Category Archives: ARC News Service

YDNPA – Planning committee February 2021

An ARC News Service report on the meeting of the planning committee of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority  ( YDNPA ) on February 9  at which the following were discussed: 5G test-bed mast at West Scrafton; new housing development at Bainbridge; and an application regarding Marske Hall.

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.

Richard Welch – A minute’s silence was observed at the beginning of the meeting to remember Richard Welch. Julie Martin, the chairman, said they were deeply saddened to hear of his death and added: “Richard cared very deeply about planning issues and their effect upon his local community. And I am sure that you, like me, will really miss him.”

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 [2,179km2 841m2 ] 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.

5G masts – Are the Dales being used as a guinea pig?

Are the Dales being used as a guinea pig for 5G technology? This is the question asked by Professor David Hill, the chairman of The Environment Bank Ltd, in this letter which is included in the collective submission of the Coverdale Connect and Protect group to the YDNPA’s planning committee concerning the 5G mast at West Scrafton.

His letter is reproduced here as, unlike some neighbouring district councils,  the YDNPA does not post submissions, for or against applications, on its planning portal. A lot of work often goes into such submissions so it is sad that they not be seen by the general public.

Professor Hill :

In terms of my background I have lived in the Dales since 1993 and my wife originated from Muker. I am the founding owner and chair of The Environment Bank Ltd, previously a Board Member of the Government’s Joint Nature Conservation Committee and Deputy Chair of Natural England. I currently chair the Northern Upland Chain Nature Partnership that comprises the Yorkshire Dales National Park, Northumberland National Park and the North Pennines, Forest of Bowland and Nidderdale AONB’s. I am also currently chair of Plantlife International, Board Trustee of the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation and a commissioner with the Food Farming and Countryside Commission.

I would like to register my objection to the installation and operation of 5G masts, as being promoted by this specific application, until such time as there is conclusive evidence that their deployment represents no harm to both the ecological receptors in an area and human health. The paper by Frank in the BMJ is compelling and indeed he advocates the application of the precautionary principle, a view that I would support.

The basis for my objection is as follows :

1. The Dales are being used as a guinea pig, an experiment for a technology that is not needed in this area – superfast fibre broadband is currently more than sufficient to facilitate high quality communications for the purposes of local people, because of the investment that has been made.

Indeed, the investment has provided far greater broadband services in the Dales than exists in Nidderdale. Presumably the Dales have been chosen because they are ‘super-sparse’ in human terms which of itself suspiciously indicates an awareness of the potential for impacts on people – otherwise why not test the technology where it will be most useful ie in metropolitan areas – towns and cities.

2. The ecological receptors in the iconic landscapes of the Dales are of international significance. In particular, the populations of Hen Harriers have the highest level of legal protection of any species in Europe; the populations of Black Grouse have been gradually increasing as a result of substantial European, UK and private funding to reverse their dramatic declines such that the Dales are one of the most important places for them in the whole of the UK; the populations of Curlews, an ultra-high iconic species for the area, are globally significant. If there is any potential for the unknown consequences of 5G to impact on any of these species (and there are many more besides these) then that would be an impact of international significance. Without any research we simply do not have the evidence to make a judgement on the issue.

3. The socio-economic value derived from the ecological and landscape importance of the Dales, dwarfs the revenues from agriculture. Tourism, and eco-tourism particularly, where people come to experience our wild landscapes and their associated species, represents the most significant income stream to rural communities and businesses. Any potential for impact must take account of the socio-economic impacts that deployment of 5G could bring as a result of affecting these receptors. Enjoying the real thing should not be substituted by some half-baked notion that people can get the same experience on their phone many miles away from the area!

4. In addition to the unknowns of the technology on the iconic wildlife, mast density will substantially reduce the landscape quality of the area by importing man-made structures into the few remaining ‘wild’ landscapes  left in the country. Furthermore, the potential for impacts on human health must, in combination with potential effects on iconic wildlife and landscape impacts, create such a substantial risk that National Park Authority committee members cannot permit the application (or any such application) in the absence of proper evidence. This is not, in fact, a matter of judgement since there is no evidence on which to base that judgement.

5. Hence proper process must be followed here : the precautionary principle MUST be applied in the absence of sufficient accurate and robust data, collected through an impartial and planned investigation in the coming years.

Yours sincerely,

Professor David Hill CBE DPhil(Oxon) CEnv FCIEEM

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.”


YDNPA – Planning committee December 2020

ARC News Service report of the short virtual meeting of the YDNPA planning committee on December 22 2020


Bolton Abbey

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.

N Yorks County councillor 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.



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.

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.’

YDNPA – Planning committee November 2020

An ARC News Service report on the meeting of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s  (YDNPA )planning committee on November 17 2020 at which the following were discussed: barn conversions at Cracoe, Countersett and Reeth; a new garage at Newhouses, Horton-in-Ribblesdale, and a proposed new agricultural building near Askrigg.

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.

There was a disagreement at the beginning of of the discussion concerning the barn on Silver Street near Reeth as to when the chairman should share her opinion about a planning application.

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.’


Cllr Foster has questioned how permission could be granted for a barn at Cracoe to be converted when the applicant did not own the track which leads to it.

He also raised the issue of consistency as, at the meeting, officers had recommended approving the conversion of the barn at Cracoe but said that one near Reeth in Swaledale should be refused. That near Reeth is on the roadside but has problems  with the access onto Silver Street, whereas the Shed Barn at Cracoe is accessed via a  private track.

Cllr Foster pointed out that one of the owners of the the track in Cracoe had not given permission for its use and had objected to the application.

Neil Heseltine, who is the chairman of the Authority, also asked about access to Shed Barn and wondered if there was a maximum distance for a track to a ‘roadside’ barn.

The head of development management, Richard Graham, replied that there was no restriction on the length and added: ‘It just has to be a sealed metal private road that connects to the county highway.’

‘It’s not a metalled road – it’s a farm track for agricultural machinery,’ responded Cllr Foster. And, like Cracoe Parish Meeting, he pointed out that it was too narrow for waste bin lorries to reach the barn.

In its detailed strong objection to the application the parish meeting stated that the lane was an unsurfaced public bridleway with no passing places. It added: ‘The lane is totally unsuitable for heavy or regular traffic, being used currently to access the farmland. The sign at the top states that there is no right of access for vehicles.’ It therefore feared that those staying at the Shed Barn would cause more highway obstructions by parking on the narrow Hetton Road.

Mr Graham, however, stated: ‘If there is an access and the access is suitable as far as the highway authority is concerned then there should be no objection in planning terms to that. The legal issues [about use of the track] are outside of the planning process. It’s for the various  parties concerned to work that out amongst themselves.

‘I think the difference between the two applications is that [Shed Barn] has a track to it whereas the one in Swaledale requires the construction of a track of considerable distance [61m] and the creation of an embankment to support it.’ This, he said, would have an impact upon the landscape.

Others on the committee described the planned conversion of Shed Barn as well-considered and well-designed. The agent for the applicant told the committee that the application had been discussed with planning officers for over two years and added: ‘It is quite probable this could be one of the most sustainable conversions for former agricultural buildings in the dales.’ During those discussions it was agreed to remove three bedrooms from the proposal.

The majority of the committee agreed with the planning officer’s recommendation to approve the application

Referring to the approval given for the Shed Barn application Cllr Foster  commented: ‘If we are going to be consistent we have got to pass this one.’


The application for the conversion of the roadside barn on Silver Street near Reeth with the laying of a new access was refused in line with the statement made by the chairman at the beginning of the debate.

Julie Martin said:  ‘I want to make a few comments and pass on information as cultural heritage champion. I do feel – I am not making a proposal on this – but I do feel that there are strong reasons for refusal of this application. The lynchets … are [a] medieval cultivation terrace feature in this case and our heritage officer … does consider them to be of special importance. He says that they are arguably worthy of formal protection –  that this is one of the more impressive lynchet groups within the whole of the National Park.

‘These lynchets are very vulnerable to change and the earthworks [for the access track] that would be required … is going to cause very significant damage. I speak as a retired landscape consultant – it would be visible on the landscape and affect the integrity of that feature – not only the earthworks but also the car parking area which is separate from the barn itself. If we were to refuse this application the refusal would be upheld at appeal.’

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.’

The planning officer had reported that the Highway Authority did not feel that the new access would provide sufficient visibility splay on a road which had a 60mph speed limit. Cllr Good, however, said motorists found it difficult to reach 35 to 40mph on that stretch of road.

Allen Kirkbride commented: ‘Highways blow hot and cold and we know within the Yorkshire Dales that if we had to get full sighting for any application we would get very very few applications through. The access road will not be seen from the road and it will not be seen from the other side of the valley. The lynchets are very important but there again the majority will  not be affected. I can’t see a problem with this [application].

Cllr Amsden added that the access track would be on top of the first lynchet beside Silver Street.

And Cllr Foster said: ‘Just on consistency – we’ve passed a barn without any access whatsoever [at Cracoe]. I know it’s a legal matter but if we are going to be consistent we have got to pass this one, because we passed the other one.’

Cllr Amsden also questioned the National Park’s record concerning barn conversions.  He stated: ‘I am just getting a little bit fed  up with the attitude of the National Park on roadside barns. We just seem to get into a situation where willy nilly we won’t pass them.’

McPherson and Jim Munday disagreed with him with both stating that the majority of applications for barn conversions were approved, usually by officers using delegated powers.

New Houses, Horton in Ribblesdale

The committee approved the construction of a double garage with store room at a house at New Houses near Horton in Ribblesdale.

Horton in Ribblesdale Parish Council had objected as it felt the garage would be disproportionately too large to serve the existing residential property.

Craven District councillor David Ireton, however, thought it would blend into the backdrop of other buildings and not have any harmful impact upon the landscape.

His request that the conditions should include the removal of a timber shed on the site was agreed.


A traditional barn belonging to Newstead Farm cannot be replaced with a modern, larger, agricultural building the committee decided.

A decision was deferred at the October meeting so that the farmer, Richard Scarr, could produce plans showing how the new building would be dug a metre and a half into the ground to reduce its impact upon the landscape.

The planning officer, however, stated: ‘The siting of a large modern building with an industrial character sitting on top of a prominent mound in the landscape would lead to significant and permanent harm to the scenic beauty of the National Park landscape.’ He added that it would take around 15 years for any trees  planted to provide any meaningful screening.

Neil Heseltine commented that as the meadows served by the traditional barn led up to the farmstead it did make sense to have the new building there instead, as suggested by the planning officer.

click here to read the debate at the October meeting.


Permission was once more granted for Hill Top Barn at Countersett to be converted – but this time not just for a holiday let but also for local occupancy.

A local resident, Merrie Ashton, however, told the committee that the barn was within the unique and unspoilt landscape at the very edge of Countersett and would be visible from Semerwater.

She argued that the grassed-over track to Hill Top Barn was not suitable for use either by the builders who would convert the barn or for holiday cottage guests. ‘If the track is to become more robust the field will be scarred,’ she said.

She was also concerned about light pollution and stated: ‘Please, therefore, protect the natural unspoilt beauty of this area in the heart of the National Park and the views in that location.’

Allen Kirkbride, however, agreed with the planning officer that the twin wheeling access track had so bedded in that it was not ‘unduly dominating in views of the site’.  The planning officer reported that permitted development rights had been removed and so the track could not be maintained or improved without planning permission.

Bainbridge Parish Council had objected because it believed that the property represented development outside the boundary. It also believed that there wasn’t any further requirement for additional holiday let properties in the area and preferred conversion into homes for local occupancy.



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.

YDNPA – Planning Committee October 2020

ARC News Service reports on the virtual  meeting of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s (YDNPA) planning committee on 6 October 2020 when the following were discussed: a farm visitor attraction at Grassington; the future of Linton Camp at Linton;  barn conversion applications regarding Gawthrop near Dent, and at Braidley in Coverdale; a new agricultural barn at Askrigg;  and more solar panels on the YDNPA office roof at Bainbridge.

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.


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 member Askrigg Parish councillor Allen Kirkbride about the increase in traffic that could be expected following the new series of  All Things Great and Small. And North Yorks County councillor Robert Heseltine warned that the visitor attraction at Gam Farm could also become very popular.

Which was why Craven District councillor 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.

Linton Camp

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.’

At the meeting the chairman of the Authority, 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.

Cllr 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.

Richmondshire District councillor 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.’

Lancashire County councillor 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.

Gawthrop near Dent

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.

Braidley in Coverdale

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.


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.’

Cllr Kirkbride 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.

Cllr 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.

Cllr 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.

Cllr 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. ‘

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.


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 Cllr  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.’

Low Row, Swaledale

The committee quickly approved an amendment to the application from Hazel Brow Farm Visitor Centre which was approved in March 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.

YDNPA – Planning Committee August 2020

ARC News Service reports on the virtual meeting of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s (YDNPA) planning committee on August 25 2020 at which the following were discussed: the proposed redevelopment of Langcliffe Quarry; the use of cedar shingles on a garage roof at Embsay near Skipton;  silt covered road between Arcow and Dry Rigg quarries near Horton in Ribblesdale;  and how serial planning applications have held up enforcement action at Gaisgill, Cumbria, as well as a garage rebuilt to create two businesses at Horton in Ribblesdale.

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.

Langcliffe, Settle

With just days to spare an application to develop part of the disused Langcliffe Quarry was fully supported by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s 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 at the YDNPA planning committee meeting on Tuesday August 25.

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.

Richmondshire District councillor 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 Authority, unlike neighbouring district councils, did not provide full details of objections and representations on its website.

Embsay near Skipton

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 …. 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.

Horton in Ribblesdale

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.

Arcow Quarry, Horton in Ribblesdale

The road between Arcow and Dry Rigg Quarries near Horton in Ribblesdale is often covered in silt Craven District councillor 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.

Gaisgill, Cumbria

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.

Richmondshire District councillor 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.








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

YDNPA -Planning Committee July 2020

An ARC News Service report on the virtual meeting of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority‘s (YDNPA)  planning committee on  July 14 2020 at which the following were discussed: a development of eight houses at Millthrop; the conversion of a barn into a refreshments kiosk at Malham;  a lambing shed at Stainforth;  and two extensions to a cottage at Feetham, Low Row.

At the Full Authority meeting on June 30 it was agreed that planning committee meetings will be held once every six weeks.

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.

Millthrop, Sedbergh

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.’

Committee 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.


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 Craven District councillor Richard Foster were happy that the concerns of the parish council had been met.


Stainforth Parish Council 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.

Craven District councillor 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.

Feetham, Low Row

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.

Richmondshire District councillor 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.

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.

YDNPA – Planning committee June 2020

ARC  News Service reports on  the meeting of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s  (YDNPA) planning committee virtual meeting on Tuesday June 9. The two items discussed were a housing development at Austwick and a proposed barn conversion near West  Burton.

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.

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 a provision. 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 at the June meeting of the  YDNPA planning committee.


An 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 to its approval concerning affordable housing. North Yorkshire County councillor 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 Richmondshire District councillor 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 on-site of 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 has 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 Lancashire County councillor Cosima Towneley reminded the members that they didn’t have a foot to stand on due to the government’s policy.

West Burton:

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 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.’

YDNPA – Planning committee May 2020

ARC News Service reports on the first internet online meeting of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s (YDNPA) planning committee held on  Tuesday May 12 2020. The items discussed were: the proposed re-occupation of a house at West Stonesdale, Swaledale;  the erection of a camping cabin at High Woodend Farm, Tebay;  and a listed building application for alterations to Yarnbury Lodge near Grassington.

The most significant factor about this meeting was that every speaker could be clearly heard. There are regularly occasions at the meetings at Bainbridge when it is very hard, often impossible to hear what some speakers (usually the same ones) are saying.

West Stonesdale

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, North Yorkshire County councillor 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.

Craven District councillor 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 Richmondshire District councillor 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.

North Yorkshire County councillor 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.


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, Cllr 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 means 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.


An application cannot be rejected because of supposition and rumour stated Lancashire County councillor  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.

Craven District councillor 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.


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.

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.

YDNPA – Planning Committee March 2020

An ARC News Service report on the meeting of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s (YDNPA) planning committee on March 10 2020. Items discussed were: Shoemaker Barn at Grinton, Hazel Brown Farm Visitor Centre at Melbecks, an extension to the School House in Arncliffe, and the proposal for enforcement action concerning caravan hard standings at the Falls Country Park, Beezley Farm, Ingleton.

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.

GrintonShoemaker Barn

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 (above) 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.

Melbecks – Hazel Brow Farm Visitor Centre

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.


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 Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s planning committee has 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 started: “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.”


A decision to begin enforcement action against the owners of the Falls Country Park at Beezley Farm, Oddies Lane, Ingleton, was deferred by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s planning committee on March 10 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.

Craven District councillor 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.)

Richmondshire District councillor John Amsden suggested that the aggregate should be replaced with grasscrete because that would blend in better.

YDNPA – Planning committee February 2020

ARC News Service reports on the meeting of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s (YDNPA) planning committee on Tuesday, February 11. The applications discussed included Monks Church Bridge at Crosby Ravensworth, a time extension for Ingleton Quarry,  and a proposal for luxury camping pods within Thornton-in-Lonsdale parish. A decision about an application from Hazel Brow Farm Visitor Centre  at Low Row was deferred.

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.

Crosby Ravensworth

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.”

Cllr 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.

Ingleton Quarry

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.

North Yorkshire County councillor 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.”

Member 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.

Craven District councillor 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.

Thornton in Lonsdale

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 Craven District councillor 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.

Mr 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.

Low Row

A decision on an application from Hazel Brow Farm Visitor Centre was deferred as it was felt more time was needed to consider an amendment which had been received just before the meeting.

The original application was for: the conversion of former joiner’s shop to two holiday lets; the demolition of an agricultural building and part of a retaining wall to the southern edge; construction of a new retaining wall, path and dry stone wall; to re-design the visitor centre ground floor cafe and play barn with doors; to alter the first floor of the visitor centre to provide family accommodation; extend that first floor to provide additional accommodation; and install a treatment plant for the joiner’s shop and visitor centre.

The Richmond depot of Highways North Yorkshire had objected because, it stated, the existing accesses were unsatisfactory with limited visibility splays and so the intensification of use would be unacceptable in terms of highway safety.  The planning officer accepted its recommendation that the application should, therefore, be refused.

In the amended application the first floor extension to the visitor centre and all the visitor accommodation was removed. The only development proposed at the visitor centre was to refurbish the ground floor through the insertion of glazed double doors. It  proposed to continue to operate the building as a visitor centre with ground floor cafe only for those visiting it and the craft space on the first floor. The development proposed at the joiner’s shop was unaltered.

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.

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.

It 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 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 £7 per year, or £10 for parish councils. The Register of Members is held by the Administrative Officer and is kept completely confidential. You can send us comments via reports on this website. To do so click on one of the reports below.

The Secretary of State approved the extension of the boundaries of the YDNPA. But do read Cumbria County Coun Kevin Lancaster‘s personal view and that of Mike Warden who, until he retired,  worked as a planning officer with the YDNPA and then with Harrogate Borough Council which included Nidderdale AONB.

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 – Full Authority meetings in 2018 and 2017

ARC News Service reports from some  YDNPA Full Authority meetings in 2017 and 2018.

December 2018: the Review of Designated Landscapes including the important role of farmers and landowners; a new Three Peaks Code of Conduct; and a Youth Manifesto. See also YDNPA and the cost of the boundary extension.

March 2018:  farming in post-Brexit Britain and a pioneering agri-environmental scheme in Wensleydalecouncil tax on second homes; and extending the conservation area at Downholme. A resolution concerning Yore Mills at Aysgarth was published.

December 2017: Attracting families to live and work in the Yorkshire Dales and increasing council tax on second homes;  and allocating funds for a garden at the Chelsea Flower Show. There was also a very interesting report on the introduction of a charge to use the YDNPA’s  public toilets at Grassington compared to having a donation box at those at Aysgarth.


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.

See also YDNPA and the importance of farmers

Three Peaks

North Yorkshire County councillor Richard Welch described the problems that the residents of Horton-in-Ribblesdale were facing due to the tens of thousands of walkers seeking to complete the Three Peaks Challenge.

He said that on one occasion two coach-loads of walkers arrived at 5am. The coach drivers kept the engines running while the very noisy walkers disembarked. Once the walkers had completed the route they headed for the pub and were clearly heard singing about their success until late at night.

He agreed that the new code of conduct should be approved. This was outlined to the members by Kathryn Beardmore the YDNPA director of park services.

She said that the main problems for Horton in Ribblesdale appeared to be noise and anti-social behaviour. The Authority had worked with the community there to draft the new code of conduct.

She noted that Horton in Ribblesdale was the traditional start of the Three Peaks challenge which was a 24-mile walk on public rights of way and open access land.

She reported: “The Authority does not want to stop people doing the Three Peaks [as] the promotion of understanding and enjoyment of the area is one of our statutory purposes. Moreover increasing visitor numbers in National Parks is a Government target.”

The Authority’s member champion for recreation management, Cumbria County councillor Nick Cotton commented: “In a way this is an enormous success story.”  He pointed out that the Three Peaks challenge attracted people of all ages and was also used by charities to raise money. This meant a lot of people spent one to two nights in the area and it was likely many would return to visit the Yorkshire Dales.

For the full report and new code of conduct click here.

Youth Manifesto

The Youth Manifesto adopted at the meeting was heralded by some members as a good way to gather information about the needs of young people in the National Park.

And two members pointed out that there were already groups from which the information could be collected.

Askrigg Parish councillor Allen Kirkbride commented: “It [the manifesto] seems quite sound. Local youth groups are quite well into this already.”

And Eden District councillor William Patterson said the National Park should work with the young farmers groups which involved people from all walks of life.

Jocelyn Manners-Armstrong welcomed the manifesto as a mechanism for obtaining the views of young people. She emphasised that the way to retain young people in the National Park was to make it economically viable. “We need jobs and for the environment and the economy to work together. They are co-dependent rather than thinking they are always in conflict.”

In the manifesto, presented by YDNPA communications and ranger apprentices Katy Foxford and Ian Colledge, the problem of low wages and the need for job opportunities and more training were highlighted alongside such issues as the provision of transport, improved digital connectivity, affordable housing,  further education and business support.  The objective was youth empowerment through establishing youth councils and other means so that young people would gain the experience to be the future leaders in National Parks and rural communities.

They plan to launch a youth forum in the park to facilitate social opportunities for under-25s.

Mr Butterworth explained that the manifesto was developed by a number of young people across Europe after the 2018 Europarc Conference in the Cairngorms.

He said: “The Europarc Youth Manifesto seeks to improve the connection between decision makers in rural areas and young people. It highlights what public bodies can do to assist in the retention of young people in our communities and act as an attractor for others to move to the area.

“It is certainly the case that the voice of young people is marginalised on decision making bodies. This makes it all the more vital that those bodies open themselves up to the challenge, debate and discussion from this important demographic group within our community.”

He hoped it would also be adopted by county and district councils.

See Youth Manifesto.

MARCH 2018

Farming post-Brexit

The YDNPA is leading the way towards farming in the post-Brexit era thanks to a pilot scheme involving 19 farmers in Wensleydale. And members agreed that Defra should be approached for the funding needed to extend it.

Ian McPherson told the meeting: “We are leading the field in the country on the way in which agric-environmental schemes might look like.  Ministers are extremely impressed by the work we are doing (with) the results based agri-environmental scheme in Wensleydale.

“There’s a strong possibility that what we are doing here might well be the model that could be rolled out across the whole country.”

The National Park’s Farming and Rural Management two-year scheme in Wensleydale, which is being run in partnership with Natural England, involves 19 farmers and will end in September this year. The YDNPA has now applied to Defra so that it can be extended for three years and the number of Wensleydale farmers increased to 40.

The scheme was developed in response to the Government’s intention to introduce a 25-year plan to improve the environment.

One of the members, Neil Heseltine who farms at Malham, described it as exciting. He told the meeting that it could mean that rather than him having a one dimensional farm which produced red meat it could also encourage wildlife habitat, bio-diversity, pollinators, soil health and public and educational access.

He said it appeared that Defra and the government had followed closely a paper presented by National Park England last year before it produced its Agriculture Command Paper entitled Health and Harmony: The future for food, farming and the environment in a green Brexit.

“Local knowledge is imperative to delivering high results and also gives us a much better value for money,” he commented.

YDNPA officers Gary Smith and Adrian Shepherd explained that the Wensleydale scheme was exploring the concept of “public works for public money”. They reported that at every stage the pilot had been developed in collaboration with the local farming community. The farmers, they said, had invested time and effort into developing the skills necessary to implement a results-based approach, and switch to a system based on farmer self-assessment.

In his report Mr Smith underlined the problems being faced by farmers in the dales. “Farming remains critical to the local economy. It accounts for 10 per cent of employment in the National Park, with around 2,700 people employed directly agriculture.” But, he added, the core agricultural business of many upland farms was operating at a loss.

He quoted the Evidence Compendium that accompanied the Government’s Agriculture Command Paper which was launched in February this year. This stated that currently Direct Payments provided an average of about 60 per cent of upland farm business income. Even with Direct Payments 14 per cent of upland grazing livestock farm businesses were currently making a loss, and without it this could have risen to 46 per cent.

“Farming remains critical to the local economy – not only because of the direct employment it provides but because it manages the landscape on which a multi-million pound tourism industry depends,” Mr Smith said.

Members were told that during the transition period the government is considering reducing the direct payments to the largest landowners so that it can support farmers with agri-environmental schemes which would include restoring peat bogs, protecting drystone walls, reducing flood risks, creating new habitats for wildlife and increasing biodiversity. This will be in line with the government’s manifesto pledge to “be the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than we inherited it.”

David Butterworth warned, however, that so far the Government had not yet set out a clear work programme.

And Chris Clark stated: “We as an authority have to under pin farmers’ uncertainties. We must communicate more what are the issues that are facing the dales farmers, and we also need to communicate the solutions. I think as an authority we need to be doing that in a more open way.” Mr Clark (who farms in Langstrothdale) is, like Mr Heseltine, a parish council representative on the Authority.

(To take part in the Government’s consultation on the future for food farming and the environment click here. The consultation period closes on May 8 2018)

Council tax on second homes:

Mr Butterworth reminded members that the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority still has a policy which involves controlling the creation of second homes through either the planning system, taxation or other means.

North Yorkshire County councillor Richard Welch had spoken of the members’ disappointment that Richmondshire District Council (RDC) had rejected the Authority’s call to increase the council tax on second homes. Cllr Welch asked: “Bearing in mind that one of our initiatives is to increase [the number of] people living and working in the Dales – what do we do now?” He added that he did not want the Authority to give up on finding a solution.

Mr Butterworth responded that they should wait for a while and when they did look at the issue again it might involve some more research and data analysis.

He said that only one of the four authorities with areas within the Yorkshire Dales National Park had voted against the proposal, but the RDC had the largest number of second homes.

“We failed,” commented the leader of the RDC and YDNPA member, Cllr Yvonne Peacock. She added, however, that during the two months that the issue was being debated the Government and many others in England had been made aware that the large number of second homes was a causing a huge problem for rural communities.

Lancashire County councillor Cosima Towneley agreed with Mr Butterworth that it was just as important to improve the infrastructure within the National Park.

Whilst she mentioned the roads he listed the need for more affordable homes, the development of economic sites, the extension of broadband and the branding of the area as ways in which to make the National Park a more attractive place to live and work.

Downholme conservation area:

It was unanimously agreed that Downholme conservation area can be extended into the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

Gary Smith, the Authority’s Director of Conservation and Community, told the members that the application to extend the conservation area was unusual for two reasons: First, that the part of the village within Richmondshire District Council’s area already had conservation status; and secondly because Hudswell and District Parish Council had asked the Authority to extend it into the National Park.

Mr Smith said that the Authority had worked with the villagers, the parish council and the district council on the appraisal. Members were told that there were no objections to the proposed extensions although at first the Ministry of Defence was concerned about the potential obligations for remedial or other works on its land.

It was, however, assured that no such work would be necessary. It was reported that the district council had indicated its intention to support the boundary extensions which will affect minor inclusions in its area.

The areas to be included in the extended conservation area are:

  • The north side of the main street inside the village which includes important historic buildings like the Bolton Arms, Downholme Hall ruins and the former smith as well as the central village green, the pin fold and a churn stand.
  • The area at the northern edge of the village which includes the remains of the former mining industries and fine views into Swaledale, to How Hill and Downholm Hall ruins.
  • The triangular green which provides a significant entrance into the village from the west, with the Vicarage and surrounding mature trees and hedges.
  • The large open fields to the north and medieval lynchets, the quarry with lime kiln, quarry-foreman office building and explosives magazines, and the church.

Yore Mill, Aysgarth

The condition of the mill was discussed in private session at the December Full Authority meeting. In the minutes approved at the March meeting it was stated that the following was resolved:

That the Authority: a) supports Richmondshire District Council to secure appropriate urgent works to Yore Mill through the use of their legal powers; and b) makes public the Mill’s plight in the hope of securing a change in ownership and new funding possibilities so as to improve the chances of a comprehensive re-use in the future.


Attracting families and increasing council tax on second homes

Second homes  “deny” a home to a permanent resident and help to push up house prices beyond the reach of  local people, especially younger people, David Butterworth, the YDNPA chief executive, told members.

He quoted figures from the 2011 census which showed the from 2001 to 2011 an average of 65 new homes were created each year in the National Park. But approximately 90 houses were being turned into second homes or  holiday lets each year. Of the 13,500 dwellings or more 3,000 were second homes or holiday lets.

The majority of the members supported his recommendation to support putting time into working with the constituent district councils to try to reach agreement on a joint programme of activity to attract more families and people of working age to move to the National Park; and, as part of that programme, to approve the Authority working alongside the district councils and other relevant authorities to develop a specific proposal to the Government on second homes.

Mr Butterworth recommended that the YDNPA should work with the local authorities to seek government support for the establishment of a five-year pilot to test whether a substantial increase in council tax on second homes within the National Park would have a positive impact, in part by bringing homes back into full-time occupancy and by discouraging the purchase of second homes.

He said: “It is not for the YDNPA to set the level of council tax that might apply during the pilot period. This can only be decided by the authorities that have responsibility for these matters. Nonetheless the sum concerned has to be of sufficient magnitude to have a significant impact. Whilst a small increase in council tax on second homes might raise some additional revenue, it is unlikely to deliver the objectives.

“For those reasons it is suggested that a figure of at least five times the current rate should be considered. To provide an indication of impact, that would equate to a charge of at least £8.5k per annum on a Band D property. It is unlikely that this initiative would raise significant revenue, and that is not the aim. However, any additional funding that is raised should be ring-fenced to provide extra support for local services in the Park communities.”

One reason  he gave for this was that second home ownership was inadvertently contributing to the long term decline of the area. He told members: “ People should not be prevented from buying second homes but we believe there is merit in exploring options to make the process less attractive for second home owners.”

Many of the members agreed that something had to be done as communities were being undermined leading to the loss of schools, shops and other facilities. Richmondshire District Councillor Yvonne Peacock pointed out that in order to retain such a beautiful landscape it was not possible to build many new houses. She hoped that an increase in the council tax on second homes would lead to a drop in house prices. “Then we will actually have people living and working in our National Park,” she said.

Some members did question the proposal to increase council taxes on second homes.

A former chairman of the YDNPA, Steve Macaré, did not believe that the Authority should be leading the way with such a proposal because it was not a precepting council. That, he said, should be left to the district councils which have areas within the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

He and others pointed out that the negative impact upon rural communities of the increasing number of second homes and holiday lets was a nationwide problem and not just within national parks.

North Yorkshire Conty Cuncillor John Blackie warned about the law of un-intended consequences which could lead to the interests of local communities actually being damaged. Others described the proposal as a blunt instrument which had not been fully researched.

Jocelyn Manners-Armstrong said: “The people who buy second homes are our [national park] friends, they are our supporters, they care about the Dales. We shouldn’t repay their support by making them pay more.”

She accepted that something did need to be done but asked at what cost. She agreed with some others that the priority had to be to create more jobs, and to improve transport and communications.

The chairman of the Authority’s planning committee, Richmondshire District Councillor Caroline Thornton-Berry commented: “I think we could be open to legal challenge if we suddenly say to somebody who has been coming here for maybe 40 years that [their second home] is going to cost an extra £10,000 a year.”

A parish council representative, Cllr Allen Kirkbride, described how many second home owners in Askrigg actively supported community events. He did not believe that increasing the tax on second homes would solve the problem of providing more affordable housing.

Cllr John Blackie pointed out that many of the volunteers with the Little White Bus service had been second home owners and now wanted to give back something to the community. “An increase in tax will put off people who want to contribute – they will go elsewhere,” he added.

Some members wondered why the issue of holiday lets was not also being considered as these also had a detrimental impact upon local schools, medical practices and other facilities. Jim Munday said the Authority should consider its own planning policy which allowed traditional barns to be converted into holiday lets as well as local occupancy homes. “I support this initiative but I strongly recommend that there is no difference between holiday lets and second homes,” he stated.

Mr Butterworth,  however, replied that holiday lets were businesses that contributed to the local economy in a way that second homes didn’t. More importantly, he added, was that one of the policies of the National Park was to encourage more tourists to come and enjoy it (see below regarding the Chelsea Flower Show). To include holiday  lets  with second homes would be an ‘absolute nonsense’, he said.

(One member told the Association’s representative at the meeting that some second home owners were already considering turning their properties into holiday lets. If they did that they would then pay business rates of which only half would go directly to the district council. The rest would go to the government which would then decide how much to give to the district council. )

Toilet charges


After a 25-month trial the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority has found that people prefer to make a financial donation to use public toilets as at Aysgarth rather than being charged.

