rest of the committee he fully approved of the plans put forward by Stuart and Brenda Price to double the size of the Dales Bike Centre at Fremington in Swaledale. But the committee had heard that some residents were unhappy especially as the Bike Centre had not complied with the planning conditions included with the original permission ten years ago.

Paul Evans, on behalf of the residents in Low Fremington, told the committee that, contrary to the original planning conditions, the café was not only being used by cyclists but by other day trippers who arrived by car. He said that residents had not complained about breaches in planning conditions and any disturbances because they had tried to be good neighbours.

He continued: “This new proposal will result in a much large scale 24-hour a day operation which we are told we now have to police by the way of a telephone number – and the impact will increase dramatically.

“Very limited steps have been taken to relieve our concerns. The best we are offered is a six-foot wooden fence that may be better than the previous screening which was never delivered.

“This is a huge development dwarfing the village and creating a tourism hub in a residential location. It has been claimed this will have no impact on either the landscape or local amenity. However, we would say this view has been influenced and skewed by the potential economic gain.”

He asked if the car parking area at the Bike Centre could be moved away from nearby properties and a high stone wall in place of the wooden fence.

Mrs Price said: “We have made every effort to minimise the impact and considered how to manage the expanded business. We are deeply passionate about our community and take an active part in it. “We felt our home village of Fremington was an ideal location to tackle the emerging cycle tourism market. It’s been an amazing time. We have been part of a huge explosion in cycling and cycle tourism in the Yorkshire Dales.

“Our development will provide the vital infrastructure to support the Swale Trail and capitalise on the legacies of the Tour de Yorkshire whilst allowing us to be at the forefront of cycling in Yorkshire.”

Cllr Blackie said how grateful he was for such entrepreneurs who supported the local economy and local communities as well as providing so much pleasure and enjoyment for visiting cyclists.

Cllr Peacock agreed stating: “This application is spot on. We have got to try and encourage people and this is a good way to do it. They [Mr and Mrs Price] have done a wonderful job.”When members asked about the original planning conditions not being kept they were assured that the new management plan would be secured with a section 106 legal agreement.

Grassington – March

There was a unanimous vote in favour of allowing New Dyke Barn on Hebden Road near Grassington to be converted into a three bedroom dwelling for either local occupancy or a holiday let.

Grassington Parish Council had originally objected to the application because of concerns about the safety of the access onto Hebden Road. “Traffic leaving the access is doing so blindly and this could cause numerous accidents. There was a fatality there a number of years ago and the concern is that if that access was opened and used again another could occur,” the parish council reported.

“The access to the site is currently to the east of the barn which has been identified as unsafe,” the planning officer said. She told the meeting that the proposal now included a new access and parking area on the western side and this had resolved the issues raised by the parish council.

She reported that if any new electricity supply to the barn was required it should be installed underground.

Hartlington Raikes – May

“I don’t want to see that again,” Cllr Heseltine told planning officers at the meeting.

He was referring to the second reason a planning officer had given for recommending refusal of an application by Matt Mason for a barn to be converted at Hartlington Raikes.

The officer had stated: “The applicant has not entered into a legal agreement that would restrict the use of the building to short term holiday lets and/or local occupancy use and as such, the proposal would not contribute positively to the economic/tourism benefits or to the housing mix of the National Park and would therefore be contrary to … policy.”

Both Cllr Heseltine and Cllr  Blackie said they had never seen such a reason for refusal like that before. Cllr Peacock pointed out that usually planning permission was granted first with a condition that a legal agreement was required.

The planning officer replied: “It’s simply a procedural matter. If it [the application] were to be refused today and it was appealed against, the inspector considering the appeal would see that there wasn’t a legal agreement entered into. When it goes to appeal the only thing that can be considered is what is on the reason for refusal, so the inspector wouldn’t be considering whether it would be a local occupancy at all. He would say the Authority hasn’t objected to a lack of a legal agreement, therefore, I don’t need to require one. That’s why it’s on the recommendation.”

Mr Mason was the first to compare his application with Tug Gill Lathe near Starbotton. In late March a planning inspector overturned the planning committee’s decision to refuse permission for Tug Gill Lathe to be converted into a local occupancy home. In the appeal decision summary the inspector disagreed that the converted barn would have a negative impact upon the landscape and also recognised that the Authority’s policy which allowed roadside barns to be converted required local occupancy or holiday  let legal agreements.

Mr Mason told the meeting that the planning officer had questioned the proximity of the barn at Hartlington Raikes  to a road. But this barn, he said, was closer to a road than that at Tug Gill. He explained:

“I submitted this application in  January 2017 to convert this roadside barn to a family home for my daughter. We would happily sign [a Section 106 agreement] and comply with all the regulations.” On his application he had written that the converted barn would be subject to either local occupancy or holiday let restrictions.

Julie Martin agreed with the planning officer that converting the barn at Hartlington Raikes would detract from the landscape character of the National Park and commented: “I was very concerned about the Tug Gill Lathe decision which, to me, didn’t seem to be the correct interpretation of our policy. In what circumstances can we actually refuse roadside barns?”

Cllr Peacock, however, stated: “It is a judgement as to whether we think that is a roadside barn or it isn’t. Tug Gill Lathe has now been passed so  I personally believe that our policies say that this is okay.”

At the June meeting the majority of members confirmed the decision to approve this application – see “Debate about barn conversions” above.

Hartlington – July

An application for a pay station machine and control barriers at the seasonal car park at Wharfe House Farm, Hartlington, was turned down due to the chairman’s deciding vote.

The members were equally divided between those who agreed with North Yorkshire County councillor Gill Quinn that it was a well thought out scheme which would enhance traffic management, and others who felt that the pay station and control barriers would be too intrusive within the landscape.

The applicant, Michael Daggett, explained that the field had been used for seasonal parking since the early 1970s and, on occasions, had provided a facility for up to a thousand visitors at a time, including young families who could then picnic beside the river.  This was especially important as there were so few car parking spaces in Burnsall.

The planning officer reported that the field was only open  when it would not be damaged by cars being parked  there. This temporary use of the land should be no more than 28 days in a calendar year. In 1974 permission was granted to build a toilet block there.

She stated: “The high visual quality of the landscape around Burnsall and the fact that it is unspoilt by unsightly modern development is one of the ‘special qualities’ of the National Park and the reason why so many people visit the area. Although this proposal is small in scale it is development of this nature which has a negative impact that erodes the visual quality and farmed landscape character of the area.”

Hartlington Parish Meeting told the Authority: “There have been some slight concerns about the impact of visible barriers in an agricultural field. Also regarding having a system where vehicles are backed up onto the road waiting to enter whilst collecting a ticket.

“Any system allowing cars freely into the car park and charging upon exit or at a discrete ticket machine would be a major improvement on road safety and congestion. Whether this could be achieved without visible barriers…does appear to appease more residents.”

Hawes – July

The likelihood of a 40mph speed limit being introduced on the A684 on the eastern approach to Hawes led to approval being given to a young local couple to convert a barn into a three-bedroom home.

The committee unanimously approved the application by artist Stacey Moore – and Mr Graham said that even though this was against the recommendation of the planning officer the decision would not have to be ratified at the August meeting.

Steve Calvert, Miss Moore’s partner, told the committee that both of them had been born in Hawes and most of their families were still living and working there. He worked full time in a local builder’s merchants and Stacey had returned from university to open her own business in Hawes.

He explained: “The house prices in Hawes are extremely high for first time buyers and I don’t believe that is an affordable option for us.” They could, however, afford to convert a barn which the Moore family owned. “It will make an ideal family home with three bedrooms and allow us to stay in Hawes for the rest of our lives. We love the Dales and can’t imagine living anywhere else.”

Cllr Blackie told the committee about the proposal to introduce a 40mph limit. Both he and Cllr Peacock emphasised the importance to the local communities of retaining young people and young families.

Julie Martin congratulated the couple on putting forward such good plans for a barn conversion.

The planning officer had pointed out that the barn could not be described as a roadside barn as its curtilage did not adjoin the road. But there was an unsealed track leading to it and the barn was already well screened, so there would not be a negative impact upon the landscape.

Hebden – November

A family home cannot be constructed at the Longthornes Haulage Depot at Hebden, because the site proposed would be too cramped for a modern dwelling, the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s planning committee decided on Tuesday November 13.

At the October meeting the application by Mr and Mrs J Longthorne had been approved but that decision had to be confirmed at the November meeting as it was against officer recommendation. During the following month several committee members, including Jim Munday who is the YDNPA’s member champion for development management, decided they could no longer support the application. Last week he was one of the nine who voted for refusal with just five supporting the Longthornes.

Mr Munday explained that the Authority had already approved a planning application to convert a listed barn beside the proposed site. That barn, he said,  would be totally dwarfed by a new four-bedroom house with the latter having very limited curtilage.

Mr Graham stated that the proposed new house would be on what would have been part of the historic curtilage for the barn conversion and would be an over-development of the site. Julie Martin asserted that this would create a new sub-standard family home with no garden.

Cllr Peacock, however, pointed out that the affordable houses near the YDNPA’s office in Bainbridge also had very limited curtilage. ”Nobody seems to mind that somebody on benefits lives in a house with very little garden.” She added that it would be in line with government policy to build as many houses as possible on a site with each having very limited curtilage.

“Here we have a local businessman in the National Park who employs people. Now that is something I wish we had more of,” she commented.

She reminded the committee that this would ensure that another family would remain in the National Park. The Longthornes had stated they wanted the house for a grandson who is required to be on the site so that he could respond immediately to requests to provide gritting and snow clearance during the winter. He would also be there to help ensure the security of the site.

Cllr Heseltine asked how the committee could ignore the public service that the Longthorne family was providing.

And Cllr John Blackie  pointed out that the family had requested a legal agreement that would tie the house to the business.

Mr Graham, however, said that such a legal agreement required evidence that the house was necessary to the business and that had not been provided.

Hebden Parish Council fully supported the application because of the local need for affordable housing so as to keep up school numbers.

Kettlewell – June

There were no divisions when members discussed the proposed alterations at Scargill House near Kettlewell – and members unanimously voted in favour of the application made by the Scargill Movement.

This includes demolishing several buildings including the Three Peaks complex which was carefully designed in the early 1970s to not only reflect the topography of the site but also to help provide a fitting setting for the Grade II* chapel designed by George Pace in the early 1960s. The complex was described by a planning officer as being a highly valued non-designated heritage asset.

English Heritage has stated, however, that the complex as well as the Aysgarth building and the dining room will not be listed.

During a site visit some members were told that the Three Peaks buildings had been poorly constructed and were in a bad state of repair. The high steps and different levels also made it unusable.

The Scargill Movement is keen to provide disabled access, en-suite accommodation and a more sustainable site. To do this the dining room and the Aysgarth building (a much altered traditional barn) will be demolished and new ones erected to allow easy access between them and the new Three Peaks as well as better facilities within well-built, thermally efficient buildings.

Dave Lucas, the operations manager, told the meeting: “Our intention with this scheme is to ensure the long term future of Scargill…so that it will continue it’s work [as a Christian centre] in a sustainable way and continue to contribute to the economic and social fabric of our local communities in the Yorkshire Dales. Also that the chapel will continue to be used for its intended purpose and to be properly looked after.”

English Heritage has given listed status to the distinctive Marsh Lounge, built in 1965, which was described as a rare example of Pace’s secular design. It’s roof will, however, have to be altered as it leaks.

A planning officer pointed out that most of these buildings were, and would be, well screened by the large area of ancient woodland, from which the steeply rising roof of the chapel with its large windows appears “to grow out of the dale”.

The present residential block, built  in the 1970s and 1980s, is less well screened. It is intended to demolish this and construct a new block with natural stone but using a contemporary design and having an undulating grass roof. The Scargill Movement no longer plans to construct a large building on the car park. It is expected that it will take 15 years to complete the scheme.

It was agreed to delegate authority to the head of development management regarding the ongoing discussions about such issues as the lighting schemes, the materials to be used, the hours of construction, a travel plan for the management of visitors’ arrival and departures, and a legal agreement to tie the woodland management plan to the development.

Kettlewell – November

The photographs shown to the Yorkshire Dales National Park  Authority’s planning committee did not give a clear representation of the parking problems in Sally Lane, Kettlewell,  Cllr Clark told the members on Tuesday November 13.

Both he and North Yorkshire County councillor Gillian Quinn asserted that converting a small barn in Sally Lane into a one-bedroom holiday let would increase car parking problems.  Cllr Quinn said that on many occasions vehicles were double parked there.

This amounted to a material consideration for refusal, said Mr Clark, especially as Highways North  Yorkshire (with the support of Craven District Council) had objected to the application because parking was already extremely tight there. Kettlewell-with-Starbotton Parish Council had also objected for the same reason.

The YDNPA planning committee, therefore,  confirmed its decision to refuse the application even though a planning officer had recommended approval. He stated: “Should the application be refused and the applicant lodge an appeal, officers consider that it would be difficult to demonstrate that the use of a one-bedroom cottage for holiday use would result in such a level of highway disruption that the impact on the highway network would make it unsafe for the users of the highway.”

Members were also concerned about the complete lack of any curtilage around the barn. Both Craven District councillor Carl Lis and Cllr Quinn queried that district council workers would, for a fee, empty an externally accessible bin store.

Long Preston – November

Approval was given for an agricultural storage building to be constructed at Megs Croft in Green Gates Lane, Preston.

Long Preston Parish Council had objected because it felt this would lead to over intensive use of the land as there were two agricultural buildings there already.

The applicant, Roy Newhouse, told the committee that he had been born on a farm and had worked for many years in agricultural services. “What I want to do [now] is build up a small farm for my son,” he said.

As he had amended the plans he submitted since last  year  the planning officer accepted that the timber-boarded building would serve the needs of the smallholding. One of the conditions is that when it is no longer used for the purpose for which it will be installed it must be removed from the site.

Malham – April

It was agreed that a mast on the National Trust’s Malham Tarn Estate should be capable of not only serving the Emergency Services but also provide mobile phone communications.

The application for a 15 metre high lattice mast was made as part of the Home Office’s Emergency Services Mobile Communications Programme. The planning officer reported that such masts are used to provide  voice and data reception for the emergency services as well as sending patient details to a hospital to enable staff to prepare for their arrival, video recordings of arrests from police officers’ body cameras and live streaming to nearby officers.

He said that for this one use a monopod mast would be sufficient. As this would have less impact upon the landscape he recommended that the application for a lattice mast should be refused.

Neil Swain declared a personal interest as he was acting as the landlord for the National Trust site. He had asked the committee to consider the application because, he said, mobile communications were at the very forefront of the needs of modern families and, therefore, a key element in trying to attract more families to live and work in the Park.

Eden District Councillor Valerie Kendal and North Yorkshire County councillor Richard Welch said that the mast on Malham Moor should be strong enough to be shared with commercial operators who could provide mobile phone coverage sometime in the future rather than having a proliferation of masts.

Cllr John Blackie pointed out that masts were proposed for Keld, Muker and Arkengarthdale. He wanted to ensure that these were lattice masts so that those Dales’ communities would have 21st century communications.

Jim Munday, however, commented: “This is is almost in the centre of the National Park. It is totally unspoilt.” He pointed out that in other parts of the National Park there was talk about getting rid of pylons rather than installing new ones. Julie Martin agreed with him that the lattice mast would be considerably more intrusive than a monopole.

This time, when the majority of members voted in favour of a lattice mast contrary to the officer’s recommendation, Mr Graham told the committee that the decision would not need to be ratified at the next meeting.

Malham – September

“We are  letting very good schemes go by the board simply because of dogmatic policies,” Cllr  Towneley angrily told the committee.

The committee had just – by one vote – refused permission for Cawden Barn at Malham Raikes, Malham, to be converted into a local occupancy or holiday let.

The members were told that the applicants wanted to use it for agricultural accommodation from January to March each year as the family had 500 sheep at Malham which lambed in the open. It would then be used as holiday accommodation. The agent, John Steel, said that although the barn was outside the village boundary there were dwellings within 25 to 40 metres of it.

Kirkby Malham Parish Council supported the application “in principle” as it wanted the barn to provide “local occupancy” living accommodation. It added: “It should  not be for the purposes of holiday letting and be restricted by a local occupancy condition.”

The planning officer reported that back in 2006 the historic barn had been in a ruined state. It was then heavily restored  using non-traditional construction methods, including a distinctive arch, and enforcement action was pursued. The planning committee had approved a retrospective application in 2009 for the barn to be used for storage but not all the conditions have been complied with he added.

He said the latest application did not comply with the Authority’s Local Plan and would be a new dwelling in the open countryside. The barn, he said, was not a traditional building of heritage significance as it had been erected in 2009.

Cllr  McPherson stated: “Unless we stick to our policies the whole thing becomes a lottery – there’s no certainty. This is contrary to local policy.”

Cllr Peacock, however, retorted: “If we cannot go against policies and put forward material considerations then it is just a waste of time for us sitting here. A planning committee  is here to judge a planning application and we cannot sit here and say ‘this is against policy so we are not doing  this’. We can say ‘Yes, we understand it is against policy’ …but we can put forward material considerations whether or not they are good enough. This is the reason we have a planning committee.”

Cllr Towneley agreed with her and added: “Policies are there but we are not here just to be ruled by policy.” She asked the members to consider the benefits to the community of having more young people living in the Dales and added: “Are we seriously saying that because of a dogmatic policy we are going to fail to allow this chance of use and to allow sustainability?”

Maulds Meaburn – November

Eight unauthorised changes to way Snow Drop Barn in Maulds Maeburn in Eden District was converted into a dwelling amounted to a shocking act of vandalism, the YDNPA’s member champion for cultural heritage, Mrs Martin, told the meeting.

She described the Maulds Maeburn as an outstanding village in landscape and historical environment terms. The barn, she said, was on its northern edge and played a key and very visible part in the setting of the village and the conservation area. She added that as it was so visible from both the northern and western approaches to the village the conversion had seriously damaged the historic assets of Maulds Maeburn.

Cllr  Peacock commented: “It makes a mockery of the planning committee. We’ve got to make sure that everybody realises that this is wrong.”

Cllr Blackie agreed and stated: ‘The applicant has totally ignored our concerns. Frankly, what they’ve done is nothing short of criminal. It does seem a very, very dramatic breach of planning regulations.’

The committee unanimously agreed that a retrospective application for the change of use of land to form a garden, retention of excavation of land and the construction of retaining walls should be refused and that enforcement action should be taken.

Members particularly commented on the way the appearance of the barn had been changed by sandblasting the exterior and re-pointing with pink mortar.

The other unauthorised works were: a much larger curtilage to the side and rear of the building; significant excavation works to the rear of the building and hard surfacing of that area; construction of a large blockwork retaining wall; conversion of the detached outbuilding and installation of roof lights; reconfigured internal arrangement; different window and door arrangements; different and larger roof lights in different locations to those approved and a new opening in the gable.

A Maulds Meaburn resident, Judith Fraser, told the committee: “Every day we are going to be looking at an inappropriate development.”

Members were informed that the applicant had been told in May this year to stop the works on the site, and was warned on several occasions that any works  carried out would be at their own risk. But the work had continued.

The enforcement notice will give the owner six months to secure the removal of the retaining walls and reinstatement of the land to the north and east of the building line, and the removal of all the timber sheds which have been installed on the site.

Permission was refused for the erection of a garage cum store, an incubator shed and four chicken huts.

Newbiggin-on-Lune – July

The committee refused to remove the local occupancy condition Hill Top Barn in Newbiggin-on-Lune even though they were told it was not fit for purpose and would not meet statutory legal tests.

The condition was imposed by Eden District Council in 1997 when it allowed what was known as The Stone Ban to be converted into a workshop and dwelling. Since the National Park was extended the YDNPA follows the Upper Eden Valley Neighbourhood Development Plan for that area.

Ravenstonedale Parish Council informed the Authority: “Current policy makes no provision for such a condition and it is noted that in recent months no less than three similar applications in the same locality of the extended National Park have had no such condition applied. It is considered that the re-application of this Local Occupancy condition is now unreasonable.”

The planning officer, however, maintained that retaining the local occupancy condition was consistent with national and local policies. “[It] forms part of the local planning authority’s strategy for tackling on-going challenges with regards to sustainability. To remove the condition would facilitate its sale as open market housing possibly as  second home thereby hampering sustainability,” he stated.

Cllr Peacock said that the Authority was trying hard to extend the number of houses available to local people so as to make Dales’ communities more sustainable.

Cllr McPherson (a retired solicitor) commented that the original condition should have been more precise and accepted that the applicant’s agent, Kayleigh Lancaster, had made a very strong case for it to be removed.

Due to the bad sound system it was not clear what else he said – nor was it possible to hear what Ms Lancaster told the committee. She has kindly provided a copy of the statement she read at the meeting:

I am a chartered Town Planner, with both Local Authority and Private Sector experience. We were asked by the applicant to consider this condition, and advise on the wording and criteria of the condition. This is application is a re-submission of an earlier application which was also recommended for refusal by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority earlier this year.

This application has been submitted on the basis that the occupancy condition is not fit for purpose and would not have met the statutory legal tests for a planning condition, nor would it today.

As you will be aware, the planning condition states that Hill Top Barn “shall only be occupied by a person or persons (including dependants, widow/widower) who in the opinion of the Local Planning Authority satisfy an identified local housing need”.

Whilst we do not question the aim of the 1996 Eden Local Plan at the time, we do question how this has been executed in the form of this poorly constructed condition. There is no definition of what is meant by ‘identified local housing need’, nor is there sufficient information provided to enable an occupier to establish whether they would comply with this condition.

As an example, I would draw your attention to the local occupancy conditions which are regularly used by this authority. Your approach is robust and clear for all to understand, both the criteria and the locality are clearly defined. In addition to this, the use of the phrase ‘in the opinion’ is not considered to be precise for the purposes of a planning condition.

In imposing this condition, Eden District Council have attached ‘Notes to the Applicant’ which refer to an affordable housing section of the Local Plan, despite the original application not being for affordable housing – we would therefore question its relevance but can only assume it was referred to in an attempt to provide some support for the condition – this has no legal standing.

We would question how reasonably the Authority could assess whether someone could comply with the condition. There is a significant amount of uncertainty created through its imposition and we would contend that it is unenforceable in its current form.

This point is further illustrated in a letter sent by EDC in 2002, in which they attempt to retrospectively clarify what was intended by this condition. I must stress that the contents of this letter and the note to applicant already referred to cannot legally be relied upon in the enforcement of a planning condition. The planning condition itself must be precise and enforceable, which in this particular case the condition is not.

Whilst we acknowledge the YDNP have been put in a difficult position in trying to defend a poorly worded condition which was imposed by another authority and we also acknowledge the importance of Local Occupancy Housing in the NP, the decision taken today must be based on an assessment of the legality of the existing condition and other such factors should not cloud your judgement.

In refusing this application the YDNPA must be entirely satisfied that the original condition, meets the statutory planning condition tests which are to be reasonable, relevant to the development, relevant to planning, precise, necessary and enforceable. As we have already stated, the condition is ambiguous and therefore cannot reasonably be considered to be precise or enforceable.

Finally, I would ask you, as Members of this Committee to consider whether you consider this condition to be fit for purpose and to consider whether you would be able to make a robust assessment of identified local housing need in the absence of a criteria and defined locality. If your answer to this is not a definitive yes, then the authority should grant approval for the removal of this condition.

Oughtershaw – March

How to define “a significant extension” and the difference between a holiday let and local occupancy when a farmer was trying to plan ahead for the day when his son would join the family enterprise became pivotal issues at the meeting.

Nigel Pearson had applied to convert a roadside barn at Oughtershaw to create a local occupancy dwelling or holiday let. The planning officer stated that Mr Pearson’s son might or might not become the local occupant in five years time and so the conversion had to be considered as a holiday let which did not require an extension.

Mr Pearson explained that it might take four years for the family to finance the conversion and that any use of it as a holiday let would only be until his son needed it.

He added:”The barn is on the small size and if you are a dual worker you need a place to take off your boots, shower and clean up. You also need space in the utility room for a large freezer and fridges for food and storage. In such an isolated place you can’t pop to the shops every day – you need ample supplies of food. An extension is needed so that we can accommodate this need.”

The planning officer, however, pointed out that the extension represented 47 per cent of the original floor space in the barn. North Yorkshire County councillor Robert Heseltine warned: “If we back this today it’s a coach and horses through a policy – a precedent that will come back to haunt  us.”

“The size of the extension is the main issue,”  he added.

Cllr Kirkbride, however, pointed out that there were numerous barns in the dales which had extensions and Buckden Parish councillor  Cllr Clark, who  lives at Oughtershaw, commented:

“What Oughtershaw needs is more vibrancy, more people and more families. Even though there is an extension I believe the barn will still  maintain its agricultural integrity. I think we should go for it.”

Both Cllr Blackie and Cllr Peacock reminded the committee of the need to encourage young people and families to live in the dales.

“If we can encourage this young man [Mr Pearson’s son] to finish his schooling, to go to agricultural college and come back to work this  land we should. Let’s face it, if we didn’t have the farmers working this land it would be an eyesore and tourists wouldn’t want to come,” Cllr Peacock said.

And Cllr Blackie added: “We need to put our money where our mouth is. If young people express a desire to continue in that industry they should be afforded that opportunity without having to push those who preceded them out of their homes.”

He said that although in the policies regarding barn conversions “significant” was not defined the proposed extension should be reduced in size.

The majority agreed and a decision was deferred to give Mr Pearson time to amend the plans.

Oughtershaw – April

A new bench mark could be set for the conversion of traditional roadside barns in the Yorkshire Dales if the plans for a small one at Oughtershaw  are approved. This was the warning given by a planning officer at the meeting on April 10.

And when the majority of the committee voted in favour of Nigel Pearson’s application Mr Graham said that the decision would be referred back to next month’s meeting as there were some fundamental points on policy to be considered.

He explained that there should be strong material considerations for deviating from the Local Policy and if there weren’t a precedent would be created.

In his report a planning officer stated: “If approved, the proposal would set a new bench mark for barn conversions whereby all applicants would wish to have a kitchen off the main building with a fully glazed screen wall that represented a 33 per cent increase in floor space.”

At the meeting he said that the extension could be half the size of that proposed and warned:  “Officers consider that to allow this proposal due to its size and function would result in a clear precedent that would seriously undermine the existing policy. It would be likely to generate numerous new applications.

“While officers would have to try and resist such proposals it would represent a green light for the addition of bright, modern fully glazed airy kitchen and dining rooms for all new barn conversions and applicants would ask to have these considered by the committee rather than by officers. Any such subsequent approvals would further erode the policy and efforts of officers to negotiate sensitive conversions schemes.

“The final and fundamental tenet of the planning system is that applicants should be able to expect consistency in decision making.”

Cllr Blackie expressed concern that the officer had over stepped the mark in his presentation – and for doing so Cllr Blackie was rebuked by both North Yorkshire County Councillor Robert Heseltine and the chairperson, Richmondshire District Councillor Caroline Thornton-Berry who stated after the vote : “I would ask members if they would respect officers who are doing their best – they have got very clear guidelines.”

Even so the majority accepted Cllr Blackie’s argument that the plans should be approved as it would provide accommodation for a rural worker in a very isolated area where  additional storage and utility space was required especially in winter. He explained that Mr Pearson had reduced the size of the extension as suggested at the March meeting and no longer wished to use the converted barn as a holiday let until his son wanted to live there.

The planning officer stated: “While officers would have to try and resist such proposals it would represent a green light for the addition of bright, modern fully glazed airy kitchen and dining rooms for all new barn conversions and applicants would ask to have these considered by the committee rather than by officers. Any such subsequent approvals would further erode the policy and efforts of officers to negotiate sensitive conversions schemes.

“The final and fundamental tenet of the planning system is that applicants should be able to expect consistency in decision making.”

At the June meeting the majority of members confirmed the decision to approve this application – see “Debate about barn conversions” above.

Rylstone – July

The application for an extension to Fox House in Raikes Lane, Rylstone, was refused because the applicant had decided not to go ahead with an amendment agreed with the planning officers.

At the planning meeting in May members had deferred making a decision so that officers could discuss amending the plans. The original application was for an extension above the existing kitchen to form a bedroom which would result in a dual-pitched roof. The officers felt that a mono-pitched extension with roof lights would have less impact upon what they viewed as a building (a former Quaker meeting house) of significant historic interest.

The applicant, however, decided against amending design partly, the officer reported, because the sound of rain on the roof lights would disturb those sleeping in the bedroom. A different amendment was discussed but then the applicant decided to stay with the original plans for a pitched roof, the officer said.

Stalling Busk – July

Cllr Blackie wanted an enforcement notice on a holiday let to go to appeal to clarify whether or not Hilltop at Stalling Busk had been sub-divided into two dwellings.

An enforcement officer said that a two-bedroom attachment to Hilltop was being run and advertised as a fully self-contained holiday let with its own kitchen  and bathroom. There were doors connecting it to the main property on the ground floor and upstairs but guests did not need to use these for access to the holiday let.

He argued that  Hilltop had been subdivided to make two separate dwellings contrary to the Authority’s housing strategy.

The owners were, therefore, advised  to either cease using it as a holiday let and make it part of the main building again; submit a planning application for a local occupancy dwelling for one of the dwellings; or operate a Bed and Breakfast business using two of the five bedrooms and remove the separate kitchen.

Cllr Blackie said: “There is absolutely no intention by these owners to want to create a separate dwelling. Our Local Plan is very strong on bringing visitors into the Dales to spend money in the local economy, to provide employment. My advice to [the owners] is that they should go to an enforcement appeal. I am going to ask the planning inspector what his opinion is… if it is, in planning terms, a sub division or whether it is an informal use of part of the property which is in no way self-contained because you can [get to] the property both upstairs and down.”

The majority of the committee agreed that an enforcement notice should be issued, with a six months compliance period of six months, for the cessation of the use of the building for residential purposes as a separate, self contained dwelling house for use as a holiday let.

Swaledale Telecommunication Masts – June

A 12.5m high lattice communications mast which could also provide mobile phone coverage in Upper Swaledale will be installed at Crow Tree Farm, Gunnerside, as part of the Home Office’s Emergency Services Mobile Communications Programme.

Muker Parish Council had strongly objected to the original application which was for a “telegraph pole” mast. It had stated: “The possible erection of this mast within an Upper Swaledale landscape is at best controversial. The erection of this mast without the potential facility for commercial network coverage for both residents of the parish and visitors alike is not acceptable to the Council.”

The planning officers, therefore, asked the Secretary of State if that application could be amended – and it was. The meeting was told that a monopole mast will, however, be erected at Crook Seal Barn on Birkdale Common 6Km west of Keld.

A planning officer explained: “There is no resident population included within its range. The light traffic on the road [B6270] and the small number of game keepers and seasonal shooters means it is highly unlikely there will be any commercial interest in providing a service to the public at this location. However, EE, the installing company for the Home Office, could switch on their apparatus system [for public use] but that would be their commercial decision.

“This is a completely different situation to that at Crow Tree Farm. The predicted coverage for that shows that there is a substantial resident and visitor population in Swaledale between Thwaite and Gunnerside. A lattice mast…would be capable of accommodating a number of commercial operators. That mast will be substantially bulkier than is needed at Crook Seal.”

Cllr  Blackie stressed the need for 4G coverage in such remote areas (see below) and said it was likely that, once lattice masts were installed as at  Crow Tree Farm, there would be campaigns to get mobile phone coverage in those deeply rural areas.