“Psychologically it is known that making a donation makes the individual feel good. Paying for something can have the opposite effect,” Kathryn Beardmore, the director of park services, said.

According to her report it was decided in March 2015 to run a trial at two National Park centres to help raise funds for the Authority. At Grassington turnstiles were installed at a cost of £8,700 so that visitors have to pay 20p to enter the National Park’s toilets, whereas a donation box was placed at those at the Aysgarth information centre (above) for just £500. The net income at Grassington between August 1 2015 and August 31 2017 was £23,900 after £3,200 was spent on collection costs and £1,200 on repairing the turnstiles.

Ms Beardmore reported: “In the first year, when the turnstiles were under warranty there was no maintenance, but two years on they are becoming increasingly troublesome.”And that means more trouble for the Authority’s staff at Grassington.

The staff have had to deal with irate visitors who have put their pennies in but couldn’t gain admission to the toilets. Besides helping them to access the toilets and organising the repairs, staff have also had many requests for change.

This was compared to the toilets at Aysgarth where the car park is one third the size of that at Grassington and where coaches cannot park. The income raised from donations there was £3,000. Ms Beardmore said: “The box is emptied by the centre staff and banked by them as part of their daily routine so takes minimal staff time, and has no start up or on-going repair costs.”

She added that at Grassington 54 per cent of visitors were satisfied with the toilets there compared to 91 per cent at Aysgarth. She said this was not due to the level of upkeep or cleanliness of the two sets of toilets. Not surprisingly, the Authority will not be installing any more turnstiles at their toilets although those at Grassington are expected to remain for a few more years.

Ms Beardmore commented: “Based on this trial, the life span of the turnstiles and the amount of on-going maintenance and staff time required could be problematic.”

A donation box has already been installed at Malham and it is likely that there will be boxes at the National Park’s toilets at Hawes and Horton in Ribblesdale.

Ms Beardmore concluded her report by stating: “We want to be a welcoming National Park, with a high level of customer satisfaction, particularly when people come to our own sites. At the same time we need to set ourselves targets for income generation. Based on income generation, the turnstiles at Grassington have been a success. This is largely due to the high number of coaches, and because staff are on hand, throughout the year, to resolve problems as they arise.”

Chelsea Flower Show

It was agreed that the Authority will allocate £25,000 from its Opportunities Fund to sponsor Welcome to Yorkshire’s “Yorkshire Dales Garden” at the 2018 RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

David Butterworth, the Authority’s chief executive, told the meeting: “At a difficult time economically, tourism within Yorkshire and the National Park has continued to grow. It is important that this continues into the future and it is felt that playing a part in the 2018 Chelsea Flower Show would be part of that process.”

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.

See also the Review of Designated Landscapes section of the Full Authority December 2018 report.


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 Knowles – an obituary

TomThe 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.

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 is going back into it.”

Lancaster City Councillor Margaret Pattison commented: “I think once it’s done it will be beautiful.”

Other members of the committee accepted that the circumstances were exceptional and unlikely to occur again.

Sedbergh parish councillor Ian McPherson stated: “We can’t refuse it. Lancaster City has apologised for the mess. We either end up with a semi-derelict barn … or a dwelling house which is actually an improvement and clearly well designed.”

To that Jocelyn Manners-Armstrong added: “To me to even think about refusing it would just be compounding a massive maladministration.” She couldn’t see how the applicant should suffer because of the procedural irregularities and the complete failure of some people to do their jobs properly.

“I think we should actually commend the applicant for having the perseverance of trying to do a proper job.” And she recorded an apology to Mr Redmayne.

Ireby with Leck Parish Council had told the Authority: “The Council is not able to support this application but would support a revised scheme that is more in keeping with the original structure. The proposal involves too much disturbance of the natural landscape.

“The application goes significantly beyond what was granted originally in the permitted development and is now proposed as a new build.

“Whilst the Council is sympathetic to the difficulties the applicant has experienced with the proposals, the Council views the present application as setting a precedent and circumventing the rules of permitted development.”

Mr Redmayne will not be required to sign a local occupancy legal agreement as Lancaster City Council’s Local Plan still applies.

Litton – October

The Authority’s Local Plan policy that any traditional barn to be converted must be large enough to accommodate the new use without the addition of any significant extensions or alterations led to an application concerning Dubb Croft Barn in Litton being refused.

The planning officer stated that this policy applied to any additions after a barn had been converted. Since the conversion of Dubb Croft Barn it has become a family home with a holiday cottage letting business. The office for that business, the planning officer said, was in part of the master bedroom. “This is considered as being far from ideal as it requires access through the bedroom and requires the keeping of files, a desk, computer, telephone etc which cramps the bedroom space,” he explained and added that clients also had to enter that room to obtain keys and other information.

The application was for the erection of a single storey extension to provide a new bedroom so that the office could be separate. The planning officer stated that the extension would not be subservient to the present dwelling and would result in significant harm to the character and appearance of that building which is in a conservation area.

The agent, Robert Groves, disagreed.  “As the architect for this proposal I disagree as the [extension] has been designed to be very simple in its form. It [would be] essentially agricultural in appearance and provide no disharmony to the original. It is to a scale that is clearly subservient to the original and does not obscure any of the important features.”

He told the committee that the proposal was very important for the future of the business.

Litton Parish Meeting supported the application and stated: “Mr and Mrs Cowan are valuable members of our small community and their expanding business is a valuable asset bringing in much needed business and employment.”

Linton – February

Even though a resident told the planning committee that the proposed extension at The Minns in Linton would severely impact upon his residential amenity the majority of the members accepted the planning officer’s recommendation to approve the application.

Linton Parish Council agreed with John Ford that the extension would have a negative impact on his home. It stated: “The council still considers that the planning application does not adhere to the ethos of Linton as being a conservation village.”

The planning officer, however, argued that the applicant’s amended application was for a more modest, single storey side extension which would be subordinate to the main property. It had been designed to limit the impact upon neighbouring properties, he said. He added that the extension would not be a prominent addition to the street scene and would not detract from the appearance of The Minns.

Long Preston – February

The committee agreed that the planning application for 13 houses to be built of Greengate Lane in Long Preston should be approved as that granted in 2014 will expire on February 26.

One of the two sites was previously used for wagon storage and maintenance. The industrial building there has been demolished and removed.

The original planning permission, granted in February 2014, included a condition that a housing association would ensure that  six dwellings on the site would remain affordable homes for perpetuity. The applicant had confirmed this year that a housing association was no longer involved and he wanted to sell the site.

The new planning permission, therefore, requires that there will be a legal agreement to ensure that  two shared ownership units and four affordable rented units will remain so for perpetuity and be transferred to a Registered Provider prior to the occupation of any of the seven open market dwellings.

The owner of the site will need to check if Long Preston Water Trust will have sufficient supply to serve the development as mains water is not available in that part of the village.

Newbiggin in Bishopdale  – February

A legal agreement would not be sufficient to stop the two-bedroom annex to Mystified Bungalow becoming a separate dwelling Mr Graham told the committee.

The planning officer warned that the continued use of the annex as a self-catering holiday let would set an undesirable precedent for allowing the subdivision and conversion of any modern building anywhere within the National Park.

The majority of the committee accepted this advice and so refused the application, and agreed that an enforcement notice should be issued giving the owner six months to stop using the annex as a holiday let.

Andrew Cunnington, the agent, said the applicant was willing to sign a legal agreement tying the holiday let to the original bungalow and limiting the time it could be used as a holiday accommodation to 10 months each year.  His client, he explained, did require a mixed use for the annex, providing accommodation for tourists during the season and for his family at other times. Mr Cunnington argued that this would generate benefits for the local economy and so fulfilled the criteria for sustainable development as identified both nationally and locally.

He maintained that the new Local Plan set out competing priorities between the need for affordable housing and the provision of more facilities for tourists.  The planning officer, while acknowledging that there were competing priorities in the Local Plan, stated that the use of the large annex as a self-catering holiday let would prejudice the supply of local needs housing in an open countryside location as it had its own parking area, access and garden space. She added: “The annex could provide a viable, independent two-bedroomed dwelling.”

Cllr Blackie said that the Local Plan called for more overnight stays and accepted the provision of all types of accommodation including railway carriages.

He told the committee that a previous enforcement officer  had not told the applicant to remove the kitchen in the annex. This, however, was one of the options now put forward by the planning officer in order to turn the annex into B&B accommodation which would be acceptable. Cllr Blackie also pointed out that the present owner had installed a door between the original bungalow and the annex – something that had not been done when the annex was built.

Mr Graham stated concerning any legal agreement: “It would not be worth the paper it is written on.” When asked later about this in view of the decision made regarding Rose Cottage at Arncliffe he stated:

“The issue raised by the proposals at Mystified Bungalow and Rose Cottage concerns whether a separate ‘planning unit’ (a separate dwelling) would be created or not. With Rose Cottage the porposal was to convert a small domestic office at the bottom of a long garden. The building would not have a separate access or curtilage and, therefore, in the officers’ opinion, is highly unlikely to be sol off or used independently from the host property – in essence it is an annex. With Mystified Bungalow the proposal was for the accommodation to be used as a holiday cottage independent from the main house – with its own separate parking, access into the building and front/back garden space.

“A S106 agreement can be used to restrict how a building is used or occupied or to tie ownership but it must meet legal tests (including that it is ‘reasonable’) and it can be subject to appeal. A planning permission for an annex with a S10-6 agreement tying the annex to the host dwelling would be reasonable. A planning permission creating a separate dwelling with a S106 effectively saying the new dwelling cannot be used as a separate dwelling would not be reasonable and, therefore, likely to be removed on application or appeal. What I was trying to convey to the members [was that] such an agreement would be so weak as not survive a challenge and as such would not guarantee what they were proposing.”

Rylstone – February

An enforcement notice will be served on  the owners of Green Farm at Rylstone as they have not complied with several of the conditions included in the permission granted in 2013 for the construction of several large agricultural buildings.

“We are very disappointed that they have done that,” said Mr Graham. “It is a sad situation particularly as these are some of the largest buildings that we have given planning permission for in the National Park. We have been talking to them for quite a while now to try and resolve the situation. The only avenue we have got is an enforcement notice.”

The enforcement notice covers the removal of a yard to the south of the farm buildings,  the reduction in the number of roof lights and not providing sufficient landscaping

Cllr Blackie asked if it was necessary to “use the big stick” especially when it was so difficult for dairy farmers these days.

Mr Graham replied that when enforcement action was approved further negotiations took place to give the owners the opportunity to comply.

The enforcement officer, Martyn Coy, reported that the large yard which had been constructed without permission to the south of the farm buildings meant that a lot of activity took place close to neighbouring residential properties.

He stated that permission had been granted for four roof lights per bay but this had been increased to six without permission.  This did have an adverse impact upon the landscape and dark skies at night.

Cllr Harrison-Topham compared such farm buildings to large well-lit ocean liners.

Rylstone – November

The Authority should change its attitude towards communication masts, its planning committee was told by one of its own members.

South Lakeland District councillor Brenda Gray said: “We have to have communications, we have to accept man-made masts in the landscape for the people who live here and the people who visit. We must change our attitude.”

The majority of the committee agreed that EE Limited should be allowed to install a 11m high slim telegraph pole and ground base equipment in a farm field at Rylstone which would service voice calls, provide 3G and 4G data and network services for the emergency services.

As this was against the recommendation of the planning officer this decision will have to be confirmed at the committee meeting in December.

James Butcher, who farms at Rylstone, told the committee: “Communications are an essential local service. For an area to remain a living and working community it must have access to what most of the population takes for granted.

“It’s particularly important to the younger generation. We’ve attracted lots of young families and young people. We’ve got 15 children who go to local schools. This is an example of how to maintain a vibrant community. But if they don’t have a mobile signal they will be lost to the area.”

He described how one ambulance crew recently got lost trying to reach a child patient and couldn’t call in for directions because there was no mobile signal.

Cllr  Peacock said that people wouldn’t want to come and live in the National Park if they were concerned about the lack of communications and the ability to call for an ambulance.

Of the proposed site she commented: “It isn’t perfect where it is but you will have no countryside if you haven’t got people living and working here.”

“To make sure we don’t get left behind in the Yorkshire Dales we have to accept some compromises occasionally,” commented Cllr Blackie.

Cllrs Heseltine and Welch added that the wind turbine already in the farm field was not intrusive on the landscape.

The planning officer had argued that the pole and apparatus, equipment cabins and enclosure, viewed together with the existing wind turbine, would cumulatively dominate local views and be extremely prominent as an alien feature in wider views of the site, and so have a very detrimental impact upon a high quality landscape.

Jim Munday was concerned that EE Limited was going for the lowest cost option and felt that there could be alternative sites where a mast would not be so visible, such as beside trees.

The company’s agent, Carolyn Wilson, said that a mast beside trees would have to be much higher and bulkier. The company had to consider whether the cost of any alternative would make the scheme commercially unviable.

Cllr Peacock commented that for 20 to 25 years she had seen big companies walk away from projects in the National Park when the cost became too high. “We have an opportunity here to pass something that we don’t feel is intrusive and which benefits the whole area because it is a message – the message that we, the National Park, are here to help to promote our area and to encourage people to come and live and work here.”

After the vote Mr Graham said: “We have a wind turbine in this location. We also have another company which feels this is a suitable location for telecommunications and put up their mast without bothering to apply for permission. My great concern is that if we granted permission for this application we will be opening the door to further development [there]. For that reason I would say that this application should be referred back to the next meeting.”

He also explained that the Authority was working with Airwave to find suitable locations for 12 telecommunications masts to serve the emergency services. “We have planned suitable locations and designs for those masts that we feel won’t have a significant impact upon the landscape. The Park is being positive about these things,” he said.

Rylstone – December

All but three of the members agreed that a 11 metre high slim telecommunications pole would not make a major difference to the landscape at Fleets Laithe near Rylstone but would considerably improve the mobile phone service in that area.

Cllr Peacock agreed with Cllr  Heseltine that the impact upon the landscape would not be significant. She said: “To me it may not be a perfect site but … I believe we need to go ahead for the benefit of the communities. We have a business that is actually going to provide good mobile coverage in this area. We need good mobile phone coverage. We have got to take care of the future of our dales.”

Cllr Blackie agreed with her that it was not accurate to describe the mast and associated equipment as just a commercial enterprise especially in a deeply rural area. “This commercial mast will be serving both the social necessities of the population and [their] economic needs. We mustn’t put off those who are seeking to invest in essential community infrastructure,” he said.

He told the committee that 20 years ago the planning officers had regularly recommended that applications for telecommunications masts in Wensleydale and Swaledale should be refused. The committee had approved most of them apart from one in Swaledale. “Now, near Low Row [you] lose reception and only gain it again when you get to Gunnerside,” he added.

A planning officer maintained that the mast at Rylstone would have a harmful impact on the landscape as it would be at an exposed and prominent site. She and Mr Graham said they were not convinced that all alternative sites had been considered by EE Limited.

The planning officer stated:  “Areas of the National Park that tend to suffer from poor coverage do so not because of the restrictive planning policies but because commercial telecommunications operators choose not to invest in infrastructure in these areas.”

Three members abstained from voting when the majority approved the application.

Sedbergh – July

An application to build two houses on part of the former Baliol School site in Sedbergh was refused because that area has been designated for business development.

Mark Stott of Farmgate Vets and Edward Waller, who has a stone masonry and funeral parlour business, told the committee that they had bought land at Baliol School but needed to recoup some of the cost of constructing new premises on that site. “Although it is not essential for our financing, we are looking to sell a portion of the site for housing to offset some of the potential losses and to help to secure the business for the future,” Mr Stott said. Like Mr Waller, Farmgate Vets plan to have bespoke premises built on the site.

Sedbergh Parish Council had asked if it was possible to ensure that the business premises were built before the houses. The planning officer, however, told the committee that this was not legally possible.

She added: “As no case has been made that the previously approved scheme of two commercial units is unviable without the houses, it is considered that there is no justification to warrant a departure from a newly adopted planning policy.”

Committee members pointed out that there was a shortage of business sites within the Yorkshire Dales National Park and they did not want to set a precedent for introducing residential houses within them.

Stackhouse – May

The conversion of a Grade II listed coach house at Stackhouse  into two holiday lets was approved even though the county highways department and Giggleswick Parish Council had objected.

North Yorkshire County Councillor Richard Welch told the meeting: “The highways authority is against it, the parish council is against it and the residents are against it.”

The former had objected because, it stated, the access onto Stackhouse Lane was unsatisfactory and there was insufficient visibility splay.The parish council was concerned about that access due to the number of residents already using it.

The planning officer noted that the narrow lane to that access was not adopted by the county council and was not made up to the standards normally required by the highways authority.

She added:“Given that the lane is in a reasonable condition, is reasonably level and straight, and currently services at least ten other properties, it is considered that the road conditions are not so poor they would warrant refusal [of the application].”

The owner, who lives in the adjoining Old Hall, originally applied to convert the coach house into three holiday lets but then amended the plans.

The planning officer described the coach house as a heritage asset of high significance with many features that required protecting. This, she said, was better achieved by converting it  into two holiday lets. This is in line with the YDNPA’s objective to encourage more staying visitors as part of its tourism policy because of the economic benefits they bring.

Cllr Welch queried what economic benefits the holiday lets would bring to such a hamlet and said they would be unsuitable within such a small community.

Starbotton – June

Starbotton in Wharfedale has changed so much that it is has become far more difficult for a hill farmer to care for his livestock, Colin Lister told the committee.

Mr Lister has applied for permission to erect an agricultural building for the safe handling of sheep 100m above the north side of Starbotton. At present the sheep have to be herded down 395m to reach Bushey Lodge Farm on the south side of the village.

He told the committee: “The physical aspects and challenges of hill farming remain little changed, whereas the community at Starbotton has changed dramatically. En-route to our current sheep handling yard, with our sheep, we pass five holiday homes. These generally contain people who are unaware of what we are trying to achieve. This makes it unlikely that we ever have a clear path to our destination.

“Our second obstacle, and a relatively new one, is the increased number of dogs visiting and living in Starbotton. Sheep will not pass a dog on a single track road. The Starbotton Cam Road into Starbotton is impassable with sheep when meeting dogs being walked in the opposite direction. This is a common occurrence along this popular dog-walking route.

“Another major obstacle is crossing the main road in Starbotton. Traffic numbers and speeds have increased and safely crossing the road requires at least three people who are not always available.

“Even without the fore-mentioned, a considerable amount of effort is put into our farming day trying to ensure the safety of residents and tourists and also minimising disruption to their day. Basically this means early starts and late finishes way beyond the set working hours.

“Current environmental schemes are encouraging us to graze cattle on our higher pastures. We have been doing this for seven years and find it has been a most rewarding part of our current Natural England agreement, both economically and environmentally. However, the handling of the cattle… creates all the same problems previously mentioned but on a much bigger scale.

“I think one of the reasons cattle are not seen on the hills, prior to us being encouraged, was because they are difficult to handle on outlining pastures far away from any handling facilities.”

There would also be far less run-off of dirty water if the tasks of drenching, shearing, parasite treatments, tailing, marking and foot bathing were carried out in a roofed barn, he added.

The YDNPA’s farm conservation advisor, however, stated: “The argument relating to stress is not strong as [the livestock] will be herded/flocked to this point anyway which will undoubtedly cause them stress.

“The location of the site is very visible from below and above and the building will stick out quite considerably in an area that is lacking in field barns at that height.”

The planning officer agreed and recommended that the application should be refused.

Kettlewell-with-Starbotton Parish Council disagreed. It had informed the planning committee: “It is easier to care for sheep in a roofed building. The design and location are such that the building will be largely hidden.”

The committee accepted Cllr  Heseltine’s recommendation that there should be a site visit.

Starbotton – July

Animal welfare and efficient farming were two of the reasons why the majority of the committee decided that Colin Lister should be allowed to erect an agricultural building 100m above Starbotton.

Following the site meeting Cllr Heseltine told the committee: “This application primarily concerns animal welfare.”

He disagreed with the planning officer that the new barn would be situated on the high moors and said it would be on the limestone pasture. Conserving and preserving the landscape of the beautiful Yorkshire Dales was important, but they had to keep in mind that it was also a workplace especially for the farmers. “Without them we would be lost,” he added.

Several others agreed with him including one of the newest members, Lancashire County Councillor Cosima Towneley who said: “The terms of reference for the National Park is the landscape but what is the landscape without people? You can’t live without jobs or employment.”

She also argued that, as each application was considered on its merits, no precedent would be set. Cllr Peacock agreed and stated: “This is a unique situation because, at present, sheep have to brought across a busy road.”

The issue of precedence was underlined by the planning officer and Julie Martin. The latter commented: “I don’t want to make farmers’ lives more difficult but I do generally feel this will set a very bad example in terms of farm buildings at this sort of altitude.” She believed other options could be explored especially as the barn would be visible from high-level footpaths.

The planning officer reported that Mr Lister had submitted amended plans for the siting of the barn which would mean that it would  be hardly visible from the valley floor.

Fourteen out of the sixteen members voted in favour of the application and there was one abstention. Mr Graham announced that this decision would not have to be ratified at the August meeting even though it was against the officer’s recommendation.

Thoralby  – October

It would be wrong to send a negative message to Dales’ dairy farmers at a time when so many were pulling out of that business, Cllr  Blackie told the committee.

Mr Graham had supported the planning officer’s recommendation to refuse permission for a 40.5m diameter concrete slurry store to be constructed in a field above Thoralby. He said the slurry plant would be almost as long as the Authority’s office building in Bainbridge and similar in height.

Cllr Peacock, however, agreed with Cllr Blackie and said: “I know there are problems but to flatly refuse it would be wrong.”

The majority of the committee agreed with Cllrs Blackie and Peacock that it was better to defer a decision and give Michael Lancaster of Town Head Farm, Thoralby, more time to discuss the issue with the planning officers.

Thoralby parish meeting and Aysgarth and District Parish Council had suggested how to better screen the concrete tank but committee member Julie Martin warned that there might be no effective way of doing so.

The planning officer stated: “The construction of a large concrete tank situated by itself on a hillside is an industrial scale development that would have an adverse impact on the landscape.” He added that, if approved, it would set a precedent which could lead to a series of large slurry tanks along dale sides.

Like Thoralby Parish Meeting he was also concerned that the construction of the tank and the measures taken to try and screen it would lead to the loss of archaeological features.

Mr Lancaster, however, believed that the proposed slurry store could be effectively screened with bunds and trees. He told the committee: “As a resident of Bishopdale I am acutely conscious that the development needs to fit in with the wider landscape.”

He said the new store would have the capacity for six months storage compared to just four weeks at the present one within the farm complex at Town Head Farm. This, he explained, would enable him to run a more efficient dairy business, decrease the number of vehicle movements through the village, reduce the amount of chemical fertilisers being used, and increase grass production. “This store will represent the biggest capital investment made by the business in the last ten years and is an essential investment,” he stated.

He told the committee that, since he took over the farm from his father 11 years ago, he had continually invested in improving the condition of the land and the facilities at Town Head Farm, and that he had increased the herd to 300 cows and 300 followers.

The planning officer accepted that the proposed tank would reduce the risk of water pollution and would make the farm compliant with current legislation regarding slurry storage. But he added: “It is considered that these potential environmental benefits are outweighed by the harm caused.”

Threshfield – February

The proposed dormer extension at a house in Wharfeside Avenue, Threshfield, would be on the rear elevation in accordance with the Local Plan guidelines – but a planning officer recommended refusal.

He stated that the dormer would detract from the appearance of the house and could be seen from the B6160 across the fields.  The applicant, Andy Gould, pointed out that the road was half-a-mile away.

Threshfield Parish Council had informed the planning officer that it had no objections and stated: “We support the application as it is in keeping with many other properties in the area. Along this particular section of the avenue every other property has some type of dormer extension. Therefore, the proposed alterations at High Winds would be in line with surrounding properties.”

The planning officer responded: “Whilst it is accepted that there are dormer windows within the vicinity of the site, these relate to properties of varying styles and ages. In assessing this proposal, officers have taken into account the particular visual interest of the semi-detached host property, the appearance and impact of the proposed dormer windows and the fact that there are wider public views of its rear elevation.”

The reason given for bringing the application to the committee was that it was at the request of Cllr  Heseltine.

At the meeting Richmondshire District Councillor Stuart Parsons noted that although the front of the house was architecturally important there was nothing special about the rear because an extension had been added at sometime.

No one seconded the proposal to accept the officer’s recommendation, and the majority voted to approve the application.

West Burton – April

The cost of an application for a barn conversion at Sorrelsykes Farm, West Burton, could amount to £8,194 without any guarantee that it would be approved the  committee was told.

Over £2,000 of that would be the fee for a professional odour, noise and disturbance survey because the barn is five metres from a milking parlour. But the survey would not be necessary if the application was to convert the barn into holiday lets rather than into three local occupancy dwellings.

Adam Spence, the agent, told the committee that Les Bell, who owns the barn, believed that the provision of local occupancy properties should take priority.

Cllr Blackie agreed and said: “He has already clocked up well over £5,000 [in fees]. If we are not careful we will stifle barn conversions coming forward and this was the star policy of our new Local Plan.

“We have local residents who have been living for years on that farmstead [and] there have been no complaints about odour and smell.”

He argued that the main objective of allowing roadside barns to be converted was to provide more local occupancy housing, not more holiday lets.

The planning officer stated that the application should be refused because Mr Bell had not agreed to have a professional odour, noise and disturbance survey as recommended by Richmondshire District Council’s environmental health officer.

The planning officer reported that no information had been provided about the farming enterprise, including how many animals there were, when milking occurred and when slurry was collected. Without this it was not possible to ensure that there would be a good standard of amenity for the future occupants of the converted barn, she stated.

Mr Spence said that information could be provided but not at a cost of £2,160.

Allen Kirkbride pointed out that some years ago permission had been granted for a barn conversion at his dairy farm in Askrigg – and that barn was as close to the milking parlour as that at Sorrelsykes. He wondered if the planning rules had changed.

In response to questions about why an environmental survey wasn’t needed for holiday lets, the planning officer said that visitors would not have to live constantly with any odours or disturbances. This was emphasised by the Authority’s senior legal officer, Clare Bevan, who stated that any future statutory nuisance should be identified at the planning stage.

Jocelyn Manners-Armstrong said that they did need the information about the farming enterprise and her suggestion that a decision should be deferred to allow Mr Bell and Mr Spence to provide that was accepted.

West Burton – June

Permission has been granted for a barn at Sorrelsykes Park Farm near West Burton to be converted into three local occupancy dwellings.

At the June meeting the planning committee was informed that Richmondshire District Council’s Environmental Health Officer (EHO) had not repeated its objection to the planning application.

In April the planning officer told the committee that the EHO had requested that suitable noise and odour assessments should be made before the application was approved as the close proximity of the barn to the cow shed and milking parlour could have a detrimental impact upon those living in it once it was converted.

Cllr  Blackie said that a consultant would have charged at least £1,750, and that would be in addition to the £7,500 the applicant had already paid for surveys and other costs. His suggestion that the agent should carry out the noise and odour survey was accepted and he reported on Tuesday that the cost of that was £200.

Joceyln Manners-Armstrong commented: “I wouldn’t be confident on making a decision based on [the agent’s report] but the Environmental Health Officer has removed his objections so I don’t have a basis for refusing either.

“I can understand the point about surveys being expensive. If you want quality information you have to pay for it.”

The planning officer reported that there had been five letters of support for the application from those living close to the farm, and that the EHO had never received any complaints about odour or noise.

Cllr Blackie emphasised the need for local occupancy housing. He said: “A family or two with two or three children would make all the difference between keeping West Burton school open or the potential of seeing it close.

“If applicants are saying we can’t afford to take forward barn conversion applications then I do think we have a serious matter to address.”

YDNPA planning reports February to December 2016

ARC News Service reports on YDNPA planning committee meetings during 2016: applications affecting roadside barn conversions, Arcow Quarry at Horton in Ribblesdale, Appletreewick, Arncliffe, Askrigg, Austwick, Aysgarth, Bolton Abbey, Buckden, Burnsall, Burtersett, Casterton, Crosby Ravensworth, Dent, Drybeck, East Witton, Embsay, Gayle (including Garris House), Grassington, Grinton, Hardraw, Hartington Raikes, Hawkswick, Hebden, Horton-in-Ribblesdale, Howgill, Hudswell,  Kettlewell, Malham, Marske, Newbiggin in Bishopdale, Otterburn, Reeth, Sedbergh (and Millthrop), Skyreholme, Stainforth, Stirton,  Swaledale (Richmond Motor Club Three Day Trial and Swaleview Caravan Site) Thorpe, Threshfield, Weasdale, West Witton,  and Winterburn. These are listed in alphabetical order below.

An application from Forbidden Corner in Coverdale was also discussed.


This was an eventful year for the Authority as its boundaries were extended on August 1 and its policies were widened to include the approval of roadside barn conversions, like that planned by Kelly and Haydon Cooper near Askrigg (above).

Sadly, it also saw the retirement of Harold Brown.  At the beginning of the September  planning committee meeting the chairman, Richmondshire District Councillor Caroline Thornton-Berry paid tribute to him. After  20 years as a parish council representative he had resigned due to ill health.“He has made a very long and loyal contribution to the Yorkshire Dales,” Cllr Thornton-Berry  said. He was also thanked at the Full Authority meeting on September 27.

Barn conversions – Early in 2016  the committee began approving the conversion of roadside barns in accordance with the emerging Local Plan. This policy, approved in December 2016, permits traditional buildings to be converted into local occupancy homes or holiday lets, all with legal agreements.  After the Local Plan was adopted most barn conversion applications will be dealt with by officers under delegated powers.

In late 2016 an application to convert Tug Gill Lathe near Starbotton was refused by an officer under delegated authority and so was not considered by the planning committee. Kettlewell with Starbotton Parish Council had informed the planning officer that it supported the application.

The officer stated the domestic use of the barn would be discordant with the highly distinctive landscape character of Upper Wharfedale. The barn is within the Upper Wharfedale Site of Special Scientific Interest and near the River Wharfe SSSI. Natural England had advised the Authority that the proposal was unlikely to have an adverse effect given the small scale and nature of the development.

In August it was noted that those converting barns will be required to install boreholes if water was not already available at the site.

Among those approved by the planning committee in November were at Skirbeck Farm, Long Preston (holiday let or local occupancy); at Blackburn House, Main Street, Thorpe (local occupancy);  and  at Croft Farm, Arkleside, Coverdale (holiday let).

It was agreed at that meeting that applicants should be offered dual legal agreements covering holiday lets and local occupancy for barn conversions unless they requested only one type of use.

An amazing press release

After the meeting in May I was not impressed by an amazing press release sent out by the Authority.  It was amazing because it congratulated the planning committee for approving a retrospective application for a restaurant at Knight Stainforth Hall, Stainforth, that had been open for a year!

There was little said, however, about Horton in Ribblesdale Parish Council opposing plans to organise yet more Three Peaks charity events.

Retrospective planning applications – October

Anyone who makes a retrospective planning application should have to pay all the costs incurred by the Authority, Richmondshire District Councillor Stuart Parsons stated.

He said:  “Retrospective planning applications must carry a form of financial penalty – although it is not a fine, although we are not making money out of it – but people must understand that if they don’t apply the basic rules of planning then it is going to cost and that cost could be significant.

“People have to learn that they can’t just do what the hell they like and hope to get away with it.”

He said this following a statement by the Association of Rural Communities which gave an illustration of a recent retrospective planning application in Aysgarth.

The Association commented: “This National Park was extended to protect special areas of landscape. But your ability to protect the landscape is severely limited if it is possible to build without planning permission with no penalties being imposed.

“Our Association would suggest that there should be financial penalties on a sliding scale according to the size and cost of the construction carried out.”

It was pointed out, however, that as it was not a criminal offence to build without planning permission no fines could be imposed.

Richard Graham, the Authority’s head of development management, stated: “Developers who carry out work with the knowledge that it is unauthorised do so at their own risk and they are liable to enforcement action and may be required to undo the work.”

He said that the Authority will appoint a [full time] principle planning officer to manage planning enforcement. That officer will be asked to introduce a system to monitor new developments so that the Authority can pro-actively ensure compliance with planning controls. Up until now the Authority has had just two part-time enforcement officers.

Exemption caravan sites – October

In its statement ARC also commented on the ability of the Camping and Caravanning Club to accredit small camp sites even in National Parks without planning permission.  It reported that Aysgarth Township parish meeting had asked if the Authority could campaign to have this loophole closed.

Mr Graham responded that the exemption allowing such caravan clubs to accredit small sites had been in place for over 50 years and was re-affirmed by the government last year. “Given that, it’s considered unlikely the government would change such  well-established legislation.”

Cllr Parsons commented: “I accept the caravanning club explanation even though it is completely bonkers.”

North Yorkshire County Councillor John Blackie reported that a caravanning club had decided to close its sites in Hawes and in Wharfedale from January  until early July next year. That would mean the loss of 240 pitches in the Yorkshire Dales which would have a negative impact upon the local economies.

He said concerning caravanning clubs : “They have always been a law unto themselves and unfortunately the law allows them to be a law unto themselves on these small sites. Whilst I think we are tilting at windmills in terms of the legislation that has just recently been confirmed, I do think I would  like to see this National Park try and engage at a greater level than perhaps it has in the past with [organisations] that can mean make or break for local economies.”

From the ARC statement: “Twelve months ago residents in and around Aysgarth were very concerned when an application was made to the Camping and Caravanning Club for accreditation for a site at Townends for five caravans/mobile homes and ten tents. Parish councillors warned that the access was very dangerous due to restricted visibility. The decision to accredit the site was made on the advice of just one person.