“This is an essential opportunity to bring communications up to the 21st century in the more remote areas,” he said.

Eden District councillor William Patterson told the meeting that there was a monopole mast on his farm erected by BT Cellnet and onto which Vodaphone had bolted its equipment to provide a public service. “Monopoles are far less obtrusive,” he said.

Jim Munday wasn’t so sure. He commented: “I am extremely uncomfortable with the alien poles on the landscape. It is wrong, it is out of place and it is horrible.” He emphasised the need to ensure that when the masts were no longer required that the owners of the equipment should remove them and reinstate the sites.

The planning officer had received the following advice from the Home Office via Entrust Services.

“A public user on an 800 MHz LTE capable device will be able to make a 999 call on the EAS (Emergency Alert System) network provided that the device is VoLTE capable. Users from other Operators with similarly capable devices will not be able to establish a connection.

A public user on a non 800Mhz LTE capable device will not be able to make a 999 call on the EAS network. As the only coverage available in the EAS areas will be 800 Mhz LTE, non 800Mhz capable devices, will not be able to establish a connection.”

There are  4G devices that do not support LTE 800Mhz and also 4G LTE 800Mhz devices that don’t support VoLTE.

Thoralby –April

Approval was given for a large  slurry store to be installed behind trees above Heaning Hall at the east end of Thoralby. This will be nearly 41 metres in diameter and five metres in height with a capacity of 6,005 cubic metres. According to the YDNPA this will be the largest  circular slurry store in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

Michael Lancaster told the committee that there had been detailed discussions with planning officers about where to locate it so that it would have minimal impact upon the landscape. He said its location will also mean that there will be a reduction in the movement of slurry wagons through Thoralby,  will allow him to store slurry for six months, and enable  him to increase efficiency and grass production on the farm.

It was a significant investment, he said, and was the next step in the improvements he had made since taking over the farm from his father 11 years ago.

Cllr Blackie commented: “If you want to see the Upper Dales continue in dairying you have got to recognise and give support to farmers.” He added that the site above Heaning Hall was much better than that originally proposed by Mr Lancaster. That had been at the west end of the village near the farm buildings but in a much more visible location. Mr Lancaster had withdrawn that application.

Threshfield – March

A new dormer extension on a house in Threshfield must be removed within three months the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s planning committee decided on March 13.

An enforcement officer reported that the dormer at High Winds, Threshfield, did not comply with the plans as approved by the committee in February last year. That approval  had been subject to several conditions to ensure that the roof, walls and window materials matched those of the existing building.

The officer found that the dormer was larger than had been approved and that the roof pitch was much flatter. The window arrangement had also been altered. She described the dormer as now being a dominant and unsightly feature.

Cllr  Heseltine asked if enforcement could be deferred to give time for the applicant, Andy Gould, to make a planning application for the dormer as it is now but this proposal was rejected by the other members.

In a letter to the committee the Gould family explained that they had sought not to spoil the appearance of the house any more than it had been due to other extensions being added prior to their acquiring it.

“We were determined to make sure the dormer was the best for the house and the best in the area. The dormer may have altered during build, but only due to circumstances  whilst it was being built.”

One of those factors was that building regulations dictated that an emergency exit had to be incorporated into one of the windows. The inclusion of a suitable larger window then had an impact  upon the slope of the roof, the family stated. They said they had chosen different but better materials to match the colour of the house. They added:

“The dormer is certainly not an unsightly feature. We don’t consider it to be visually prominent and don’t believe it is harming the character or appearance of this part of Threshfield.”

At the meeting Cllr Welch commented: “It is totally out of character. We are talking about setting an example.”

The committee gave authorisation for an enforcement notice to secure the removal of the unauthorised dormer extension and to reinstate the roof slope using tiles to match those on the existing roof. There is a compliance period of three months.

West Witton – May

The number of children at West Burton primary school might not have halved in six years if the housing development at West Witton had gone ahead earlier Cllr Blackie told the meeting.

He pointed out that the site had been listed as being available for affordable housing at the Local Plan inquiry in 2004.

“We’ve taken 14 years to get from a landowner wanting to contribute to the need for affordable housing to actually getting a scheme on the ground. Is there any wonder that young people are voting with their feet to leave the National Park?” he asked.

He told the meeting that the Authority had jibbed and jibbed about how many houses were needed on the site but recently had become more supportive. He added:“Houses on that site in West Witton are within the catchment area for West Burton primary school. The school has gone down in six years from 44 children on the roll to 22. It may not have been in this position if that scheme had come forward quicker – rather than having to go through the bureaucratic log jam that it has.”

Cllr  Peacock said the Authority’s planning officers had worked with the developer and the district council to make sure that the right application was made.

A planning officer reported that there will be 17 houses of which six will remain “affordable” in perpetuity by always being sold at 70 per cent of their market value. Two others will be affordable rental properties retained by the developer, Swale Valley Construction, and managed in conjunction with Richmondshire District Council as long as the latter provides financial support.

“We do need affordable housing to rent but we do now know we need affordable housing to buy as well. A lot of work has gone into this – we have actually got a perfect site and the perfect application,” Cllr Peacock said.

Cllr Blackie explained that when the Authority had approved the application for a second housing development behind the Rose and Crown at Bainbridge it had set a precedent for discounted market properties for sale in perpetuity at 70 per cent.

“I think this is the way forward if you are going to be able to provide houses to purchase rather than to rent, although there is still a need for housing to rent as well,” he remarked.

Cllr McPherson noted that some residents in West Witton had objected to the application but that West Witton Parish Council had supported it.

The parish council had accepted there was a proven need for affordable housing but was concerned that there was no provision for single person accommodation and about the potential for the future development of the field. It has asked if a matrix sign could be sited at the bend in the A684 at the western entrance to the village just before the entrance to the development.

In memory of Jim Cunnington

plaque_threeThere was a definite ‘Wow’ factor on Thursday June 7 when some members of the Association of Rural Communities‘ committee gathered at Winterburn for the delivery of a plaque in memory of Jim Cunnington.

The first surprise was to see  how well the lime tree had grown after it was planted in Jim’s memory five years ago.

Then I watched almost in awe as two farmers, the Association’s chairman Alastair Dinsdale, and Clifford Lambert, created a gap in the dry stone wall between the tree and the road and skilfully inserted the stone on which Alastair had attached the plaque. It was a short master class in dry stone walling.

Afterwards Jim’s widow, Jenny (pictured beside the plaque), invited us back to her home for a delightful afternoon tea.

At the committee meeting that evening it was agreed that the Association should plant two more trees – in memory of two more of its founder members, Tom Knowles and Stephen Butcher. This will be discussed with the families of Tom and Stephen.

Below: Alastair (left) and Clifford inserting the stone with plaque attached;  the plaque with the the lime tree behind it; tree planting in May 2013. 



Stephen Butcher – a son’s tribute


It was a shock to hear of Stephen Butcher’s death on May 1 aged 89. The leader of Craven District Council, Cllr Richard Foster, said that Stephen really cared deeply about the people and landscape of the area.

It was that which led him to be a founder member of the Association of Rural Communities (ARC)  and its chairman for several years.

James Butcher told those who attended his Dad’s funeral at St Peter’s Church, Rylstone, on May 18 that Stephen was born in Keighley and had a strong Christian belief throughout his life.

When at Sedbergh school he had developed a love for sport, particularly rugby and cricket, and academically had great talent for English and the Classics.

Stephen had moved to Fleets Farm when he was five-years-old, after his father (a solicitor) had bought it. He might have chosen another career if his father had not been so keen for him to farm. James said: “He embraced this with enthusiasm and committed himself to farming. He studied agriculture at Cirencester and was inspired by what he learned there.

“In 1962 Dad had met and married the woman who would stand beside him for 56 years. Mum and Dad made a wonderful team and provided a great deal of inspiration and support to us three children and their seven grandchildren over the years.

“We take comfort that he was still fully active in mind right at to the end although a life in farming had left his body jiggered, his knees, hips, back and shoulders worn out. But his wicked sense of humour, strong mindedness and integrity never faltered.

“He was a countryman to the core, he loved living and working in the Dales, and in return he gave a lot back. He cared passionately for the countryside, its wildlife, architecture and community. An over- riding theme for him was that the Dales must be a living and working place, it must continue to evolve.”

He said his Dad’s life had many facets. The first, of course, was as a farmer. He bought Throstles Nest Farm opposite Kilnsey Cragg and this became his and Moira’s first family home. He described his dad as forward thinking and progressive. He improved the farm, put up modern farm buildings, and embraced new technologies particularly silage making and the introduction of continental cattle including Charolais. James continued:

“His success with the [Fleets] herd was immense and the herd’s blood lines influenced Charolais breeding world-wide. His ultimate accolade was to breed both bull and cow – the Charolais pair that won the Burke trophy interbreed championship at the Royal Show, something unique. Nobody ever did that again.

“Dad was actively involved at all levels of society making great friends and travelling all over the world promoting the breed and buying cattle. He also imported other breeds – continental cattle and sheep.”

Stephen served on many farming committees both nationally and locally and was a member of Craven Cattle Mart for 40 years. As its chairman, James said, he had steered the Mart through its move from the town centre to a new site.

“After retiring from full time farming he came off the board of Craven Cattle Mart and we were worried about how he would cope with the transition. We shouldn’t have worried. It was really the start of a whole new positive era of his life. We were immensely grateful for his unstinting support and his continued interest in the farm.

“He was encouraged to stand as Craven District Councillor and was voted on as a councillor for Calton Ward. Dad always took his responsibilities seriously whatever committee or organisation that he represented. He refused to be a Yes man, was strong minded and principled, despising unnecessary red tape.

“He soon found his natural forte was planning matters firstly with Craven District and then the Yorkshire Dales National Park’s planning committee. It didn’t matter who you were – friend or stranger. If you approached Dad for help, he would listen to your case, investigate it diligently, and if he thought it was right, he would support you. It’s only in recent days, reading your letters, that I realised quite how many people of all backgrounds and situations Dad had helped.

“He continued to have an active interest in planning matters long after he stepped down from being a councillor. He was an active member of the Association of Rural Communities and campaigned vigorously for sensible planning decisions.”

Stephen had many other interests. He acquired his love of cars from his father and at Cirencester became friends with the racing driver, Jack Sears. He went on to race saloon cars at amateur level rubbing shoulders with the likes of Stirling Moss, James said. He never lost his love of fast driving or his adventurous streak. He liked skiing, sailing and travel, and went on a trekking holiday on the Everest base route. And back at home he enjoyed painting, wood turning and gardening.

He and his wife participated in all aspects of local community life. He played cricket with the Kettlewell team, was a regular performer in amateur theatre productions, and was an early member of the Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue providing support by using his four-wheel drive tractor and jeep.

James described him as a loving father and grandfather. “It is safe to say Dad led a full and an accomplished life. He will continue to inspire us for many years to come.”

To that Joanna Rycroft added: “Grandpa was a gentle giant and had a heart of gold. We are all incredibly proud of being his grandchildren and will miss him enormously.”


Stephen first became a member of Craven District Council when he was elected for what was then the Calton Ward in 1994. He then represented the Gargrave and Malhamdale Ward from 2002 until his retirement from the district council in 2012.

He was chairman of the district council from 2001 to 2002, and served on various committees including planning, licensing, community services, economic development, regeneration and development, environmental services, and estates and leisure.

Stephen represented the district council on various bodies including the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority from 1998 to 2002, and again from 2006 to 2012.

We on the ARC committee will miss him greatly.

Tom and Margaret Knowles

The rich family life of Tom Knowles was celebrated at the St Peter and St Paul RC church in Leyburn – and it was for his family and as someone who cherished and loved to share the beauty of the Yorkshire Dales that he founded the Association of Rural Communities.

“Grandad taught us family is an important support centre.,” Sarah Jayne Mitchell said in her tribute to him, during which his other grandchildren and some of his great grandchildren joined her at the front of the church to say their own quiet farewell.

She told a packed church that Tom had been born in Durham in August 1933 and baptised Thomas Henry. His family moved to Darlington five years later and after he left school he went into farming in Wensleydale with the Iveson family at Wensley.

He met Margaret Lambert at a National Farmers’ Union dance in Leyburn in 1953 and they married two years later. Tom commented after she died four years ago: “We loved working in each other’s company and we were a great loving team.”

When they moved to Westholme near Aysgarth in 1958 it was just a small dairy farm. Not long afterwards they were asked by the then Vicar of Aysgarth, the Rev John Benson, if they would let boy scouts camp there two to three weeks a year.

Soon after this they started catering for the parents of boy scouts and many others for Tom and Margaret certainly understood how important it was to encourage people on more restricted incomes to visit the Dales. Some of those people later came to live in the area.

Local people also enjoyed the food at the camp site restaurant and the discos. “Many of us were lucky enough to share those days. We now have some great memories of the beautiful place at the end of the rainbow known as the ‘wreck’”, said Sarah. But Yorkshire Dales National Park planning officers tried to close the campsite and eventually created a situation whereby the site could become a luxury lodge park where campers and touring caravans were not welcome. (see below)

After Tom and Margaret took over a bed and breakfast business with a restaurant in 1988, Tom became an Aysgarth and District parish councillor. He was remembered at this year’s Aysgarth Township meeting as being a generous man who bought the village its first Christmas tree with lights.

His experience as a parish councillor made him well aware of the growing anger towards what was then the Yorkshire Dales National Park committee and he poured out his frustration in a letter to the D&S in 1995. Even he was surprised by the huge response to that letter.

He spent the last part of that year attending large angry meetings from Askrigg and Garsdale to Kettlewell and the Association of Rural Communities was born. As the association’s president he summed up very clearly in 1998 some of the major problems facing the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority.

“The Yorkshire Dales should be a prosperous area with young people able to have families in thriving villages and towns, and able to earn a living without having to leave their local communities. The most important issue facing the YDNPA is how they can improve the local economy which is necessary to keep the younger generations employed in the area. Instead they are being driven out as there are too many second homes and holiday homes,” he said.

He continued helping to monitor YDNPA planning meetings for the association after he and Margaret moved to Spennithorne in 1996. Retirement also gave him time to indulge in cooking and baking.

Sarah explained: “Grandad had many hobbies which included painting, gardening and baking. This made him well known in [local] show circles for winning many cups and prizes.”

Tom and Margaret had three children – Carolyn Bowe (who died in 2003), Jacquie Dinsdale and Tony Knowles, as well as 13 grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren with one more due on what would have been his birthday.

Father James Blenkinsopp officiated at the funeral mass and the bearers were Tom’s grandsons: Paul Knowles, Stephen Bowe, and Keith, Stuart, Ryan and Chris Dinsdale.

The collection of £470 will be shared between St Peter and St Paul RC church and Yorkshire Air Ambulance.

Tom began writing to the planning department in 2007 asking about the basis on which the holiday park at Westholme was being remodelled. The Association of Rural Communities assisted him and after several letters it found out that the planning department had given approval for the remodelling on condition that the site could no longer be used for pitching tents, touring caravans, trailer tents or mobile homes. This, it was stated, would be for the “benefit to the natural beauty of the landscape” partly because there would be no brightly coloured tents. The site has now become a multi-million pound eco lodge site.

The funeral service for Margaret Knowles took place at SS Peter and Paul R C church in Leyburn on Thursday, March 13 2014.

She was a popular Dales’ lady who had lived her whole life in the Aysgarth and Leyburn area. Her grandchildren especially remembered her for providing an important support centre in their lives.

As her granddaughter, Sarah Jayne Mitchell read her family tribute to this “beautiful lady” Margaret’s other grandchildren joined her and held candles in memory of her.

Margaret, who was born in May 1936, was one of three children of Horner and Alice Lambert. She attended West Burton primary school and then Yorebridge Grammar at Askrigg. She met Tom at a National Farmers’ Union dance in Leyburn in 1953 and they married in 1955.

In April 1958 the couple moved to a small dairy farm at Westholme, Aysgarth. Soon afterwards the then vicar of Aysgarth, the Rev John Benson, asked if they would be prepared to allow boy scouts to camp there for two to three weeks a year. This led to Margaret and Tom developing the farm into a very successful, well landscaped site for caravans and tents, which was also used by those taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme.

The discos in the restaurant and bar were very popular with local young people and Margaret’s hospitality was especially appreciated. Sarah Jayne commented: “Many of us (were) lucky enough to share those days – we now have fantastic memories of that beautiful place.”

In 1988 Margaret and Tom moved to Grayford near Carperby and established a thriving, successful bed and breakfast business with a restaurant. And yet again Margaret’s cooking was a big attraction.

Sarah Jayne said that her grandmother had been crowned Needle Queen at a national competition in London in 1972 and had gone on to become very well known over numerous years for winning cups, trophies and prizes at the Spennithorne and Harmby Village, Wensleydale, Reeth, and Muker shows for her knitting, crochet, dressmaking and baking. And last year in BBC2 ‘s Country Show Cook Off a celebrity chef was shown at the Wensleydale Show sneaking a piece of her prize-winning savoury tart to try and find out why his was only ranked third.

Sarah Jayne told the very large congregation at the funeral: “Grandma taught us (that) family is an important support centre to our lives. We are told constantly that our beautiful family is so unique – that is because we have excellent role models.

“Over her life our beautiful grandma was a strong lady overcoming a triple heart bypass and cirrhosis of the liver.”

Margaret and Tom had three children – Carolyn Bowe (who died in 2003), Jacquie Dinsdale and Tony Knowles as well as 13 grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.

Tom commented: “I’ve loved working in each other’s company and we were a great loving team.”

Father Pat O’Neill officiated at the funeral mass and the bearers were her grandsons – Paul Knowles, Stephen Bowe, and Keith, Stuart, Ryan and Chris Dinsdale.

The collection of over £1,140 will be shared between Herriot Hospice Homecare and Marie Curie Cancer Care.


Communication masts in the Yorkshire Dales


County councillor John Blackie has ensured that the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s planning committee will decide on what type of masts should be erected in Upper Swaledale in a bid to provide communities there with 21st century communications. (Above – looking across Upper Swaledale)

This is because, he said, a monopole mast has been approved for High Seal Houses in Arkengarthdale by a planning officer under delegated powers which will be solely for the use of the Emergency Services and can’t be shared with other mobile communications operators.

At the April meeting of the YDNPA planning committee a planning officer recommended that the application for a lattice mast on Malham Moor, which could be shared with other suppliers, should be refused. He said that as it was part of the Home Office’s Emergency Services Mobile Communications Programme a monopole would be sufficient and have less impact on the landscape.

YDNPA member Neil Swain, who acts as the landlord for the National Trust site on Malham Moor, had asked the committee to consider the application because, he said, mobile communications were at the very forefront of the needs of modern families and, therefore, a key element in trying to attract more families to live and work in the Park.

The majority of the committee approved the application because, as two said, the lattice mast will be strong enough to be shared with commercial operators and will not have a significant impact upon the landscape.

Following that meeting Cllr Blackie hopes that it is not too late to reappraise the decision regarding the mast at High Seal Houses in Arkengarthdale.

He has told Arkengarthdale Parish Council: “This may be a last chance for several years to secure mobile communications in Arkengarthdale and Upper Swaledale, which we all agree are both communications black spots of the highest order; but if the YDNPA is going to allow mast operators to get away with installing equipment that does not facilitate mast sharing then, given the huge importance of mobile reception in everyday life, it is consigning our deeply rural communities to a bleak future and an increasing spiral of ultimate decline.”

He has pointed out that in Keld and Langthwaite there is not only no mobile phone service but no terrestrial TV or radio signal either. When BT installed Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) to Keld in late 2017 it refused to put Angram on the circuit even though the fibre cable passes through it, nor will all properties in Keld be offered FTTP.

He added that in Langthwaite’s telephone exchange the aluminium underground wiring was so worn out that it was unfit for purpose and unsuitable for broadband via Fibre to the Cabinet. A resident there who lives 100 yards or so from the Dale road was quoted £29,000 by BT to be provided with a telephone line, he said.

He noted that the lack of such 21st century communications facilities means that primary and secondary school children cannot work at home on homework that requires them to have access to the internet; and that farmers cannot submit stock records and claims for subsidies online.

The largest employers in the local economy in Keld and Langthwaite, he said, were the accommodation providers. But they are losing trade due to the lack of internet connection, both for making bookings and because their guests expect to be able to communicate with the outside world!

“We have traditionally relied on a high loyalty factor…but the lack of modern communication provision is eroding this very important return visit source of business. It is especially important to visiting young families with children/teenagers to have a mobile phone service available so they can keep in touch with their friends whilst they are away on holiday,” Cllr Blackie added.

He has strongly urged Arkengarthdale and Muker Parish Councils to contact Rishi Sunak MP as they had been assured by him that the new communications masts would be capable of being shared.

The two masts proposed for Upper Swaledale are at Crowtrees and Birkdale Common in Muker Parish.

April 26 2018 – UPDATE

“Working together, and using the oxygen of publicity to highlight our plight, in six days we have turned monopole [telecommunication] masts, which will not accept any mobile service providers’ masts, into new planning applications by the Home Office for lattice masts that will accept equipment by all the mobile phone operators, should they wish to provide it. At least for the mast at High Seal Houses, Arkengarthdale, and Crow Trees near Muker. And there is every indication we can get the Home Office to change the application  at Birkdale Common near Keld to a lattice mast,” North Yorks County Cllr John Blackieannounced today.

He thanked the ARC News Service, Richmondshire Today and the Darlington and Stockton Times for helping to publicise the issue. He continued:

“All this stemmed from the planning committee meeting at the YDNPA last Tuesday week, where members (I seconded the proposal) overturned an officer recommendation for a monopole mast at Malham [Moor] only suitable for use by the emergency services in favour of a lattice mast capable of taking a number of mobile telephone service providers. This led on to my research of the policy and emerging permissions at the YDNPA for the masts in the Upper Dales,”

He was in contact with Arkengarthdale Parish Council which contacted Richmond MP Rishi Sunak as he had promised last September that the new masts being commissioned by the Home Office to provide coverage for the emergency services could also be used by commercial operators to provide 4G and broadband services to such remote communities.

Mr Sunak did take up the issue with the Home Office and the YDNPA and stated today: “In correspondence I had with the Minister last year, it was made clear to me that the company building the masts – EE – would be offering a commercial service given that the Government  was meeting the cost of building the structures in the most remote rural areas like the Dales. Further, the design of the masts would facilitate their use by other mobile operators where possible and commercially viable.

“So it is very important that we don’t close off that possibility by erecting masts capable of only meeting the needs of the emergency services.”

He said he would write to the YDNPA asking it to fully take into account the Home Office Minister’s guidance on mast shareability when considering any future mast applications.

The YDNPA reported today that the Home Office had applied to build five telecommunications masts in some of the remotest parts of the national park as part of a new “Emergency Services Network” (ESN) to be built by EE.

Those approved for  Malham Moor and land off the B6255 in Widdale were for lattice masts which can be shared with commercial operators, unlike the “telegraph pole” mast approved for High Seal Houses. The applications for “telegraph pole” masts on Birkdale Common west of Keld and at Crow Tree Farm have not yet been approved.

The YDNPA stated it had now asked the Home Office’s agents to amend the application for Crow Tree Farm to a slim lattice tower design. And Mr Sunak  said that the Home Office has confirmed it will make a fresh application for that at Seal Houses Farm for a mast which will carry commercial operators’ equipment.

YDNPA Head of Development Management, Richard Graham, said:  “The Authority’s policies recognise the masts as ‘essential infrastructure’.  It has been our job to work with the Home Office and EE to make sure the masts are designed and sited in such a way as to bring about maximum benefit while minimising their visual impact where we can.

“Much of the public debate is about whether the masts should be lattice towers or monopoles.  Towers have a clear advantage, in that they are big enough to be shared by other commercial operators.  But two linked considerations count against them. First, all the evidence suggests it is highly unlikely that other telecoms companies are going to want to step in to use these masts – because it just isn’t commercially viable for them to do so.  Second, lattice towers have a greater impact on the landscape than monopoles.

“The key point is that all the masts will be capable of doing the job for the emergency services and carrying a commercial service for EE customers – if EE choose to make that investment.”

He has pointed out that, due to its location, the mast at Birkdale would not provide coverage for the communities of Upper Swaledale.

YDNPA and the conversion of traditional barns

Converting roadside traditional barns was heralded as a vital element of the new Yorkshire Dales Local Plan in 2016 and has become one of the most successful ways of providing new homes for local people. But now it seems that policy is at a watershed. (The barn at Bouldershaw Lane, Arkengarthdale.)

The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) has reported that of the 79 proposals for new homes made between December 2016 and October 2017 50 were for converting roadside barns and other buildings.

Not everyone is happy about that. In his letter to the Authority’s chief executive, David Butterworth, last year Mark Corner, the chairman of the Friends of the Dales (formerly the Yorkshire Dales Society) stated: “The definition of ‘roadside’ barns seems to permit development along very minor roads or tracks into ‘open country’. In some cases this will have an adverse effect on the Dales landscape… We are concerned at the potential cumulative impact of barn conversions on the landscape and the attractiveness of villages.”

And this month a planning officer warned that if the YDNPA planning committee approved a proposal to convert a barn at Oughtershaw it would set a new benchmark for the policy.

In addition, the committee has to consider the implications of a planning inspector overturning its decision to refuse permission for the conversion of a barn between Starbotton and Kettlewell. The inspector ruled that converting the barn (Tug Gill Lathe) would not have a detrimental impact upon the character and appearance of the National Park.

At the planning meeting in May 2017 the chairman of the Authority, Craven District councillor Carl Lis, commented that if permission was granted for Tug Gill Lathe others could seek approval to convert barns in Wharfedale which were not as well hidden. “This is a step too far,” he said.

Another committee member, Ian McPherson, remarked: “Once we set the precedent of allowing roadside barns in that kind of landscape [to be converted] then, in my view we might just as well go home because we are not fulfilling the first statutory purpose that the National Park is basically all about.”

The planning inspector, however, stated: “I have considered the Council’s [YDNPA’s] argument that the grant of planning permission would create a precedent for other proposals. However, no directly similar sites were put forward and the particular characteristics and location of the site are readily distinguishable.

“In my opinion the proposed additions and alterations comprise the minimum necessary to enable the conversion to proceed and in other regards the external appearance of the appeal site would remain largely unaltered. The proposal would conserve the landscape and scenic beauty of the National Park and would also preserve the character and appearance of the existing building.”

Recently the Authority underlined the necessity of creating more homes for local occupancy. It stated that new homes will support the economy, Dales’ communities and the facilities they rely on, such as schools. Its objective, according to the Local Plan, is to increase the supply and range of new housing (including affordable and local occupancy) by 55 dwellings per annum.

It explained: “The target of 55 .. is almost twice the projected rate of household growth up until 2030 but still only half the estimated shortfall of affordable housing. It is, however, equivalent to the average rate of actual housing completion over the last 12 years, so is firmly rooted in deliverability”

In its draft Management Plan, however, the Authority states it will support the completion of at least 325 new dwellings in a range of tenures, sizes and types by 2023. It accepts that this is an ambitious target which is well above the “objectively assessed need”.

It notes: “Delivery will be challenging as developable land is almost wholly privately owned, is not freely available or commands unrealistic expectations of value. .. The focus remains on delivering housing that is affordable or satisfies local needs.”

The figures show that the one way that local needs are being met is by allowing more traditional barns to be converted into dwellings if they can be defined as “roadside” and without any “significant” extensions.

One of the barn conversions that the Friends of the Dales objected to was that at Bouldershaw Lane in Arkengarthdale last year. The chairman of Arkengarthdale Parish Council, Stephen Stubbs, told the planning committee:“We have to start protecting and developing the Dale now and we have to find affordable accommodation for tomorrow’s generations. Part of the remit of the Yorkshire Dales National Park has to be to assist us in resolving this difficult dilemma.”

The Association of Rural Communities (ARC) has supported and campaigned for the conversion of traditional barns for local occupancy since its inception in 1995.

Its late founder and president, Tom Knowles, stated in 1998:“The Yorkshire Dales should be a prosperous area with young people able to have families in thriving villages and towns, and able to earn a living without having to leave their local communities. The most important issue facing the YDNPA is how they can improve the local economy which is necessary to keep the younger generations employed in the area. Instead they are being driven out as there are too many second homes and holiday homes.”

YDNPA – Barn conversion appeal decision

Tug Gill Lathe between Kettlewell and Starbotton in Wharfedale can become a two-bedroom local occupancy dwelling following the Appeal Decision of a planning inspector who ruled that the barn conversion will not have a detrimental impact upon the character and appearance of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. In May last year the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority ’s (YDNPA ) planning committee refused an application by Margaret Rhodes to convert the barn.

The majority of the members accepted the planning officer’s assessment that the creation of a dwelling at Tug Gill Lathe would have a significantly harmful effect on the highly distinctive landscape of Upper Wharfedale due to its residential curtilage, car parking, external and internal lighting and other domestic usage.

The chairman of the YDNPA, Craven District councillor Carl Lis, commented then that if permission was granted for Tug Gill Lathe others could seek approval to convert barns in Wharfedale which were not as well hidden. “This is a step too far,” he said.

Another committee member, Ian McPherson, stated: “Once we set the precedent of allowing roadside barns in that kind of landscape [to be converted] then, in my view, we might just as well go home because we are not then fulfilling the first statutory purpose that the National Park is basically all about.”

Miss Rhodes’ agent, Robert Groves, told the committee: “A small respectful conversion as this one, occupied by the applicant who has a high respect for the landscape, can protect the environment and landscape better rather than, say, the barn reverting back to some other use or being derelict and the land slipping from being within the controlled schemes of Natural England to more unrestrained farming practices.”

The planning inspector stated: “I have considered the Council’s [YDNPA’s] argument that the grant of planning permission would create a precedent for other proposals. However, no directly similar sites were put forward and the particular characteristics and location of the site are readily distinguishable.“

In my opinion the proposed additions and alterations comprise the minimum necessary to enable the conversion to proceed and in other regards the external appearance of the appeal site would remain largely unaltered. The proposal would conserve the landscape and scenic beauty of the National Park and would also preserve the character and appearance of the existing building.”

He added that Natural England had stated that there would be no adverse impact upon the Upper Wharfedale Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in which the barn is situated, nor on the River Wharfe SSSI nearby.

There will be a legal agreement so that it remains a local occupancy dwelling, and the conditions include compliance with the plans and the removal of permitted development rights so that the YDNPA retains control over any future development.

She can’t do that – she’s a girl

The suffragette movement definitely inspired me as a child. The fight for women’s right to vote made me believe that women could aspire to a more interesting and fulfilling life. But in the 1960s there were so many hurdles in the way.

The first time I heard someone say “She can’t do that – she’s a girl!” was when my mother was discussing my choice of secondary schools with the wife of my primary school headmaster. I had just got good grades in the 11-plus exam and had a choice between going to grammar school or to the technical school. Mrs Gray assumed my mother would send me to the technical school where I would learn some domestic skills. When my mother responded that I wanted to follow in the footsteps of my two brothers and go to grammar school Mrs Gray was  horrified. “She will only get married and become a housewife – what a waste!” she said.