“Those at Aysgarth Township parish meeting in March stated that this Authority should be campaigning to have this loophole closed – and the Association of Rural Communities agrees.

“At that parish meeting the owners of Townends stated that they would go ahead with making significant alterations to the roof of the bungalow and adding an extension without planning permission – and they did. There are several other examples of retrospective planning permissions within the Yorkshire Dales this year.”

Appletreewick – February

The decision on whether or not the timber-built Knowles Lodge at Appletreewick could be replaced with a modern building depended upon what the planning committee members did or did not like.

After reminding the committee that Appletreewick parish council fully supported the application, Ian McPherson stated:

“We’ve had quite a number of different views expressed and I think this is because refusal revolves around aesthetics – what we like and what we don’t like in terms of design.”

When asked what a decision to approve the application could be based upon the Authority’s legal officer replied: “The reasons are simply that the design is acceptable and the converse are the reasons for refusal.”

Cllr Blackie pointed out that in the Authority’s own Design Guide it was stated that it wasn’t always necessary to reproduce the vernacular style. “I think this is a really good example of where we can perhaps be a little bit adventurous. We can step outside the norm and bring something forward that celebrates the Park and celebrates the landscape.”

Julie Martin upheld the planning officer’s view that the proposed replacement would appear to be larger than the present lodge and would not respect vernacular architecture.

The architect, Ben Cunliffe, told the committee that the footprint of the new building would be 71 cubic metres less than the existing lodge. He added that there was another design option in the National Park and that was the Arts and Crafts style of the larger rural residences.

As Knowles Lodge stood on large plot with trees around it and was not overlooked by neighbours he believed the site lent itself to an Arts and Crafts style family home.

Jocelyn Manners-Armstrong agreed that the new building would appear less bulky, and would be more efficient and sustainable. She added:“I am concerned at the idea that the only kind of building we are allowed is the vernacular style which to me doesn’t seem to be appropriate. It would be a pastiche. It would be a lie. It should be a building of merit.”

The majority, however, disagreed with nine voting to refuse the application and six being in favour of it.

The applicant appealed and the application was approved by a planning inspector.

Arcow Quarry, Horton in Ribblesdale – November

The planning committee decided that more detailed estimates of the number of lorries leaving Arcow Quarry each day were needed before it could make a decision about the resumption of mineral extraction there.

The committee particularly discussed the increase in traffic from the quarry. Jim Munday said: “Quarrying has been part of the Dales scene for centuries and I have no objection to it continuing. However, the biggest problem is moving the product to the market. I congratulate Tarmac on putting in the rail link and I think that should be used fully.”

He was, however, concerned about that the increase in road haulage would amount to 18 heavy, noisy lorries per hour, ten hours a day, five days a week. “I feel there should be some limitation on the amount going by road,” he concluded.

David Parrish, the YDNPA’s minerals officer, said that Tarmac Trading Ltd had originally expected to move 250,000 tonnes by road each year but during negotiations had reduced this to 150,000 tonnes. That tonnage was being delivered to local councils for the resurfacing of roads.

It made no sense, he said, to take the crushed stone from the quarry by train, unload it at either Bradford or Manchester, and then bring it back by road.

Members agreed with Steve Macare that the company should provide estimates of how much local councils required each year.

Ross Hailey, the agent for Tarmac, said that the company had paid £5million for the construction of the railhead at the Arcow Quarry. This had reduced the amount transported by road from Dry Rigg Quarry by 60 per cent.

No stone has been extracted from the Arcow Quarry since June 2015 and Austwick parish council, the Yorkshire Dales Society and the Friends of Upper Ribblesdale had asked why the company had not been required to submit a new planning application rather than requesting an extension to an existing one. The YDNPA’s policy is to refuse new applications involving quarries.

Mr Parrish stated that there had been considerable work at the quarry while the railhead was being constructed and stone was now being transported from Dry Rigg Quarry to trains at Arcow. He said: “There has been continuous activity and employment at the site … and it is considered that, in the circumstances, it is appropriate to deal with the application as an extension (deepening) of the existing quarry.”

The company has asked for permission for resumption of mineral extraction at Arcow Quarry; retention of the existing processing plant until progressively replaced by a new mobile processing plant; retention of the railhead and the completion of the site restoration in accordance with an amended nature conservation and landscaping scheme during the following 12 months.

The material will be extracted from deep within the quarry and so will not have an impact upon the landscape, Mr Parrish said.

Mark Corner, the chairman of the Yorkshire Dales Society, told the meeting that the quarry was a blight on the landscape and so was inconsistent with the purposes of the National Park. He questioned that there was a national need for the stone extracted from the quarry. He asked if the proposed number of vehicle movements could be reduced and that the lorry drivers should avoid the centre of Settle.

In response to requests from residents and Horton in Ribblesdale parish council Tarmac has installed a wheel wash at Arcow Quarry and employed a road sweeper. It has agreed that all lorries will be sheeted at all times, laden or empty, and those transporting mineral to the railhead will be washed at the end of each working day. The decision was deferred.


Tarmac has agreed to reduce the proposed number of lorry movements from Arcow Quarry at Helwith Bridge when quarrying is resumed there.

Last month the  planning committee deferred making a decision on Tarmac’s application because members wanted to see such a reduction. At this month’s meeting approval was, therefore, given for mineral extraction to resume.

Tarmac had asked to move 150,000 tonnes per year by road from Arcow Quarry in addition to the same amount already being transported by lorries from Dry Rigg Quarry. The company has now reduced the total to be moved by road from both quarries to 250,000 tonnes per year between 2017 and 2021 when Dry Rigg Quarry is due to close. This amounts to a drop in the number of lorry movements along the B6479 towards Settle and beyond from 90 to about 74 per day, with none on Saturday afternoons or Sundays.

The YDS also questioned the need for further quarrying. The Authority’s minerals officer, David Parrish, said that there were a limited number of sites in England that can produce the same quality stone for road surfacing. Much of it was delivered to councils in the North of England where there were no facilities to unload it from trains.

“The extraction of minerals is in the national interest and we should not forget that,” commented North Yorkshire County Councillor Robert Heseltine.

South Lakeside District Councillor Brenda Gray added that the stone had to be quarried where it was needed and the shortest routes taken for its delivery.

Julie Martin asked if anything more could be done to reduce the number of lorries travelling through Settle.

Mr Parrish replied that there had been several attempts to discuss this with the residents of Settle and Giggleswick but no consensus had been achieved. “I think the quarry company would really need to see that there was a strong consensus of opinion that one route or another was acceptable, and at the moment they aren’t getting that,” he explained.

Jim Munday said he was pleased with the reduction in vehicle movements and asked if there were any guarantees that the restoration work would be carried out after the quarries closed.

“Tarmac has always carried out its restoration commitments completely,” Mr Parrish replied.

In response to the concerns expressed by the committee last month Tarmac has agreed to retain the existing screen banks and trees around the margins of the quarry until work there ends and the full restoration is carried out.

Arncliffe – October

The size of a proposed extension to High Green Cottage at Arncliffe led to the planning committee refusing permission for it.

The committee heard that the application included a gabled first floor extension to the rear of the Grade II listed cottage which, the planning officer said, would be seen from the north side of the village green.

Arncliffe Parish Meeting had stated: “At our meeting… it was felt that old properties should, with careful and sympathetic plans, be brought in to modern day living standards. Those plans fit the criteria in the conservation area and there are no objections.”

At the planning meeting Lancaster City Councillor Margaret Pattison (the Authority’s first Labour member) asked if the owners could be given advice about  how to modernise the cottage.

Mr Graham, replied :”It’s the scale of the extension being proposed that is the problem.”

Mrs Martin, the Authority’s member champion for for cultural heritage, commented: “The character of the building would be significantly altered. The extensions would almost double the size of the house.”

One of the applicants, Gerard Simpson, told the committee that some aspects of the cottage were not, at present, suitable for a family  and that the first-floor extension would not be prominent when viewed from the village green.  The application submitted by him and his wife also included a single storey extension at the rear of the cottage.

Askrigg – October

It took just seven minutes for the committee to give its unanimous approval for a barn in Red Gate Lane, Askrigg, to be converted into three-bedroom home and so bringing to an end a seven-year wait  for Kelly Cooper.

Kelly Cooper and her husband, Haydon,  were overjoyed at the committee’s decision. “Just seven minutes – it felt like a lifetime,” commented Mr Cooper afterwards.

Cllr Blackie emphasised the importance of the emerging Local Plan policy which is making it possible to obtain permission to convert many traditional barns into  local occupancy homes.

He told the committee that Kelly had previously contacted the National Park about the barn. He said: “Seven years ago … it was almost heretic to suggest that [the barn] should be converted as we are proposing now. It didn’t help that along Abbotside there was a tumble down cottage which had been converted by an outsider into a seven bedroom mansion. It looked unfair and discriminated against local families.

“We have got a policy now that allows barn conversions into roadside dwellings which is all that we ever wanted – not the ones on the dale top.”

He pointed out that during the intervening years many young families  had left the Dales and this had led to a substantial drop in the number of children attending local schools.

Austwick –  July

In November 2010 a member of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s planning committee commented that a policy which stopped a barn in Austwick from being converted into a local occupancy home would not be in existence within five years. In fact, it took five-and-a-half years.

At the July planning committee meeting approval was given for Townhead Barn to become a dwelling. “This has been a long journey,” commented North Yorkshire County Councillor Richard Welch.

In December 2011 permission was granted for it to be converted into a bunk barn, following an appeal by the owner, Peter Taylor. The committee was told that, although the work was carried out, it was never used that way. This meant it could be viewed as a traditional barn beside the roadside and so approval for its change of use to a dwelling could be given in line with the Authority’s emerging Local Plan. Austwick parish council had queried this as that Local Plan has not yet been adopted.

The planning committee did agree that there should only be a small garden and that not all of the paddock attached to the barn could become curtilage. The converted barn will be subject to a local occupancy agreement and domestic permitted development rights will be removed so that the appearance of the building remains the same.

Aysgarth – September

A farming family in Aysgarth were given permission to go ahead with a two-phase re-development of its dairy farm.

David Spence and his sons wanted to erect a dairy cubicle house for 100 cows and later a milking parlour and dairy.

“At the current milk prices this is quite a brave move,” commented North Yorkshire County Councillor Roger Harrison-Topham. He was assured that the only time the herd would be inside the building 24/7 would be during the winter months.

Cllr Blackie, described the Spences as first class Upper Dales farmers who were prepared to run a dairy herd. “Farmers are the foot soldiers of conservation that is so important here in the Dales,” he said.

The planning officer explained that the Authority’s agricultural advisor had found that the facilities were required to meet rising welfare and space standards for cows and the changing regulations controlling the dairy industry. The existing sheds cannot house all the cows and calves, the hay, straw, silage and feed stuffs, the officer said. This meant that the dry cows had to be transported to fields owned by a family member at Thornton Rust and brought back when in milk.

The officer added:“This is a critical time for the milk industry and the proposed investment would allow the next generation to continue as dairy farmers with the benefits that that brings to the local economy.”

Although the new dairy cubicle house will be sited behind the present farm buildings and barely visible,  one of the planning conditions is that a bund should be built and then planted with trees to provide more screening.

Bolton Abbey – May

The possibility of losing a historic view not just of the Devonshire Arms but also of the landscape around Bolton Abbey led to the majority of the committee voting against an application by the Trustees of the Chatsworth Settlement to add two double-storey accommodation blocks on the north-eastern side of the country house hotel.

Simon Rhatigan, on behalf of the applicants, explained that the hotel needed to provide better, more modern facilities. They had been in discussions with the Authority for two years and believed that the proposed site was less obtrusive than the roadside one which had been suggested by the YDNPA.

The planning officer, however, agreed with Historic England that the sheer size and bulk of the proposed buildings, positioned within and almost entirely filling the north-eastern aspect of the hotel, would considerably reduce the important landscape views of the 18th and 19th century hotel complex. She added that the Georgian building had been deliberately designed to have an open aspect on to the Bolton Abbey landscape.

Buckden –July

A site meeting will be held at Heber Farm in Dubbs Lane, Buckden, to evaluate the impact on the amenity of neighbours if permission is granted for the creation of a 22 pitch campsite. The application was made by the National Trust. The tenant farmer, Gary Schofield, told the committee that, given the situation of farming at present, such diversification was needed for a farm to be economically viable.

Burnsall – February

Permission has been granted for a roadside barn at Burnsall to be converted into a dwelling in line with the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s emerging Local Plan.

“This is the first test of the new policy,” commented North Yorkshire County Councillor Robert Heseltine.

Craven District Councillor Carl Lis added: “This is exactly what we are aiming to achieve in our Local Plan.”

The barn, Jerry Laithe, is on the B6160 road about half a mile to the north west of Burnsall and outside of any designated housing boundary. The conversion of it to a local occupancy dwelling is not in accordance  with the present policies of the Authority but the application had been made in response to the emerging draft Yorkshire Dales Local Plan 2015-2030.

The planning officer noted: “This draft plan is sufficiently advanced in its preparation that it can be afforded weight as a ‘material consideration’.”

The committee approved the application which will mean that the traditional agricultural barn can be transformed into a two-bedroom dwelling.

Burtersett – August

A small barn in Burtersett can be converted into a two-bedroom dwelling and be used for short-term holiday lets.

This will be in accordance with the emerging Local Plan which will allow some traditional agricultural buildings to be adapted for alternative uses.

The barn is owned by Jeff Huntbach and overlooks the front of his home, The Grange. It does not have a garden and off-street parking will be provided in the yard shared with The Grange.

For these reasons it was accepted that the building would be more suitable for short-term holiday lets but the s106 agreement will also include local occupancy.

Burtersett – September

A Wensleydale farmer has been given permission to convert a barn at Cubble Head, Burtersett into a three-bedroom home – even though part of the roof has collapsed. But it came with the warning that no walls should be demolished.

North Yorkshire County Councillor John Blackie commented that he had not been sure how far the planning team would go when considering which barns could be converted. The Authority’s emerging Local Plan allows for barns which are near the roadside or part of a group of buildings to be converted into local occupancy homes.

Cllr Blackie said that the roof of the barn at Cubble Head would have to be taken off and agreed with the planning officer that the walls were in good structural order.

The application was wholeheartedly supported by Hawes and High Abbotside parish council which stated: “It saves a redundant agricultural building for what will eventually provide a first-rate dwelling for a local occupant, in this case a local life-long farmer [Richard Metcalfe], from tumbling down through dereliction into a pile of stones and slates. This would have been a tragic and unnecessary loss.”

Julie Martin, the Authority’s member champion for cultural heritage, said there were inconsistencies in how barn conversions were being dealt with by the Authority and this needed to be rectified.

She warned that there had been problems in the past when it had been found that a barn was, in fact, structurally unsound. This had led to walls being demolished and cultural heritage being lost.

She said this could be prevented by ensuring that features were recorded, that there was a structural survey, and that there was a condition that no demolition could take place without the consent of the Authority.

This was also emphasised by Cllr Blackie, Craven District Councillor Carl Lis (chairman of the Authority) and Richard Graham (head of development management).

Mr Graham said: “The primary aim is to conserve these buildings in the landscape as a heritage asset.” He explained that if walls were knocked down it could no longer be described as a barn conversion and the owner would have to apply for permission for a new build which wasn’t covered by the incoming Local Plan.

Casterton – December

The committee gave permission for the former boarding school buildings at Casterton to be converted into apartments even though two of its members questioned the considerable drop in the off-site affordable housing contribution.

South Lakeland District Council sought a contribution of £340,852 but the developers, Eight Property Ltd, had not agreed. After Casterton became part of the Yorkshire Dales National Park in August the company submitted its application to the YDNPA.

The Authority obtained an independent valuation for the affordable housing contribution of £200,000 and that was accepted by Eight Property Ltd. That contribution will be given to South Lakeland District Council.

The company has opted to pay such a contribution because it believes it is not economically viable to provide some affordable dwellings within the site which comprises of Bronte House, Crookenden House and Garner House.

“I know these buildings well,” said YDNPA member Jocelyn Manners-Armstrong. “I am concerned that this (conversion) is incredibly overcrowded. Those flats will be so cramped. I think the developers are trying to capitalise on the location.”

Like another member, Jim Munday, she felt that £12,000 per unit was a very modest contribution to the affordable housing fund.

Mr Graham replied that, after being told by two sets of valuers that the contribution of £200,000 was entirely reasonable, the Authority would have to find very good reasons to increase it.

The application is to provide 17 additional dwellings on the site bringing the total to 20. Garner House and Crookenden House will provide eight houses with gardens.At Bronte House there will be nine flats with balconies.

Cllr  Harrison-Topham questioned the impact that the balconies will have on those living in the three houses to be provided in the annex to Bronte House. Mr Graham said that issue would be discussed with the developers.

The  committee was told that the South Lakeland Core Strategy had been used when considering this application.

Coverdale – February 

An application to extend the opening hours of the Forbidden Corner in Coverdale was refused.

The planning officer told the committee that one of the conditions of the Appeal Decision in 2000 when retrospective permission was granted for opening Forbidden Corner to the public was that the opening times from Monday to Saturday should be from noon to 6pm (or dusk if earlier). There can be a maximum of 150 individual tickets issue for any one-hour period and it can be open from 10am to 6pm on Sundays and Bank Holidays.

North Yorkshire County Council Highways Authority had stated that, on safety grounds, the Forbidden Corner should not be open from 10am every day. Middleham Town Council and Middleham Trainers’ Association (MTA) had also objected.

“The steep narrow road often leads to dangerous confrontations between horses and vehicles that are not reported. The town council does not want the number of visitors to be detrimental to the racehorse training business which is Middleham’s major employer,” the planning officer explained.

He said that the town council was concerned that overall traffic numbers had increased since 2000 due to the establishment of The Stables Restaurant, the provision of holiday accommodation and Tupgill Park Estate becoming a wedding venue. The town council had reported that coaches were already travelling through Middleham to the Forbidden Corner during morning hours.

Malcolm Tempest, the agent for Forbidden Corner, stated:  “The proposal seeks to meet the changing expectations of our visitors. There is now more a demand for morning visits than late afternoon visits.

“We did two counts of horses using the road and that showed that two thirds of the horse movements took place between 10 and 11 and one third between 11 and 12. Bearing that in mind we are happy to amend the application to open at 11, therefore not affecting two thirds of the horses.

“Further we have agreed for a timed access to be on the quarter hour basis rather than on the present hourly basis. This is to avoid any surge in cars on the hour that Highways was concerned about.”

He argued that the National Planning Policy Framework stated that development should only be prevented or refused on transport grounds where the residual accumulative effects of the development would be severe. He said that Highways didn’t have the facts to back up its concerns and added: “We haven’t had any problems. How can we move from no problems to severe problems with a maximum of seven vehicles per quarter of an hour seems to me incredible.”

In his report the planning officer stated that extending the opening hours could generate some 80 to 100 extra car movements each day. The applicant (Colin Armstrong) had proposed that 100 instead of 150 tickets could be issued for each of the additional morning hours reducing the extra car movements to 24 to 33 per hour.

The Highways Authority had indicated it would accept two coaches per hour during the extra morning hours as these would be sufficient to take up all of the 100 ticketed visitors suggested by Mr Armstrong.

Cllr Harrison-Topham, who lives in Coverdale, remembered that in 2000 all the racehorse trainers had supported the Forbidden Corner application. He thought it was significant that all the trainers in the MTA now opposed the application to extend the opening hours.

He added: “I am not sure that horse accidents actually manage to feature in the records to which the applicant and his agent would have access.

“Training is a very serious business (in Middleham) and anything that puts that industry at risk is a very serious matter.

“There is a letter that suggests that the applicant is already in breach of this condition.” There was, he said, a history of a little change all the time and that built up to a very considerable change.

Ian McPherson commented: “It seems to me that at the moment a reasonable accommodation has been reached. I see no reason why that equilibrium should be disturbed by increasing the possibility for accidents.”

The only member who voted to approve the application was Cllr Blackie. He didn’t think there had been a single recorded accident between a horse and a car heading towards Forbidden Corner.

Cllr Blackie said that the idea of opening from 11am could be considered. The vote was on the application to open Forbidden Corner to the public from 10am every day.

Crosby Ravensworth – December

A small bungalow cannot be built in the garden of a house in Silver Street, Crosby Ravensworth, even though the parish council believes it would be a useful addition to the housing stock in the village.

Crosby Ravensworth Parish Councillor Virginia Holroyd told the planning committee  that the parish especially needed smaller, energy-efficient and low maintenance dwellings which were adapted for the elderly.

“The proposed bungalow would be of benefit not only to the applicants but also to future generations, and it fits in with the council’s policy for increasing housing stock in Eden. This would stop the current trend of older members having to abandon their community, their family and friends, and seek more age-appropriate housing stock in market towns,” she reported.

The parish council believed that it would not affect the character of the street as it would be set well back from the road and would be screened by neighbouring properties.

The planning officer maintained, however, that the proposed development would be contrary to the Eden District Core Strategy and stated: “The introduction of a squat, single storey building in between two existing properties would result in a cramped form of development that would be harmful to views in and out of the conservation area.”

The applicants’ agent, Ian Smart, told the committee: “We believe that words such as ‘cramped’ and ‘squat’ are unjustifiably emotive and subjective, especially when applying for …outline planning permission with all matters reserved.”

He said that the applicants, Mr and Mrs R Morland, had decided not to spend any more money on the application given the planning officer’s negative appraisal and requests for a lot more information including a tree care plan and a bat scoping survey.

Some of the committee members argued that a district council planning department would have also requested more information.

Cllr Blackie said: “Sometimes there seems to be over-bearing requests for surveys and assessments – but not to reduce (the information) to zero. We haven’t the first clue what we might be approving in outline. We have to refuse this application until we know more about it.” The majority of the committee agreed with him.

Dent – July

Permission was refused for a section of late 19th century walling to be removed in order to create a space for off-road parking at Overdale in Deepdale Lane, Dent.

The Highways Authority had recommended that the access should be even wider but the planning officer said this would have led to yet more of the distinctive wall being lost. This, she said, would detract from the visual quality of the conservation area.

Robert Groves, the agent for the applicant, said they accepted that the wall did have a traditional and attractive character and for that reason wanted to remove as little of it as possible.

Dent – July

The committee members were amused to hear that the graveyard at Deepdale Chapel 2km south-east of Dent will be retained and used as a garden.

As there were covenants attached to the building when it was sold the graveyard will still be open to the public when the chapel is converted into a three-bedroom local occupancy dwelling.

The committee approved this conversion under the same policy (L2) in the emerging Local Plan as had been used for traditional barns.

The chapel was vacated by the Methodist Church in 1996 and, according to local residents, there are ample facilities for community groups in the area.

Dent parish council fully supported the application by what it described as a young and expanding couple with extended family connections in the dale. It is happy that many of the internal features of the chapel will be retained and that there would be sympathetic use of local materials.

The planning officer reported that the chapel, which dates back to 1888,  was an important undesignated heritage asset of architectural and historical interest. “Such chapel buildings are a limited resource within the National Park and they are important to understanding the cultural heritage of the area and, in particular, provide physical evidence of local social history,” she said.

Drybeck – November

Residents from Drybeck travelled over 30 miles to tell the  planning committee why they were opposed to a slurry lagoon about the size of a football pitch being created near their homes.

Along with Eden District Councillor William Patterson and Mike Dewis of Farm Systems Ltd they were the first members of the public to attend an YDNPA planning committee since the district was incorporated into the National Park on August 1.

Cllr Patterson, who is a member of the Eden District planning committee, commented: “We now find ourselves in Yorkshire!”

He explained that the applicant, Neil Sowerby of Town Head Farm, had applied over a year ago for permission to build the lagoon. “I will be having words with my own planning department because it was their fault that it has taken so long.”

Eden District Councillor Valerie Kendal, who became a member of the YDNPA in August, thanked the Authority’s planning department for acting quickly to complete the process. But the delay had led to construction being started this summer.

She was concerned both about that and that clay had been used to line the 4.5m deep lagoon. Clay, she said, could dry out and shift in dry weather and the underlying limestone was permeable.

This was one of the concerns listed by Pamela Barr on behalf of some of the residents. “We wish to ensure environmental protection and public safety. There have been recent problems…with slurry polluting the beck,” she said.

She added that the lagoon was only 250m from some of the garden boundaries. Residents had asked if it could be sited in a field where the prevailing winds would not blow the smell across the village.

Cllr Patterson explained that, as the dairy farm was becoming organic, it needed to make full use of the slurry it produced once fertilisers were no longer allowed. Nor could the slurry be treated with chemicals to stop the odour. Mr Sowerby has agreed to implement an odour management scheme.

Following several questions about the management of the slurry lagoon Mr Graham explained that the Authority could not duplicate the work of other regulatory authorities. Such lagoons, he said, had to comply with the regulations aimed at stopping any pollution from silage, slurry and agricultural fuel oil (SSAFO), and these were policed by the Environment Agency. The agency believed that the slurry lagoon was capable of complying with the regulations and would monitor it, he added.

The committee approved the application. The conditions included improving the access track to the lagoon and screening it with a bund and hawthorn hedges.

East Witton – December

Permission was granted for the Methodist chapel at East Witton to be converted into a two-bedroom holiday let.

Cllr Blackie queried the way this had been advertised. According to the present Local Plan any such community building should be advertised for sale for six months. If it has not been sold for community use during that time then permission can be requested for change of use.

The chapel at East Witton, however, was only advertised on the local Methodist circuit website. The planning officer explained that the emerging Local Plan allowed for more flexibility.

Cllr Blackie then asked how this would affect the sale of the chapels in Hawes and Arkengarthdale which are no longer in use.

“Could they be advertised on the Richmondshire Today news website?” he asked.

“Yes” replied the head of development management, Richard Graham.

Embsay – May

There have been so many extensions to homes in and around Hill Top Close in Embsay that it was hard to object to one more, the committee agreed.

The owners of the bungalow at 1 Hill Top Close had applied for permission to erect a two-storey extension to the east gable; a dormer window to the south elevation; a single storey porch at the front; and to put in roof-lights to both sides of the roof. The garage will also be converted to living space and there will be additional parking and pedestrian access at the corner plot. They had amended the plans after Embsay-with-Eastby Parish Council objected to some of their plans.

The committee accepted the officer’s recommendation to approve the application.

Embsay – August

The committee unanimously agreed that a bungalow can be built within the garden of 18 Millholme Rise, Embsay.

Embsay-with-Eastby parish council had asked for assurance that this would be a single storey building and that there would be no negative impact upon the neighbouring nature reserve.

It was reported that the Authority’s ecologist felt there would be minimal impact upon the nature reserve as the bungalow would be downstream from it. The applicant has proposed to install a sustainable surface water drainage system which would further protect the environment.

Mr Graham said there would be a legal agreement concerning the use of a shared access.

Cllr  Welch asked if it was time to change the rule that a planning applications had to be dealt with by the committee if a parish council did not agree with the officer’s recommendation. Ms Bevan replied that the policy had only recently been reviewed and the majority of members had been in favour of retaining it.

Embsay – enforcement notice – September

Chris Oxley was given 12 months to reinstate historical features at The Garth in Pasture Road, Embsay.

The committee agreed that an enforcement notice should be served calling for the restoration of the original floor level and flagstone flooring in the cellar at The Garth and to replace the structural walling, niches, stone shelving and stone tables which had formed a mid 19th century service room in this Grade II listed building.

The only committee member to vote against this was Cllr Blackie who argued that Mr Oxley’s planning applications should have been brought to the committee so that he could have explained why he had carried out the work in the cellar. The planning officer had, under delegated powers, refused those on September 1 and had then made the application for an enforcement notice.

Cllr Blackie commented that this was very hasty and had taken away any opportunity for the applicant to address the planning committee as that was not allowed when enforcement notices were being discussed.

The planning officer explained that the work had been aimed at solving the problem of damp in the cellar. “In times of heavy rainfall there is standing water there – the kind of condition you would expect within a cellar that is partly subterranean and its use was to store food.”

He added that originally Mr Oxley had wanted not only to dry line the cellar but also to demolish a cross wall and enlarge a window to provide another access into it so as to create an additional living space.

The head of development management, Richard Graham, commented: “There have been an awful lot of meetings, advice and correspondence [which] resulted in a failure to agree to a compromise solution.”

Richmondshire District Councillor Stuart Parsons said: “This was a very interesting space. It could have been turned into something absolutely fascinating and if we are not prepared to take steps to protect this sort of heritage we might as well just go home.

“Action needs to be taken. They’ve been given every opportunity to come back with a compromise.”

Gayle – August

Michael Webster stood outside the entrance to the YDNPA office in Bainbridge on Tuesday, August 9, with the sample panel illustrating what the render on the west wall of Garris House in Gayle would look like if he was able to complete the water-proofing work.

As he was not allowed to speak during the discussion about enforcement action it was left to Cllr John Blackie to speak for him.

Cllr Blackie said that, as the recommendation for enforcement action included the possibility of a criminal prosecution, Mr Webster should not only have been allowed to speak but also to bring the sample panel into the meeting.

“Hawes and High Abbotside parish council is absolutely appalled. This is not democracy in action. This is simply a dictatorship,” stated Cllr Blackie.

Cllr Lis said that members of the YDNPA had, for the sake of fairness, agreed on the rule concerning enforcement hearings. It would only be fair, he explained, to allow objectors to speak as well as the appellant, but some objectors would feel too inhibited to do so. Members were free to reconsider that policy, he added.

The majority of the members agreed that if Mr Webster did not submit a planning application within three months an enforcement notice should be issued.

Cllr Blackie said that Mr Webster maintained that he did not need to apply for permission as, when the work was finished, there would be no noticeable difference to the original appearance of the rendered west wall of Garris House.

Mr Webster had planned to cover the metal panels with render that matched what had been there before but had stopped work when told to do so by the enforcement officer. He had, said Cllr Blackie, tried various ways in the past, including replacing render, to stop water egress on the west wall but with no success. Cllr Blackie proposed that Mr Webster should be allowed to render the metal panelling so that the finished appearance could be assessed.

Other members agreed with the enforcement officer that what Mr Webster had done constituted unauthorised cladding which did not match the rest of the traditional stone built house. The enforcement officer said that the gable end had already been extended by 12cm by the addition of wooden batons which had then been covered with metal insulation material.

He added: “It was difficult for officers to identify how the folded over edges of the cladding, where they meet the vertical walls and the roof slates, were going to be rendered or pointed in such a way that it preserved the traditional character of the property.”

Cllr Harrison-Topham commented: “The difficulty we have is that the operation has been halted half way through. We just don’t know whether it will materially affect the external appearance of the building.”

The head of development manager, Richard Graham, stated: “It is a breach of planning control. We need assurance that the render is not going to come off.” He added that a planning application would give them the opportunity to establish whether it was going to result in an acceptable appearance and enable Mr Webster to address the committee.

Cllr Blackie pointed out that, if Mr Webster did not submit a planning application, he could lodge an appeal against the subsequent enforcement notice.

Mr and Mrs Webster’s letter to the planning committee members:

We have lived in Garris House for just over 30 years and the west facing wall has been subject to damp / water ingress for most of this time due to the elevation being exposed to the prevailing driven rain from the west which is a constant fact of life here in the Upper Dales, particularly in these recent times of significantly higher rainfall.

The wall in question has been covered with a cement render which dates back to the early days of construction of Garris House in the 19th Century, so the need to prevent water ingress has been there from the earliest time.  To combat this problem I have applied various proprietary damp proofing materials over the years in the property.  These damp-proofing agents have been well applied but sadly have had no lasting protection.  The materials used were always of a nature as not to change the appearance of the building.

The problem has now developed to a point where significant structural problems are self-evident to the main supporting roof timbers, which show clear signs of wet rot where they connect into the wall, so it now has become urgent to stop this process of damp ingress to prevent a roof failure.  It is also evident that a vast area of the whole wall is holding a high moisture content and does not fully dry out even in the summer months before the wet autumn / winter periods return.  We have even experienced dripping water down the inside bedroom wall adjacent to the outside wall, and the downstairs adjacent room has not been used for living purposes for several years due to these conditions, and can only be used for storage.

With the need for a permanent solution  to these problems, in the summer of 2015,  I started work to re-cement render the wall and in the process of doing so, incorporated an insulative waterproof member as a sub-surface underneath the final render coating.  The work in progress had reached the point where the sub-surface waterproofing element had been applied to the upper half of the wall when I was visited by the YDNPA Enforcement Officer, Robert Bissicks, who asked for details of the work due to a complaint that had been received by the Authority.  I explained the problem and what I was doing to address it, and he said he would reply in writing to me.

The reply I received described my solution as “wooden cladding” and that planning consent was required.  I felt Mr Bissicks had not fully understood the information I had given him, so I wrote to him to emphasise the sub-surface now in view was not a finished surface, which would be a cement render to match the original, and all edges would also be made-up matching the original so that there would be no perceivable difference to the original appearance.

After further exchanges of correspondence it was established that if the surface was finished with an appropriate render, then it could result in a satisfactory finish, but Mr. Bissicks maintained that planning consent would be needed in any case.  I would challenge that opinion and this would be one of the grounds (along with other grounds) should this matter go to an Enforcement Appeal Inspector, which I sincerely hope that it does not.

I trust the above account and the photographs give some insight into this situation to aid your judgement in this matter. I respect the purpose for planning controls, but it is my honest belief that the work that I have in progress is a normal building repair not requiring planning permission, which when complete will look exactly as its original appearance, is of sound construction, and it will not look or ccould possibly be described as “cladding”.