Ever the rebel that just made me more determined. The first few weeks at the grammar school, however,  revealed more about the British class divide. My neighbours on the council estate where I lived decided that a grammar school girl was too stuck up to talk to – even if I was wearing a second-hand uniform and riding a bike which my father had created out of bits he had found on a rubbish dump. It took me years to prove to my working-class neighbours that I still wanted to be friends with them.

At the all-girls grammar school it took just a few days for many in my class to realise that I was from a council house estate. They didn’t speak to me for years. Some only did so on the memorable occasion when a female teacher announced that I was considering leaving school early.

I was in the second year of the sixth form and wondering what to do next. My first choice was to be a cartographer but I was told very firmly by the careers officer that women were not allowed to work in the field. All they were allowed to do, it seemed, was a nice little safe office job. I didn’t want to be a glorified shorthand typist. So I looked for a job I thought I would like where I could be on equal footing with men. I chose journalism – but how to get a foothold in that when I didn’t want to go to university first? That could be achieved, I was told, by getting to know local editors and to keep reminding them I wanted the next trainee journalist position that became available. (There were no diploma courses in journalism then.)  I was, however, a bit too successful because I got offered a job before my A-level exams.

So there I was sitting in a classroom being berated by the teacher and her sycophants about why I had to refuse that job. And guess what, someone said “You can’t do that – your a girl.” Even they thought journalism wasn’t a proper job for a woman.

I didn’t respond but, as rebellious as ever, I left the school within days and started work at the local weekly newspaper. Through the fog of cigarette smoke I could just about discern an office full of men – and it didn’t take long before I learnt that to them my role, as the only woman, was to make the tea.

About a month later I was delighted when I got a proper job – to report on the hearings at the magistrates court. When I got back most of the men were there and for once the chief reporter joined them. And why? Because they wanted me to report in full on a sodomy case. They thought they were in for a good laugh. I told them to b***** off and left. I returned to the office in the evening when they were gone to write my reports. The photographer was also working late and he earned my respect that evening for being kind and supportive.

Not surprisingly it turned out to be a long, hard apprenticeship but I did survive.

I’ve just celebrated my 70th birthday and that rebellious streak is still there. That’s why I regularly, on a voluntary basis, attend many meetings of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA). The Authority is a quango and has considerable power over the lives of people living from near Lancaster City in the south to part of Eden District in the north, as well as Wharfedale, Littondale, Wensleydale, Swaledale and Arkengarthdale.

These days local newspapers don’t have the staff to be able to cover its planning and full authority meetings. So when it comes to a big issue like whether the council tax on second homes should be increased by 500 per cent the press usually rely on what is given to them by the Authority, either by its press officer or its chairman. That did not include reporting that some members of the Authority did warn about the possible  undesirable consequences. Only the ARC News Service reported on that.

There have been so many occasions over the years when the views of local residents and even the Authority members would not have been reported if it hadn’t been for the ARC News Service.

Just some thoughts regarding the YDNPA:  For 11 years it was run  by just one man (Cllr Robert Heseltine). The Association of Rural Communities called for the Authority to have secret ballot votes when electing a chairman. In 1999, when the Authority did do that, it also decided that no-one could continue as chairman for more than four consecutive years. Now,  however, we seem to have a “revolving door chairman” because Cllr Carl Lis was elected chairman from 2004 to 2008 and  2009 to 2012, and has had a further two years in that post since 2016. Is he trying to equal Cllr Heseltine’s total?

What’s more – the  Authority has never had a female chairman.

YDNPA – Planning reports February to December 2017

ARC News service reports on YDNPA planning meetings in 2017. Issues discussed: Consulting parish councils; holiday lets or local occupancy; barn conversions and objections to these  by The Friends of the Dales (Yorkshire Dales Society).

There are reports on the decisions made on applications from the following towns and villages: Angram,  Appersett, Arkengarthdale,  Arncliffe, Askrigg, Bainbridge, Barbon, Barden, Bishopdale, Bolton Abbey, Buckden, Conistone, Cotterdale, Coverdale ( Forbidden Corner ),  Crosby Garret, Embsay, Tim’s Barn, Gayle, Grassington, Hudswell, Hawes, Kettlewell, Litton, Linton, Long Preston, Newbiggin in Bishopdale, Rylstone, Sedbergh, Stackhouse, Starbotton, Thoralby, Threshfield, and West Burton. And there was the apology made by Lancaster City Council concerning a barn conversion at Leck.

The villages and towns are listed in alphabetical order. (Above: Semerwater – see Countersett)

Pip Land attends the YDNPA meetings on a voluntary basis for the ARC News Service to ensure that reports are available to the public. No newspaper reporters attend these meetings and so the ARC News Service is the only independent source of information concerning those meetings. In doing so this service also provides an archive of more detailed reports than can be found in the minutes available from the YDNPA.  If you would like to support this service do join the Association of Rural Communities.

Consulting parish councils – February

Parish councils in the Yorkshire Dales National Park must give substantial reasons for either supporting or objecting to a planning application even when they don’t know what the planning officers will recommend.This was emphasised both at the YDNPA’s planning committee in February and  at Aysgarth and District Parish Council ’s meeting a week later.

At the latter meeting Pip Land of the Association of Rural Communities  reported that if a parish council did not give detailed reasons a planning officer could make a decision under delegated authority that was contrary to its recommendation. An application will only be dealt with by the planning committee if either a parish council has given substantial reasons for taking a different stance to a planning officer or if a member calls it in.

The chairman of the YDNPA’s planning committee, Richmondshire District Councillor Caroline Thornton-Berry, commented at the meeting of Aysgarth and District Parish Council that the problem was that a parish council did not know what a planning officer would recommend when asked for its opinion.

At the YDNPA planning committee members had called in three applications on the behalf of parish councils: the dormer extension at Wharfeside Avenue in Threshfield; Mystified Bungalow in Bishopdale; and for a new house in Barbon.

North Yorkshire County Councillor John Blackie had called in the Barbon application and explained: “It will demonstrate to the communities in the newly extended areas, unfamiliar with how planning application are decided at the YDNPA, the process of member call-in, and the importance of encouraging their parish councils to provide robust planning reasons to underline their replies to statutory consultations by the YDNPA.”

Holiday lets versus local occupancy – August

Richmondshire District councillor Yvonne Peacock pointed out during the meeting that two parish councils (Buckden and Bainbridge) had objected to converting traditional buildings for both local occupancy and holiday lets instead of for just local occupancy.

Bainbridge Parish Council was concerned about the proposed barn conversion at Countersett, and  Buckden Parish Council had objected to the conversion of the Village Tea Rooms.

She asked the members of the Authority to take note that parish councils in the north and the south of the National Park were very concerned as they knew how much the converted buildings were needed for local occupancy housing. She told them that there were now 34 holiday cottages and second homes in Bainbridge.

Buckden parish councillor Chris Clark  said that the parish councillors were not against converting the Village Tea Rooms into a dwelling but could only register their concern about holiday lets by lodging a strong objection.

Senior planning officer, Michele Clowes, explained that if traditional buildings like those at Buckden and Countersett were considered to be suitable for intensive residential use then it automatically followed that an applicant could apply for holiday let or local occupancy, or for both. If, however, the building was in an isolated  or sensitive location then the planning officers would recommend less intensive use – that is holiday lets.

NB: in Thornton Rust in Wensleydale 25 of the 50 dwellings are now holiday lets or second homes. And in Kettlewell in Wharfedale 19 of the properties which have been sold recently are now holiday lets or second homes.

“Our villages are dying,” commented a member of the Association of Rural Communities. But what can we do about it?

Debate about Barn Conversions (Appersett and Hawes) – November

Two decisions were deferred until bat surveys could be carried out in the spring because the wildlife conservation officer had recommended refusal as there was insufficient information that bats would not be harmed.  Both applications had been made by Myles Metcalfe for: Pike Hill Barn, Ashes, Hawes, to form a holiday cottage; and Mike Barn, Lanacar Lane, Appersett, for a local occupancy dwelling.

The only other objections were from the Friends of the Dales (formerly the Yorkshire Dales Society). It recommended refusal regarding Pike Hill Barn because of its location and adverse impact on the character of the local  landscape. And about Mike Barn its statement included: “There would be an unacceptable reduction in the special qualities of the National Park which would also adversely impact on its value to tourists.” The meeting was informed that the objection from the Friends of the Dales (FOTD) concerning Pike Hill Barn had been sent by its chairman, Mark Corner.

Hawes and High Abbotside Parish Council strongly supported that application but wanted to see the converted barn made available for long term lets for local occupancy.It also strongly supported the conversion of Mike Barn and stated: “This attractive barn will make an excellent home for a local family.” The planning officer recommended refusing both applications.

The objections from the FOTD were  in line with a letter Mr Corner recently sent to David Butterworth, the YDNPA chief executive officer. In this he said there had been a spate of applications since the introduction of the Authority’s new Local Plan which allows for roadside barns and those within groups of buildings to be converted.

Mr Corner stated: “The definition of ‘roadside’ seems to permit development along very minor roads or tracks into ‘open country’. In some cases this will have an adverse effect on the Dales landscape…We are concerned at the potential cumulative impact of barn conversions on the landscape and the attractiveness of villages. A case in point is the village of Thorpe. Five conversion applications have been made in the last year or so and we fear that such development will change the fine character of this location…

“We are aware that the Authority plans at some stage to review the impact of this policy and we would request, given the high number of applications coming forward and our concern regarding some of them, that this review takes place now.”

At the annual general meeting of the Association of Rural Communities it was pointed out that most of the applications for barn conversions in Thorpe were intended for local families who wanted to stay in that area.

Since August last year the Authority has approved the following conversions in Thorpe all with legal agreements: two barns and a coach house for local occupancy; one barn for either local occupancy or  holiday lets; and an agricultural workshop to become a holiday let. In addition permission was granted for a cottage to be re-occupied as an open market dwelling.

Angram – December

There was a very close vote when it was decided that an agricultural building should not be extended to under a metre from a neighbouring house. At present the agricultural building is 7.5m from Spion Kop in the hamlet of Angram in Swaledale.

By extending it to the east the building would be just 0.9m from that house and so very close to the ground-floor kitchen. The planning officer said this could mean the level of noise and smell associated with a building where there was livestock could go beyond what would reasonably be expected by residents even when living next to a farm.

The committee was divided between those who felt that a farming enterprise should be supported and those who felt that the close proximity to Spion Kop could not be ignored. Cllr Peacock argued that the area depended upon its farms and the agricultural building could already be clearly seen from Spion Kop. And Cllr Blackie pointed out that Muker Parish Council had unanimously supported the application.

But Jim Munday agreed with the planning officer and said: “We should support our farmers but in this instance there are alternative solutions.”

Six members voted to approve the application and seven were against it.


It is often said that a picture is worth a thousand words – and that might be true about the photograph (above) taken by John Watkins of the barn off Bouldershaw Lane in Arkengarthdale. The slides shown by the planning officer did not include the view from the road, over the field gate, to the barn.

These days applicants are not allowed to distribute their own photographs to members at a meeting. This often means that members only see the views that the planning officers use to emphasise their own recommendations. At the meeting on March 14 Cllr Blackie asked if he could show Mr Watkin’s photo to members and the chairman, Cllr Thornton-Berry did give permission.

The planning officer recommended refusal because he considered that the work required to convert the barn for continuous occupation, including the new vehicular access with wide visibility splays, would have a harmful impact on the character and appearance of the Upper Swaledale and Arkengarthdale Barns and Walls Conservation Area and on the character of the building. He said it could, however, be converted for  holiday use.

In his speech the chairman of Arkengarthdale Parish Council, Stephen Stubbs, said: “Please don’t put another nail in the coffin of the sustainable future of Arkengarthdale as a thriving community.”

His plea was heard as the majority of the committee members voted to approve the application to convert the barn into a local occupancy home for Jack Stones.

As this was against the recommendation of the planning officer it will be discussed again at next month’s planning committee meeting. Some of the members emphasised that they wanted assurance that the supply lines to the barn would be undergrounded.

Cllr Blackie stated: “There is no way the Stones family would do anything to harm the Dale. Everything will be undergrounded to the property.”

He described this as a test case of the National Park’s new policy of allowing roadside barns to be converted into local occupancy homes. He, like several other members, felt that the barn was just close enough to a road and that, as only modest alterations would be carried out, there would be very little harm to the landscape.

Allen Kirkbride, the parish council representative for Wensleydale, Swaledale and Arkengarthdale, commented that the access to the barn was  similar to that at Burtersett which was approved in September 2016.

Cllr Stubbs told the committee:“Arkengarthdale is not just a community in the village as the restrictive, tightly drawn boundary suggests. The prescriptive boundary makes it virtually impossible for any developments in the Dale. Our community is actually widespread.

“I respect the Yorkshire Dales National Park and support them in most of their work and policies, although they do need to better represent and support sustainable local communities.”

He listed the facilities which had been lost such as the post office and the shops as it was so difficult for local young people and families to buy properties there.

One of those young people was Jack Stones whose grandfather (Clark) and father have undertaken the gritting and snow ploughing in Arkengarthdale since the 1970s, he said. But Clark Stones was no longer able to do that job anymore and Jack wanted to take over. If the gritting was not undertaken by a local contractor the roads during icy weather would not be treated until after 8.30am which was too late for the school bus.

“This has caused unnecessary risks to the children’s lives,” he added. He continued:

“Jack is fortunate to have employment in the Dale but he,  like other young people who have been priced out of the Dale, is struggling to find suitable, affordable accommodation. For example, last year, a three-bedroom semi-detached house near the barn sold for over £350,000. Rental opportunities are rare and a property not far from the barn costs £800 a month.

“Without young people and new families the Dale will not survive as a living, working Dale. It will become a museum for the privileged,” he argued.

“We have to start protecting and developing the Dale now and we have to find affordable accommodation for tomorrow’s generations. Part of the remit of the Yorkshire Dales National Park has to be to assist us in resolving this difficult dilemma.

“By proposing that this barn is suitable for a temporary tourist accommodation but has no viability as a permanent residence with a regulated local occupancy clause is deeply wrong ,” Mr Stubbs said.

The application was also supported by Reeth Parish Council because of the great need for local occupancy housing in the area and that this would be an appropriate use of such a barn.

The Highways Authority objected as it felt the access was unsatisfactory. And the Yorkshire Dales Society stated: “The Society is concerned about the precedent that would be set if this proposal for development of a field barn in open countryside, with the associated curtilage and access tracks, is permitted, and thus refusal is recommended. The small size of the proposed dwelling could lead to a future proposal to extend, and its possible use in connection with gritting operations could be disruptive to nearby properties.”

One resident also asked that the barn should remain undeveloped and stated: “If all the barns are slowly converted it will result in urban sprawl.”

(Another resident commented on Facebook that that would be difficult in Arkengarthdale.)

Arkengarthdale – April

The committee confirmed that a barn at Bouldershaw Lane in Arkengarthdale can be converted and extended to form a local occupancy dwelling.

The planning officer had recommended refusal because, she said, the application was not in accordance with the new policy which allows roadside barns to be converted into local dwellings.

The majority of the committee, however, agreed with Cllr Blackie that the barn was close enough to the road to be described as “in close proximity”. He also stated that, with the extension, the dwelling would be sufficient for a single person or a couple.

The head of development management, Richard Graham, warned about setting a precedent. “There will be a lot of barns in very similar situations to this one,” he said.

For this reason it was agreed that it should be made clear that approval was given on the basis that the barn was accepted as in close proximity to the road and converting it would not be detrimental to the landscape especially as the owner had agreed to underground all power lines and any other services to it.

The planning officer did argue that converting the barn would have a detrimental impact especially as it was in a conservation area. But several committee members believed this would be marginal in a dale where most of the dwellings were scattered and many had been converted from barns.

The decision was referred back to the committee for ratification as last month the majority had not accepted the planning officer’s recommendation.

Arncliffe –  February

As it was highly unlikely that a small domestic office at the bottom of  long garden at Rose Cottage in Arncliffe would become a separate dwelling the committee agreed that it could be converted into a holiday let.

The planning officer explained that it would be accessed through the garden of Rose Cottage and there was no realistic prospect of it becoming a separate permanently occupied residence. This material consideration made it possible to approve the application even though it was contrary to the Authority’s planning policy.

North Yorkshire County Councillor Robert Heseltine warned that the situation might change in the future. The chairman of the committee, Cllr Thornton-Berry, said that was why there would be a legal agreement tying the outbuilding to Rose Cottage and restricting its use to short-term holiday accommodation.

When converted the building will become a self-catering holiday let with a single living space with a bed, kitchenette and seating area, plus an en-suite and WC.

Askrigg – August

Cllr Peacock and Askrigg parish councillor Allen Kirkbride supported David Scarr’s application to convert part of his building at Beck Bitts near Askrigg into a three-bedroom dwelling which would allow a local plumber to live next door to the workshop. But the majority of the members accepted the recommendation of the planning officer that it would not be in accordance with policy.

Cllr Peacock agreed that it would be an exception to policy to approve the application but pointed out that the business employed local people who served local people. “To us it is essential that we keep these people.”

The danger was, she said, that they would give up and move to Leyburn to have more secure premises as there had been so many thefts from the workshop at Askrigg.

As a member of the local FarmWatch Cllr Kirkbride told members that the workshop had suffered the most break-ins of any premises in mid Wensleydale. The Police had stated that one way to reduce the problem was to have someone living at the site.

The majority, however, agreed with the planning officer that there was no justification for an exception to the “no dwellings in  the open countryside” rule unless they were required for workers in agriculture, forestry or other rural-based enterprise who had to live in a rural location.

“What is a necessary rural enterprise?” asked Eden District councillor Valerie Kendal. She argued that for rural communities plumbers were essential.

The planning officer had also stated that approval would be against the policies aimed at retaining the few commercial workshops in the National Park. He added that the creation of a dwelling would harm the character and appearance of the open countryside in a tranquil and visually attractive area.

Askrigg Parish Council had told the Authority that it was fully supportive of the application because it should improve the area and reduce possible crime.

Bainbridge – December

A decision concerning the application for five new affordable homes on land belonging to the Rose and Crown in Bainbridge was deferred because of the threat of legal action.

Mr Graham explained: “Officers have been working with the developer to produce a proposal which is considered acceptable and would deliver much needed affordable housing for local people. In assessing affordable housing proposals we rely upon the housing authority, the district council, to tell us whether they consider what’s being proposed is genuinely affordable. In this case what is proposed is housing for sale to local people at a price 30 per cent below the market value of the properties.

“The district council has confirmed that the discounted price … is similar to that for affordable houses just down the road. The district council had also confirmed that the discounted price may not be affordable to all people in housing in need but it would be to a proportion who cannot access the private market,” he said.

The Holmbrae 2016 Group of Bainbridge Residents had, however, disagreed. They had complained that residents had not had access to financial information relating to the discount to be applied to the sale price of the dwellings to ensure that these would be affordable. In their letter to the Authority they threatened that if the information was not released and the residents re-consulted on the proposal they would seek to quash any decision to approve by way of judicial review.

Mr Graham therefore recommended that members should defer the application to allow time for officers to consult further with the district council and to allow for a further period of consultation with residents. The members accepted his advice.

Barbon – February

The committee refused an application to construct a dwelling adjacent to Studds Hall in Barbon partly because it could lead to further housing development in a field.

Barbondale became part of the Yorkshire Dales National Park in August 2016 but the South Lakeland District Core Strategy still applies. This does allow for infill or the rounding off of an incomplete cluster of houses. The YDNPA planning committee, however, was not convinced that the application fitted either of those categories.

A former chairman of the Authority, Kevin Lancaster (a South Lakeland District Councillor who attended as a private citizen) explained to the committee that Barbondale was characterised by small clusters of dwellings. North Yorkshire County Councillor John Blackie compared this to the situation in Arkengarthdale.

Cllr Lancaster and the applicant’s agent, Anthea Jones, argued that the house would not disrupt this pattern of settlement. Ms Jones said that the application was different to that refused by South Lakeland District Council in June 2015 because the house would be built further back in the field to make it less visible.

She expressed surprise at the objections put forward by the Highways Authority concerning the access onto the main road as it  had not objected to the plans submitted in 2015. The house, she said, would make it possible for someone who has lived in the village all his life to continue living there.

It was pointed out that, in the past, permission had been granted for a small part of the field to be used for car parking.  Members Ian McPherson and Richmondshire District Councillor Stuart Parsons argued, however, that this had not disrupted the integrity of the field whereas the new house would.

The planning officer stated the green gaps between clusters of buildings was an important feature of Barbon and added: “To permit development of a section of an otherwise open field would result in a distorted building line opening up further land adjacent to pressure for future development, particularly between the proposed site and the highway.”

Barden – August

For the sake of animal welfare and to protect a farmer’s livelihood the committee voted to approve the erection of an agricultural building at Broad Park, Barden, beside Lower Barden Reservoir.

As that was against the officer’s recommendation the decision will have to be ratified at another planning committee meeting. The members were told it would not be referred back until the Authority had the information necessary for a Habitats Regulation s Assessment. The chairman of the committee, Cllr Thornton-Berry, told the applicant’s agent, Peter Williams, that it was up to him and the applicant (Gordon Banks) to provide that information very soon if the application was to be discussed at the September meeting.

Mr Williams had told the meeting: “The applicant did not feel able to attend in person today because of the magnitude of the occasion and the inevitable pressure he feels.

“I cannot stress enough the importance of the proposed facility to the applicant’s livelihood. This Authority has historically always been supportive of agriculture. In this case, despite strong agricultural need, the planning officer has refused from the outset to show any support to the applicant’s farming enterprise.” He asked the committee to support the development in its compromised form.

When the committee discussed the application in June this year it suggested that the proposed building should be smaller and built closer to other buildings at Broad Park. The applicant had new plans drawn up in accordance with this advice but had pointed out to the planning officer that the smaller building would accommodate only 30 per cent of his livestock at any one time and to reduce its size further would undermine his ability to provide the level of care required. The latest plans included an outdoor handling facility as the proposed building was smaller.

The planning officer, however, again recommended refusal. He explained that the land was owned by the Chatsworth Estate with most of Mr Banks’ tenancy being within a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). The buildings at Broad Park were not but were within the SSSI impact zone. The previous tenant, Mr Banks’ father, had had use of two traditional barns but these were no longer available to Mr Banks. It was stated that he lives about two miles from the farm and does need a building for his equipment and to care for the sheep during the lambing season.

The planning officer said: “The National Park policies would not generally support a new venture including a substantial new building in such an exposed location within the open allotment. It flies in the face of the landscape requirement and the purposes of the National Park and its Local Plan.

“Together with the lack of accommodation there has to be a concern as to the sustainability of the enterprise, but also the precedent of allowing such development in these particular circumstances.”

He had suggested an alternative site which, he said, had been dismissed out of hand on the basis that Chatsworth Estate might not agree to it as it was within the SSSI. “Without the Estate considering options they are dictating to us where development should be directed,” he added.

North Yorkshire County councillor Robert Heseltine said there was an absolute need for the building due to animal welfare and to support the farming enterprise. And Cllr Kendal argued that it was not a new enterprise as the applicant was already providing a service to other farmers as a sheep sheerer and shepherd.

Julie Martin told the committee that although she was not happy with the application for a variety of reasons which included the impact upon the landscape and the environment, she would not vote for refusal because a farming livelihood was at risk and that the new plans were a bit better than the previous ones.

“I don’t see that there is a realistic chance of a different location and a better proposal coming forward,” she said.

At the meeting in September the majority of the committee confirmed its approval of this application.

Bishopdale – April

An £850,000 redevelopment of Howe Syke farm in Bishopdale was given the green light by a large majority.

But that has to be confirmed at next month’s meeting because that decision was against the Authority’s policies stated the head of development management, Richard Graham.

One of the committee members, Chris Clark, warned that there might be problems with the agricultural element of the scheme proposed by Rob and Helen Brown due to Brexit.

“I admire hugely the entrepreneurial approach to this,” he said but explained: “Post Brexit there’s going to be a significant reduction of support …between ten to 40 per cent. No farm in the dales can manage without support. Our hill farmers are going to be in real trouble.”

Mrs Brown, however, told the committee: “Our goal is to build a viable dales farm that can survive the pressures of the post Brexit world using a combination of farming, shooting and tourism.”

Their planning application is for: the erection of an extension to the existing farmhouse which would incorporate the adjoining barn into the domestic accommodation; the erection of two semi-detached rural workers cottages; the conversion of a modern barn into five short-term holiday lets with associated garages; the extension of the existing site office to provide kitchen facilities; and the erection of two agricultural barns.

Mrs Brown explained that the holiday lets would be used by shooting parties during the shooting season and would then be available to other visitors. They not only needed good family accommodation for a gamekeeper, an apprentice gamekeeper and a farm manager, but also to improve the accommodation for themselves and their children, she said.

“It has taken three years of consultation with the Park’s officers and three pre-planning applications to put in this proposal,” she added.

But the planning officer recommended refusal. Two members of the committee agreed with him that it would set a bad precedent if the Authority did not adhere to the long-standing national policy not to approve any new housing development in the open countryside unless it met an essential need.

A consultant had reported that there was a need for just one gamekeeper to live on site. As there were so few sheep at present a farm manager could be accommodated in a caravan for a three-year period while the number was being increased to 1,000.

The planning officer said that the proposed conversion of the modern agricultural building would perpetuate the visual harm caused by it, and the new barns would cause further harm. He added that the proposed extension to the farmhouse and adjoining traditional barn would dominate and detract from the appearance, character and heritage of those buildings.

Several members, including Cllr Blackie, disagreed with all the reasons put forward for refusal. Cllr Blackie mentioned the declining population in Middle and Upper Wensleydale and pointed out that there were now only about 35 people living in Bishopdale compared to hundreds at the beginning of the 20th century.

The Browns, he said, were willing to put their time and effort and investment into regenerating the dale and already had a seven-year record of doing that through various green initiatives such as planting trees and installing hydro-electric power.

Ian McPherson was among those who agreed with him. He stated that the policies could be interpreted in various ways. “We could look at the detail and fail to take advantage of what could be a major source of employment. I think this is an adventurous project,” he said.

And Steve Macaré stated: “I think we should be bold and support this enterprise as the potential damage to the landscape [will be] minimal.”

Cllr Harrison-Topham in his final speech to the committee (he will not stand for election again) believed there was a functional need already for three workers and shooting parties would not want to stay there if there were caravans on the site.

Aysgarth and District Parish Council was praised by Allen Kirkbride for giving substantial reasons for supporting the application. “Without them this would not have been brought to this meeting,” he said.

Bishopdale – May

The majority of the committee again voted in favour of approving the application for the development at Howe Syke Farm in Bishopdale even though they were warned it could set a dangerous precedent.

Cllr Blackie told the committee that according to a business assessment the development had to be taken as a whole otherwise it wouldn’t work. “We need to be bold but not act blindly. It is an exceptional application because of the size of the investment proposed, the track record of the applicants [Rob and Helen Brown] who are willing to make that investment, and their past history which is very favourable.”

He argued that it was in accordance with the government’s National Planning Policy Framework because it would encourage economic growth and so help to sustain communities. This would regenerate a dale that has been dying, he said.

Richard Graham, the head of development management, warned that the application failed to comply with some of the fundamental principles in the Local Plan such as justifying the need for new agricultural buildings and staff accommodation. A consultant’s report had, he said, shown that only one dwelling for a staff member was needed at Howe Syke Farm.

He told the committee: “If members are still minded to grant permission I would be grateful if you could give clear reasons why this proposal is exceptional so that officers can explain to other applicants why this application has been dealt with differently.”

Julie Martin and Jim Munday warned that a dangerous precedent could be set. Mrs Martin agreed with Mr Graham that, if the application was refused, the Browns could still apply for permission to go ahead with the less contentious parts of the development.

But Brenda Gray commented: “I think we should be very careful before we turn down an opportunity like this.” And Cllr Heseltine added: “For future generations I will support this without reservation.”

Cllr Harrison-Topham believed that a consultant had not taken all the factors into consideration regarding the shooting business when assessing the need for staff accommodation.”He is wrong I am afraid,” he said.

This was his last planning committee meeting and the chairman, Cllr  Thornton-Berry thanked him for his long service on it. “He will be badly missed,” she stated.

The committee did accept Mr Graham’s recommendation that the development must be subject to a legal agreement to ensure that the buildings and holiday lets remained as a single interdependent enterprise by tying the land holding and farmhouse to the holiday lets, to control their occupancy for holiday purposes only, and to prevent any part of the development being sold off separately.

There must also be legal agreements regarding the conditions which include biodiversity enhancement, landscaping schemes, the specific use of the agricultural buildings and staff dwellings and the archaeological recording of the farmhouse and its adjoining barn. (It took about six months for these agreement to be prepared.)

Bolton Abbey – April

Approval was given for the unusual step of holding a site meeting before an application was discussed by the committee.

Mr Graham explained that the application was for converting the Tithe Barn at Bolton Abbey into a wedding venue. He stated: “It is a very important building in the Park. Hopefully we can find a suitable new use for the building.” The Tithe Barn is a Grade II* listed building and is within the Bolton Abbey Priory Scheduled Ancient Monument.

But before work can begin on the barn a new bat roost had to be constructed and that needed to be built during the summer, he said. As this was such a tight timetable he asked if the site meeting could be held at the end of April. The application will then come to the planning committee on May 9.

Bolton Abbey – May

Bolton Abbey could become one of the first places in Britain to have a bespoke bat house. When proposing that the committee should approve an application to convert the early 16th century Tithe Barn on the southern edge of Bolton Abbey village Ian McPherson, the Authority’s member champion for the natural environment commented:“I have not heard of a bespoke bat house being created before. It may not be the first time in this country but it’s an indication of the way the applicants seem to have approached this whole project.”

Will Kemp said the Trustees of the Chatsworth Settlement had worked with the Authority, Historic England and others, for five years to develop the plan for converting the Tithe Barn into a wedding venue.“The Tithe Barn is a very special building. It is 500-years-old and it has suffered during that time from weathering and, to a lesser degree, under  use. We want to conserve it for another 500 years.

“However, finding a use for the building which is very suitable to it and pays for its restoration has been a major problem for us over the last 20 years. We are absolutely sure that the wedding barn use is the way forward.

“It is a Grade II star listed building on a scheduled monument in a conservation park, in a National Park with a colony of bats, with residents nearby.” They had sought to ensure that no harm would take place to human health and the environment – and to protect those bats.

Bat surveys have shown that the Tithe Barn has conservation significance for roosting bats as 50 to 60 Natterer’s Bats use it in the summer. Five Common Pipistrelle Bats roost and hibernate there.The development scheme, therefore, includes the construction of a five metres by 10 metres stone and slate bat house linked to known foraging grounds.

The planning officer stated that once usage  has been proven, bats will be excluded from the Tithe Barn before hibernation starts. She added: “It is considered that a wedding venue would be a positive use of the building. [This] would require only minor internal division and would retain the open timber structure. The interior of the building is  highly significant with the original 16th century oak timber frame intact and visible.”

The renovation work will leave the timber frame fully exposed for the entire length of the Tithe Barn. “It is one of the best preserved medieval barns in northern England and a rare example nationally of a medieval tithe barn of this scale,” she said.

For this reason, all the work will be recorded under archaeological supervision. Historic England also  hopes that there will be greater public access once the work is complete.The application, which was unanimously approved, includes the creation of a wedding terrace with a gazebo; a car park for 67 cars;  a new access road and a service yard.

NB: This application was later withdrawn.