I would have continued to finish the work last year but Mr. Bissicks insisted I stopped what I was doing there and then, and I have obeyed his instructions.  As I say I respect the need for planning controls.  As one of the original group of 4 managers who established the Wensleydale Creamery after buying the site from Dairy Crest in 1992, and since then the Creamery’s Director in charge of buildings I always ensured that any new works there that needed planning permission obtained it before the commecement of the works.  I still work at The Wensleydale Creamery one day a week.

However in view of the Report you are considering at your meeting I have affixed a sample slab of render temporarily to the wall to demonstrate what the finished rendered surface will look like.  Obviously it will weather down to a finish, colour and texture akin to the original.  I will also bring a sample panel of the new and the existing rendered surface to the Planning Committee, and I hope you will take the time to look at it before you consider the item on your Agenda.

Just on the other side of Gayle Beck to Garris House is a cottage which clearly has suffered the same problem of damp ingress from the prevailing west wind.  The owner, whom I know very well, slated the whole elevation over 25 years ago, and it has cured his damp problem.  He has been fortunate to enjoy a damp free interior in his cottage over all these years.  However you may consider his solution stands out more than what my solution will do, that is when I have finished.  There are a number of other properties in Upper Wensleydale that I could highlight where similar solutions to damp ingress have been applied with success but they are visually obtrusive, unlike my solution when I have finished will be.

I ask the Planning Committee considers deferring the proposed action in Mr.Bissicks’ recommendation for 9 months, until next May, to allow me to finish the work,  and then if it is wishes, or needs to, re-examines the situation.  During this period I will complete the work Mr. Bissicks stopped in its tracks a year ago, and I know you will find then a rendered wall that will be no different in appearance to the existing wall.  However the difference this will make for me and my wife if my solution is successful will be that living at Garris House will be much more comfortable, and hopefully damp free, and therefore conducive to us remaining in good health, given we are both of retirement age.

(In March 2017 Mr Webster’s application for the four inch extension to waterproof the wall was approved.)

Gayle – October

A local farmer should have been offered a legal agreement which included converting a barn into a local occupancy dwelling as well as a holiday let, Cllr Blackie told the planning committee.

Bruce Raw had applied for permission to demolish the modern extensions to a barn in Bands Lane, Gayle,  and to create a three bedroom holiday let in accordance with the Authority’s emerging Local Plan.

Hawes and High Abbotside parish council fully supported this application but had not been informed that the Authority had decided that a legal agreement would be required.

At the planning meeting the head of development management, Richard Graham, explained that following an internal discussion between the planning officers and the Authority’s solicitor it was decided that a Section 106 legal agreement would be required to ensure that anyone who might buy the property in the future would know what restrictions had been placed upon it.

Cllr Blackie, who is the chairman of Hawes and High Abbotside parish council, compared Mr Raw’s application to that for the Tithe Barn at Stirton which the committee had debated at length earlier in the meeting. That barn conversion will be restricted by a legal agreement to being either  a holiday let or for local occupancy.

He asked that Mr Raw should be offered the same type of dual agreement.

“Holiday lets are important to our local economy. We [at the parish council] are equally in favour of it becoming a local occupancy property.”

Cllr Blackie did contact Mr Raw the following day and said that the farmer was delighted to  hear the legal agreement could include local occupancy. Cllr Blackie said: “Having both options makes the development more sustainable.”

He explained that if there weren’t bookings for the holiday let it could be rented by someone who had been commissioned to carry out work locally for a few months – and that would be covered by the local occupancy agreement.

Grassington –  April

 A request to allow a converted barn near Grassington to be used as short stay self-catering holiday accommodation was refused because the application could not be supported by any YDNPA policies.

Mercie Kennedy told the committee that following her father’s sudden death in July 2015 no-one in the family had been able to carry on farming there. The land they owned had been rented to a local farmer who did not need an additional agricultural worker’s dwelling. An agricultural occupancy restriction was placed on Halfway House when permission was granted to convert it to a dwelling in 1997.

Mrs Kennedy said that she and her brother wanted to retain the house not just in case one of them wanted to return to the farm in the future but also so that they could have regular access to it now. This could be done by using it for holiday lets which would also bring in some income.

Both Mr Colley and Cllr Heseltine said they would like to support the family’s application but accepted that this would not be in line with any of the Authority’s policies.

Grassington – October

Grassington House Hotel finally has approval for a ventilation system.

The Authority first considered taking enforcement action against the hotel’s owners in 2008 when a large metal extraction flue fixed to the northern side of the premises could be seen from The Square in Grassington. The planning committee deferred formal enforcement action in October 2013 to see if a solution could be found.

That flue was then replaced with one deemed almost as bad and again without consent. The planning officer commented: “The existing ventilation system has a highly adverse impact on the character and significance of the Listed building and on the wider Conservation Area. The structure is a harsh contrast to the simple, elegant form of the Georgian Listed hotel building.”  She added that it also has a negative impact upon neighbouring buildings.

The approved replacement will still look incongruous, she said, but has been designed to reduce its size and so minimise its impact.

The Grassington Museum Society was still concerned,however, that there would be smells and noise from the flue which will overhang the museum. The planning officer reported that the flue would be fitted with an odour neutraliser and the ductwork would be lined with sound absorbent material.

The planning committee accepted that the hotel had to have a good ventilation system to meet modern standards and to retain its high star rating.

“There are similar issues elsewhere,” Cllr Blackie said, and added that the Authority needed to encourage the entrepreneurs who were trying to develop businesses in the National Park.

Grinton – May 

The main problem with the creating a second dwelling at Virginia Cottage in Grinton was the lack of parking spaces, Harold Brown told the committee.

He said that something had to be done to alleviate the parking problems along Leyburn Road especially as the traffic, including cyclists, had increased since the Tour de France. Grinton Parish Council was very concerned about this as the one-bedroom Wolf Cottage had already been created by dividing Virginia Cottage.

The planning officer said that those living at Virginia Cottage had agreed to use their off-road parking spaces so as to leave that on the highway verge for Wolf Cottage.

He recommended approving the retrospective application as the applicant had agreed to sign a local occupancy legal agreement and because the sub-division of Virginia Cottage had not done any significant harm to the listed building. This was accepted by the committee.

Hardraw – May

The committee members unanimously refused to approve the application by Mark Thompson to construct a micro-brewery near St Mary and St John’s Church at Hardraw.

Both Hawes and High Abbotside Parish Council and Hardraw Parochial Church Council objected strongly to the proposal for a small range of buildings to house a cycle hire, micro-brewery and garden store within the grounds of the Green Dragon Inn.

Parish councillor Tony Fawcett, who has lived in the village all his life, Told the committee that the application was an absolute disgrace, opportunist and immoral, and could make the area by the church look like an industrial estate.

Susan Foster, on behalf of the parochial church council, said that as the building would be outside of the village boundary it would be like creeping industrialisation and totally out of keeping with the peaceful environment.

The smell from the micro-brewery would not only be offensive to people visiting family graves but also to those planning to get married at the church, she added.

Like Cllr Heseltine, the parochial church council felt that a micro-brewery in that location would be disrespectful to the consecrated graveyard. Cllr Heseltine commented: “This application is, in my opinion, one of the most insensitive to ever come before us.”

Cllr Blackie stated that the churchyard provided a place of quiet contemplation where people could enjoy all that was special about the National Park. “It will be compromised by the clanking of barrels and the pong of beer,” he added.

He, like others, said that the large visitor centre beside the Inn was under-used and could accommodate the micro-brewery.

Cllr Harrison-Topham pointed out that there was no management plan for the micro-brewery and commented: “This is a somewhat specious excuse for putting up a new building.”

The planning officer had, however, recommended that the committee should approve the application especially as the emerging Local Plan would welcome and support the provision of new visitor facilities.

She added: “The siting and design of the proposed building is considered to be acceptable although the extension of the existing visitor centre would be a more favourable option that would have had less landscape impact.”

When proposing refusal Julie Martin said that people went to Hardraw to visit the spectacular falls and that, to her, the visitor centre provided a rather forbidding approach. As the vote went against officer recommendation the decision will have to be ratified at the meeting on June 14.

At the June meeting the committee again refused permission on the basis that it would be a new development outside the defined settlement of Hardraw and would be detrimental to the character of the open countryside and the visitor experience of Hardraw Falls. It was pointed out that Mr Thompson had not adequately demonstrated that the existing Visitor Centre beside the Green Dragon could not accommodate the new facilities  internally or with an extension.

Hartington Raikes – December

The application to convert Holes Beck Barn at Hartington Raikes, into a four-bedroom dwelling for either local occupancy or for use as a holiday let had originally included a large single-storey annex and a big garden in what was the farmyard.

The amended plans approved by the planning committee showed a timber clad lean-to on the northern side of the converted barn and a much smaller garden area. The rest of the farmyard will become pasture and a stable block of four loose boxes will be sited within the redundant sunken slurry pit.


Permission was granted for a small barn at Hawkswick to be converted into a two-bedroom holiday cottage.

The planning committee agreed that the unusual rough arch over the door at what will be called Redmire Farm Barn should be protected.

When asked why an S106 agreement was deemed to be unnecessary the planning officer said that the curtilage was so small the converted barn would only be suitable for a short stay holiday let.

There was, she said, a large layby nearby where cars could be parked.

Hebden – February

The planning committee was asked to approve enforcement action which would lead to the complete demolition of a family home next to Cherry Trees in a small hamlet west of Hebden Mill Cottages.

The enforcement officer explained that an application by Andrew Whitham of Cherry Trees to convert a former water turbine house into an agricultural worker’s dwelling was refused in February 2014.

Permission was granted in February 2015 for the turbine house to be converted into an annex to Cherry Trees on condition that it would not become a separate household; that the roof height would not be increased; and that the building would largely retain its original form.

When the enforcement officer visited the site last month she found that the building had effectively been replaced by a much larger one. She reported: “The owner has verbally commented that it was always his intention to construct the building as it stands currently, as a means of providing a house for his family and that the raised height was necessary to provide a first floor as additional living accommodation.”

The chairman of the committee, Chris Armstrong, commented: “This is a shocking example of somebody completely disregarding the planning committee.”

And Craven District Councillor Carl Lis said: “What’s the point of a planning committee when anybody can come along and just do what they want?”

Peter Charlesworth agreed with several others that he would not like to see the whole house demolished, but added that such a draconian measure would have to be taken if a solution wasn’t found.

“It has to be regularised one way or another,” said North Yorkshire County Councillor Robert Heseltine. “To knock it down completely would seem to me a bit excessive.”

The committee agreed to defer a decision for three months to give the owner time to submit a planning application as this was the only way the Authority could impose conditions.

The committee was told that there was a lot of local support for the couple and two young children to continue living in the house as it is and a petition with 22 signatures had been delivered to the Authority.

Cllr  Blackie commented: “This has all the ingredients to become a cause celebre. To see that building knocked to the ground and seeing a home taken away from an agricultural worker and his young family will put us in the dock in the court of public opinion.”

He hoped that a resolution could be found which would not mean demolishing the house completely nor leave the owners with an open market house in the open countryside.

Hebden – July

Retrospective planning permission was granted  but not without a lot of soul searching. Several members warned about the dangers.

Cllr Parsons said: “If this is approved the message we are sending out to absolutely everybody in the Park is … build what the hell you like and then come in with a local occupancy story and they will have to give it to you. That is the precedent that this committee will set. The applicant knew that planning permission was required. He chose to not do things by the book because he had been previously disappointed by the National Park Authority.”

Cllr Lis asked: “I find it impossible that people do this without in any way considering that they might need planning permission. What’s the point in our being here to discuss it?” But he did  not want to take draconian action against the family now living in the converted building.

Cllr Thornton-Berry  commented that the issue had to be handled sympathetically.  And Cllrs Robert Heseltine and Harrison-Topham pointed out that the officer’s recommendation would lead to the complete demolition of what is now a home for a local young family with twin babies. The applicant’s father, Andrew Whitham, said that a local occupancy legal agreement would be signed for what was now an independent new dwelling in the open countryside.

Mr Whitham apologised to the committee and explained that the conversion work had gone ahead “partly out of necessity and partly me being naive about the ways of planning laws.”  His son works locally in agricultural contracting and as a part-time game keeper. “How would he find somewhere affordable for someone living on a minimum wage with an area where he can keep all his equipment?” he asked.

The work had included partially demolishing the old turbine house, adding a significant extension, and raising the roof ridge and eaves. This, the planning officer said, could not be considered to be a ‘conversion’. Other alterations had significantly eroded the simple vernacular character of the former building, he added.

Horton in Ribblesdale – May

Large-scale charity events are causing such untold stress and pressure regarding parking, litter and noise pollution in the village that the parish council decided it was unethical to support the applications by the Authority to put up banners supporting the “Day in the Dales” on June 18.

Horton in Ribblesdale parish council has now set up a working party to combat the negative effects of so many “Charity Events” in the parish.

The planning committee was told, however, that the only basis on which to refuse the applications was in the banners had an impact upon amenity or public safety. “Amenity” she said, related to the visual impact of the banners.

It was, therefore, agreed that banners could be placed for a temporary period at the Horton National Park toilets and also on the field gate at the entrance to the car park which serves the pavilion and playing field. The “Day in the Dales” is a charitable event for Heart Research UK in partnership with the Authority’s Three Peaks Project. The aim is to raise sponsorship money for Heart Research UK, as well as improving and maintaining the Three Peaks path.

Beck House, Howgill – March

Permission was granted for camping pods and the creation of a new camping area at Beck House.

One camping pod will be erected beside the two static caravans which are already there. In addition there will be three pods, two tent pitches and a facilities building along the beck nearby.

Cllr Harrison-Topham abstained from voting because, he said, he was concerned about the wide definition of a caravan. Camping pods fall within the statutory definition of a caravan.

The planning officer had recommended that the conditions should include restrictions on the camping pods so that they could not later be replaced with any other structures or caravans without approval.

He told the committee: “Once the landscaping is established and if the site is successful there may be opportunity to support more tent pitches in this location.”

He said that the camping pods would help to fill a recognised gap in the tourism market in the National Park and would be assimilated better in the landscape than caravans.

He assured members that the planning officers would make sure that the lighting on the site would be at an appropriate level and that suitable arrangements were made regarding effluent.

Mr Brown agreed with him that this would be a good form of farm diversification.

Hudswell – March

Hudswell Community Charity, which was founded about 300 years ago, applied for permission to build three more affordable homes to rent. It already has three houses in the village which it rents to those with a local connection and in housing need.

The new houses will be built on part of Thompson’s Field which the charity has owned for 100 years. This is at the eastern end of Hudswell with part of it creating a gap between some bungalows and modern detached houses –  a gap which the charity wants to fill with two three-bedroom semi-detached houses and a two-bedroom single storey dwelling.

A Housing Need Survey last year identified five more families with a local connection who needed rented accommodation.

Martin Booth, the secretary of the charity, told the committee that they had worked for two years on the plan to provide more rented accommodation. He explained that they had considered a partnership with a Registered Provider but that would have meant losing some control over the ownership of the properties and how they were allocated.

He said: “We had the funds, and we own the land – so we had the means to do it ourselves. We don’t need to draw any money from government sources. So we didn’t need a Registered Provider.”

This means that the new houses will be exempt from the government’s proposed extension to the Right to Buy scheme.

Mr Booth added: “We did go to great lengths to consult with the village. Being a local charity we all live there. We had two public meetings and spent a lot of time with the immediate residents  – trying to accommodate all their concerns about how it would impact on their lives.”

For this reason there were no objections to the application nor had any of the committee been lobbied about it.

Harold Brown pointed out that Hudswell was unusual in the National Park in that one side of the linear development was within the YDNPA area and the other was not. He added: “This seems to me to be a very good scheme.”  All the other members agreed.

In accordance with the YDNPA policy for affordable housing the rents will be at 80 per cent of market rent and the charity has agreed to sign local occupancy legal agreements on the houses.

Hudswell – August

It was agreed that the local occupancy agreement for three new houses in Hudswell could be amended so that it was in accordance with the aims of the charity which will own them.

Hudswell Community Charity has, for over 200 years, sought to provide affordable rentable housing for those who have a connection with the village and need the support and assistance of their family members there. These people, however, might not fit the definition of “local” as defined by the YDNPA’s housing policy.

The charity had, therefore, asked that the s106 agreement should include a paragraph stating: “A person in housing need who has an immediate relative who is a resident of the relevant parish and who would benefit significantly from the support and assistance that this relative would be able to provide through close proximity.”

Cllr Blackie said that this compromise would mean that the three houses would remain available at affordable rents unaffected by the government’s policy on “right to buy”.

Kettlewell – February

A concrete barrier at Brightwaters in Kettlewell can be retained as it is protecting the walls of the converted barn from water damage.

It was reported that structural surveys had shown that the concrete barrier would help to stop further bulging and cracking of the walls which could then be repaired.

The planning officer, however, recommended that the retrospective planning application for the concrete barrier beside Kettlewell Beck and the railings around the patio created by it should be refused. He argued that the extent of the railings should be reduced and that a more sensitive way of protecting Brightwaters could be found.

The majority of the committee, however, disagreed. Cllr Blackie said that the barrier was supporting the structural integrity of the converted barn. He added that during the past few months the water in the beck had risen to almost the level of the patio at the top of the concrete barrier.

He added: “I wouldn’t want to stand on that particular patio without some sort of railings. A number of other places in Kettlewell have railings.”

Mr Graham said that even though the committee had not accepted the recommendation of the planning officer the decision would not need to be confirmed at the next meeting.

Kettlewell – April

It didn’t take long for the committee to give its unanimous approval for a barn near Kettlewell to be converted into a two-bedroom house for local occupancy.

Cllr Heseltine commented: “This is a fine example of our emerging roadside barns policy. It is ideally situated for a young family as it is near the school.”

Kettlewell – September

Plans for an extension to a modern end terrace house in the centre of Kettlewell had to be considerably modified before the Authority would consider approving them.

Originally it was proposed to build a two-storey extension at 1 Orchard Cottages but the planning officer felt this would adversely affect the neighbour’s property.

Kettlewell and Starbotton parish council still believed that the amended plans for a one-storey sunroom would be intrusive but the committee  did give approval for that.

It was pointed out by a neighbour that the proposed use of white uPVC for the door and window frames would not be in keeping with the original planning consent and would change the character of the terrace of three houses. At the committee meeting Cllr Parsons observed that white uPVC patio doors had already been installed at 1 Orchard Cottages.

He also asked if the houses, that were built in 1984, had any permitted development rights. The planning officer said this would be checked.

There had been no objections to proposed change of use of the garage into a study and that was approved as well.

Kettlewell – November

A young couple was  given permission to convert a barn at Kettlewell into their family home.

David Hillam, the applicants’ agent, told the committee that Anthony Robinson and his wife and children lived in a rented house in Starbotton. “They have a strong commitment to the area and want to live in a barn [conversion] that they own,” he said.

Kettlewell with Starbotton Parish Council strongly support the application because Mr Robertson works locally and his children attend the village school.

The barn, which is near the school, will be converted into a three-bedroom local occupancy dwelling.

Malham – December

A young couple, Louise and Andy Macbeth, can go ahead with adding two contemporary single-storey extensions at Beck Hall, Malham, even though the parish council stated that these would be out of keeping with the style of the hotel.

The planning committee approved the glazed extensions which will form a new reception area and bar, and an additional dining area. These will be sited on either side of the large 1980s two-storey wing that is behind the original 18th century house which forms the frontage of the hotel.

The planning officer told the committee that the extensions had been amended following objections by Kirkby Malhamdale Parish Council to being simple glass box designs with flat grass roofs.

The parish council, however, felt these were just modest alterations and that the extensions would still have a detrimental and negative impact upon such a significant property in Malham.

Cllr Parsons commented that the extensions would improve the appearance of the rear of the 1980’s building which he felt was quite ugly.

Cllr  Gray said: “We should look at modern building (materials) as useful tools and glass is one of those things. In the day time it reflects the surroundings and the skyline. It actually reduces the heavy impact of the modern building.”

Marske – December

The emerging Local Plan means that the 18th century Stable Block and Coach House at Marske in Swaledale can now become apartments for local people as well as holiday lets. Permission was granted in 2012 for the buildings to be converted into nine holiday lets. The same plans were submitted by Roger Tempest of the Rural Concepts Group to the committee this month so as to include local occupancy.

At the meeting  Cllr Blackie commented that this was an excellent way to save such a fine building from dereliction.

“This is an outstanding building. It is wonderful to see it being brought back into use,” said Cllr Parsons.

Newbiggin in Bishopdale – July

There are only five businesses in North Yorkshire which provide suitable independent or assisted wheelchair accommodation. But soon the Yorkshire Dales will have its first now that the planning committee has approved the change of use of an outbuilding at Eastburn Farmhouse at Newbiggin in Bishopdale.

Andrew and Diane Howarth have developed a high-quality five-star self-catering accommodation business in the village. Mr Howarth told the committee that this application would provide an opportunity for the National Park to provide flagship accommodation to national accessibility standards for those with mobility, hearing and visual impairments. He pointed out that the Peak District had 40 such types of accommodation.

The outbuilding was constructed in 2002 as a warehouse and office building and the planning officer stated it could be assessed according to the policy in the new emerging plan which allowed for the conversion of modern buildings to new business or employment uses. Since the Haworth’s bought Eastburn Farmhouse it has been used as a domestic store.

The Senior Listed Building officer recommended refusal of the application on the basis that the overall size and shape of the extensions would have a negative impact upon Eastburn House which is Grade II listed.

The planning officer, however, stated that the building would not be readily visible from the street or have a significant impact on the character of the village.

Cllr Harrison-Topham said: “I am slightly startled that we are treating the Senior Listed Building officer’s comments in quite such a cavalier fashion. After all she is the advocate for one of our prime national purposes in respect of the cultural heritage.”

Mr Graham, responded that the extensions would not lead to the building dominating the farmhouse. The planning officer’s recommendation to approve the application was accepted by the majority of the committee. The application included a garage for the farmhouse.

Otterburn – July

The new policy which allows roadside traditional barns to be converted into dwellings was applauded by John Steel, the agent for the owners of Crane Field Laithe on the Hellifield Road near Otterburn.

He described it as a welcome and progressive initiative which will allow many barns to be restored. These, he said, do contribute to the National Park’s historic environment.  If permission was granted the 200-years-old barn would be restored to a high standard so that it would again have a beneficial use. “It will ensure the life of this undesignated heritage asset well into the future,” he added.

Both he and the planning officer assured the committee that it was possible to restore and convert the building without the demolition of any walls and the owners were willing to sign a S106 legal agreement. The owners propose to use the converted barn either as a short-stay holiday let or as a local occupancy dwelling.

Initially the planning officer had recommended refusal because the Highways Authority had pointed out that the access onto Hellifield Road had severely restricted visibility. An alternative access was suggested and Mr Steel confirmed that the applicants did own the land adjoining the barn.

It was agreed that planning officers could work with the Highways Authority and the owners to find a satisfactory solution.

Otterburn – December

The committee agreed that the proposed glazed garden room at Grove Farm in Otterburn would be too big and have a detrimental impact upon the Grade II listed building.

Otterburn Parish Council had informed the Authority that the village fully supported the application and considered that the proposed garden room would be a delightful addition to the house, in keeping with and sensitive to the property, its history and its garden.

Cllr Roger Harrison-Topham also believed that the conservatory was well designed. He said: “It fits in very nicely with the newer extension and provides a missing element of symmetry to my mind.”

When another committee member described the proposed conservatory as being far too big, another asked who was going to see it.

The Authority’s member champion for cultural heritage, Mrs Martin, agreed with the planning officer that it would be inappropriate in scale and form, and would detract from the character of the original 17th century farmhouse and its 18th century extension.

She pointed out that the planning officer had advised the applicants, Andrew and Annabel Haggas, that a smaller extension to the side of the property would be more acceptable.

Mrs Martin wondered about the future of the four yew trees in the garden if the conservatory was built. One of the yew trees is over 300-years-old.

She was also concerned that the proposed access to the cellar could lead to the loss of potentially important historic features. The cellar is thought to be the oldest part of the house.

Reeth – December

The committee gave approval for The Little Barn, the annex to Bank House in Silver Street, Reeth, to become a separate holiday let or local occupancy dwelling.

Sedbergh – February

Sedbergh will gain three local occupancy dwellings and one commercial unit in the Main Street.

Ian McPherson, who is a Sedbergh parish councillor, said: “This is good news for Sedbergh. There are no local objections and it is supported by the parish council.

“It brings the advantage of providing employment opportunities on the site which the existing building does not provide at the moment. And it very effectively tidies up what is at the moment a very messy site – indeed an eyesore.”

At present the site is used for storing building materials and equipment and no-one is directly employed there. The proposed two-storey commercial building with living accommodation above it will front onto Main Street. The workshop on the site will be converted into a two-bedroom dwelling and another local occupancy house will be built.

The site has been identified as an area of high archaeological importance and the open yard there has existed since the 1850s. The planning department will seek to ensure that the courtyard and other historical features will be protected and that an archaeological evaluation will be carried out.

Sedbergh – February

An application to build a two bedroom house in a builder’s yard at Millthrop, Sedbergh, was refused by the committee.

Sedbergh parish council had supported the application, but as a member of the YDNPA, Sedbergh parish councillor Ian McPherson explained that he could not do so as that would be contrary to five of the Authority’s planning policies.

The planning officer reported that the builder’s yard behind The Spedding was outside the development boundary of Millthrop and the proposed building would have an impact not only upon trees on the site but also on a listed building. He told the committee that the proposal would result in the loss of existing employment land and would undermine the viability of the adjoining builder’s workshop and storage business run by the applicant’s brother.

Cllr Blackie commented that employment sites in the National Park were likely to become an endangered species and the policy to protect them should be maintained.

In OctoberPermission was granted for a builder’s workshop and store at Millthrop to be converted into a live work unit. The application was partly retrospective.

The committee agreed that this would be an acceptable way to provide accommodation without losing an employment site.

Sedbergh –  April

The new chairman of the planning committee,Cllr Caroline Thornton-Berry, described the proposed re-development of Kings Yard in Sedbergh as very exciting.

The committee agreed that it should support what Cllr Blackie described as a wonderful scheme which would help to rejuvenate Sedbergh. Approval was given to demolish the existing buildings and replace them with five local occupancy houses and a two-storey commercial building.

Ian McPherson, who declared a personal interest as he lives near Kings Yard, reported that the parish council fully supported the application and there had been no significant local objections.

“In fact there has been a lot of support because the site at the moment is a terrible shambles. Almost anything would be an improvement,” he said.

He added that the agent had made a great deal of effort to consult with local people, the parish council and the planning officers. The disused workshop and garage buildings were described by the Economic Development Team at South Lakeland District Council as being not fit for purpose and did not provide a quality environment to attract jobs.

The owner, Richard Mathers, had fulfilled the YDNPA’s requirements by advertising the whole site from September 2014. This showed that there was no current demand for such employment use in that location and this meant that Mr Mathers could include housing in the re-development plan.

The new commercial building will provide units for six independent service-sector businesses. The committee agreed that the application could be considered in accordance with the emerging Yorkshire Dales Local Plan 2015-2030 which will allow for 100 per cent local occupancy housing with no affordable units.

Following a request by Sedbergh Community Swifts, swift bricks and boxes will be provided in the buildings. Andrew Colley asked if permeable surfaces for the car parking areas could be considered as well as the provision of solar panels.

Sedbergh – May

Sedbergh School can go ahead with the construction of a new multi-courts sports centre at Busk Lane in Sedbergh.

Several members of the committee emphasised the need for the work to go ahead as soon as possible. For this reason the committee refused requests from Ian McPherson, on behalf of the parish council, for the decision to be deferred or for a legal agreement concerning the car parking arrangements to be drawn up at this time. One may be considered later the legal officer said.

Sedbergh Parish Council objected to the application mainly on the basis of inadequate parking arrangements, with just seven spaces available for cars at the site and with no parking restrictions along Busk Lane which is the main route through the town for heavy vehicles. It had told the Authority: “The parking of cars and coaches on Busk Lane during sporting events is already causing obstruction of footways, difficulties for the free flow of traffic and damage to pavements and grass verges.”

The parish council asked for additional parking to be provided within the school estate, particularly for coaches, and for a robust car parking management plan.

Martin Smith, the school’s Estates Bursar, said: “The car parking issue is a sore point and something we are trying to get a better handle on,”

He explained that the school had arranged for marshals to enforce a car parking plan at the last big sports event.

Cllr Welch commented that the main problem was that people were lazy and didn’t want to walk far from where they had parked.

Mr Smith explained that the school was in an extremely competitive market and needed such a modern facility especially as, in the North of England, there could be extreme weather. The school, he said, not only provided employment but supported many local traders.

Peter Charlesworth stated: “This is quite clearly a well-designed building which fits well into the landscape. To say that we should refuse it because they haven’t got a big enough car park is, I think, quite misguided – because to make a big car park would be detrimental to the landscape. The management plan for the car parking has to be enforced.”

Mr Graham said that the parish council would be consulted on the car parking management plan.

Both Mr Charlesworth and Jocelyn Manners-Armstrong stressed that the new sports centre should also be available to local people.

The single storey stone pavilion at Busk Lane will be demolished to make way for the new centre which will have courts for badminton, basketball, netball and volleyball plus cricket nets and seating for 488 spectators. There will also be changing rooms, an office, two multi-purpose studios and a hospitality suite.

Sedbergh – June

The re-modelling of Ingmire Caravan Park  at Marthwaite, Sedbergh, would make the site much more attractive the committee was told.

The applicant’s agent, Jeremy Lambe, said this could reverse the trend of  decreasing numbers of touring caravans at the site.  All the touring caravan will now be located near the entrance rather than being scattered throughout the site.

There will be three fewer touring caravan pitches but the planning officer said this would not affect the overall provision for these in that area.

Ian McFarlane reported that Sedbergh Parish Council welcomed the provision of improved facilities but did want a condition imposed that would ensure that all static “units” would be for holiday purposes only. It also wanted the assurance that the touring pitches were genuinely available for short term use. Mr Graham said such conditions could be included.

At present the site has 12 holiday caravans and 18 touring pitches. The committee approved the plan to alter this to 15 holiday caravans or lodges, 13 touring caravan pitches and two camping pods. The Nissen hut and two toilet blocks will be replaced with a new washing facility together with landscaping.

Sedbergh Parish Council and Cllr Blackie would have liked to have seen pitches provided for tents. Mr Graham pointed out that, at present, there weren’t  any tent pitches at the site and the provision of camping pods did increase the types of holiday accommodation on offer.

Mr Lambe said that campers could use the grassed areas among the trees.

Skyreholme – July

There was another case of “A Call for Justice” – this time by Simon and Sue Newbould who live at Skyreholme.  This, as Cllr  Harrison-Topham reminded the committee, recalled the “Wild West” days of planning in the Yorkshire Dales National Park when there were glaring inconsistencies concerning the imposition of local occupancy legal agreements.

During the discussion about the informal request to lift the S106 local occupancy agreement on Croft House at Skyreholme  Cllr Harrison-Topham said he had previously characterised the period between 1985 and 1990 as being rather like Wild West country. “An awful lot of subjective judgements were made,” he commented.

In 1985 permission was granted by the planning committee for the construction of Bracken House in Skyreholme without imposing any local occupancy agreement.

A planning officer stated at this month’s meeting (July 2016) that there was no detailed record as to why that was done as in 1985 officers had again recommended refusal. Two other applications for the same site had already been refused, with both of those decisions being upheld at appeal.

In 1990 permission was granted for the construction of Croft House subject to a local occupancy agreement. This was done under an Interim Housing policy which was subsequently not accepted by the government.

The owners of Croft House, Simon and Sue Newbould, have now asked for the legal agreement to be lifted as there had been inconsistency in planning decisions. Their agent, Andrew Moss, told the committee that both Bracken House and Croft House had buildings on three sides of them. “There is a clear inconsistency in relation to the approach to Bracken House and my clients’,” he said. He reminded the committee that in May 2013 it had lifted a local occupancy agreement on Top O’T’Hill at Feizor due to inconsistency in decision making in 1990.

Cllr Heseltine said that the Interim Housing Policy was the first attempt to provide local occupancy housing in the Dales. He mused that the committee should accept the planning officer’s recommendation that Mr and Mrs Newbould should seek to modify the legal agreement to allow the more flexible local occupancy criteria set out in the Authority’s emerging Local Plan.

The officer stated that the removal of the legal agreement would undermine the basis for granting planning permission which had been to meet an established local need.

Committee member Ian McPherson asked that a decision should be deferred as the legal background was quite complicated. “I don’t think we have had sufficient legal advice,” he commented. The majority of the committee agreed with him.

Skyreholme – Croft House – August

Simon and Sue Newbould were deeply disappointed when the committee, after a very short discussion, decided not to lift the local occupancy agreement on Croft House in Skyreholme. They were told instead to apply for it to be amended.

Ian McPherson argued that the committee should accept the recommendation of the Authority’s senior legal officer, Claire Bevan, that such local occupancy restrictions were still relevant and served a useful purpose.

If such an agreement had not been offered to the Newboulds in 1990 it was likely, he said, that more onerous conditions would have been imposed on a new build within what was defined as the “open countryside”. He quoted the legal officer’s report that such agreements remained of value in controlling housing development in the National Park and ensured the provision of housing to meet the specific socio-economic needs of the area. These were, he said, still an important aspect of the Authority’s housing policy.

Cllr Blackie described the planning policy in the National Park between 1980 and 1997 as being very unstructured with decisions being made “on the hoof”. “It was an absolute dog’s breakfast,” he commented. He pointed out that in 1991 the Government instructed the Authority to call a halt to its short-lived Interim Housing Policy (IHP). It was in accordance with this that the local occupancy agreement for Croft House was made.

That policy, he said, had led to some glaring inconsistencies. The Authority had acknowledged some of them and he believed it should do so concerning Croft House.