Buckden – August

The Village Tea Rooms can be converted for local occupancy or holiday let in accordance with the new Local Plan because they can be regarded as a “traditional building”.

A planning officer explained that although it had a modern appearance there was evidence that a building with a very similar footprint existed on the site in the late 19th century.

She stated that an earlier application to convert the tea rooms had been approved but the sale fell through before a legal document could be signed.  She said that no harm would result to community vitality or employment as the tea rooms were no longer commercially viable, and there were several other restaurants and pubs nearby. The new owners will have to sign a legal undertaking to ensure that the new dwelling would not be sold  on the open market.

The application was discussed by the committee because Buckden Parish  Council had strongly objected to the possibility of the tea rooms becoming a holiday let (see above).

Conistone – February

Altering a legal agreement made in May 2006 would allow the Trekking Centre at Conistone to make more flexible use of a converted barn, it was agreed.

A planning officer explained that the original legal agreement allowed the one-bedroom converted barn to be used only for local occupancy.  “Allowing  a choice between local occupancy or holiday let gives the applicant flexibility to use the building in a way which best supports their businesses. A holiday letting use tied to the trekking business would deliver …tourism and visitor benefits,” the committee was told.

Countersett – July

Concern about retaining the special qualities of the landscape around Semerwater  was one reason why the members did not accept the planning officer’s recommendation to approve converting a barn at East Hill Top, Countersett, into a one-bedroom dwelling for local occupancy or short-term holiday lets.

The officer argued that the barn was redundant and was within a loose group of buildings as it was near a smaller outbuilding and a barn which was being used as a residential workshop. She stated that it was almost unnoticeable from Semerwater and converting it would secure its future as a heritage asset.

She explained that the whole of the north-eastern wall of the two-storey barn would need to be re-built along with the corner of the south-eastern elevation, and the roof would be replaced. This, however, did not constitute replacing the building, she added.

Some members queried how the application fitted with the Authority’s new policy of allowing roadside barns to be converted and pointed out that the barn was still in agricultural use. The head of development management, Richard Graham, said that the policy included barns that were in groups of buildings and did not require a barn to be redundant.

Cllr Peacock was one of the members who maintained that the barn could be seen from Semerwater and, as a local parish councillor, said that residents in Countersett often raised concerns about light pollution.

One of those residents, Merrie Ashton, told the committee: “Semerwater is such an extraordinary national asset which should be protected and promoted. The location is dramatic and unspoilt. It needs very, very careful management. The light from this building would be a problem for wildlife.

“There is a species of bat – the long-eared bat – which is roosting in the barn, which is highly susceptible to light. Light pollution is detrimental to their feeding and breeding. Conversion from an agricultural building to a domestic building would most likely result in the roost being abandoned.”

She added that even if the height of the dry stone walls around the site were raised, it was likely that any cars parked by the barn would be visible from Semerwater. Besides its concerns about the height of the walls and the groundworks required, the parish council also noted that the barn was quite a distance from Countersett.

The majority of the committee voted to refuse the application but, as that was against the recommendation of the planning officer, the decision was referred back to the August meeting.  Mr Graham said this was because the issues were fundamental to the Authority’s local plan.

Countersett – August

The majority of the committee did a complete U-turn and voted to approve the conversion of a barn at East Hill Top.

Jim Munday told the committee: “After careful consideration I believe I was distracted by the actual or perceived shortcomings of the applicant rather than on the merits of the application itself. In my opinion the application is sound. It relates to a barn rightly described as an undesignated heritage asset. If left undeveloped it will become just another pile of stones. It’s well worth restoring and put to beneficial use.  The site is well concealed by the lie of the land and accessed by an existing two-wheel track which already has planning permission.

“The existing site is a redundant, former agricultural field barn. It is a building of architectural and historical importance which needs a new use to ensure its longevity.”

Mrs Martin agreed and said: “Like Mr Munday, having seen the update from the officer on this, I have changed my mind. I don’t especially like the proposal … but we don’t have a valid reason for refusing it.”

The new Local Plan allows for traditional barns to be converted if they are by the roadside, or within an existing settlement or a group of buildings.

The two members who live in mid Wensleydale, Cllrs Peacock and Kirkbride, disagreed. Allen Kirkbride commented: “I probably know this site better than anybody else. To my mind it is out of the way. It is not close enough to form part of an enclosed group. I think it is out of place.

Both he and Cllr Peacock maintained that there was likely to be a negative impact upon the landscape and particularly the area around the River Bain and Semerwater if the barn was converted and there were cars parked outside it.

Bainbridge Parish Council’s had objected and had stated that it would only support such buildings being converted for local occupancy. (See above)

Cotterdale – December

Permission was granted for a barn in Cotterdale to be converted into a two-bedroom local occupancy dwelling or for short-term holiday lets.

The applicants had originally intended to have the living area on the first floor of the building with the bedrooms below. They had also wanted to create an additional parking area in a field next to the barn. There had been objections to this because the first floor living area would impact upon the amenity of the neighbouring cottage and the parking area in the field would also cause access problems for the neighbours.

Following a site visit in November it had already been accepted that permission would not be given for a parking space in a field. The applicants had also agreed to have the living area on the ground floor.

Helen Shovlar, whose cottage is attached to the barn, explained to the committee that she was still concerned about the impact upon her access and amenity. She asked if the two doors and two windows overlooking the narrow alleyway to her back door could be blocked off.

The agent for the applicants, Peter Foskett, explained that they wanted to retain as many features of the original barn as possible and that had to include all the openings.

Cllr Blackie recommended that one of the doors should be solid wood but disagreed with Mrs Shovlar about the other openings. He added that Hawes and Lower Abbotside Parish Council would have preferred the barn to be converted just for local occupancy. “There are only six residents in Cotterdale and 14 properties so there are more cottages as second homes than there are as residencies,” he said.

Like the parish council Cllr Heseltine questioned the policy of allowing dual use of barn conversions (local occupancy and holiday lets).“If it’s a holiday cottage or whether it’s a second home it’s denying a family a permanent residence,” he commented. For that reason he would prefer that such dual consent was only given in exceptional circumstances.

Coverdale – August

The enforcement officer requested that enforcement action should be taken against the owner of Forbidden Corner in Coverdale. The 6.8 m “mock medieval castle” which has been erected there was not, he stated, screened by trees and could easily be seen.

“It is considered that the ‘castle folly’ causes harm to the significance of the historic  landscape and undermines the public understanding of the Special Qualities of the National Park,” he  said.

Mr Munday retorted: “It should stay in Disneyland” – and all but Cllrs Peacock and Kirkbride agreed with him.

“It reminds me of an abbey,” commented Cllr Kirkbride, and Cllr Peacock felt that the viewing platform at the top with its magnificent views across Coverdale would attract even more tourists to that dale.

The majority agreed, however, that an enforcement notice should be issued with a compliance notice of three months, requiring the demolition and removal of the “castle folly” and the restoration of the site to its previous condition with no structures  higher than three metres.

Crosby Garrett – July

The residents of Crosby Garrett near Kirkby Stephen did not want to fall out with the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority but they did want to see a home provided for the postmistress who has served the village for 34 years Dr Carl Hallam, the chairman of the parish meeting, told the committee.

He explained that Richard Harper, a local respected builder, wanted to build a two-bedroom dwelling  next to his own for his sister, Helen, and his elderly mother. “Helen was born, went to school and has worked in Crosby Garrett all her life. She is far more than our postmistress – she runs a small shop, she delivers our papers, is a friend to everyone, and the first to help when anyone is ill or in need. We are concerned that when she retires she and her elderly mother, with whom she lives and for whom she cares, may not be able to remain in the village,” he said.

He, like the rest of the community, disagreed with the planning officer’s statement that the proposed site was outside the village boundary. He argued that the site had been within the village for centuries – long before the railway viaduct. The planning officer reported that this formed the southern limit of the settlement.

“We will accept any conditions you may wish to impose on this site. We do not, under any circumstances, wish to fall out with the Yorkshire Dales National Park. We voted to be in your Park and all we ask is your advice – to guide us through this application to a successful conclusion,” Dr Hallam added.

Like Dr Hallam, Mr Harper’s agent, Rachel Lightfoot, said that neither the railway viaduct nor the cattle grid near the proposed site defined the edges of the village. The siting of the new house would, therefore, be in accordance with Eden District Council’s emerging plan which allowed local need dwellings to be built in villages like Crosby Garrett. Eden District Council’s planning policies still apply following the inclusion of the area into the National Park last August.

Ms Lightfoot also quoted the Authority’s policy on the social, economic and environmental aspects of the National Park’s sustainable development policy. She said: “This proposal is considered to meet these requirements. It will enable a long-standing member of the community who has lived in Crosby Garrett throughout her life and worked for the community to remain in the place where she was born.”

This was emphasised by Mr Harper who added that he would be happy to discuss the design, siting and other conditions with the Authority.

Eden District Councillor Valerie Kendal agreed with them that the site was within the village but she was surprised that the application was for an open market dwelling rather than for local occupancy. Like some other members of the committee, she felt there should be an archaeological survey of the site.

The planning officer reported that there was evidence of surviving earthworks south west of the railway viaduct including large banks and garths which would imply the medieval shrinkage of the village. The proposed site, she said, would intrude into the remnants of such earthworks. For that reason the Authority’s senior historic environment officer had advised an archaeological survey which would comprise of a small number of trial trenches covering the area of the proposed building work.

It was, therefore, decided that a decision should be deferred so that an archaeological survey could be carried out, plus the inclusion of a legal agreement covering local occupancy and possible amendments to the design of the house. The planning officer had described the design as poor and stated  it would have more of the appearance of a bungalow than a traditional barn.

Crosby Garrett – November

Even though 12 out of the 15 committee members voted to approve the application for a home for Crosby Garrett’s elderly postmistress so that she can continue living in her own village it is far from certain that decision will be confirmed at the December meeting.

After the vote – when one member voted against and two abstained – the head of development management, Richard Graham, said: “This application will have to be referred back. The main reason for doing that is that in granting permission for this  you are, in my mind, making a decision contrary  to Local Plan policy for a number of reasons. I would like to make sure you have proper advice to ensure that it is a lawful decision.”

The committee was told that the application should be assessed in accordance with the policies of Eden District Council. The planning officer argued that the new house would not be within the village boundary and, if it did, it would not fit the criteria of being either filling a modest gap between existing buildings (infill) or rounding off the village. If it did it should not have more than 150sqm of internal floor space compared to the 178sqm shown on the plans. Nor did the officer accept that a convincing case for housing need had been made.

Cllr Welch reminded the committee that a decision was deferred in July this year for three reasons: for an archaeological survey to be carried out; for the design to be improved; and to ask if the applicant would consider a local occupancy legal agreement. “As far as I can see, all the three reasons for deferral have been overcome,” he said and added that the Authority was 25 per cent below its target of seeing 150 houses a year built in the National Park. (The interior floor space was not mentioned at the July meeting.)

Several members agreed with Allen Kirkbride  that the new house would not have any detrimental effect upon the village. He added that within the areas which were added to the National Park in August 2016 the villages do not have boundary lines around them and said: “With the parish council having such a strong view I feel it is my job to support them.”

Cllr Gray agreed: “The government says we need more housing for local people. Sometimes it just needs common sense to say ‘Yes – we go ahead’”.

At the beginning of his report the planning officer stated that the application was for an open market house. When Cllr Kendal queried this he repeated that. When she asked again Mr Graham told the meeting that the applicant, Richard Harper, had offered to sign a local occupancy legal agreement.

Mrs Kendal did not accept the planning officer’s statement that the railway line defined the boundary of the village. She explained that two houses had been demolished when the railway line was constructed in Victorian times and to the residents the village still extended beyond it.  She added that there was a wide range of housing styles and of the 60 houses in Crosby Garrett ten per cent were beyond the railway line.

She told the committee: “The applicant has said he wanted it as a retirement home for his sister who was born in one of the adjacent cottages and wanted to retire as the postmistress.”

“The important point is that we actually get a house for local occupancy,” said Cllr Blackie. “The fact of the matter is that the policy is in a complete and utter tangle – and that is no fault of our own. If there is a way we can actually ensure that this is a local occupancy house then, to me, untangling the tangle isn’t necessary.”

Crosby Garrett – December

The committee unanimously supported a proposal which would allow Crosby Garrett’s postmistress to remain in that village when she retires.

The planning officer had explained that the reasons put forward by the committee in November for approving the application for a new house were not supported by either Eden District Council’s current or emerging Local Plans. He said that according to the emerging Local Plan the house would not fit the definition of being either infill within a modest gap between existing buildings or rounding off the settlement within a logical and defensible boundary.

The applicant had offered to sign a local occupancy legal agreement but the proposed house would have a floor area of 178 square metres in size as compared to the 150 square metres allowed under the Eden District Council’s emerging Local Plan for such dwellings.

Cllr Blackie, therefore, proposed that the application should be approved because of exceptional circumstances and the officers be given delegated powers to seek an amendment to the design so that the house had a floor area of 150 square metres.

The exceptional circumstances he said were due to parts of Eden District having been included within the Yorkshire Dales National Park last year. “There is a time warp between policies within that part of the Park which is new to us, and they [Eden District Council] are also moving forward with policies for the areas beyond the Park, and us incorporating their policies within ours. So these are very unusual circumstances,” he explained.

This decision will be advertised as a departure from Local Plan policy and so subject to no new issues being raised.

Embsay – February

Embsay with Eastby Parish Council was extremely disappointed that a planning officer had recommended approval of a dormer window contrary to the new Local Plan.

Parish councillor Vince Smith reminded the planning committee that according to that Local Plan dormer windows should not encroach on the wider street scene.

The planning officer accepted that the proposed dormer on a chalet bungalow in Rockville Drive, Embsay, would be conspicuous from Millholme Rise but argued it would appear as a subservient feature due to its size and siting. She added: “Although the dormer would be a prominent feature in the street scene, it would not be out of place in this context.”

Even though Cllr Smith warned this could lead to a proliferation of such applications the committee accepted the recommendation of the planning officer.

He told members: “The danger for the Park in allowing its own policies to be overridden… is that the fabric of the Park will be eroded from the edges inwards as the pressure on housing increases.”

He added that just because Embsay was on the edge of the National Park did not mean that its residents should be treated as second-class citizens and not be afforded the same protection against he wrong kind of development.”

Two members, North Yorkshire County Councillor Robert Heseltine and parish council representative Alan Kirkbridge agreed with him.

The approved application was for the enlargement of the garage to provide a kitchen, utility and store; the enlargement of the porch and alteration to access; and the insertion of roof lights as well as the new dormer.

Embsay – December

The chairman’s casting vote was needed to ensure that an application for an extension to a bungalow in the Rockville Estate of Embsay was approved even though that extension was described by North Yorkshire County Councillor Robert Heseltine as an unfortunate carbuncle.

The first proposal was for the application to be refused in line with the request made by Embsay with Eastby Parish Council. With a four-four split (there weren’t many members there that day) the chairman, Cllr Thornton-Berry, again cast her vote against refusal. Then a majority voted to approve the extension even though Parish Councillor Vince Smith had carefully explained that this would be against the Authority’s own Design Guide.

The Design Guide, he told them, stated that the extension should not be more than half the length of the original bungalow – but it would be. “Effectively it becomes a super bungalow with another front door facing the street, and incorporating bathrooms, twin bedrooms, a living room, a dining room, a kitchen, a study and a snug,” he said.

An extension, he pointed out, should be set back from and not dominate the original house. He added: “This extension is not set back. In fact it projects forward. It [will not be] subservient to the house.”

The fact that the extension roof would not be lower than the original was a blatant disregard of the rules, he said, and the proposed gable ends would dominate the street scene and overlook gardens. “The planning officer appears to be persuaded that the removal of a Juliette balcony rail would answer the parish council’s concerns about the impact upon residents’ amenity – it does not.”