Mr Graham responded that the Authority had been consistent in restricting development in the open countryside and imposing local occupancy agreements.

On the issue of inconsistency and unfairness the legal officer stated:“The Authority has previously acknowledged in relation to the case at Holme Barn and Hawksnest, Hawkswick that there has been an element of unfairness in the use of S106 Agreements having regard to the inconsistencies in applying evolving housing policies at that time. This was an uncertain period, during which the IHP was eventually set aside, and until the adoption of the 1996 local plan, there was a clear inconsistency between some dwellings in the wider National Park which were approved under the IHP and restricted to local occupancy and others granted consent after the IHP was discredited and before the adoption of the 1996 local plan which were not.”

She maintained that the basis of making decisions was fair regarding the planning permissions for two houses in Skyreholme between 1985 and 1990. She said that the key difference was that “the planning committee determined not to impose an occupancy restriction on what is now Bracken House [in 1985]. There is no record of the considerations taken into account by planning committee and it would be mere speculation to suggest what they may or may not have been.”

SkyreholmeSimon’s Seat – August

The government has now introduced a regulation which will mean that many barn conversions will require their own water supply.

In response to a question from Cllr Blackie Mr Graham explained that bore holes would have to be sunk and the water assessed for its quality. “I would agree that would be another burden on the applicants but we have to satisfy ourselves that there will be an adequate water supply,” he added.

Local council environmental health units expect to see a water assessment before giving approval for any barn conversion. Such an expensive demand would rack up the cost of a barn conversion before an applicant knew if planning permission would be granted, Cllr Blackie said.

The planning committee gave approval for a barn at Simon’s Seat Farm, Skyreholme, to be converted into a three-bedroom house so long as a local occupancy legal agreement was signed. A chicken hut by the roadside will be replaced with a garage and the modern farm buildings will be removed.

Appletreewick Parish Council was concerned about the impact of such barn conversions on the already limited local water supply in Skyreholme. The owners of the barn at Simon’s Seat had confirmed that there was already a bore hole there.

Ian McPherson asked if provision could be made for birds such as swifts, as well as for bats.

Stainforth – May It looks as if the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority is now celebrating approving retrospective planning applications!

Immediately after the planning committee meeting a press release was issued announcing that the Knight Stainforth Hall caravan and camping park in Ribblesdale was set for a facelift after a retrospective application to convert agricultural buildings into a new restaurant and other facilities was approved.

But according to the restaurant’s own Facebook page it opened on 16 May 2015.

Mrs  Martin asked how the buildings could have been rebuilt and converted without planning permission and how further cases could be prevented in the future. In response Mr Graham said: “Sometimes these things happen.”

Cllr Heseltine commented: “I am just surprised that such a large development in that location wasn’t brought to the attention of any of our officers.”

And Cllr Harrison-Topham, pointed out the need for the planning department to liaise with building control. He said that a normal local authority had building control and planning departments whereas the National Park didn’t.

The latest application was for the part re-building and conversion of a traditional barn and a range of modern farm buildings so that they could be used for the restaurant, toilets, offices and store rooms as well as a new caravan site reception cum shop and a games room. Solar panels have also been installed.

An application for the conversion of the buildings was approved in August 2012 but when work commenced in February 2013 the applicants found that some original walls were unstable. The planning officer reported that, in consultation with building control and the building contractor, it was decided to rebuild these. This constituted re-construction and was not covered by the original application, one of the criteria for which was that substantial rebuilding was not required.

He stated: “The carrying out of works to demolish and reconstruct significant portions of the traditional buildings that previously existed at the site has been undertaken without any recording of their interest or features, and their loss is to the detriment of the cultural heritage of the National Park.” He added that the development did reflect the traditional character of the buildings by using reclaimed materials and retaining some of the original walls.

Stirton  – June– When the plastic sheeting covering a building at Stirton was removed it was revealed that the conversion of the traditional barn had not gone according to the approved plans.

Stirton-with-Thorlby Parish Meeting reported that the roof had been raised, some quoins had been removed, and at least one window needed re-positioning.  These and other changes had led to the Authority considering enforcement action.

The committee agreed with the planning officer that the east gable window should be re-positioned within three months. This, the planning officer said, would reinstate the former building line and quoins.

Following discussions with the planning officer the applicant had amended the retrospective application. The planning officer reported: “The amended proposal also includes a more gradual grading of land levels across the site from north to south. This would remove a recently formed terrace created in part by excavated soil and would mean there is a more continuous gradient that relates to off-site land levels to the north. The reinstatement of the earlier ground level would restore some of the building’s earlier character.”

Stirton with Thorlby – October

The committee agreed that the 400-years-old Tithe Barn at Stirton can be converted into either a local-occupancy dwelling or a holiday let.

The Trustees of Roman Catholic Purposes had  been given permission in 2014 to convert this Grade II listed building for office use. Its latest application is in line with the Authority’s emerging Local Plan which allows for traditional roadside barns to be converted for local housing or holiday lets subject to legal agreements.

During the debate there were two queries: if the access to a neighbouring field would be protected; and if an archaeological watching brief would not only be kept on the barn during conversion but also on  the area around it.

Cllr Parsons explained that tithe barns always had other buildings around them. This meant there could be important archaeological remains under the hard standing used for car parking. He was assured that the archaeological watching brief would extend outside to the barn.

The planning officer reported that although no internal fixtures or fittings now remain in the barn the building still had features of historic significance. The members accepted his argument that there would be clear conservation benefits from allowing it to be converted.

Stirton with Thorlby Parish Meeting had also been concerned about the access to adjoining fields. The planning officer stated: “Although this is a civil issue, the application has been amended to ensure that the existing agricultural access can be maintained.”

He added that the plans included the provision of a nesting box for barn owls.

Update – In August 2017 a planning officer, under delegated authority, gave permission for the Tithe Barn to be converted into offices. The parish council had generally approved of the application but did ask that the roof timbers should be protected.

Stirton-with-Thorlby – December

The committee agreed that the planning officers could grant planning permission for High Barn in Sour Lane, Stirton-with-Thorlby, to be converted into a three-bedroom local occupancy dwelling and a one-bedroom holiday let once amended plans have been received.

An archaeological assessment had shown that the roof timbers in the stone barn had been reclaimed from a much earlier cruck framed timber building. The planning officer has, therefore, requested that the amended plans should include the retention and visibility of the roof structure.

Swaledale – November :  Richmond Motor Club Three Day Trial

The Richmond Motor Club had £6,000 less to give to local charities following this year’s Scott Trial due to the cost of fulfilling the new conditions imposed by the YDNPA, Cllr Blackie told the planning committee.

The same conditions will now be imposed upon the Reeth Three Day Trial held by the Richmond Motor Club in July each year.

Cllr Blackie said: “This is a very important trial for the economy of the Upper Dales and particularly for young people. The archaeological and ecological units have gone rather over the top in demanding baseline information well beyond what was ever demanded before.”

Cllr Parsons agreed with him and stated: “You are expecting the [club members] to have a huge area of specialist knowledge. Expecting them to identify archaeologically sensitive sites when we can’t identify them ourselves is expecting a little bit too much.

“You are expecting 20 to 30 people to carry out what is a fairly professional survey and also to have a huge understanding of bio-diversity.”

Mr Graham, responded: “In terms of how the trial is managed, how the riders and spectators are managed, and what mitigation measures will be put in place to prevent damage to the environment – [that] is the same as with the Scott Trial. So there is no need to duplicate the work. I don’t envisage that there will be a significant amount of extra work.”

The planning officer told the committee that whilst the Authority did accept that the Three Day Trial was a long-established, nationally recognised event that contributed significantly to the local economy, it was held over Arkengarthdale, Gunnerside and Reeth Moors where there were special sites of conservation and scientific interest as well as a number of unscheduled monuments.

Ian McPherson stated that if the conditions, which were aimed at limiting and repairing any damage to the environment, were not imposed he could not vote for the Club to continue staging the Three Day Trial.

“This is a National Park and the overriding purpose of the National Park is to conserve and protect the environment. I think that there is adequate evidence to show that, because of the different areas and aspects of the natural environment involved, that protection is necessary,” he said.

Swaledale – November

Permission was granted for ten camping pods to be placed between the two rows of trees which separate the 30 touring caravan pitches from the rest of Swaleview Caravan Site near Reeth.

Mr Graham assured Cllr Blackie, that the conditions on the approval were sufficient to ensure that the camping pods could not, at some time, be replaced with caravans.

Approval of the camping pods is in line with the Authority’s emerging Local Plan which aims to expand and diversify the supply of more modern forms of “camping” accommodation within the National Park.

The owners had agreed to plant more trees at the entrance to the site. Cllr Parsons asked that even more should be planted so that the site was not so visible from the Reeth Road as visitors entered the National Park.

Thorpe – November and December

At the November meeting the committee agreed with the planning officer that the proposed extension to Mitchell House was not in keeping with the existing building.

An amended application to convert the agricultural workshop  into a two-bedroom holiday let was approved at the December meeting. The extension was not included in the amended plans.

Threshfield – July

The committee agreed that a compromise was needed to find a way to turn Toft House in Threshfield into a comfortable, modern farmhouse, without losing even more of its original 17th century features.

The chairman of the committee, Cllr Thornton-Berry, commented: “I think we are all in sympathy with what needs to be done and we want to help local people as much as we can. But our job is to maintain the historic heritage.”

Toft House was described as an important heritage asset and a fine example of a vernacular Dales farm house. All the proposed alterations would be at the rear of the farmhouse but Cllr Thornton-Berry pointed out that it was not a material consideration that they wouldn’t be seen.

On the side where there are modern windows and a door it is proposed to construct a two-storey extension to provide an additional bedroom and also a large kitchen cum farm office. On the other side it is proposed to move a 17th window to make room for a door into a new cloakroom where outdoor farming clothing could be removed. Another window would be enlarged to provide more light to a staircase.

The senior listed building officer had objected to the extension but at a site meeting the planning officer accepted the principle of its construction.

At the planning meeting the Authority’s member champion for cultural heritage, Julie Martin, stated that the key issue was to retain the 17th century windows. It was agreed, therefore, that instead of accepting the planning officer’s recommendation to refuse the application, a decision should be deferred so that a compromise could be found.

A compromise agreement was approved by the committee at the August meeting.

The majority voted to approve amended plans which included the retention of the original stairway window and the scullery window, but allowed the new garage to include a cloakroom.

Weasdale – November

A barn at Lane Farm in Weasdale which dates back to 1767 can now be converted into a two-bedroom holiday let and so ensure its long term.

Weasdale became part of the Yorkshire Dales National Park on August 1, and so planning decisions are now made by the YDNPA and not Eden District Council.

Mr Graham told the committee that, as the application was contrary to Eden District Council’s current policies, the Authority’s planning department evaluated it according to the objectives for sustainable development outlined in the National Planning Policy Framework.

“It is a very sensitive conversion,” he said. “We feel that it is right for holiday accommodation rather than residential because of the quality of the building.”

He explained that this less intensive use of the building would mean fewer changes and less likelihood of affecting historically important features.

Cllr Kendal had been to see the barn and told the committee: “I was quite knocked over by the beauty of it and I feel it would be criminal not to bring it into use.”

West Witton – July

Permission was also granted for a traditional barn at Home Farm in West Witton to be converted into a local occupancy three-bedroom home.

Winterburn – November

There were gasps of admiration when a photograph of the magnificent Friars Head – a late Tudor gentry house – was shown. The late 19th century single storey outbuilding is also historically and architecturally significant.

The owners had applied for an outbuilding to be converted for short term lets or for local occupancy directly related to the farm.

The planning officer reported: “The proposal provides an opportunity for a new use for the building that should ensure its future survival without significant alteration to its external appearances or the loss of its most important features.”

This was accepted as being in accordance with the emerging Local Plan concerning the conversion of traditional buildings.

ARC News Service

Pip Land attends on 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. Her ARC News Service reports are sent, free of charge, to local newspapers and websites.  If you would like to support this service do join the Association of Rural Communities.

YDNPA – Full Authority 2015 to 2016

ARC News Service reports for some YDNPA Full Authority meetings in 2015 and 2016


JUNE 2015 – AGM

The issues discussed included: the YDNPA’s new Local Plan and Upper Wharfedale bus services.

Local Plan

The Authority is taking risks with its proposed new Local Plan, Craven District councillor Carl Lis said. He is the member champion for sustainable development.

“We need to accept the experimentation and the risks that go along with this new policy,” he told the Authority members. “There is a wider housing mix, more visitor accommodation, more land for employment and the roll out of barn conversion beyond settlements. There’s a lot more policy flexibility to permit development and to support the economy – yet there’s a continuance of conservation policies to maintain environmental quality, to keep design standards high and to protect the Park’s special qualities,” he explained.

Harold Brown responded: “People are waiting with bated breath about our barn conversion policy. We know from the policy forum there are about three options: let them fall down into a heap of rubble; salvage them to keep others up; or do some conversion hopefully for young people who are just starting.”

“It’s bit of an unknown – bit of a risk,” commented Peter Stockton, YDNPA’s head of sustainable development.

He told the meeting that it was proposed in the new Local Plan traditional barns that directly adjoined a road or were close to it could be converted as long as there were not any significant historical features and they were large enough for the use intended without any extensions. In addition landowners will be offered a choice between local occupancy or paying 50 per cent of the uplift in value if the newly converted barn was sold on the open market. That “conservation levy” (commuted sum)  would be put in a fund by the YDNPA which would be go towards the cost of repairing and maintaining landmark field barns which can’t be converted to other uses.

Mr Stockton added: “This plan is responding to the national growth agenda. It’s a much more positive than the (2006) plan. It is responding to some of the demographic and economic challenges that we face.”

When asked what the Authority could do if it was found that the policies were not achieving the National Park’s objectives he said that selective changes could be made to the Local Plan later subject to consultation.

Richmondshire District councillors Yvonne Peacock and Johan Blackie were among those who welcomed the new policy on barn conversions as a way of helping local people obtain a home near their families.

Linton Camp

Andrew Colley, who is a Grassington parish councillor, told Mr Stockton that he felt that the proposals regarding Linton Camp were too restrictive. This is because in the new Local Plan the Authority will only allow the replacement of the existing buildings.

Mr Stockton explained: “We don’t consider the whole of that site to be suitable for development and we would expect a large green area to be left. This is because we are aware of surface water issues and there is a significant archaeological restraint.”

For these reasons, he said, the Authority was looking the development of the sites on which there were buildings already, rather than comprehensive coverage of the camp. “We probably are being too prescriptive here,” he added.

“I just feel there isn’t enough wriggle room,” commented Mr Colley.

Housing densities

He also queried the increased density of houses to be allowed on allocated development sites.

Mr Stockton replied that the Welfare Reform Act had led to far less flexibility for bedroom space in affordable housing and a greater demand for one or two bedroom houses. Smaller units led to higher densities he said. The time for the community to debate this would be when a planning application was made for a housing development. He asked that any layout should be judged on how it worked on site rather than on the density of housing.

He also  explained that building regulations had been greatly improved to ensure that new houses were built according to high energy conservation standards. It was no longer necessary, he said, for the Authority to specify those standards.


Craven District Council councillor David Ireton asked what could be done to ensure that more quarry products were transported by rail rather than by road, to lessen the environmental impact.

In response Mr Stockton said: “We will continue to work positively with the quarry companies and look at extensions in time and depth (to see) where we can get substantive environmental benefits. Arguably the most substantial environmental benefit in Ribblesdale is transferring more quarry products onto rail. That is already in this policy ….  (but) we can’t require them to do that if they have the benefit of a legitimate planning permission without (paying) substantial compensation.”

North Yorkshire County councillor Richard Welch stated: “It’s all very nice to say put everything on a train. What you’ve got to realise is that it’s got to get off at the other end. Unless there are facilities to take it off there is no incentive to put it on a train.”

He explained that a lot of the crushed rock was being used on new housing estates and roads and the shortest route from a quarry to such sites was usually by wagon.  “If you put it on a train but have to move it by road at the other end it’s a pointless exercise,” he added.


Cllr Blackie raised three concerns including retaining the possibility of having a swimming pool in Hawes.

He mentioned the scare that the Environment Agency had placed over Hawes by describing all of the town centre as under a 100-year flood risk. The last flood there was in 1870, he said. He was worried that this “flood risk” would have an impact on any proposals to extend the business park which was now at full capacity.

And he was concerned that existing business parks like that at Hawes should not be included in the proposal to allow more live-work units. “I would hate to see Hawes business park spattered with live-work units,” he said.

Publication of the new Local Plan

The committee agreed that the new Local Plan could be published at the end of July. Formal representations and objections to the Local Plan can be made during following seven weeks following publication and before it is submitted to the Planning Inspectorate for examination. The new Local Plan can be viewed at the YDNPA offices at Grassington and Bainbridge.

As affordable housing is such an important part of the new Local Plan Mr Charlesworth agreed that the issue of extending the Right to Buy scheme could be discussed. See Right to buy and rural communities.

Upper Wharfedale Bus Services

A regular bus service is vitally important to maintaining communities in Upper Wharfedale Mr Charlesworth stated.

He was replying to a request by Veronica Boulton for the YDNPA to respond to North Yorkshire County Council’s consultation on the future of bus services in Wharfedale. Ms Boulton is a member of Friends of DalesBus.

She told the meeting that the county council was proposing to reduce the regular bus service and have only a demand responsive service in Upper Wharfedale.

Mr Charlesworth replied: “Maintaining vital communities is fundamental to the achievement of the statutory purposes of the National Park. Our Management Plan makes it clear that we and our partners want the National Park to be home to strong self-reliant and balanced communities with good access to the services that they need. Equally important is that we want it to be a friendly, open and welcoming place with outstanding opportunities to enjoy its special qualities. Neither of these ambitions can be achieved without public transport and community transport schemes.

“So on the face of it the proposal from the county council puts these objectives in considerable doubt. We will certainly raise these concerns with the county council both personally and through the Authority.”

He added that he would also raise the subject with Rory Stewart MP, the Defra minister with responsibility for National Parks.

Cllr Blackie reported that he had been contacted by Craven District councillor Chris Clark about the community Little White bus service in Wensleydale, Swaledale and Arkengarthdale of which he is the managing director. This, he said, now has seven buses, 35 volunteer drivers and five part-time staff. This provides both regular and on-demand bus services as the former had been found to be so necessary both for local residents and visitors.


The issues discussed were: concern over further cuts in the YDNPA’s grant from Defra; the route of the Pennine Bridleway National Trail  through Long Preston;  the new YDNPA Local Plan; and the Authority recording its own meetings.

Further cuts in funding –

David Butterworth, the YDNPA chief executive, agreed with Cllr Blackie that if there was a further 40 per cent cut in the grant from Defra the Authority would not be able to carry out its statutory responsibility.

Cllr Blackie made this statement after a representative of Deloitte LLP had given a summary of the External Audit Report for the year ended March 31 2015.

Judith Donovan complimented the Authority’s finance and resources team for being given such a glowing report by the auditors.

She added, however: “I know it’s a pointless exercise and I raise it every year but I would like to put on record that I think the fee (£12,103) is appalling.” This was Deloitte LLP’s last year as external auditors for the Authority.

Long Preston and the Pennine Bridleway –

The majority of members agreed that flashing signs on the A65 at Long Preston to warn motorists about horse riders would be preferable to starting a legal process which could culminate with farmland being compulsory purchased.

The director of park services, Kathryn Beardmore, had recommended altering the route of the Pennine Bridleway National Trail so that horse riders did not have to travel along 170m of the A65 at the east end of Long Preston. But as agreement had been reached with the landowner of just one short section of the alternative Trail route she asked the Authority to agree to the principle of the officers pursuing a Creation Order which would, if completed, give them the legal right to compulsory purchase the land needed.

The Secretary of State approved the Trail in 1995 when it had been expected that a bypass round Long Preston would be created. The Trail is now in use and North Yorkshire County Council has stated that due to the high density of traffic on the A65 that 170m section was “not viable from a safety perspective”. Even on the proposed alternative route there would have to be a dedicated crossing point on the A65 for horses and riders.

Ms Beardmore said that officers had been discussing alternative routes with landowners and farmers for five years but could not reach agreement. Edward Wilkinson told the Authority that the route officers had now decided upon would go through the main part of his farm and would have a bad impact upon the fields that he used at lambing and calving times as it would also attract a large number of dog walkers and cyclists.

He explained that there were health and safety issues relating to traversing fields where there were cows with young calves as well as the danger of ewes being disturbed and so miss-mothering their lambs.

He added: “One of the main concerns is from dog fouling. There are a number of diseases, particularly abortion in cattle and sheep which is directly linked to dog faeces.” At present there is no right of way across those fields.

Several members agreed with Richmondshire District councillor Carolyn Thornton-Berry that a similar warning system to that used on the A66 at the time of Appleby fair was a good option especially as it would also act as a traffic calming measure and so benefit local residents.

North Yorkshire County Councillor Roger Harrison-Topham said he gave up on the recommendation for a Creation Order when Ms Beardmore stated that there was a “moral” obligation to do so because Natural England had spent £3.5 million on the Trail.

“If anybody goes and spends three and a half million pounds without being certain that they are going to be able to achieve their objectives they are idiots. And there is no obligation on us or anybody else to pull Natural England’s chestnuts out of the fire … and ruining Mr Wilkinson’s farm,” he commented.

Ian McPherson summed up the reservations of the majority of the members when he said: “It is obvious and absolutely clear that the safety of horses and riders must be of paramount importance (but) at this stage I am not convinced that the recommendation is the correct way forward.”

He described the suggested traffic calming measures as very positive and referred to Ms Beardmore’s report where it stated that it was difficult to demonstrate there was any danger to horse riders due to the (low) level of usage. “We just don’t seem to have enough information to leave ourselves open to a very long extended complex procedure which could result in a very significant monetary loss,” he stated.

New Local Plan –

The committee agreed that parts of the Authority’s proposed new Local Plan can now be used when considering planning applications.

Peter Stockton, the head of sustainable development, reported that, in line with present government policy, this could be done even though the plan had not yet been approved by a planning inspector. In his report he listed what could and could not be considered when planning officers were giving pre-application advice.

For instance some weight can be given to the more flexible approach which will allow the conversion of appropriate roadside barns for local occupancy. But it was not recommended that applicants should be offered the choice of local occupancy or paying a conservation levy so that a converted barn could be later sold on the open market as there had been significant objections to this.

Cllr Lis, the Authority’s member champion for sustainable development, stated: “This report marks the end of formal representations and two years of consultation on the Authority’s local plan. Ours will be the first National Park Local Plan to be submitted to the government since national policy was overhauled in 2012.

“Our new policies contain additional flexibilities in important areas such as economy, farm and rural estate development, tourism as well as, of course, housing.”

He said that in creating such flexibilities and opportunities the Authority was taking some risks. He added: “This is the right time to do this. It sends out a clear message that the Authority is serious about pushing the sustainable development agenda forward rather than just waiting for planning applications to come in.

“There are still some areas where we have to be cautious as we have had some significant objections to our new policies,” he warned.

Recording meetings –

It wasn’t surprising that Cllr Blackie very strongly supported the recommendation that audio recordings should be made of planning and authority meetings.

He commented: “When people want to report me to the Standards Committee, they’ll know exactly what I did say rather than what they thought I said, or put words in my mouth.” He relied on ARC News Service recordings when he defended himself at a hearing of the YDNPA Standards Committee following a complaint against him.

All agreed to approve the amendments to the Standing Orders which included allowing microphone recording equipment to be installed. This will bring the Authority in line with the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014.  Mr McPherson and Jocelyn Manners-Armstrong asked that the recordings should be kept for longer than 12 months and this was accepted.


MARCH 2016

There were discussions about the extension of the Yorkshire Dales National Park on August 1, how members are selected, and how planning decisions will be made for the areas which will become part of the National Park.

More money and more members have been allocated to the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority when the area it covers is increased by 24 per cent on August 1.

Even the Chief Executive, David Butterworth, did not expect to receive so much additional funding and he commented:“That’s down to a range of factors not least the chairman’s persistent lobbying, publically, formally and informally on behalf of the National Park and its communities – coupled with the fact that we now have a minister for the National Parks who is very understanding and supportive.”

The chairman, Peter Charlesworth reported that the Authority would receive, in effect, an extra million pounds compared to what they had anticipated. The Authority had expected a cut in its grant from Defra and the staff had prepared for that.

Craven District Councillor Carl Lis pointed out, however, that the Authority would still be receiving less money than it had five years ago. He believed that one reason they were given such a favourable settlement was because the Authority had built up its own income generation. This had to continue he said.

Mr Charlesworth had also lobbied hard for the existing membership of the National Park to be increased so that all areas could be represented.

The government has decided that there will be three new members representing Eden District Council, the City of Lancaster, and Lancashire County Council. Mr Butterworth told members that if the Government’s proposal was accepted the new board of 25 members could be in place by August 1.

“For me this is absolutely critical because the board will be taking decisions on the new area – planning and other decisions. If we do not have representation from that area I think that would be a pretty horrific state of affairs.” Members agreed with him that the Authority should  request that the size of the board be re-evaluated after three years.

About the extension Mr Butterworth commented: “I really do think this is a fantastic opportunity for the National Park, the National Park Authority and the new communities. There is the opportunity for those communities to learn from the existing work that has been done within the current National Park, but also an opportunity to look at how things are done differently in the extension which hopefully will lead to better results in future for the whole of the National Park.

“I think it’s important that as a National Park Authority, we treat the new area the way we would expect to be treated. There’s a number of existing organisations, individuals, companies and local authorities which are operating in that area – operated well for some considerable time. So we’ve got a real period of learning. It’s not a question of going in there wearing a pair of size 15 boots and saying ‘we know best’, because we don’t.”

He said they would need to create the space so that they had time to understand the issues, the hopes and aspirations of the people that live and work in the new area. He was especially excited about the Westmorland Dales Hidden Landscapes (HLF Landscape Partnership). This, he reported, was an ambitious programme of activities being developed by an informal partnership of organisations led by the Friends of the Lake District.

“For me it’s a really good opportunity to have a flagship project involving a whole range of communities and organisations in the area, to show the difference being in a National Park can make,” he said. The members agreed to support this Partnership. This means that if the Partnership’s bid for Heritage Lottery  funding is successful the YDNPA will allocate £20,000 to the development phase and £120,000 to the implementation phase.

Questioning the Powers that Be:

Both Mr Charlesworth and Mr Butterworth had complained to the government about the selection process for choosing new members of the Authority. Mr Butterworth had even used the phrase “bordering on the corrupt”!

Mr Charlesworth and several other chairmen of National Park authorities had met with a senior civil servant to discuss how the Secretary of State appointees were selected.

“One of the complaints we had was that we were not allowed to say who we preferred and who we thought were the best candidates – which we thought was nonsense.  My main concern was that until this week we were faced with having members from Cheam in Surrey and from Peterborough.” It was not just a problem of their expenses but also their ability to attend meetings, he explained.

The civil servant had reiterated that these were national appointments and would not be chosen according to location. This week the YDNPA was informed that its two new members will be Jim Munday from Bentham and Neil Swain (of Swain Estate Management Ltd) from Upper Dunsforth near York. They will replace Chris Armitage and Mr Charlesworth.

Mr Butterworth reported that he had also complained about how member appointments were made. He told the meeting that when he was filling in a questionnaire for the National Audit Office he had described the process as “bordering on the corrupt”.

He explained that this was because those involved in the recruitment and selection of members didn’t make the final decision. They have to pass the list to someone else who then makes the decision. “That just strikes me in terms of even reasonable HR practice to be an absolute nonsense. I got a phone call yesterday summoning me to a meeting with the National Audit Office to explain why I described the process as bordering on corrupt,” he said.


From August 1 the YDNPA will become the planning authority for the areas within the new extension.

Gary Smith, the director of conservation and community,  told the meeting that the YDNPA would try to minimise the disruption for those who had already made applications to their local authorities and is already working in a spirit of co-operation with those authorities.

Those local authorities are already viewing designation as a National Park as a material consideration when dealing with any applications that will be affected. Richard Graham, the head of development management, stated: “For that reason they are consulting us on all planning applications they receive in the extension areas up to 1st August so that we can give an opinion.”

Any applications made to Eden and South Lakeland District Councils which have not been determined by August 1 will be transferred on that date to the YDNPA. Lancaster City officers will continue to deal with any “live” applications but will then pass them to the YDNPA for final determination. After August 1 all applications will have to be made to the YDNPA.

Any existing Local Plans for Lancaster, South Lakeland and Eden (including the Upper Eden Neighbourhood Plan) will continue to apply and the YDNPA will use them to make decisions. The YDNPA’s own new Local Plan, once adopted, will only apply to the National Park area which existed before August 1.

Mr Smith reported that it was logical for the YDNPA to adopt the new Eden Local Plan once it had completed its examination. Eden District Council has been asked to remove the area north-east of Great Asby from its policies map as that will become part of the National Park. This is because it had been identified as suitable for medium- to large-scale wind energy and that would be in conflict with national park landscape designation.

For the areas joining the National Park on August 1 a number of permitted development rights will lost, including the conversion of farm buildings, warehouses and retail premises into dwellings. This includes any permission already granted under permitted development rights but not yet implemented. It will not be enough to start work on a barn conversion – it will have to be in use as a dwelling.

Mr Smith reported: “The difficulty is that, whilst the Authority would have the discretion to decide it was inexpedient to pursue enforcement in individual cases, it would be unlawful for the Authority to declare some sort of fixed period of ‘amnesty’. Unavoidably, therefore, relying solely on Authority discretion would create uncertainty. Discussions are, therefore, on-going between all the planning authorities, Defra and the DCLG (Department for Communities and Local Government)  to ensure that impacts on those living and working in the extension areas are minimised.”

He added that the YDNPA’s Article 4 Direction which removed permitted development rights for the conversion of agricultural buildings to certain commercial uses would be limited to the existing National Park and would not apply in the extension area. This might be reviewed later.

Mobile phone masts:

Members were disappointed that the project by Arquiva to erect masts to ensure good mobile phone networks would not continue. “This is holding back the National Park areas,” commented Cllr Yvonne Peacock.

Mr Smith told the meeting: “It’s the same story across the country. I think the plan originally was for 600 sites across the country and I think they’re going to do 25 maybe in four years. So it’s pretty disastrous. It had nothing to do with us as a planning authority.”

Recognising the work of volunteers:

Frances Bland, who has been a Dales Volunteer for 11 years, has received national recognition within the individual category in the National Parks UK 2015 Volunteer Awards.

Mr Butterworth commented: “She is an absolutely outstanding individual. She has walked pretty much every footpath in the existing National Park and has just been asked to lead the condition surveys for the footpath network in the extension area in Cumbria and Lancashire. To see that recognised at national level is absolutely fantastic.

“What it represents to me is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the enormous and frankly wonderful volunteer effort that goes into making this National Park what it is.”


Rural communities and the need for affordable housing are not on the government’s radar it was stated at the on Tuesday, September 27. The heavy impact of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Extension on Authority’s staff was also described.  The Authority said farewell to two long-standing members: North Yorkshire County Councillor Shelagh Marshall and Harold Brown.

Harold Brown

The chairman, Cllr Lis, told the meeting that Harold Brown was one of the original members having started on the  shadow authority in 1996.

“Since that time he has made an outstanding contribution to the National Park Authority and to the National Park and the Swaledale communities. He has held quite a number of positions within the Authority including serving as an excellent chairman of the planning committee and I [want to] acknowledge his time as my deputy chairman for four years from 2011 to 2015.

“We had an excellent personal relationship. Harold was always a man of great integrity and he brought that to our many conversations. I particularly want to highlight his invaluable advice and guidance to me on all matters to do with farming. That was so valuable, it really was. We have new members now who won’t get that same guidance. I think this Authority will miss him sorely.”

Cllr Blackie described Mr Brown as an absolute authority on farming. “He was always loyal to those communities that he proudly presented. He was also very highly regarded by his fellow members of the National Park including those who disagreed with his staunch local community view. He was a brilliant planning committee chairman. We are going to miss him.”

Cllr Shelagh Marshall

The Chief Executive, David Butterworth, reported that she had missed several Authority meetings this year due to a close family member being ill since Christmas 2015 and had decided to resign as of September 30.

Cllr Lis, told the Full Authority meeting: “She has been a very long serving member of the Authority although it has been in three separate terms, the first one of which started prior to the independence of the Authority in 1999.

“She then served from 2005 until 2009 and finally from 2013 until the end of this month. Shelagh has a massive amount of experience in local government at county and district level over the last 30 years.

“Not only has she been a passionate advocate for all matters in her local area but also on the national stage representing fairly recently the issues surrounding older people.

“This Authority has benefitted from all of that experience, bringing a depth of knowledge on a wide variety of subjects as well as a large amount of simple, plain common sense. We will miss that input.”

He thanked Cllr Marshall for all the time and effort she had invested in the Authority.


The Chief Executive, David Butterworth, commented that housing policy in this country was determined at national level which meant that rural areas were dealt with in the same way as those in the cities.

“So what we have is no government interest in affordable rural housing,” he said.

Both he and Cllr Marshall quoted figures from the 2001 census and that in 2011. These showed that 1,000 homes were built in the Yorkshire Dales during that decade but the population went up by only 100.

Mr Butterworth continued: “The reason behind that is that the amount of second homes and holiday homes in the National Park is going through the roof – from 15 per cent to 23 per cent and climbing. But nobody is interested in doing anything about it.  Let’s not go away with the idea that the National Park Authority can fundamentally solve the housing problem in this area because we don’t live in that kind of country.

“Until there is recognition that housing matters in rural areas like this and the  control of them should be given to local communities we are going to be like this for the next ten to 20 years.”

Cllr Peacock said that landowners were holding back from selling land for affordable housing because the government kept announcing different plans. The landowners, therefore, felt that they  might get a better deal if they waited a bit longer.

The YDNPA has inherited an example of how government directives undermine attempts to provide affordable housing. When a  developer applied to convert the former accommodation buildings at Casterton School into 17 dwellings, South Lakeland District Council negotiated a financial contribution towards its affordable housing fund.  But in May this year the Government introduced the Vacant Building Credit which reduced affordable housing contributions.

As this meant that there would be no contribution from the Casterton School development the planning application was refused. The developer has now appealed. Although this development is now within the National Park the YDNPA has delegated that appeal and any costs involved to South Lakeland.

The National Park uses local occupancy agreements to try and stop new dwellings becoming second homes or holiday homes.

Cllr Blackie told the meeting that another three couples had left Arkengarthdale because they couldn’t find housing and the school now had only 14 pupils. “There is a lot of worry amongst the local communities that we will not have any local young families left,” he said.

He pointed out that in the Defra “Eight-Point Plan for England’s National Parks” there wasn’t one single use of the word “community”. “Community doesn’t seem to be on Defra’s radar. The contribution [communities] make to the work of the National Park is not recognised in London,” he said.

Local Plan

Peter Stockton, the head of sustainable development, reported that when the YDNPA’s proposed new Local Plan was examined by a Planning Inspector during public hearings in July one of the main issues was whether the Authority would be able to meet its target of 55 homes being built each year. (This includes barn conversions.)

The Authority had told the Inspector that it preferred a flexible approach and  did not want to specify the locations where those homes would be built.  Mr Stockton said: “It’s a big step for us to set a housing target and it does come with some risks.”

In his report he stated: “We anticipate that the Inspector will ask the Authority to undertake an early review of its housing supply to ensure we can maintain a rolling five-year supply of housing land, to meet the target of 55 new dwellings per year.”

The Inspector had suggested some modifications to the proposed Local Plan and within a few weeks details of those will be on the Authority’s website. There will then be a six-weeks consultation period. Mr Stockton said it was hoped that the Local Plan could be adopted at the December meeting of the full Authority.


The extension of the National Park has led to the YDNPA inheriting 42 planning applications from Eden District Council, 12 from South Lakeland and one (plus one appeal) from Lancaster City. It also has at least 12 enforcement cases to deal with nine being already received from Eden DC and three from South Lakeland.

The YDNPA workload has been further increased by the need to update the planning and enforcement register. On August 1 over 10,000 planning records for the extension area were transferred to the YDNPA from four local authorities. The head of development management, Richard Graham, reported that this has become a difficult, expensive and complicated task as the records had come in different formats. The amount of work, he said, was in excess of that predicted.

In addition the YDNPA inherited something it had never dealt with before – a Neighbourhood Development Order (NDO).

It was accepted that the NDO for Carr House, Mallerstang, was procedurally compliant. The Authority will, therefore, publish it for public inspection and representations over a six week period, and then appoint an independent examiner with the consent of Kirkby Stephen Town Council.

It will be up to the examiner if there should be a local referendum to decide if Carr House, an unoccupied former dwelling in the open countryside, can become a holiday let or a local occupancy home. No planning application will be required but the Authority may well question if the reinstatement of Carr House conforms with the Eden Development Plan.

Coast to Coast

It was agreed that the Authority should support the campaign to make Wainright’s Coast to Coast walk a National Trail.


The need for affordable homes in the Yorkshire Dales National Park cannot be met according to Simon Berkeley who inspected and approved the YDNPA’s new Local Plan.

Following confirmation that the Plan was sound and legally compliant the members of Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority unanimously voted on Tuesday, December 20, to adopt it. This Plan does not include the areas added to the National Park in August this year.

Mr Berkeley noted in his report that there would be a degree of dependency on “windfall sites” to fulfil the Authority’s target of 55 new dwellings each year. Of those only 15 to 17 would be affordable homes which would not meet the shortfall of around 117 that were needed each year.

He stated: “I consider the Plan’s shortcomings in relation to affordable housing should not lead to it being found unsound. It will be better to have this Plan in place than none at all.”

Cllr Blackie warned, however, that it was very difficult for small affordable housing developments in the Yorkshire Dales to gain the support of Housing Associations due to the problem of economic viability.

He explained that Richmondshire District Council had offered a site free of charge in Langthwaite, Arkengarthdale, for the construction of four affordable houses. But without the support of a Housing Association there was no chance of the development going ahead, he said.

Peter Stockton, the head of sustainable development, assured the leader of Richmondshire District Council, Cllr Yvonne Peacock, that the Authority would continue to try and find a solution.

After the meeting, she said: “The district council is working very hard to ensure we do have some affordable or local need houses for Arkengarthdale.”

The Authority members made it very clear that any solution for the housing problem had to be “Plan-led”, and so were unanimously in favour of requesting an Article 4 Direction to ensure that the owners of office buildings in the National Park will have to apply for planning permission to convert them into dwellings.

This is because from October 2017 until October 2020 the Government will allow office buildings of 500sq m or less to be converted under general permitted development.

The Authority’s planning policy officer, Thomas Harland, described the target of 55 new homes a year as ambitious and added: “There will be increasing pressure on the supply of land and buildings for housing in the National Park so, in that sense, any source of additional housing supply is to be broadly welcomed.”

He did note that this had to be balanced with the need to retain employment – and it was that which Cllr Blackie and Jocelyn Manners-Armstrong emphasised.

Contrary to Mr Harland’s recommendation Cllr Blackie called for the Authority to ask for an Article 4 Direction so that, within the National Park, planning permission would still be required.

He pointed out that 60 jobs could be lost at the Upper Wensleydale Business Park in Hawes and he stated: “We lose these [offices] at our peril.”

Mrs Manners-Armstrong said: “We have only a few light industrial sites and it is important that we protect them. We have just approved the Local Plan and this [Government) policy will contradict it. If we are serious about our policies we should defend them. We have to protect the economic future of our communities.”

The request for a non-immediate effect Article 4 Direction will need to go out for consultation and then be approved by the Secretary of State. It will come into effect 12 months after that approval.

From October 2017 until that time the Authority could still block the change of use on the basis that an office was within an area providing important industrial services and residential dwellings there would have an adverse impact upon its sustainability.



YDNPA – Yore Mill, Aysgarth


Yore Mill towers over the famous Aysgarth Falls, and the craft shop and teashop beside it. The original cotton mill was built there in 1784 but was heavily damaged by fire in 1852. It was rebuilt in its present form a year later. The mill was used by knitters during the late 19th century with corn grinding on the ground floor. The latter continued until after the 2nd World War, running alongside the flour-rolling plant which was installed 1912. Flour production ceased in 1958 and the mill was used as a cattle food depot for ten years. It became the home of George Shaw’s Carriage Museum from 1969 until 2003.

Update March 2018: Yore Mill was discussed during a private session at the YDNPA Full Authority meeting in December 2017. The minutes of that meeting were approved at the March meeting. In those minutes it stated:

RESOLVED – That the Authority: a) supports Richmondshire District Council to secure appropriate urgent works to Yore Mill through the use of their legal powers; and  b) makes public the Mill’s plight in the hope of securing a change in ownership and new funding possibilities so as to improve the chances of a comprehensive re-use in the future.

December 2016: The poor state of the roof of Yore Mill has led to the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) even considering compulsory purchase as a means of conserving this important, Grade II listed building.

At the full Authority meeting on Tuesday December 20 2016 at Yoredale in Bainbridge the members will be asked to attend a site meeting with the owners at Yore Mill.

The two options they will consider are: to work with the current owners to secure roof repairs by negotiation and with direct financial backing; or for the Authority to take a more forcible approach using its legal powers.

The latter would require a Repairs Notice to be served on the owners which will give them at least two months to take reasonable steps to carry out a prescribed set of repairs. If that is not done the Authority would then consider compulsory purchase even though that would represent a major commitment.

In a report to the Authority Thomas Harland, its planning policy officer, stated that Yore Mill was at risk.

He reported: “The extent of the water damage is such that some of the structural roof timbers are beginning to be compromised, meaning that at least partial roof collapse is becoming increasingly likely. The fact that so many slates are no longer secured in position means the building also presents a risk to public safety.

“The owners have ambitions to use the mill as a paid-entry visitor attraction, with retail facilities for handcrafted goods, some of which would be produced in workshops on the premises, alongside displays relating to the heritage of the Dales.

“They submitted a planning application for a similar use in 2003 but this was refused due to a lack of detail of the exact nature of the use and a lack of consideration of traffic and visitor management implications of such an attraction. The lack of any on-site parking facilities remains a significant constraint.

“The Authority has been in discussion with the owners since 2010 and has offered advice on potential funding streams and suitable uses. The owners have stated that they do not have the resources to finance any repair scheme.

“They still believe that fundraising from various charitable trusts, attracting a development partner to invest in the Mill, together with a proposed ‘crowd funding’ appeal, are capable of yielding enough money to realise their proposed end use.”

Upper Dales Area Partnership – September 2016

The impact of the Better Health programme on the Upper Dales, the possible increase in distances ambulances will need to travel, and condition of the roads in winter, especially the Buttertubs pass, were the main items discussed at the Upper Dales Area Partnership at Reeth on September 21.

Better Health programme

Edmund Lovell, the communications and engagement lead for the Better Health programme, said that this was aimed at providing a sustainable service by the hospitals which were participating in it. These originally were the Darlington Memorial Hospital (DMH), the James Cooke University Hospital at Middlesbrough, the South Tees Hospital and the University Hospital of North Durham.

Under the government’s Sustainability and Transformation Plans for the NHS that at Durham will not now be included. This change meant that the public consultation on the Better Health programme would not take place until next year, Mr Lovell said.

Compared to the meeting at Hawes his presentation this time did include “travel impacts” – something which greatly concerned residents in the Upper Dales.

North Yorkshire County Councillor John Blackie said that when the maternity and paediatric units at the Friarage Hospital were downgraded in 2013 residents had been assured by the Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group (HRWCCG) that the DMH would provide these consultant-led services as well as a full A&E department. Residents were very concerned that the Better Health programme could lead to these services no longer being available at the DMH.

Cllr Blackie pointed out that this would mean that most patients from the Upper Dales would face a 60-mile journey by ambulance to a hospital. He also asked if this would cause over-crowding at the James Cooke University Hospital in Middlesbrough and even further delays in ambulance response times. Mr Lovell assured the meeting that these issues will be included in the consultation.

Dr Derek Cruikshank, one of the doctors involved for several years in the planning for the Better Health programme, explained that developments in medical care had not only led to much better outcomes for many patients but also to an increase in specialisation by doctors. There could be a 30 per cent better chance of survival if a patient was taken to a hospital with the specialist skills even if it involved a longer journey, he said.

“We have got to keep up with the pace of the changes that are available. But the cost of these services and the expertise that is required means that we can’t have all of them in every hospital.” Specialists, he added, needed to see enough patients to maintain their skills.

Mr Lovell described this as “critical mass” and that hospitals with sufficient patients would attract such specialists. If hospitals had specific specialisations there would be fewer cancellations of planned operations, he added.

Dr Mark Hodgson of the HRWCCG told the meeting that additional resources were now available at the Friarage Hospital to provide for planned care and to give a better service for those who were critically ill.

Both he and Dr Mike Brookes of the Reeth GP Practice reported that there had been an improvement in ambulance response times. Dr Brookes said this was partly because ambulance crews could now seek the advice of local GPs rather than take all patients to hospital.

But those living in the Upper Dales were still very concerned about the amount of time it can now take for ambulances to return from the long journey to Middlesbrough and felt that the Better Health programme could make the situation worse.

Gill Collinson of the HRWCCG supported the objective of the Better Health programme to bring medical services closer to the patients and so reduce the number of delayed discharges from hospital. As part of this there has been a trial of the “Step-up/Step-down” scheme at Sycamore Hall in Bainbridge (*see below).

“This is a brilliant initiative,” said West Burton parish councillor Jane Ritchie.


The Buttertubs pass will not be upgraded to a Priority One road for winter gritting Richard Marr, the new NYCC Richmondshire Area Highways Manager, told the meeting.

He was introduced by North Yorkshire County Councillor Don Mackenzie whose remit as a member of the county council’s executive included highways and transport. “You should blame the councillors who create policies and not the managers who carry them out,” Cllr Mackenzie said. “The problem is the budget cuts – we’ve had a 40 per cent cut. We are the biggest county in England and have 6,000 miles of roads.”

Mr Marr quoted the government legislation which stated that highways authorities had a duty to ensure safe passage along roads in times of snow and ice “as far as reasonably practical.”

The Priority One roads in the Dales were those running from east to west providing access between the main centres of population to the A1.

“Buttertubs doesn’t fit the criteria for a Priority One – you can’t look at it in isolation compared with similar roads across the county. Budgets are limited and we have to do what we can within the limits that we have and we can’t do everything,” Mr Marr said.

Cllr Blackie argued that the Buttertubs road was a very important link between Upper Swaledale and Hawes and when it was closed residents had to drive an additional 30 miles.

Others at the meeting pointed out that there were times when the A684 did not need gritting but the Buttertubs road was impassable due to snow or ice. So would it be possible to grit the Buttertubs road at such times and so keep access open for ambulances as well as residents?

Mr Marr replied: “The procedure is that if the Priority Ones do not need treatment then we can do the Priority Twos. We would not do that if the forecast said the temperature would rise before 10 o’clock. If there are certain days that the part of the Priority Two network which needs treating is just the Buttertubs then I am expecting that will get done.”

He was also asked why the grit store at Hawes was not used regularly instead of the grit wagons having to return to Leyburn to be re-filled.

“Hawes will be used but only when we are running continuously [in very bad weather]. For routine morning treatments we can still operate from Leyburn,” Mr Marr said. He added that it didn’t make sense to have a man and a machine at Hawes to load grit for routine gritting.

Geraldine Coates, the vice-chair of Grinton parish council, told Mr Marr that the road between Grinton and Redmire was, like the Buttertubs road, an important north/south link for residents but this also had Priority Two status for winter gritting. She repeated the request made by the parish council last November for a barrier to be placed along the side of the road at Grinton Bank so that cars could not topple over the edge in icy conditions.

About  repairing roads Mr Marr stated: “We are looking for ways to keep road closures as short as possible. We also have to keep in mind the health and safety of our workers. Some drivers whiz past them at 60mph. Three [workers] were hit by vehicles in the last few months, one deliberately.”

It was reported that part of the road through Swaledale which was recently resurfaced is already showing signs of wear.


*Step-up/ Step-down beds at Sycamore Hall, Bainbridge and Kirkwood Hall, Leyburn:  This would allow Wensleydale patients to have up to six weeks nursing care locally either on coming out of hospital, or to prevent them from going into hospital.  Patients will be looked after by their GP, District Nurses and others depending on their needs

Harold Brown retires from the YDNPA


Harold Brown, the longest serving parish council representative on the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA), has resigned due to ill health.

In 1996 Brown was among the first group of parish council representatives to be appointed to the Authority by the Secretary of State. By then he had been chairman of Grinton parish council for 11 years following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather not only as a parish councillor but as a respected hill farmer.

During his 20 years as a member of the YDNPA he has been the Authority’s deputy chairman and also chairman of its planning committee. Following a stroke in January 2015 he was only able to attend Authority meetings thanks to the assistance of his wife, Kathleen. He continued as deputy chairman of the planning committee until August this year.

He said: “I have represented the beating heart of this community for 20 years. It is with some regret and with some reluctance that I have had to stand down.”

North Yorkshire County Councillor John Blackie commented:  “In Harold Brown standing down from the YDNPA, and particularly from the Planning Committee we have lost, at our peril, a wonderful advocate for the deeply rural Upper Dales: unswervingly loyal to the very best interests of all of us who live and work here; to the prosperity of our local businesses, never forgetting this category includes our farming enterprises; and to the very well-being of our local communities.

“Harold was highly respected by both officers and his fellow members on the YDNPA, even those who perhaps did not share his instinctive passion for securing the very best for all the local people here in the Upper Dales, and beyond in the remainder of the National Park.  He was incredibly well-informed on farming issues, and ever ready to stand up to be counted for us all.

“Sadly ill health has prevented him carrying on his excellent work over very nearly 20 years of his membership of the YDNPA but the memories of his various contributions to debates and discussions at the Park, and the many achievements in both planning and policy-making that he, along with others who shared his view of the huge importance of vibrant local communities, helped shape will live on for a long, long time to come.

“I personally will miss him dreadfully as we worked so very well together. He was always very supportive of me, and at times he could exert a steadying influence when I was intending to move into over-drive! 0

“In our heyday James Kendall, Harold and I were nicknamed by a well-known member of the YDNPA at the time as The Swaledale Mafia (me because as a County Councillor I represented both Swaledale and Wensleydale) – mainly because we made the Planning Committee offers it could not refuse! Like the Camms Barn on High Abbotside, like the Sports Centre at Reeth, like the renewal permission for The Scott Trial, like so many more – all planning applications recommended for refusal by planning officers but overturned by the compelling arguments and the powerful advocacy that we put forward on behalf of our local communities.

“I very much hope that Harold’s health issues can be resolved so he can enjoy his retirement, resting in the knowledge he has done his very best and achieved a great deal at the YDNPA for our local communities here in the Upper Dales.”

Upper Dales Area Partnership – May 2016


An ARC News Service report on the meeting of the Upper Dales Area Partnership on May 11, 2016 at the refurbished Hawes National School building. The issues discussed included: health projects based at  Reeth GP Practice;  problems for Aysgarth Surgery; concern about the future of A&E and the maternity unit at the Darlington Memorial Hospital; travel to the James Cook University hospital, including the shuttle bus from Northallerton; bringing superfast broadband to more villages; winter gritting; local schools including Hawes Primary and the sixth form at the Wensleydale School; LEADER grants; and the Richmondshire Rover bus service.


The Upper Dales Area Partnership had the honour of being the second group to hold a meeting in the newly refurbished Hawes National School building. Two days previously Hawes and High Abbotside Parish Council met there.  Above, Cllr John Blackie preparing for the Area Partnership meeting.

North Yorkshire County Councillor John Blackie commented: “This has been lovingly refurbished, sometimes single-handedly by Andrew Fagg and Emily.” He said that the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) had ensured that the building had to be initially advertised for community use and this had saved it from becoming a five-bedroom holiday cottage.

The refurbishment was partly funded by Richmondshire District Council’s Communities Opportunity Fund and the parish council had also given £1,000.  “What we have got out of it is a wonderful meeting venue,” Cllr Blackie added.

Andrew and Emily want it to be used by the community in a variety of ways including children’s parties and Saturday matinee film shows. Below: the refurbished Hawes National School


Health projects based at Reeth – Dr Mike Brookes gave an update on the projects based at his GP practice at Reeth.

The patient transport project started six months ago and will run for two years. This is a collaboration between the Richmondshire, Hambleton and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), his GP practice and Reeth District Community Transport. It provides a door-to-door service for house-bound patients to the surgery at Reeth so that they can receive treatment without going to hospital. On the way home they can  use the transport to do such things as visiting the post office or attending luncheon club meetings.

“We’ve had really encouraging initial results,” Dr Brookes said.

He added that the service had made it possible for district nurses to take on other jobs such as providing more end-of-life care for patients who wish to remain at home. The pilot transport scheme is also being used to deliver medicines to people who would otherwise struggle to get to the surgery, he said.

Cllr Blackie described the transport scheme as a beacon project.

Dr Brookes reported that they were working on a community resilience project. “We’ve had our first joint workshop with the Red Cross for emergency care training in the community.  The practice was also working with the North Yorkshire Joint Strategic Assessment Board regarding end-of-life care. In this way it would make a contribution to the whole of the county.

Defibrillators. –  Cllr Blackie commented that almost all the villages in the Upper Dales now had defibrillators. There was concern, however, about how villagers could remain up to date with the skills required to help someone suffering from cardiac arrest.

Dr Brookes said the surgery staff were retrained each year in basic life support. He  added that Ambulance Control would tell people, step by step, how to use a defibrillator.

Jane Ritchie said that parish councils had been reminded that there was a resuscitation dummy at West Burton which could be used for re-training.  She reported that the defibrillator at Preston under Scar had been successfully used.

Central Dales Practice. – Cllr Blackie reported that it had now been confirmed in writing that patients from the Central Dales Practice would be admitted to The Friary at Richmond for after-hospital care.

But the problem of a dedicated, secure NHS broadband connection with Aysgarth Surgery had not yet been solved.  (The BT cabinet at Aysgarth was fibre enabled for superfast broadband in March.)

Dr Brookes described the situation at Reeth Practice when they lost both their main line and back up line for this service. “For about three days we were absolutely crippled because we couldn’t call up any records. All our prescribing is done through the computer reference system. We were at a stand still. It is important to have that connection.”

“So Aysgarth Surgery is operating in the dark ages then,” commented Cllr Blackie.

It was agreed that the Area Partnership should write to NHS England not only to ask for an explanation for the delay but also  for a date when this service will be available at Aysgarth Surgery.

Darlington Memorial Hospital– There was concern that the A&E and maternity services at the Darlington Memorial Hospital were being reviewed.  It was pointed out that when the 24/7 consultant-led maternity and paediatric services at the Friarage in Northallerton were downgraded Dales folk had been been told they could rely on the Darlington Memorial Hospital.

“The Friarage doesn’t have an A&E which is worthy of the name – it has an urgent care centre,” Cllr Blackie said. “There’s this awful fear that one by one these key immediate urgent health care provisions are being taken away. Ambulances don’t go to the Friarage anymore with an A&E case. If they are going to be taken away from the Darlington Memorial hospital we are being left high and dry – well and truly isolated.”

District Councillor Richard Blows emphasised that they should be feeding in comments before the consultation stage which, he had been told, should begin in November.

There was also concern about the future of the shuttle bus service from the Friarage to  the James Cook hospital.

Cllr Ritchie said that the CCG would keep its commitment to ensure that transport was provided for those needing to access the maternity and paediatric services at Middlesbrough even though further large financial cuts had to be made. She added that many others were using the shuttle service, including those going to work.

Cllr Peacock said that it was difficult both driving to and also parking at the James Cook hospital. And Cllr Blackie commented: “The James Cook is a fabulous hospital – I have nothing but praise for it, but it is a long way away.” He felt that there should be better signage to the James Cook hospital along the Middlesbrough section of the A66.

Cllr Blows suggested that more use should be made of webcams so that people did not have to go to the hospitals. Cllr Ritchie wondered if a “Friends of the Dales “ project should be started to buy up-to-date tele-medicine equipment for the surgeries.

Superfast broadband – Chloe Lewis reported that more money had been allocated to enable more villages to receive superfast broadband at different times during the next year. These include Keld, Askrigg, Low Row, Castle Bolton, Downholme, Catterick, Newton le Willows, East Witton, Spennithorne and Bellerby.  She warned that this would mean more road closures.

She also reported that the Dales area had a very high level of take-up on superfast broadband even though it didn’t have any commercial cabinets.  She said: “The Aysgarth cabinet went live in October and the take-up was fantastic straight away.”

Cllr Peacock explained that a lot of people in the Dales were running small businesses from their homes.

Cllr Blackie thanked Chloe and the others who had worked tirelessly to ensure superfast broadband was available in many dales villages. But he pointed out that nothing was being done yet to bring superfast broadband to Arkengarthdale. The Area Partnership agreed to support him in trying to achieve this.

Winter gritting. – The Area Partnership also agreed to support Muker Parish Council and Hawes and High Abbotside Parish Council in their request to have the Buttertubs recognised as a Priority One route for winter gritting. Cllr Blackie described this as a lifeline road as the ambulance drivers based at Bainbridge used it to access Swaledale.

He explained that although there was a salt pile at Hawes the drivers of the frontline gritters were not allowed to reload there by the contractors. This meant they had to return to Leyburn to reload after having gritted the main roads through Wensleydale, adding one-and-a-half hours to their schedule. If they could reload at Hawes the Buttertubs could become a Priority One route rather than a Priority Two.  The only time they can reload at Hawes is when 72 hours of continuous freezing weather was expected, Cllr Blackie said.

Local schools. – Cllr Blackie reported that he had met Don Parker, the lead  for the multi-academy trust of which Hawes primary school is now a part. The three other schools in the trust are at Harrogate, Skipton and South Craven. He was pleased that the trust was now advertising for a head teacher for Hawes even though, initially, it had stated that it wouldn’t. There was also a guarantee that there would be parent governors.

Cllr Peacock was pleased with the way the federation of Bainbridge, Askrigg and West Burton primary schools was developing. She was especially impressed by the new system for teaching Maths that had been introduced by the head teacher. She said that each school was retaining its own identity. The children begin and end each day in their own school, and are taken by bus to Askrigg for any  united classes.

There was relief that the government had decided not to go ahead with forced Academies especially as it was felt this would lead to the closure of many rural schools.

There was concern about the sixth form at the Wensleydale School. Both Cllr Blackie and Cllr Peacock pointed out that students were voting with their feet and going to the Queen Elizabeth school in Darlington. There were now only about 40 students in the sixth form at Leyburn, which was barely enough for two courses to be run each year.

Cllr Blackie felt that it was time to consider improving the transport to Darlington especially as the head teacher at the Queen Elizabeth school was willing to organise buses. Cllr Ritchie suggested that over-night accommodation in Darlington should be considered.

Grants. – Chloe reported that LEADER grants were available for tourist development, farm diversification and micro and small enterprises. She accepted that it was a complicated process and offered to help anyone with filling in the forms.

See for more details about LEADER grants.  Chloe’s email address is: She can also give advice about other grants which are available.

Richmondshire Rover. – Cllr Blackie said that a new bus service – the Richmondshire Rover – had been launched by the Little White Bus to run between  Northallerton, Catterick and Richmond four times day. This will continue if enough volunteer drivers can be found.

“Self reliance is the name of the game. It is under test,” he said.

February to December 2015

ARC News Service reports on YDNPA planning committee meetings during 2015: applications affecting Airton, Appersett, Appletreewick, Arncliffe, Aysgarth Station, Beamsley, Carperby (fishing hut), Clapham, Coverhead, Dent (Risehill Mill), Grassington, Hawes, Healaugh, Ingleton, Kettlewell, Kirkby Malham, Langcliffe, Low Row, Malham, Millthrop, Reeth, Sedbergh, Spout near Sedbergh, Stainforth, and Threshfield. See separate post concerning telecommunications masts at West Witton.

John Roberts:

John Roberts, who died on March 8 aged 70, had represented Craven District council on the Authority and so, at the meeting that month, the chair where he usually sat was empty. Referring to that the chairman of the Authority, Peter Charlesworth, stated: “As far as planning is concerned it will be a void that will be difficult to fill. It reminds us of the valuable contribution he made to our community. He showed great respect for the views of others and to all the members, and in return he received great respect from us.”Before the meeting began North Yorkshire County Councillor Shelagh Marshall told me: “He always put people first – that’s what I admired about him. He was a very active councillor in Upper Wharfedale. He will be very badly missed.” There was a minute’s silence in his memory.

Airton – May – Enforcement

The present occupant of Dykelands Farm Cottage at Airton was given three months to comply with an enforcement notice to find alternative accommodation. Planning permission was granted in 2006 for the cottage to be an agricultural worker’s dwelling to meet an identified need for a farm worker to live on site to serve the farm. But the present occupant is involved in engineering and pest control, neither of which the Authority accepted as fulfilling the definition of an agricultural worker.

Appersett – November

North Yorkshire County Councillor  Blackie asked if there could be a protective mechanism for residents when the Authority wrongly sought an enforcement action – a protective mechanism which would hold those involved to account in public.

He quoted the example of Stable Cottage at Appersett. Hawes and High Abbotside parish council had sent the following statement about this to the Authority:“It considers the YDNPA’s handling of the application of the Lawful Development Certificate … for Stable Cottage, Appersett, was unreasonable, lacked the balance of fairness due to her (the applicant) when making her application, and caused her unnecessary and avoidable stress while awaiting nearly 12 months for the appeal decision in her favour.

“It considers clear and unchallengeable evidence for granting the LDC was presented with her application, and this should have led to it being granted without the need for an Appeal. The parish council notes that once the Appeal was made, there was no challenge to this evidence by the YDNPA, and no interest shown by the YDNPA in defending its position to the Appeal Inspector.”

At the meeting Cllr Blackie stated: “My own view from the outset …was that it was very wrong to refuse this application in the first case. I was incredibly disappointed.  The Appeal Inspector says that none of the evidence that was put forward, which clearly and unequivocally described Stable Cottage as an independent dwelling, was challenged by the Authority.”

But last year an officer had, he said, painted a picture of absolute doom and gloom when advising the applicant that her application was unlikely to succeed. “An applicant can end up simply complying with all that the enforcement officer is saying because they don’t know where to turn,” he added.

Cllr Blackie also questioned how the Appeal Inspector had travelled so far only to find that no arrangements had been made for her to view Stable Cottage and no-one was there from the Authority.

He had been told by the Authority that the Appeal Inspector’s email had gone into the spam filter. He observed: “This particular inspector would hardly set off from Bristol without knowing that the arrangements had been made.”

Appletreewick – December

It was agreed that three shepherd huts can be sited on the embankment at the rear of The Craven Arms at Appletreewick.

Peter Charlesworth, who is the chairman of the Authority, said that this was an unobtrusive site and added:“This will provide guest accommodation at the pub in a sustainable, suitable and sensitive way.”

The planning office told the committee that the huts will provide open plan living, with a sleeping area, a wood burning stove and an enclosed toilet cum shower sufficient for a small family.She explained that there was no provision in the present Local Plan for such new types of visitor accommodation but there will be under the new Local Plan, and has already been included in the National Planning Policy Framework.

Arncliffe –  April

The fate of the conservatory at Prospect House in Arncliffe still hangs in the balance after a close vote. There were seven votes to five to allow it to remain as built but as that was against the planning officer’s recommendation that will need to be confirmed at the meeting in May.

The planning officer told the committee that an old conservatory, for which planning permission had been granted, had been replaced with a new one. In his opinion the height of the roof especially with so much glazing made it much more visible and so it had a harmful impact upon the Arncliffe conservation area and the surrounding countryside.

He also stated that the roof of the new conservatory detracted from the architectural style and appearance of Prospect House which is a mid-19th century Grade II listed building.

The owner, artist Kitty North, told the committee that the conservatory did not affect the fabric of Prospect House and it’s ridge was 70cm higher than the old one. She explained:“The need for the steeper pitch (was) to ensure that any snow would not cause damage to the structure. The new conservatory follows the pitch of the house roof.”

She said that her new studio and the conservatory worked very well together which was a reflection on the standard of work involved. She added: “One of the jobs of an artist is to create beauty for others to enjoy. The conservatory succeeds in this and hopefully for future generations to enjoy.”

North Yorkshire County Councillor Richard Welch commented that as the difference in roof height was marginal he felt the committee should have a chance to discuss the retrospective application.Several members agreed with North Yorkshire County Councillor Robert Heseltine that the new conservatory was acceptable and did not “offend the eye”. It was pointed out that no residents or the parish council had objected to it.

But Mr Charlesworth stated that the application should be refused. “This is a conspicuous addition (to) a key building in the Arncliffe conservation area. It is too high. The planning officer is saying that something with less visual impact would be acceptable. It’s for the applicant to produce a design which is thought to be acceptable.”

May –  Mr Charlesworth repeated his objection at the meeting in May.

The alternative argument was made by North Yorkshire County Councillor Roger Harrison-Topham who pointed out that the conservatory was barely visible and would soon be hidden by bushes.

When it came to the vote there was deadlock and Chris Armitage’s casting vote as chairman went in favour of the planning officer’s recommendation to refuse permission.

December – The promise of a yew tree helped to save the conservatory from being significantly altered or removed.

The committee agreed by a slim majority that the mitigating measures proposed by artist, Kitty North, were acceptable. These included planting a semi-mature yew tree so as to screen views of the conservatory from the village green.

Neither Arncliffe parish meeting nor any of the residents had objected when Ms North replaced an old lean-to conservatory with the present one.

After the vote  the head of development management, Richard Graham, said that it would not be necessary to refer the decision back to the committee again even though the officer’s recommendation had not been accepted.

Aysgarth – March

Permission was granted for a shop in the centre of Aysgarth to become a residential property even though the parish council had objected.

The planning officer explained that the owners of the clothes shop had more than fulfilled the advertising procedure required by the Authority to prove that it could not be sold as a commercial business, as it had been on the market at a reasonable price for two and a half years rather than the required six months. The Authority’s Local Plan does allow for the loss of a village shop only if there are exceptional circumstances.

The officer reported:  “The policy allows consideration to be given to the importance of the shop to the community; the financial viability of the business; the demand for the premises (established by the advertising procedure); the length of time that it has been advertised; and the length of time it has been in operation.”

He added that the business in Aysgarth had not been operated as a village shop and post office for more than 10 years and as a clothes shop it had not had sufficient customers to be commercially viable.

Cllr Harrison-Topham remarked that insufficient information had been provided to substantiate the claim that the business was unviable. “I am totally baffled as to why, given the long discussion we had about hotels which were in my mind far more clearly way below the line, we should so rapidly come to a conclusion that this application should be granted. To my mind this sort of marketing business (the advertising procedure) is a cock handed way of going about it.”

Speaking In support of the parish council’s objection, Cllr Blackie commented that it was a shame to lose a village shop. He said that when he first became a county councillor it had been a thriving little village shop with a post office.

The parish council had argued that there had been no attempt to make a successful business that would be attractive to a would-be buyer. It did report that there was now a very good village store at Aysgarth garage.