Both he and Parish Councillor Judith Benjamin told the committee that it would be possible to look down from a room in the extension into a bedroom window of a nearby house. Mrs Benjamin said that local residents had no overall objection to the renovation of older properties, but were concerned that by increasing their size reduced the amount of smaller homes in the area and so made it difficult for local people to downsize.

The planning officer reported that the applicant had made amendments to the plans. These had included reducing the size of a sun room at the rear of the bungalow. She believed that the extension would not have such a harmful or overbearing impact for her to recommend refusal.

Gayle – March

As there are no permitted development rights within National Parks for cladding a wall to make it waterproof Michael Webster of Gayle had to apply for planning permission to add about four inches to the gable end of his house in Gayle.

Hawes and High Abbotside Parish Council informed the  planning committee  that it doubted that a planning application was required, but recognised Mr Webster was keen to demonstrate, as a sign of good faith, his wish to engage with the planning process.

Last year Mr Webster  was told to remove the insulation material he had begun to install or an enforcement notice would be issued.

His planning application was for an extension which included the solid wall insulation and water proofing system with a render finish, plus extending the stone work on the front and rear walls, as his objective was to ensure the house looked exactly the same as before.  This was approved by the planning committee.

Tim’s Barn, Gayle – June

Tim’s Barn at Gayle is unauthorised development and the subject of an enforcement investigation the committee was told.

This was in response to this statement made by the Association of Rural Communities:

“The Association is very concerned by what appears to be considerable inconsistency surrounding barn conversions at present. At the May meeting of the planning committee the application to convert Tup Gill Laithe near Kettlewell into a local occupancy dwelling was refused on the grounds that such a dwelling would have a negative impact upon the landscape. Compare that with the situation regarding Tim’s Barn near Gayle.

“Planning permission was granted in 2011 for conversion of what was a traditional barn into something similar to a bunk barn with very rudimentary facilities inside.  The conditions stated there should be no vehicular access track and no external lighting.  Earlier this year there were on-line adverts for ‘Tim’s Barn’ stating that it was fully equipped and beautifully furnished with en-suite shower cubicle, underfloor heating, a super king-size bed,  electric cooker, washing machine, a private car parking space for one car and much more.

“The planning department was informed about this in January following a very angry debate among Dales’ residents on Facebook. Some even suggested organising a protest march.

“Many feel that the way Tim’s Barn has been converted, contrary to planning permission, sets a very clear precedent. If it is allowed to remain as it is, it will completely undermine your policies concerning which barns can be converted. “How can you then, as a committee, argue that any barn conversion should be refused because it would have a negative impact upon the countryside?”

To this Richard Graham, the head of development management, made the following response:

“The statement from the Association of Rural Communities refers to ‘considerable inconsistency surrounding barn conversions at present’ comparing the refusal of planning permission for the conversion of Tug Gill Laithe at Kettlewell with the conversion of Tim’s Barn at Gayle.

“In reply, there is no inconsistency in decision making in relation to these two cases. Tug Gill Laithe was a planning application that Members considered against Local Plan policy L2 and decided to refuse permission.

“The conversion of Tim’s Barn on the other hand is unauthorised development and is the subject of a current, ongoing enforcement investigation. The Authority has not made a decision but will need to consider whether it is expedient to take enforcement action and in doing so will need to consider whether the unauthorised development complies with or conflicts with Policy L2.”

Policy L2 allows for the conversion of traditional agricultural buildings within existing settlements and building groups, or other suitable roadside locations.

Tim’s Barn, Gayle – October

Late last year some residents in Upper Wensleydale used Facebook to call for a march to the YDNPA office in Bainbridge to protest at the way Tim’s Barn at Gayle had been converted into a luxury  holiday cottage when its owners had only been granted approval in 2011 for a “stone tent”.

As Cllr Blackie told the committee at the October meeting: “It was the talk of the town in the Upper Dales – here was a stone tent, the most basic of accommodations, that  had been advertised on the internet as a five-star holiday cottage.

“I brought this matter in front of this committee on three occasions since January, since it was raised at the parish council of Hawes and High  Abbotside. It really undermines the credibility of this planning authority to have people simply run rings round it in this way.”

Residents were very concerned, he said, that the owners of the barn could get away with that while everybody else had to play by the rules.

He added that there were now no “sour grapes” about this as the parish council wanted to support Mr and Mrs Tim Crick’s retrospective application for a camping barn. He added:

“I think it is really important for the reputation of this planning authority and its integrity and credibility that we add a condition that there is no occupation of the barn as a stone tent until the internal fittings, which are of a luxurious class, are removed.”

The agent, Andrew Cunningham, told the committee that his clients were keen to work with the Authority and to remove the internal fixtures and fittings and the external hard landscaping at the barn. The barn would , he said, be returned to very basic overnight accommodation and access to it would be by foot.

The planning officer noted that the barn, which is in a field in the open countryside, was an appropriate location for a camping barn as it was easily accessible by foot from Gayle, is close to two public footpaths, and was within a half a mile of the Pennine Way.

He said that, following a complaint, it had been found that the barn  had been converted into a fully furnished holiday cottage.

The committee unanimously voted to approve the application for a camping barn.

Grassington – April

Permission was granted for an extension to a large steel portal framed agricultural building at Town Head Farm.

The committee was told that this would make an efficient use of the site and would mean that livestock would no longer be kept in a smaller, older building. The planning officer noted that the extension would also substantially reduce run-off from the current dirty yard.

Several members commented that the farm yard looked a mess and hoped the new structure would lead to an improvement.

Grassington Parish Council had been concerned that the extension was described as the first of three phases but no information had originally been provided about the next two phases.

The planning officer said further details had now been received. The second phase application was for the removal of the old timber barn and replacing it with a larger building which, as with the extension, would also cover part of the yard. The third phase will involve the covering of the yard between the two new buildings.

Grassington – October

John Webber told the committee that he had been in discussion with planning officers for 14 months concerning his application to make more use of the former farmstead at Halfway House for his tree and forestry business.

The problem was that his original application did  not fit with the Authority’s Local Plan. The committee did approve his amended plans which include converting a barn into a local occupancy dwelling and erecting a building to house his  business machinery.

The planning officer explained that whilst the Local Plan did support the provision of new buildings for business use it also sought to protect the open countryside from development. As Halfway House was in a prominent location in the open countryside it was, therefore,  difficult to support the construction of the new building or the creation of a new yard area there.

“It is considered that if part of the business were incorporated within one of the traditional barns within the site as is now proposed, there would be a good justification for locating the business on this site,” she said.

Mr Webber has also agreed to locate the proposed new building nearer to the existing buildings and to plant trees to the west of it for screening.

In addition he will demolish a modern lean-to extension that had been added to the barn which will become a dwelling and to remove an unauthorised static caravan from the site.

He said his proposal would enable him to keep all the business equipment in one place and also provide accommodation for his elderly parents.

He explained: “Most of our work is based in the National Park – the work of the Authority being fencing and tree planting, tree work and footpath work. We also work for the National Trust. We are looking to start work … on the Settle to Carlisle [railway] line. Because of this we need more staff but I need the security [of this] development to do this.”

The committee heard that Webber Forestry currently employs nine members of staff and three trainees and has plans for expansion.

North Yorkshire county councillor Gillian Quinn noted that Mr Webber had taken on board the advice of the planning officers. “We really do need to support the long term viability of this business,” she said.

Grassington Parish Council had withdrawn its previous objections to the application especially after being reassured by Mr Webber that the new building would not be  used for manufacturing purposes.

Hudswell – March

It was agreed that a unilateral legal undertaking must be made by the owner of Underbanks on the Reeth Road near Hudswell to carry out remedial work.

Retrospective planning permission to retain alterations and extensions to the Grade II listed building and the conversion of agricultural buildings to form additional living accommodation will be subject to the legal obligation to ensure that some heritage features are  re-instated within six months.

When driving from Richmond towards Reeth Underbanks makes a bold statement just inside the National Park (above), the members heard. This was because an appeal inspector gave conditional approval for a wrap-around extension with large windows to be added to a barn.

But a planning officer reported: “Following a number of site visits and a visit by the Listed Buildings Officer, it was determined that the development was so fundamentally in breach of the May 2015 consents, which were dependent on pre-commencement conditions, as to invalidate the previous permission. Since the submission of the current application, there have been extensive negotiations with the applicant despite the seriousness of the offence involved.”

The committee was told that Mr Davies was now proposing to take down the ashlar stonework on the wrap around extension and rebuild the north and east elevations with random rubble stonework to match the existing building.

The planning officer  stated: “The sawmill appears to have been demolished and rebuilt and the horizontal and vertical stepped stonework has been lost during the reconstruction.

“The sawmill was a very unusual building and the stepping of the wall seems to be a rare feature. The current plans show that the horizontal step would be partially re-instated with the windows being reduced in height.

“As the heritage significance has been lost through demolition of the former sawmill, it is considered that the re-instatement of part of the step would be acceptable.”

He added: “The stair tower into the courtyard is an important feature of the building, of 17th century origin, and consequently it is important that this is preserved in its original form.” The height, however, has been increased and it is proposed to reduce this. The Authority also wants to see a stone staircase and the courtyard cobbles replaced.

The following were accepted by the planning officer:

  • That the metal framed dark grey window frames in the wrap-around extension, the rebuilt sawmill and the north and east elevations of the outbuildings could remain. The planning officer commented: “Whilst this material is not usually considered acceptable for windows in either a barn conversion or a listed building, the style and colour of the windows are considered to work reasonably well.”
  • Although one of the conditions was that the original buildings on the site should be finished with natural stone slates it was considered that the Bradstone “Old Quarried” slates which had been used instead were not significantly harmful to the listed building.
  • A gable had replaced the proposed hipped roof on the southern tip of the wrap-around extension.The officer reported: “It is considered that whilst the Inspector approved a hipped roof, the simpler treatment of a gable is considered more appropriate…”

Committee member Julie Martin asked how they could ensure such a situation would not occur again and was told that the issue of compliance and monitoring was under review.

Kettlewell – March

The committee again approved the application to convert and extend Crookadyke Barn in Kettlewell into a local occupancy dwelling even though North Yorkshire County Council’s Highways Authority had again objected on the basis of highway safety.

The applicant had amended his application, which was conditionally approved in November 2016, by proposing to lower the dry stone wall on either side of the access, but the Highways Authority stated that this would not be sufficient.

The planning officer, however, told the committee: “The character of the road side boundary walls on the approach into Kettlewell from the north are an important wider landscape feature. The revised proposal would preserve the character of the traditional building and wider site.

“Overall the alterations to the access amount to an improvement in the existing situation, whilst not to the standards recommended by the Highways Authority they are, on balance, considered adequate for highways safety purposes.”

Kettlewell – and barn conversions – May

Tug Gill Lathe between Kettlewell and Starbotton was the centre of a debate about where to draw the line on roadside barn conversions.

The YDNPA’s new Local Plan allows for roadside barns to be converted “subject to the proposal’s impact on the landscape.”  The majority of the members accepted the planning officer’s assessment that the creation of a dwelling at Tug Gill Lathe would have a significantly harmful effect on the highly distinctive landscape of Upper Wharfedale due to its residential curtilage, car parking, external and internal lighting and other domestic usage.

The applicant, Margaret Rhodes, however, informed the committee: “I am working four full days 52 weeks a year improving the grassland at Tug Gill. I am really passionate about protecting the Yorkshire Dales for future generations. I continue to preserve the land to enhance the variety of native plants and wildlife.

“I’m battling to improve and secure the land, and by allowing this barn to be converted as my home would allow me to achieve more and keep the standard maintained.”

Her agent, Robert Groves, stated: “Allowing the barn to be converted to a dwelling will ensure that the asset is conserved in the appropriate form proposed which is almost unchanged externally from the character and form of the original barn.

“A small respectful conversion as this one, occupied by the applicant who has a high respect for the landscape, can protect the environment and landscape better rather than, say, the barn reverting back to some other use or being derelict and the land slipping from being within the controlled schemes of Natural England to more unrestrained farming practices.”

The chairman of the YDNPA, Cllr Carl Lis, commented that if permission was granted for Tug Gill Lathe then others could seek approval to convert barns in Wharfedale which were not as well hidden. “This is a step too far,” he said.

Another committee member, Ian McPherson, stated: “Once we set the precedent of allowing roadside barns in that kind of landscape [to be converted] then, in my view, we might just as well go home because we are not then fulfilling the first statutory purpose that the National Park is basically all about.”

Allen Kirkbride, a parish council representative from Askrigg, reminded the committee that Kettlewell-cum-Starbotton Parish Council was in favour of this barn conversion. “They are the people on the ground. They would not allow this sort of development to go ahead if it didn’t fit in with the surrounding area.

“I believe they are quite right. This one is set back in the hillside a little bit. I think it is the sort of barn that could be developed.”

Cllr Blackie maintained that, if converted, Tug Gill Lathe would still assimilate well into the landscape, and such conversions were needed to retain young families in the Dales.

“This is exactly what was in mind when members brought forward the roadside barn policy. We would do a great disservice to the community in Upper Wharfedale if we refuse it,” he said.

Cllr Heseltine told the committee: “Either we are serious about implementing our roadside barn conversion policy or we are not serious about it. Do we accept in our policy that these sporadic roadside barns close to the road can be approved or not approved? This is an important watershed in interpreting our barns policy.”

He, however, voted against giving approval.

Lancaster City Council and Leck

The September meeting was remarkable and memorable because: Lancaster County Council humbly apologised for its errors; the National Park Authority’s head of development management reported that there was a disagreement between officers; and the way an application had been dealt with was described as a “massive maladministration”.

The committee unanimously approved Andrew Redmayne’s application for the erection of a dwelling at Leck which incorporated the remaining walls of Fell Side Barn.

Lancaster City Council had humbly apologised to the YDNPA for the errors it had made when it gave Prior Approval to Andrew Redmayne in June 2016 to convert the barn. That Approval included a car parking and turning area which would be outside of the curtilage of the new dwelling. Mr Redmayne also assumed that the approval covered the proposed cellar as that was shown on the submitted plans.

Work did not begin on the barn until after Leck became part of the Yorkshire Dales National Park in August 2016. As Mr Redmayne was advised by a structural engineer that the western gable should be rebuilt both that and a section of the northern wall were demolished in early 2017, the latter to facilitate the construction of the cellar. Work also began on an underground garage for which no planning approval had been obtained.

In February Mr Redmayne was informed by YDNPA enforcement officers that, according to their estimate, about 37 per cent of the barn had been demolished and so it was no longer a conversion but a rebuild. He was also told that the cellar and the garage were not included in permitted development rights.

Richard Graham, the YDNPA’s head of development management, told the planning committee: “This is a contentious application. I will be open about this, there has been a disagreement between officers on the recommendations and the weight given to material considerations over against Local Plan policy.”

“The background to the case is quite important. Crucial to it are the national permitted development rights to barn conversions, barns and dwellings subject to a prior approval procedure. These don’t apply in National Parks.”

He explained that discussions were held with Mr Redmayne about how to apply for planning permission and added: “It was felt that such a solution was worth exploring as the alternative would be enforcement action that, at best, would leave the barn as a semi-derelict ruin on the landscape.”  This led to Mr Redmayne applying for permission for a “new build” even though both he and the City Council believed that it would still be a conversion.

Mr Graham said that this proposal was in accordance with the City Council’s Local Plan as it would “contribute positively to the identity and character of the area through good design, having regard to local distinctiveness.” The amended proposal represented a significant improvement on that originally submitted to the City Council, he added.

Mr Redmayne told the committee: “I would like to apologise unreservedly for the unauthorised work. The intention was to try and hide the residentialisation impact of this building. I have worked long and hard with the Yorkshire Dales [Authority] to improve the proposal. We have retained all the stones – everything that has come out of the barn i