It asked that if permission was granted for the change of use that the property should be subject to a section 106 local occupancy agreement. The planning officer, however, stated that as there was already living accommodation at the premises and that a separate dwelling would not be created a section 106 agreement could not be imposed.

Aysgarth Station – April

Permission was granted for Wensleydale Railways Plc to develop its visitor attraction and car park at the former Aysgarth Station.

Nigel Park, the company’s general director, told the committee that the development would be carried out in phases. This year a railway carriage will be installed to be used as a café and a meeting place, and the the car parking will be extended to provide for 49 cars and two small buses.

By 2017 a short stretch of railway track will have been laid so that visitors can enjoy five-minute train rides for a maximum of 24 times a day. A small diesel engine will be used and this must be switched off between rides so as to limit the amount of pollution.

Originally the company had applied to have the visitor centre open 200 days a year and with spaces for 90 cars. But the Environment Agency objected to this as it did not feel the existing facilities for drainage were sufficient and that pollutants could affect the surrounding Freeholders Wood which is a site of special scientific interest.

To overcome such problems the company will install portable toilets and the diesel engine will be fuelled by a road tanker rather than through the storage of fuel on the site. One of the conditions is that the engine will be stabled over a drip-tray fitted with absorbent sheets.

The centre can be open for 100 days each year with a legal agreement to ensure that the visitor attractions are available after the provision of the additional car parking.

Carperby cum Thoresby parish council was concerned that some of the proposed car parking spaces would be too visible. The company has, therefore, agreed to organise the car parking so that the least visible areas are used first.

Mr Park commented: “We want to be a part of the local community hence our willingness to alter the objectives.”

This, he said, also applied to the buses that would provide a pick up and drop off service from Redmire Station to Aysgarth Station. The parish council had pointed out that the road from Carperby to the station was unsuitable for large coaches.

Mr Park assured the committee that only 30-seater buses would be used and that the company hoped to work closely with the Little White Bus service. “We have no intention of bringing large coaches down Church Bank,” he said.

In response to questions about the impact on the tranquillity of Freeholders Wood, the head of development management said that it was felt that an acceptable balance had been found.

In her report the planning officer noted that the Authority does support the reinstatement of the Wensleydale Railway from Redmire to Aysgarth Station by 2020.

Of the development at Aysgarth Station Mr Park said: “It is a precursor to the return of the railway and that represents an element of our strategy which is to produce some islands along the route.” The objective of the islands is to generate income and interest in the railway and so support the restoration of the rail service.

Mr Park added: “The economics of the site at Aysgarth are such that they are a drain on the resources of the company. That is a serious issue for an organisation that is supported by volunteers and subscriptions so we have to manage the operation carefully. We are looking at ways in which the economics of the site can be improved.”

Beamsley – February

Permission was not granted for a building to be constructed which would be used to restore and maintain nine historic cars.

Cllr Heseltine said the parish meeting supported the application for such a functional, domestic building which would include log and garden machinery stores. He argued that it was a reasonable application as the garden was secluded and screened by trees. The owner had offered to plant additional native shrubs and raise the height of a boundary wall.

The majority of the members, however, agreed with the planning officer that the timber clad building, and especially the two aluminium roller shutter doors, would have a detrimental impact upon the character and appearance of the area.

Mr Charlesworth commented: “I do have concerns about the size of this building. Its use of materials doesn’t seem to me as anything like appropriate, especially those large doors. I don’t think this would be anything other than an incongruous building in a lovely landscape.”

August –  This time the planning officer did recommend approval as the owner had agreed to amend the plans. These included moving the building two metres further into the garden and reducing its frontage by a metre. There will be vertically boarded doors instead of roller doors. The majority accepted the officer’s recommendation.

Cllr Blackie disagreed as the dual pitched double gabled building would have a larger footprint that The Cottage. “This is not a domestic application,” he said.

“I had to fight long and hard to get a simple garage in Gayle rebuilt,” and he asked the committee to consider the troubles that normal people living in normal houses went through to get applications approved.

He said that by describing the building as domestic rather than commercial there would be no restriction on the hours that anyone could be working there. He was concerned that there could be “planning creep” especially if the use of the building changed sometime in the future. “It will be a Trojan horse,” he added.

The planning officer said that the owner would have to apply for planning permission for any change of use.

Mr Charlesworth told the committee: “I voted against the application earlier this year because I thought it was out of scale and inappropriate.“In a sense I think we can congratulate ourselves because we did oppose (that application) and that has led to co-operation and a much, much improved result with this building not being as incongruous or as prominent.”

He added: “There are no objections from local people and it’s not going to harm the landscape.”

Carperby – June

It was agreed that an enforcement notice should be served on the Bolton Estate to have a fishing hut removed from a field to the west of Carperby  close to the stepping stones over the River Ure.

In a late submission to the Authority the Hon Tom Orde-Powlett of Bolton Estate stated that a stone flag base had now been removed. He asserted that the fishing hut did not amount to a change of use of the land.

The committee, however, accepted the enforcement officer’s advice that the siting of the hut in the field, even if it was mobile, constituted a change of use from agriculture to fishing.The officer explained that the Authority had become aware of the hut on the stone flag base in June 2014. By January 2015 the hut had been fitted with wheels and had been moved a short distance from the base.

Cllr Harrison-Topham asked if there was a gap in policy concerning fishing huts. He pointed out that salmon were once again coming up the River Ure as far as Aysgarth Falls.He said that in Scotland some were paying £500 a day to fish for salmon and for that they expected decent facilities. A fishing hut provided them with somewhere to have lunch, to change into waders, or to take shelter from bad weather.

When the Ure became a proper salmon river that would be the main economic factor of the land alongside it and would be of far greater value than the grazing, he stated. “We need to put our minds to developing a policy which enables people to have fishing huts and enables us to control the way they look,” he added.

Mr Graham explained: “We are quite happy to talk to landowners about proposals for fishing huts and any development which might encourage visitors to the National Park. The process is – talk to us first, to discuss the right design and (to ensure) that it doesn’t harm the landscape.”

The officers and most of the committee felt that this particular fishing hut did harm the landscape.

The appeal against this decision was withdrawn.

Clapham – August

Parish councils must give planning reasons when they either object or support any planning application.

At the planning committee meeting Craven District councillor Carl Lis reported that Clapham cum Newby parish council did support the proposed alterations to Deighton House at Clapham but hadn’t explained why.

The application to replace an uPVC glass conservatory with a stone built and natural slate roofed lean-to garden room was refused because the committee agreed with the planning officer.She had stated that the extension would significantly increase the mass of the dwelling and alter its form considerably, unbalancing the well-proportioned square building form that defined the character of the property.

Garth Jones told the committee that when he and his wife bought the house in 2008 it was covered in pebble-dash and quite ugly.

He said: “We have been very sympathetic to the development of the property and restoring it in such a fashion to bring out the highlights of it.

“We care very deeply about the appearance of the property and commissioned our architect carefully to ensure that we protected the important contribution that this property makes to Riverside and to Clapham as a whole.”

The committee accepted that there would be a planning gain if the conservatory was replaced but felt that Mr and Mrs Jones needed to work with the planning officer to find a better solution.

Coverhead – February

The water supply to those living at Woodale, Coverhead,  at the south-western end of Coverdale was a key issue when deciding whether to approve a large development at a farm there.

When proposing that the application for a 36.5m by 28.7m building for a suckler beef herd at Wooddale Farm should be approved Cllr Harrison-Topham said that the animals would use an enormous amount of water. “The existing water supply (at Woodale) is apparently barely satisfactory and I think somehow we need to protect it. The residents should have continuing exclusive use of the existing water supply,” he said.

He was told that the applicant, Mrs Eileen Mawle, had confirmed that the water to the new building would be harvested from roofs and brought from springs not used to supply Woodale, and was assured that the river would be protected from pollution.The cattle building will have under floor slurry tanks so that there should be no uncontrolled run-off to pollute water courses or springs and to reduce the likelihood of smells and flies.

One of the conditions is that internal lighting should be switched off between 7pm and 5am except when a cow is calving. Cllr Harrison-Topham asked that the orange safety lights could be movement triggered rather than being on all night. “Even one of those is pretty unpleasant,” he said as he does live in Coverdale.

He congratulated the officers on bringing a major agricultural application to the committee and hoped they would continue to do so.

Permission was granted for the cattle building, formation of yard areas and a new site access, and for the erection of a general storage agricultural building.

Dent – December

There has been great relief in Dent that someone has come forward to re-develop Risehill Mill and so provide more jobs, Ian McPherson told the committee.

Jocelyn Manners-Armstrong also fully supported the application by Chris O’Connor and Associates to create a microbrewery at the mill with office accommodation, a visitor centre with a café, and a workshop and warehouse unit.

The committee unanimously agreed with them and delegated responsibility for defining the conditions to the head of development management.These will include the times when construction can be carried out and also the hours of working so that there would not be any harmful impact upon residents. It is expected that the microbrewery will be in operation from 8am to 6pm Mondays to Fridays, and that the visitor centre would be open from 11am to 8pm Thursdays to Sundays.

Grassington – February

Springroyd House in Station Road, Grassington can be converted into a dental surgery even though the parish council is unanimously opposed to this change of use due to the lack of space for parking cars.

Grassington parish councillor, Andrew Colley, told the planning committee: “Grassington parish council wants to make available to all residents in the locality the services that they need and amongst the obvious ones is the dental practice. It is very, very important to us. It is however in the opinion of Grassington parish council that parking in the village is extremely limited.”

He added that Grassington Dental Care surgery had over 7,000 clients and he calculated that there could be 20 or more visiting it every hour. The surgery will be just 20 metres from a very busy junction.

Other members of the planning committee, however, said that many dental surgeries provided no spaces for car parking. There will be space for parking three cars and a turning area at the rear of Springroyd House.

Dr Thomas Songhurst assured the committee that annual passes would be bought for the staff so that they could park in the YDNPA car park.

He said that the number of services available at Grassington Medical Centre had grown considerably and more space was required. At Springroyd House there will be rooms for four dentists, a waiting room, staff toilet and changing room, an office, reception and a toilet suitable for those who are disabled.

Grassington – August

The committee agreed that an empty ground floor premises in The Square at Grassington can be used for both retail and as a café.

The majority of councillors at Grassington parish council had objected to the application as they felt the addition of a café would be inconsistent with the nature of other businesses in The Square.

Some business owners believed there were sufficient eating establishments in Grassington already and that another café would saturate the market.

The planning officer noted that there will be no alterations to the external appearance of the Grade II listed building and that the ground floor premises had been vacant for eight months. The objective, he said, was to create a “vintage” tearoom serving afternoon teas, cakes and sandwiches in 40 per cent of the floor space.

The new owners, who intend to have a “baking theme” throughout the premises, had confirmed that no additional waste bins would be required.

Mr Colley asked what would happen if there was a problem with waste bins. The planning officer replied that would be an issue for environmental health.

Grassington – September

A housing association which was due to take the 20 per cent share in a recently built affordable house at Grassington has withdrawn due to the uncertainty surrounding Government policy a planning officer told the committee.

Cynthia Colley, who owns the house with her husband, Andrew, stated: “Following our experience it’s doubtful if any of the other small two unit size (developments) – including those in the National Park’s housing development plan – will be developed. It is just not financially viable.”

Mr Colley, who is a Grassington parish councillor and a member of the planning committee, left the room during the debate.

After he and his wife had offered a site next door to their home in Grasswood Lane, Grassington, the two houses built there were among the first to be completed under the YDNPA’s 2012 housing development plan. There are Section 106 legal agreements on both houses to ensure that they remain available to local people. But on one there is an additional S106  agreement requiring that the sale price does not exceed 80 per cent of the market value of the property, with the remaining share being transferred to a housing association.

The Colleys had taken the unusual step of making an informal request to modify this additional legal agreement in order to get advice because they had not been able to sell the house since it was completed in October 2014 and no longer had the support of a housing association.

Several committee members pointed out that they had not been given sufficient information to make a decision and this led to the application being refused.

One of the questions they had concerned the legal agreement. Jocelyn Manners-Armstrong, who is a board member of a housing association, stated: “If the 20 per cent property holder has withdrawn then the Section 106 agreement cannot be fulfilled. I think it has to go back to the drawing board.”

Senior legal officer, Clare Bevan, explained that the Authority would need to explore other ways to secure it as an affordable home.

Cllr Marshall warned that there were others who wanted such legal agreements to be lifted. “We need to be exceptionally careful. I think far more time should be given before an application like this comes before us. If we were to give way on this… it would set such a dangerous precedent for us and for our local development plan.”

Cllr Roger Harrison-Topham, commented: “I find this an almost incomprehensible mess. There isn’t sufficient information. I don’t feel the planning committee is a good place to sort out a very difficult situation.

“We as an Authority have been trying to persuade people to make land available for affordable housing and when someone does I think we have a responsibility towards them. And the responsibility is particularly acute when the provider is an individual.”

He was supported by Cllr  Blackie who said: “People who invested in the ideals we put forward in our local plans in 2005 and 2012 are trying to deliver local occupancy. They played along with our rules and it is not their fault that the Government’s position now has left them completely in the middle of nowhere.

“I think the circumstances are unique. The uniqueness is in the absolute dog’s breakfast that current housing policy is as promoted by the Conservatives.”

He reported that, if the Government went ahead with new Right to Buy legislation without providing any exemptions for small rural communities, over 60 houses for rent in perpetuity in Askrigg, Bainbridge and Hawes could be sold. As it would not be possible to replace them such communities would never again see houses available at affordable rents for local people he added.

In December the Colleys made an informal request to the  Authority to modify the S106 agreement on one of the two houses next to their home in Grasswood Lane. Mr Colley again left the room while this was discussed.

The agreement required that the house, West Ings, would have been either let or sold at an affordable price to someone who fulfilled the local connection requirement. This was to be organised by a Registered Provider.

Mrs Colley told the committee: “We are legally unable to sell West Ings because the Registered Provider dropped out.”

One of the problems was the Government’s intention to extend the Right to Buy scheme to housing association tenants. Craven District Councillor Carl Lis commented that the government’s housing policy was a complete mess at the moment and this had led to other developers being unable to find housing associations (Registered Providers) to take responsibility for affordable houses.

Cllr Blackie agreed and said:  “I think Mr and Mrs Colley …are victims of adverse circumstances in many ways not of their own making.”  Like others he pointed out that, with S106 agreements, there would still be two local occupancy houses for perpetuity.

Cllr Harrison-Topham felt that the Authority should take some moral responsibility for the way such development schemes were run. “We are in effect sponsoring these schemes and we are not accepting any responsibility. As a result I think we have to take a more pragmatic view.”

Even though Councillors Marshall and Welch warned about how the decision would be perceived the majority agreed to the request to modify the original agreement.This was against the recommendation of the officer but the decision was not referred back as it was an informal request and not a planning application.

Grassington – September – Enforcement

The committee agree that enforcement action should be taken against the owner of a caravan at Fletchers Brow near Grassington.

“This is an absolute flagrant breach of development control,” commented Mr McPherson after hearing how a caravan which was capable of residential use had been sited on a newly created raised surface and a fence had been erected so that there would be a private area around it.

The enforcement officer reported that a substantial amount of earth had been excavated from the hill to create a level surface. A stone retaining wall had then been erected to retain the earth embankment and an area covered by aggregate.The access from Mill Lane had been covered with aggregate along with the formation of a new track 22.5 metres in length and 3.5 metres in width leading part way to the caravan.

As all this had been done without planning permission the enforcement notice will be for the removal of the caravan, a container, and the fence within one month and the removal of the track and embankment and the infilling and reseeding of the excavated area within six months.

(An appeal has been made.)

Grassington – November

Planning permission has been granted for a car parking area within the garden of Ellesmere in Garrs End Lane, Grassington, even though the parish council believed that the new entrance would not be wide enough.

Mr Colley asked if the planning committee could hold a site meeting to get a better understanding of the narrow lane in relation to the proposed entrance.“There is not room to manoeuvre on that road – it is only wide enough for one car,” he said and added that the parish council believed that the entrance should be made wider by removing more of the stone wall.

But the committee decided it did have sufficient information to make a decision without holding a site meeting – and decided in favour of the applicants.

Grassington  – December – Enforcement

An extraction flue at Grassington House Hotel in Grassington was described as an abomination by Cllr  Heseltine.

The committee unanimously agreed that a listed building enforcement notice should be served on the owner for the removal of the extraction and air intake units and repair the stone masonry within three months.

The YDNPA enforcement officer reported that the owner was aware that planning consent was required for the installation of a new extraction system because negotiations concerning another flue had been on-going since November 2008. That flue was replaced with the present unit in January 2015.

“It is apparent following discussions with the owner and the engineers responsible for fitting the flue that there are much more sensitive solutions available,” she said.

Gunnerside – December

A garage can be built to replace a tin sheeted lean-to building attached to Stotter Gill Cottage adjacent to Oxnop Gill.

The committee heard that the owner of Stotter Gill Cottage no longer objected as the applicants who live at Oxnop Gill had agreed to reduce the size of the garage. They had given assurances that although the building would also be used to store tack no horses would be stabled in it.

Hawes – June

After a lengthy discussion about the design of the proposed new signage at the Dales Countryside Museum the majority of the committee approved the application for eight fascia signs and two free standing signs.

Hawes and High Abbotside parish council had objected to the application and especially to the proposed large white lettering across the long wall of the museum.

Hawes – October

The parish council and several businesses also objected strongly to there being a café at the Dales Countryside Museum. But approval was given and it is likely that there will be one there by the spring of 2016.

This will be a franchise arrangement with the YDNPA and the café will be large enough to cater for a coach party. There will be free access to the café via the museum’s main entrance and the shop.

Richmondshire District Councillor Carolyn Thornton-Berry commented that although she approved of the idea she felt that the Authority had to be careful as it was so close to the issue. A YDNPA staff member had made the application and the argument for having the café was put forward by Kathryn Beardmore, the Authority’s director of park services.

Local businessman, Bob Belton, was not convinced that the Authority had been transparent in its handling of the application. He told the committee that when he asked for a copy of a survey of visitors at the museum in September he was told it was not in the public domain. Richard Graham, head of development management, agreed with Cllr Blackie that Mr Belton should have been allowed to see the survey.

Mr Belton said he was speaking on behalf of four businesses, three young people who thought their jobs were at risk, and six residents who felt the café would be detrimental to Hawes. Like Hawes and High Abbotside parish council they feared that it would become a town of two ends with both the Wensleydale Creamery and the Museum offering sufficient visitor attractions and hospitality at its extremities to make it unnecessary to visit the centre.

Mr Belton explained that in the half mile from the Museum to the Creamery there were 22 places selling hot and cold drinks of which seven were cafés and tea rooms. Although he was critical of the figures provided by the planning officer he did agree that there had been a considerable drop in the number of people visiting Hawes and the Museum since 2009. He argued that a café at the museum building would lead to even fewer people walking into the town centre.

He pointed out that neither the James Herriot Museum at Thirsk nor the Green Howards Museum at Richmond had cafés and added: “The Green Howards said that a tea room would be detrimental to their town.” He also cited the example of Aysgarth where he had witnessed that most visitors used the cafés at the car parks on the north and south side of the river, but very few went to the tea room at the bridge.“

I strongly believe that opening a café at the museum will be detrimental to the businesses in town and some may end up ceasing to trade,” he said.

Cllr Lis, however, stated: “In my experience the majority of reasonable size museums do have a café.”

He agreed with Ms Beardmore that the café would increase the financial viability of the National Park Authority. She described it as a new business opportunity and said that there had been local interest in the franchise.

Both Mrs Beardmore and Ruth Annison told the committee that some of the elderly visitors who came with coach parties were not able to walk into town from the Station Yard.

Mrs Annison asked the Authority to ensure that nothing was done to hinder the railway business as it was hoped to re-open the railway line sometime in the future. There will be some seating for the café on the platform.

She added that many of the comments at the parish council concerned how the café would compete with businesses in the town. Mr Graham agreed with her that competition between businesses was not a planning consideration.

He explained: “The issue is about whether (the café) will have a significant impact upon the vitality and the viability of Hawes as a service and retail centre.” He added that the café could be open from 8am to 6pm each day, or even until 9pm if there was an evening function, because it was sufficiently distant from residential properties.

Other businesses could apply to extend their hours and each application would be considered on a case by case basis to assess the impact upon the amenity of neighbours, he said.

Cllr Blackie told the committee he would abstain from voting as he owned a café in Hawes. He went on to present the arguments made by the parish council of which he is the chairman. In addition to the points made by Mr Belton the parish council was concerned that the new café would have an unfair advantage due to elements of subsidy.

These included being next to the YDNPA’s large car park and not having to provide toilets. Its customers could either use the public ones at Station Yard or have access to those in the building if they had paid for access to the Museum. The parish council had also pointed out that many years ago the Authority had promised that there would be no catering facility at the Museum.

Several committee members said that if the application had been made by anyone not connected with the Authority there would not have been any problem with approving it. The majority agreed with Mrs Beardmore that the café would not only increase the viability of the YDNPA and visitor satisfaction at the Museum, but also lead to an increase in the number of people visiting Hawes as a whole.

At the November meeting Hawes and High Abbotside parish council presented this statement to the Authority:

“It was very disappointed to note the unanimous decision (other than Cllr John Blackie) to approve the application for a café at the Dales Countryside Museum, contrary to the response of the parish council, and to hear that results of a rushed survey purporting to be of visitors to the DCM were only available the day before the planning committee meeting, were not circulated to members of the planning committee, or copies made available to members of the public attending the meeting itself, and to hear that an objector (Mr R Belton) who took up the opportunity to speak at the planning committee was denied access by the YDNPA to these results ahead of the meeting. It understands Mr Belton has complained to the Chief Executive, David Butterworth, and supports wholeheartedly his complaint.”

Hawes – October

An application for an extra care housing scheme at Turfy Top near the Wensleydale Creamary was unanimously refused by the committee.

One of the reasons Cllr Blackie gave for turning down the application was that a new site for an extra care home, close to the Medical Centre, had become available.

“We want an extra care housing scheme but we want it in the right location, and the right location is not Turfy Top. It is a huge hill for elderly people or even sprightly middle aged people to ascend from the town centre,” he said.

He added that there was a gap in the footpath along that route, and that the site at Turfy Top was only large enough for single bedroom apartments. “All new extra care housing schemes need two bedroom facilities – that is the latest standard,” he explained.

He told the committee that Hawes and High Abbotside parish council was unanimously opposed to the Turfy Hill site. Its reasons included that Turfy Hill was too far from the Medical Centre, the flood risk at the site, the possibility of further overloading the sewage system, and the detrimental impact upon the landscape and neighbouring properties.

Cllr Blackie also argued that the county council’s health and adult services division would not support an extra care home at Turfy Top.

In his statement to the committee 92-year-old Graham Watts said that he and his wife Mary, as the applicants, had had an on-site consultation with the county council’s head of extra care and its project coordinator. Both had confirmed that the county council would be happy to undertake an elderly person development at Turfy Top.

The Watts’s plan for a 40-unit extra care home with all necessary ancillaries was supported by the predominant neighbour – the Youth Hostel Association. The home would have had its own medical consulting room.

Mr Watts  said that residents of Lancaster Terrace would have been offered sufficient land, free of any land cost, to provide off-road car parking and enough space to enlarge their back yards to make gardens. The former would have contributed to road safety by reducing the number of vehicles parked along the road.

He argued that there was adequate space for tree-planting on both the north side and the entrance area, and that the building would be on a similar scale and alignment as the Youth Hostel.

Mr Watts added: “The site is readily accessible to the town – the excellent Little White Bus service would get even partially disabled people to the town centre in three to four minutes. There is no flood-risk. All storm water can be absorbed into the site by adequate design.

“This is a major opportunity to provide the town with a facility already urgently required by many elderly folk and their families and would release many homes to the market.

“The site is secluded but a natural part of the urban area. It is capable of offering residents quiet enjoyment of a location they can be proud of. I submit that a better site than Turfy Top does not exist. The need is urgent and, as we are all living longer, becomes more urgent than ever.”

Healaugh – July

Harold Brown, who had just returned as a member of the Authority after suffering a stroke in January, supported Cllr Blackie in an attempt to life the S106 local occupancy agreement on the one-bedroom Martin’s Cottage at Healaugh.

The committee saw a photograph which showed that the bedroom was  hardly big enough for a double bed plus the small bed for the two-years-old son of Ian and Charlotte Pybus. Cllr Blackie argued that policy of one size fits all should be put to aside when there were such  exceptional personal circumstances.

The couple had told the committee that there had been no viewings since the converted barn had been put on the market one and a half years ago as the S106 local occupancy condition had put people off. If they reduced the price further they would be in negative equity and would not be able to continue living in Swaledale and supporting the local school.

“They are prisoners in that cottage. We must have compassion and understanding,” Cllr Blackie said. He added: “This isn’t a money making exercise – this is a life changing opportunity for the Pybuses.”

Some of the committee questioned whether such a one-bedroom cottage was suitable for a local occupancy condition. But Mr Graham stated that in 2007 when permission was granted for the barn conversion a survey had shown that 12 people in Swaledale were interested in one-bedroom accommodation. To that Cllr Blackie asked where was the precedent if there were very, very few one-bedroom properties with S106 agreements.

The majority of the committee, however, believed that they should adhere to policy, especially as the legal officer had advised that no legal weight could be given as yet to the emerging Local Plan. That plan will allow people to choose to have a S106 local occupancy agreement on a new barn conversion, or pay a commuted sum so that it could be sold later on the open market.

Mr Charlesworth said that the present policy of having all new conversions restricted to local occupancy was because they were desperate to keep young people and families in the Dales. Cllr Robert Heseltine argued that they had to be consistent and that if they lifted the S106 on Martin’s Cottage it would deny another young family an opportunity of having affordable accommodation.

Neil Heseltine, a Malham parish councillor, agreed. He stated: “I have every sympathy with the Pybuses. But I think what is very important is that generation after generation of local families also get the opportunity and I think if we remove the S106 then it reduces the likelihood of any subsequent occupants whose children will attend the local primary school.”

Mr Brown, like Cllr Blackie, felt that the S106 agreement on Martin’s Cottage had served its purpose and was likely to lead to a young family leaving Swaledale. Cllr Blackie pointed out that Gunnerside School now had only seven pupils, and Reeth had 37 – a drop of over 50 per cent in 15 years.

Charlotte Pybus was as tears as she, her husband and son left the meeting following the committee’s refusal to lift the S106.

Discussion of the application was deferred at the June  meeting because there were no representatives of Richmondshire District Council at the meeting following the recent elections. This meant that appointments to the YDNPA committees would not take place until the end of June.

For that reason, in line with what had happened in previous years Cllr Blackie asked that any decision about Martin’s Cottage should be deferred.

But Secretary of State appointee Jocelyn Manners-Armstrong stated: “We are all here in our capacity to act in the best interests of the nation for the Park and it is not a representative role as such.”

Cllr Heseltine agreed with her and added: “We do not represent – we are appointed.”

He said that if that decision was deferred then all the others would have to be as well. “In my opinion the proper procedure is to proceed,” he stated.

It was pointed out by Cllr Richard Welch that members would not be able to get legal advice on the issue as no legal officer was present.

Mr Graham advised: “It’s up to members to decide whether you feel you’ve got sufficient information in front of you to allow you to make a decision – or whether you take the view that you should include the representations from members who have greater knowledge of the local area and issues.”

Both Cllr Blackie and Cllr Harrison-Topham argued that it was important that the applicants, Ian and Charlotte Pybus, felt that they had been given a fair hearing.“We need to have a fair balance of representation given the importance of the decision to their future,” Cllr Blackie said.

When it came to the vote three voted for deferral and three were against, with three abstentions. The chairman, Chris Armitage, then voted for deferral stating that he felt it was an unusual case and that he accepted what Cllr Blackie had said about lack of representation.

Mr Colley told the committee that he had to declare an interest because he had applied for a variation of the S106 agreement on a recently built property that he owned.

Ingleton – September  – Enforcement

Enforcement action must be taken swiftly to stop an unauthorised “settlement” at Storrs Common, Ingleton, becoming even larger, Cllr Lis warned the committee.

The enforcement officer had asked for approval of an enforcement notice with a compliance period of two months for the removal of a caravan cum cabin in the disused quarry adjacent to the B6255. The quarry is in a very visible location and is used as a car park by walkers as it is close to a route to the summit of Ingleborough.

Both Cllr Lis and Craven District Councillor David Ireton questioned giving the owner two months to move the cabin which he is using as his permanent home.

Cllr Lis said: “We need to stop it as soon as we possibly can. The ‘settlement’ – if you may call it that – it is getting bigger and bigger. There is evidence of further buildings going up. There’s no sign of him doing anything other than staying there.”

In support of reducing the compliance period to one month Mr Charlesworth pointed out that on June 4 the occupant had been given 28 days to remove the caravan. At that time he was advised that Craven District Council’s housing services could assist with finding him somewhere to live.

On July 2 a 21-day deadline had been agreed with the occupant for the removal of the cabin which had, by then, been separated from the truck. And in August a letter was delivered in person to the occupant offering seven days for the removal of the cabin and associated equipment.

The committee unanimously agreed that the enforcement notice should be complied with within one month.

Ingleton Quarry – November

The committee agreed that extraction work at Ingleton Quarry can continue until May 2020. But no-one knew whether or not Hanson Quarry Products Europe Ltd might later apply for another extension.

When asked if the gritstone being extracted from Ingleton Quarry was of such national importance that the Authority should grant an extension until 2020 David Parrish, the Authority’s minerals officer, said:“I would argue that it isn’t a national need but the company would disagree and that would have to be tested at a public inquiry with both sides expressing their views.”

He explained that due to technical problems on the south west side of the quarry extraction of gritstone would cease in 2016, two years earlier than planned. By moving waste from a tip and placing it in the base of the quarry the south west side could be re-aligned allowing for extraction to continue until 2020.

Planning permission was required to allow that and also the re-alignment of the quarry boundary wall as the existing permitted extraction area would be exceeded. All the work would, however, remain inside the quarry footprint.

Ben Ayres, representing Hanson, told the committee that 17 jobs would be secured by allowing work to continue at the quarry until 2020. He said the gritstone was used principally by Lancashire and North Yorkshire county councils for surface dressing of roads.The company would discuss with Ingleton parish council the development of a sleep zone to ensure that heavy goods vehicles (HGV) didn’t pass through the village before 6.00 and that it would contribute towards highways improvements such as a new footway and repairing manhole covers.

It would also set up formal quarry liaison meetings to improve communications with residents. Those living nearby have raised concerns about the impact of blasting upon their homes.The company agreed with the parish council that starting vehicle movements later each morning will have a detrimental impact upon the community at the beginning of the school day.

As there will now be no HGV traffic on Saturdays the planning committee agreed that the parish council should be re-consulted about the starting times for transport movements on weekdays. “The key issue here is to minimise the disturbance to Ingleton village,” said Mr Parrish.

There will be no change to the working hours at the quarry as the company had argued that any reduction would have a disproportionately harmful impact upon the business. The recommended working hours are between 6.30 and 17.30 on weekdays and from 6.30 to 12.00 on Saturdays.

When asked about the amount of gritstone that would be transported by rail Mr Parrish said this would remain the same, and explained that the problem was not loading it at Ribblehead but distributing it from the depot at Leeds.

He added that the company did want to discuss with the National Park the possibility of moving from the Ingleton quarry to that at Horton. There were considerable reserves of the gritstone at Horton quarry and rail haulage could be increased. The level of employment would also be retained, he said.

Mr Colley commented that the efforts of Threshfield Quarry Trust to attract other businesses had shown that the closure of a quarry did not always mean a loss of employment.“It is a change of employment – and when quarries finish they can be regenerated and can be wonderful for wildlife and can have an awful lot of benefits,” he added.

When extraction at Ingleton Quarry does finish it is intended that a deep lake will be created with the remainder of the site being restored to grassland and woodland. The site is already screened by trees and a bund.

Kettlewell – April

Ponies can be kept on an iconic field in Kettlewell and a field shelter can be erected there even though many residents and the parish council appealed to the planning committee not to give permission.

The chairman of Kettlewell with Starbotton parish council, David Belk, told the committee: “There has been such an overwhelming response from parishioners in the last week – they do not want anything built in this field.”

He added that until such time as the field – Maypole Croft – was designated as an important open space the application for the change of use of the land should be denied. Another resident, Jack Heseltine, said that the field could be destroyed by over grazing.

He pointed out that the owners had stated at a parish council meeting that the field was not big enough for their two ponies. According to the Equine Trust these will need 2.5 acres whereas there is just 0.825 of an acre at Maypole Croft.

There was concern that the field was next to the village playground used by both local children and visiting school parties. He asked:“What will happen when children kick the ball over and go to retrieve it and they are confronted by unknown ponies which are unsupervised by the owners? Will the next move be that a dwelling will be needed on the site so they can supervise the ponies?”

Cllr Harrison-Topham also wondered if there was a “Trojan Horse” element to the application.

Andrew Colley reported that the late John Roberts supported the parish council’s view. Mr Colley added: “I can’t think of a worse place for horses and ponies. It is iconic. It is right next to the maypole near the centre of the village and it’s the view that everybody gets when they walk down the village. Let’s not spoil it.”

The planning officer’s report was quoted by Cllr Marshall as she felt it made the case for refusing the application. This stated that the field provided an open backdrop to The Green and the maypole as well as making a significant contribution to the wider quality of the conservation area, affording important views into and out of the historic core of the village.

The planning officer, however, told the committee that the owners did not need planning permission to graze ponies on the field. The application for change of use and to erect a field shelter, therefore, gave the Authority the opportunity to have more control.

When the majority voted to approve the application Cllr Marshall asked that strict conditions should be imposed. These will mean that no jumps, old tyres or any other equipment can be placed in the field, cars cannot be parked there, and there must be no muck heaps. There can be no outside storage except behind the shelter.

Kettlewell – April – Enforcement

An enforcement notice will be served on the owner of 2 Town Head in Kettlewell for the removal of hard standing for parking and for the area to be re-grassed.

The committee was told that the area had been registered by the owner of 2 Town Head as in his ownership. But until the autumn of 2012 Kettlewell with Starbotton parish council had paid contractors to mow the grass there on a monthly basis. Until that time the area had the character and appearance of a village green or common land.

The enforcement officer had been negotiating with the owner of 2 Town Head since late 2012 after the parish council complained about a hard standing surface being laid to create a parking space. The owner claimed that the area was part of the curtilage.

The enforcement officer noted that such permitted development could only take place if the area had been used for residential purposes by 2 Town Head for ten years.

As there was evidence that this had been a communal area until 2012 the creation of the hard standing for car parking for 2 Town Head had, she said, triggered a material change in use. She stated: “Both the use of the land for ancillary residential purposes and the creation of the hard standing are unauthorised.”

She added: “To date no evidence has been submitted to the Authority to demonstrate that this land has either a functional or historical connection to 2 Town Head for it to be considered to form part of the curtilage of the dwelling.”

The land had also been included in an area of Important Open Space in Kettlewell and so development was not permitted if that would result in the loss, or significant harm to, the character of it.

“The arrangement of the pre-1851 buildings around an open ‘green’ at Town Head produces an attractive and characterful space within the village. The open quality of the space, its undeveloped (grass), informal appearance and communal character are important elements of an important part of the village,” she said.

(The applicant has appealed this decision)

Kettlewell – Brightwaters

At the May meeting approval was given for an enforcement notice for the removal of a patio and railings at Brightwaters. In 2006 planning permission was granted for a barn beside Kettlewell Beck to be converted into a local occupancy home with limited curtilage so that there would be little impact upon that part of the village. The patio was constructed in 2012.

The owners subsequently made a planning application which was discussed at the December meeting. That application was deferred to allow time to obtain an independent report as to whether the concrete barrier and patio was providing protection from flooding.

Matthew Koslow, on behalf of his parents, told the committee that the structure was a retaining wall which did protect the building, and that the railings were need to ensure the safety of anyone there, especially children. The Koslow’s had lodged an appeal against the enforcement notice.

See the February 2016 YDNPA planning committee report.

Kirkby Malham – September

Approval was given for a single storey rear extension to West Bank Farm at Kirkby Malham, despite a Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority planning officer maintaining that it would undermine the character of the Grade II listed building.

South Lakeland District Councillor Brenda Gray, stated: “I do think it’s a bit nit-picky to say that it isn’t suitable.”

And Ian McPherson commented: “Prior to the site visit I was inclined to refuse permission. I had the impression from the officer’s report that this was a substantial addition to the property. In fact it’s really quite small and so not overly dominant nor incongruous as the planning officer suggested.”

The applicant’s architect, Barry Birch, told the committee that the single storey link from a family room to the rear hall of the house would be only an extension of five per cent to the existing building. As it could not be seen from any public views there would be no adverse impact and no distinguishing features of the house would be obliterated.

He added: “By comparison a property in West Burton was granted an extension the size of a moderate house in front of the original vernacular longhouse which although not listed is a significant piece of architecture in the dales landscape.”

Cllr Harrison-Topham said that 25 years ago permission had been granted by a YDNPA planning committee for a similar extension to his own house. “If I was to do anything other than recommend acceptance of this I will be one of the world’s greatest hypocrites,” he told the committee, and added:“I think the argument against this is overdone. I don’t think there’s detrimental visual harm to the building.”

Mr Charlesworth agreed with him but was concerned that there were two procedures running in parallel – the planning application and a listed building application which had been refused under delegated authority and which was now the subject of an appeal.

Mr Graham explained: “If members grant planning permission for the extension then one would hope that the applicant would withdraw the appeal because you are always in danger of the inspector taking a different view to the planning authority. We would assume they would then resubmit an application for listed building consent which would be taken in light of the committee’s decision.”

As the majority voted in favour of approving the extension Mr Graham said that the decision would not need to be referred back even though the planning officer had recommended refusal.

Kirkby Malham – October

Dark anodised aluminium rather than wooden doors can be installed in the summer house at Clock Cottage in Kirkby Malham. The committee agreed to this even though Kirkby Malhamdale parish council had objected.

The parish council opposed this variation to an existing planning approval because it felt that aluminium bi-fold doors were not in keeping with the Grade II listed building. It stated: “All existing windows and doors on this historic property are of timber or wood construction.”

The planning officer, however, said: “Aluminium is in keeping with the distinctly contemporary design.”

He reported that the summer house was low key on the site and little was visible close to the original cottage. He added: “This finish to the framework would ensure that the sunroom would remain a visually understated modern addition to the building group, which would not detract from the character of the host property or the village setting.”

Langcliffe – February

The owners of a house in Main Street, Langcliffe have three months in which to screen the lantern roof of an extension – and the work must be carried out in strict accordance with the plans approved by the planning committee.

In February 2012 the owner was unsuccessful in an appeal against an enforcement notice for the removal of the extension. The planning officer told the committee: “Since that date the Authority has delayed taking further formal enforcement action in an attempt to resolve the matter amicably.”

This, he said, had been achieved by agreeing that a road side wall should be raised by 80cm using matching local limestone to screen the lantern. A large planter box which had been placed on top of the present wall will be removed.

Cllr Welch proposed that the retrospective application for the extension should be refused and stated: “This has been turned down, appealed, turned down, enforcement to remove – it goes on and on. In my opinion the fresh application hasn’t changed anything. This is a conservation area (and) it’s next to the village green. The whole point is – it should never have been there in the first place.

“The planning policy seeks to promote and reinforce local distinctiveness. Any extensions should respect the architectural integrity (of the area). Are we in period when any developments can have high walls to hide developments?”

The majority,however, agreed with Mr Colley that as the application was the result of negotiation between both parties they should accept the officer’s recommendation to approve.


Low Row – December

Approval was given for a barn near Low Row to be converted into a bunk barn to be used by school groups and DofE expeditions no more than 24 times each year.

The committee had refused a similar application in October 2014 because it was felt that it would have a negative impact upon those using the adjoining Turnip House and that there was insufficient evidence that any groups staying there would be effectively supervised. There were also concerns about unmanaged car parking on the common land outside the barn.

The planning officer this time recommended approval because:the number of group bookings had been considerably reduced; the length of stay limited to no more than two nights with a member of Hazel Brow Farm staff always there to supervise any group; and that sound insulation would be installed on the wall adjoining Turnip House.

The committee was told that any minibus bringing the groups to the Dales will park in Low Row and the school children will walk to the barn.

Alistair Lewis, speaking on behalf of the owners of Turnip House, asked if all the children would be able to walk up such a steep track. He argued that the application by Cath Calvert of Hazel Brow Farm was still contrary to the Authority’s existing and emerging policies which allowed for the creation of bunk barns if they were within a group of buildings and beside a road.

He also felt there was still the likelihood that groups could be at the barn when members of the family which owned Turnip House were there. Mrs Calvert, however, stated that groups would be there on educational visits during school time and not during school holidays.

She told the committee: “We are not doing it because we are going to make lots of money – we are doing it because we feel passionate about sharing that special environment.”

Cllr Blackie was fully in support of the application. His amendment that DofE groups could also, under the same supervision, use the bunk barn was approved.

Harold Brown reminded the members that many of the traditional barns, which are such an iconic feature of the Yorkshires Dales, were falling down as there was no use for them.“This is going to protect this barn and give it another life,” he said and added that it was good for the barn, good for the young people who would stay there and so be in line with the National Park’s policy to encourage people to visit the Dales.

He explained that very few farms in Swaledale and Arkengarthdale now had dairy herds and were only just getting by. But it was the farmers who were maintaining the landscape and the walls.

The chairman of the committee, Chris Armitage, stated he wanted more children from the cities to have the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the countryside and to understand how farming contributed to their lives.

Malham – May

A plea by Kirkby Malhamdale parish council to protect the village from what it described as an inappropriate development was not accepted by the committee.

Pat Wherity, on behalf of the parish council, told the committee: “I have heard today that the National Park Authority has a duty to conserve and enhance. I heard you say that if nobody else will protect it you have to.”

On that basis both he and Stuart Gledhill felt that the committee should reject the application for five houses to be built at Cherry Tree Croft. Three will be rural discount homes and the other two will be affordable rented homes.

Mr Wherity and Mr Gledhill were disappointed that the committee did not accept the request by Cllr Marshall to hold a site meeting at Cherry Tree Croft. “I don’t think you can really get an impression of what this place is like from the slides,” commented Mr Wherity.

He argued that the scale and size of the development was too large compared to the buildings nearby and explained that it was the green spaces which gave Malham its distinctive character. “This will remove one of the key green spaces and replace it with a domineering pattern of ribbon development along Finkle Street with housing more suitable for an urban environment.”

This, he said, would be exacerbated by having the houses too close to the road and so creating a tunnel effect disproportionate and contradictory to the style of the village.

The parish council and almost all of the residents were united in their objection to the application, he added. Their reasons included the substantial increase in traffic along what to them was already a dangerous, narrow road.

Mr Gledhill compared putting five houses on that site to sardines in a tin. This, he said, was a totally inappropriate development which would set a precedent for spoiling iconic villages in the National Park. “This is one of the most iconic villages – you are the custodians and guardians – you should not let this happen,” he told the committee.

The planning officer had recommended approval of the development as a rural-exception site. The parish council did not agree with her that the development would fulfil the requirements of the National Planning Policy Framework.These are that it should respond to the local character and history, and reflect the identity of the local surroundings and materials as well as being visually attractive as a result of good architecture and appropriate landscaping.

Mr Gledhill also argued that the site did not fulfil two out of three of the criteria for such a rural-exception site as it was not adjacent to the development boundary, and there was no longer sufficient evidence of the need for affordable housing in Malham.

Over two years ago the parish council with Craven District Council had surveyed the village and found there was a need. But since then that need had diminished, he said, leaving just one local couple wanting such housing.

Caroline Sunter, speaking on behalf of the agent, told the committee that they had spent a lot of time with planning officers and had made changes to the design as requested. The development had the support of both the highway authority and the district council. She added that it was the only site at present available for affordable housing in Malham.

Cllr Marshall, however, stressed that Malham was one of the jewels in the crown in the National Park and, like the parish council, she believed this development would be inappropriate. She said that the design of the houses was urbanised and they would become a dominating feature in an area of old cottages.

“I don’t believe this would be considered for approval if it wasn’t being viewed as an exception site. I think the approval of local housing for a need is leaving a legacy of a totally inappropriate design of housing in that village in perpetuity,” she said.

Mr Charlesworth observed that the committee was in a no-win situation. “We are desperate to do what we can to keep young people and young families in the Dales and indeed to attract them by providing low cost affordable housing wherever possible.

“It is clear that the parish council and local residents do not want this development. But we do have this need for affordable housing for local young people.” He added that he felt it was a sensitive design and would be highly appropriate.

Mr Colley disagreed and stated that the development would be like the modern-looking houses which had recently been built at Grassington that failed miserably to blend in with the surrounding countryside. He was one of the three who voted against approving the application.

At the November meeting the committee heard that the registered provider – Home Housing – had pulled out from an agreement to take ownership of the two houses for rent and to be responsible for the three others described as affordable intermediate houses.

The Authority therefore needed a fall-back mechanism to ensure that the houses would remain affordable for local people in perpetuity. This mechanism, approved at the meeting, will be that all five can be affordable intermediate houses verified by Craven District Council through the National Park Authority, if no registered provider can be found.

Andrew Colley asked if the Authority could have a valuation carried out at the planning stage to ensure that the construction cost of a housing development was not more than its end value. “We as a planning authority require houses to be built to our high specification to fit in with places like Malham. But these houses are very expensive to build. So we don’t want any developer falling into the trap… of building something which ends up not being affordable. I know we have no legal obligation.. to do a viability study – but I think it is morally right that we should,” he said.

Cllr Marshall quoted the example of a builder who went bankrupt when constructing affordable houses in the National Park as neither he nor those interested in buying the homes could get mortgages.

But the head of development management, Richard Graham, replied: “Development is a risky business – that is their responsibility.”

Cllr Marshall, like North Yorkshire County Councillor Roger Harrison-Topham and Ian MacPherson, believed that permission should not have been granted for the housing development at Cherry Tree Croft as the parish council and residents had so vigorously opposed the application.

“We got it wrong. I hope any members who voted in favour of the application last time will have second thoughts,” said Cllr Harrison-Topham.

Cllr Blackie warned that the Government’s proposal to extend the Right to Buy scheme to housing association tenants could mean that there will be far fewer new affordable rented houses in rural areas.  He said that housing associations were walking away from new developments in rural areas due to the Government’s plans and guidelines.

He said: “The local community looks to us to provide the planning permissions and because of the emerging Government policy they are not being implemented and we are not getting the houses that we need. It is a very serious situation.“This is a real concern that we will not find housing associations prepared to develop in the National Park. They just don’t want to lose money – and the losers are the local communities here in the Dales.”

Millthrop – May

The committee also refused permission for an affordable local occupancy house to be built in Millthrop near Sedbergh. This application was supported by the parish council but the committee accepted the planning officer’s argument that it would be contrary to too many of the Authority’s policies.

Graham Milburn told the committee that his plan was to build a two-bedroom house on land which at present forms part of the family’s builder’s yard and use the capital to refurbish Spedding House. Several generations of Milburns have lived in Spedding House which is a grade II listed building. He, his three brothers and his mother all live in that part of Millthrop.

The planning officer recommended refusal because the new house would be so close to Spedding House that it would a detrimental impact not only upon this listed building but also on the amenity of anyone living there. The trees which screen the builder’s yard would either have to be severely cut back or removed altogether, and there was no space to plant any more.

In addition the site is outside the building development boundary and the house would not provide accommodation for someone involve in agriculture or another rural-based enterprise. And employment land would be lost which, the officer stated, would undermine the viability of the remaining employment site.

See also the February 2016 YDNPA planning committee report.

Reeth – July

The committee took under ten minutes to decide unanimously that this time an application to re-develop Orton Works at Reeth could be approved.

This application was for full planning permission for the erection of a guest house and demolition of some existing buildings on the site, and the extension and conversion of the existing office building to form manager’s accommodation.

Reeth, Fremington and Healaugh parish council fully supported the application subject only to the comments of the immediate neighbours. The concerns of the latter included being overlooked, the overbearing and overshadowing impact of the guest house, and the close proximity of a laundry room and kitchen to some homes. The latter will be created by the conversion of an existing garage.

The planning officer reported that there had been three previous applications for the redevelopment of the site since Orton Works closed in 2011. The third – for the erection of a guest house – was refused by the planning committee in June 2014 having been deferred on two occasions for the submission of amended drawings but still deemed to be a poor design.

He said that the latest application was for the guest house to be built on the southern part of the site over the footprint of existing buildings and so avoiding the sewer and the most sensitive part of the site in terms of impact on those living in Hill Close.

“Overall the proposal is a significant improvement in terms of its siting, and general arrangement, from the previous submissions,” he added.

Scott Trial – July

Richmond Motor Club has accepted responsibility for surveying the 70-mile route of the annual Scott Trial across Arkengarthdale, Gunnerside and Reeth Moors and for carrying out any mitigating work afterwards.

The club’s agent, Robert Halstead, said that it had set up a sub-committee which had already begun to research the baseline level of data requested by the Authority. Photographs of the route would be taken immediately after the trial in October and these would make it possible to identify vulnerable areas which should be avoided in the future.

He added that previously the burden for all that had fallen on the Authority and he felt that it was right and proper the onus should now be on the motor club.

In these circumstances the committee agreed unanimously to a five-year extension so that this internationally recognised motor bike trial could continue.

Cllr Blackie and Mr Brown pointed out that “The Scott” as it was known gave a tremendous boost to the local economy and supported both employment and tourism in the area. In addition it raised about £10,000 a year which was donated to good causes such as The Friarage Hospital at Northallerton and doctors’ surgeries in the Dales.

Mr Brown said The Scott had the full support of all the parish councils and added:“It only operates with the goodwill of the farmers, the game keepers and even land agents as well. It has local support all round and that is the reason it is so successful. They are a very well respected and responsible body. It is a motor cycle trial conducted under the heaviest supervision.

“They train the youngsters from something like the age of six or seven years – even the girls. You will see from reports that we have some fantastic girl riders – Katy Sunter and Harriet Peacock to name a few.”

He added that he believed the damage caused to ancient monuments like the disused lead mines was minimal and that some tourists had inflicted more.

Sedbergh – February

A traditional building in Sedbergh, which is at present used for storage, can be converted into a two-bedroom house.

The majority of the committee members agreed that it would make a very good local occupancy dwelling even though Sedbergh parish council had objected to the application.

Sedbergh parish councillor, Ian McPherson explained that the parish council was very concerned about the loss of one to two roadside car parking spaces when the vehicular access was created for the house, or for possibly creating a precedent for turning gardens along Highfield Road into car parking areas.

The parish council was also concerned about the impact of the dwelling upon the Grade II listed Palmers Hill (the Widows’ Hospital), or the possibility that in the future there might be more noise emanating from the businesses adjourning the new house.

Sedbergh – October – Removal notice

It was agreed that a double-sided sign at Café Nova in Sedbergh must be removed as it significantly exceeds the limit for permitted development.

The committee gave approval for the Authority’s solicitor to serve a Removal Notice to be complied with within 28 days. If the Notice is not complied with the Authority can remove the sign and charge the proprietors of the café for the costs incurred.

The enforcement officer told the committee that not only was the sign too big and so having a harmful impact upon the conservation area, but it was also attached to the corner of the building. This, he said, was not a traditional method of sign display and hid the distinctive quoin stones.

Spout, Sedbergh – August

The committee approved an application by Susan Woof to convert a traditional barn at Spout near Sedbergh into a bunk barn capable of accommodating six people.

Sedbergh parish council and others who own properties at Spout had questioned how the bunk barn could be effectively managed and supervised when those nominated to do that did not live close to it. Ms Woof and her partner live ten miles away, and a relative is two miles away.

The parish council had, however, also pointed out that there was little difference between a small-scale bunk barn and a holiday cottage which could accommodate six or more people – and the latter did not require a management plan.

Dr Barron, who owns a holiday cottage a few metres from the barn, told the committee: “This is the wrong development in the wrong place.“

He added that a bunk barn would dominate such a small hamlet of seven residential properties and have considerable impact upon the tranquillity of the area. The increase in traffic he said would also cause problems along the narrow, winding road. “It will create a precedent for intrusion on the landscape and for traffic on a substandard road,” he told the committee.

Ms Woof said that she had worked closely with planning officers for 18 months to prepare an application that would be in accordance with the YDNPA’s policies, including how to safeguard the amenities of neighbours.

Cllr Blackie and Jocelyn Armstrong-Manners agreed with her that those who booked such places for a holiday enjoyed and respected the tranquillity of the area.

Ms Woof commented that 20 years ago there would have been more traffic on the narrow, winding road because her family were farming the fields more extensively. Now the barn was no longer suitable for agricultural use and they wanted to find a way of ensuring its future and to provide her with a job. She told committee she intended to make sure that the bunk barn would not cause problems for the neighbours.

Mr McPherson acknowledged that the decision was finely balanced but still felt that the application should be refused for the reasons put forward by objectors.

Mr  Charlesworth said that the site meeting had convinced him that the conversion was entirely appropriate and acceptable. And several members reported that there had been no problems with so many cars being there for that meeting.

Harold Brown commented: “A lot of hill farmers are going out of business because they can’t get a proper price for their produce. So I am in favour of this support for a hill farm.”

Stainforth – October

Stephen Raine won the sympathy of the committee when he explained that he was the full-time carer for his elderly mother and was travelling each day to his farm at Stainforth to care for the animals there and to complete some walling for Natural England.

He said he had not intended to do anything illegal by again siting a caravan at the farm. He explained that he was not living in it but instead was using it as a shelter and somewhere to make hot food and drinks.By January the work for Natural England should be completed and he will move the livestock away from the farm. “I would be more than happy to move the caravan at that time because there is no reason for me to take shelter and have meals,” he said.

The committee agreed with Cllr Heseltine that prosecution proceedings should be put off until March.

As Mr Raine had said he might start work on building a farmhouse in March the committee accepted the recommendation of the legal officer, Clare Bevan, that the decision to prosecute or not should the caravan still be there after March 31 should be left with the solicitor.

The enforcement officer had asked for prosecution proceedings to begin now because by siting another caravan at Garth Nook Farm Mr Raine had failed to comply with an enforcement notice served in August 2008.

The deputy chairman of the planning committee, Harold Brown commented: “I have every sympathy with the position of Mr Raine as a fellow (uplands) farmer struggling to keep walls up, to keep the livestock in good health, and on top of that to be carer for an elderly person – and a building thrown in. Jack of all trades we are known as.”

Stainforth – November – Enforcement

At the October meeting members gave David Parker a month to submit a planning application for an agricultural worker’s dwelling at Bargh House, Stainforth.

If this had been done it was likely that the committee would have allowed him to continue having a caravan at that site. As he hadn’t, it was agreed unanimously that an enforcement notice should be issued for the removal of the caravan.

Last month the committee heard that planning permission had been granted in 2007 for the conversion of a building to form a preparation area for meat and game, a chiller room and a store, as well as the erection of an agricultural building. Permission was also given to site a caravan there for three years until January 2010.

Since then Mr Parker has been repeatedly advised to either apply for further permission to have the caravan there  or to make an application for a dwelling. If he did the latter he could ask for permission to retain the caravan until the house was ready to live in. Mr Parker now has six months notice to remove the caravan.

Threshfield – June

The application to re-develop Threshfield Garage, including the provision of a Spar convenience store, replacing the motor vehicle workshop and reconfiguring the filling station forecourt, gained the unanimous approval of the committee.

Grassington parish councillor Andrew Colley said: “Up and down the dale it’s going to be absolutely invaluable. But it has to remain a filling station and a garage workshop as well as a convenience store.” He told the committee that both Grassington parish council and Chamber of Trade supported the application made by James Hall & Company.

The company’s agent, Graham Love, assured the committee that it had carried out everything that had been asked of it by the planning officer, including reducing the proposed height of the buildings.He added:“It does have the potential of improving local convenience shopping in terms of the range of choice and availability of goods and products. This will allow a greater number of people to carry out more of their shopping locally so less will travel to Skipton for their main shopping.”

John Midgley, whose company, Midgley Motors, will continue to operate the vehicle and MoT facility, told the committee that since 1965 seven local garages had closed.“We have seen the demise of the country filling station. Petrol is no longer a stand-alone product. The reality is that unless Threshfield Garage follows this business model there will be no fuel or car repairs, MoT servicing or car sales,” he said and added:“The current building is beyond its useful lifespan. It was hard to make a profit throughout last winter because of the extra heating costs. I can’t expect my staff to work in that dungeon of a workshop – the rain comes in, the electric fuses on a regular basis, and there is a lack of heating.”

But Rob Crolla of Indigo Planning, representing some concerned retailers in Grassington, stated: “We consider there is no substantial or reasonable justification for why the existing buildings cannot be re-used from a commercial perspective.”

He said that the housing policy had been misapplied to justify the retail proposal and that the applicant had not provided a detailed assessment of the retail impact, as compared to need. “There is a real danger that this proposal will kill a number of businesses in Grassington to the detriment of the health of that centre.”

He argued, therefore, that the application was fundamentally flawed both in terms of the strength of the support information on retail matters provided to justify the scheme and the proposal itself in terms of the proper planning for retail services in the area.

Cllr Marshall said it was known that only three traders in Grassington were against the application and that the majority of residents in the area were supporting it.

Threshfield parish council also supported it especially after the applicant  had agreed to reduce the hours that the store and filling station would be open to 7am to 10pm. This. it was stated, will reduce the impact upon the amenity of the neighbouring properties.

West Witton –  See the March 2015 report for the report on the discussion about telecommunications aerials at West Witton.

YDNPA – an extension too far

My  personal comment on the decision by the Environment Secretary, Liz Truss,  to extend the boundaries of the Yorkshire Dales and Lake District national parks followed by North Yorkshire County Councillor John Blackie’s comment.

Miss Truss’s decision is a theatrical flourish which underlines the fact that the Conservatives are not the ‘party of the countryside’.

The democratic deficit that will be created in August 2016 when the Yorkshire Dales National Park is increased by 24 per cent just shows that the present government cares little for rural voters.  The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority had asked that if the extension went ahead that the membership of the Authority should be increased to include local authority representatives from the newly designated areas. As Cllr John Blackie, pointed out the YDNPA has come away empty handed.

It has also come away empty handed on the financial side for Ms Truss has made no provision for the cost of these extensions. That is a big blow to these two National Parks when they are waiting in fear and trepidation for the next cuts in their grants.

In September the Chief Executive of the YDNPA, David Butterworth, agreed that if there was a 40 per cent cut in the Authority’s budget it would not be able to carry out its statutory responsibilities. The extension alone will probably absorb 30 per cent or more of the Authority’s current budget, before any probable reduction in the 2016/17 DEFRA grant.

And yet Ms Truss believes that the creation of a mega national park will lead to more beautiful countryside being protected. If she wants it to be protected she must take a truly professional approach and make sure that the two Authorities have the money to do the job properly.

I feel very sorry for those living in the areas about to be requisitioned for this piece of political gamesmanship. At present planning decisions affecting their homes and livelihoods come within the remit of district councils. A former National Park planning officer, Mike Warden, pointed out:

‘As a planning authority a National Park is completely devoid of all the other functions that a responsible District Council administers. Any council outside of a National Park has to take into account the matters of  building control, of environmental health, of pollution. of economic development, and most importantly local councils are housing authorities for their areas, which a National Park is not.” National Park planning officers are often more focused on conservation than on the economic and social well being of residents, he said.

Costly planning decisions

This was very apparent when a planning application for a replacement camping site at Kettlewell was turned down in November 2011.  This meant that in 2012 there was no campsite at Kettlewell and the drop in trade had a serious impact upon the village. One pub closed and the village shop came close to closing as well. The situation has improved since a new campsite opened in 2014.

Then there was the case of the farming family in Littondale which, having bought enough land to develop its own farm wanted permission to convert a barn into a farmhouse. But the planning officer recommended that not only should that barn be tied to the farm but also a farmhouse that the family was renting and did not own, and a house that was mortgaged. Many months later and £20,000 poorer the family finally got approval for the barn conversion without those extraordinary conditions.

Or consider the costly mine field another farming family has had to find its way through just to convert an unused traditional barn into an icecream parlour.

The latest example in this sorry saga involves an annex to a converted barn. The YDNPA failed to enforce certain conditions when it was constructed in 2003 and the owner applied for a  certificate of lawful use or development (LDC) in July 2014. The YDNPA issued an enforcement notice in October 2014 and the owner appealed. A year later she heard that her appeal had been successful with the inspector accepting that the annex had been used as an independent and separate dwelling since 2003.

“The sad fact is that the YDNPA should have spared her the 18 months of (at times) mental turmoil and financial disadvantage by admitting from the outset her case was clear and unequivocal because it had failed to enforce the conditions imposed in the original planning approval within the appropriate time limits…” said Cllr Blackie.

Situations like this emphasise the need for residents to have sufficient locally elected representation on a National Park Authority (NPA).  And it shows just what sort of problems residents in the areas designated to join the Yorkshire Dales National Park next year will face.

Part of the problem is that the YDNPA, like other NPAs have had to cut back on staff in the past few years due to the reductions in their grants from Defra. The staff are already over-stretched – what will it be like for them when faced with the additional work load next year?

Affordable homes?

Ms Truss also believes the YDNPA will be able to facilitate the construction of hundreds of new affordable homes. The YDNPA has worked hard for several years to do that only to see its efforts completely undermined by her Government.  Its plans to extend the “right to buy” scheme without any clear and protected exemptions for rural communities will mean that landowners, farmers and parish councils will not be prepared to make land available at low prices. The end result will be that once the affordable rented houses are sold none will be built to replace them.

This will be a complete disaster for rural communities especially as, unbeknown it seems to Ms Truss, the price of open market houses in National Parks is higher than those in neighbouring areas. It doesn’t take much studying of the estate agents adverts to see that she is incorrect in stating that there was “no evidence to suppose that house prices would rise solely as a result of designation.”  This is why so many young people are forced to move out to towns like Skipton and Catterick rather than remaining within their home communities.

Ms Truss believes that the extension of these two National Parks will be a fantastic opportunity to protect these vital, beautiful landscapes for generations to come. But if there is no affordable housing for young people there will be no future generations to maintain it.

These “national landscapes” were not created by NPAs. Nor do NPAs have the staff to maintain them. The only way to protect them is to protect and support those who do so – the landowners, the farmers and those who run small businesses. And the latter are facing increased competition from NPAs who are seeking to cover the shortfall in their grants by running their own businesses – businesses which will be subsidised by those Government grants.

What a sad future our beautiful countryside faces thanks to a Government which obviously has very little understanding of the needs of rural communities.


Cllr John Blackie’s statement to the YDNPA:

I do hope there will be some restraint on the air of triumphalism following the announcement that the YDNP is to be extended into Cumbria and Lancashire, adding an extra 24% by land mass to its existing area.

The Chairman (Peter Charlesworth) and Chief Executive (David Butterworth) of the YDNPA will do well to remember that the Authority supported the extension with two caveats, that it should be accompanied by additional funding to reflect the increase in area and that the current structure of the Local Authority membership of the Authority should remain whilst accepting that the extension will bring with it a demand for additional local authority membership to reflect the newly designated areas.

On both these caveats the YDNPA has come away empty handed.

They also need to recognise the strength of the opposition to the extension was a powerful and united partnership between three County Councils, North Yorkshire, Cumbria and Lancashire and two District Councils, Richmondshire and Eden. It is important to note that most of these Local Authorities were due to gain a new, yet key influence, on the extended National Park through their membership of a reconstituted YDNPA, so their opposition is all the more surprising, and noteworthy of respect.

This partnership was cemented at a local level by a large number of the Dales communities in opposition, as represented by their Parish Councils. For example all of the Parish Councils in the Upper Dales were steadfast in their opposition to the extension, and the Chairman in noting the delight of local communities in the extension area in his Press Release should not overlook the dismay the news will set off amongst many local communities within the existing YDNP.

They are faced with seeing the resources they are entitled to receive from the YDNPA, to assist their self-reliant efforts and enterprise in maintaining the iconic landscapes the Dales are internationally famous for, are being substantially reduced, as they are stretched over a much larger area, whilst they are losing their local members from the Authority who speak up for their best interests day-in day-out at the Authority meetings and particularly on the YDNPA Planning Committee.

Further grant cuts

There is a certain irony in the Secretary of State’s (the Conservative MP, Elizabeth Truss) outright dismissal of the notion of there being any new Government resources to finance the extension today, but instead she promises jam tomorrow. This promise looks to be hollow in nature and substance given the Conservative-led Coalition of 2010 – 2015 has instigated the reduction of the resources it gives to National Parks by 40%, with a promise of a further 40% cut in store for it in the Comprehensive Spending Review in November !!

Adding to this is her suggestion that the YDNPA is good at levering in resources from charitable and grant-making organisations, so we now have a Government-led strategy of a YDNPA dependent on the Lottery. A depressing prospect for the local communities in the existing YDNP as the resources available to them shrink by 24%. I smile whilst asking – just how did your Lottery ticket fare in the draw last week ??

No wonder the Secretary of State’s visit on a traditionally quiet media day – a Friday – to the Upper Dales to make the announcement of her decision was such a hole in the wall affair, with her creeping into Hawes and creeping out again without I understand informing the BBC and ITV of her intentions until literally minutes before she arrived in the town, and without sending the letter announcing her decision to the select band of newspaper journalists invited to interview her.

It is a pity she was not prepared to talk to the local community in Hawes (and certainly with the Chairman of Hawes & High Abbotside Parish Council) where she might have been given a street level opinion on her decision to endorse what was plainly a Public Inquiry that was nothing more than a whitewash, but heavily disguised as a now obviously bogus opportunity to put the case against what it was always going to conclude.

The cynical choice of venue to make the announcement, the hugely and justifiably successful Wensleydale Creamery in Hawes, was no doubt designed to soften the edge of the blow her decision was likely to have. The Wensleydale Creamery was saved some 22 years ago by the self-reliance and determination of the very local community she made her announcement in, by a Save the Wensleydale Creamery community campaign group founded in Hawes & High Abbotside, and joined by other Upper Dales communities and business leaders.

Being in the YDNP had little or nothing to do with the survival of Hawes Creamery, it was the desperate need of the local communities to have employment on their doorstep that time and again challenged the wish of Dairy Crest (then a Conservative Government owned arms length company) to sell off the Creamery site for housing or some other lucrative non-employment use, and made it in the end cave in to the local pressure. The rest is history.

impact on local representation

If the way the Public Inquiry was conducted is anything to go by, it gives little confidence that the promised so-called consultation on the structure of the local authority membership of the new YDNPA will be anything other than another done deal, fait accompli. We can soon expect proposals where District and County Councillors with pure National Park electorates are replaced with those on the very periphery of the extended area.

For example a Lancaster City Councillor with 200 electors or a Lancashire County Councillor with 475 electors in the extended YDNP will most likely take the place on the YDNPA (and possibly on its Planning Committee) of say a Richmondshire or Craven District Councillor with 1000 electors or a North Yorkshire County Councillor with 4750 electors. Of course if the number of members of the YDNPA remains the same then North Yorkshire District and County Councillors will be replaced by an increased number of District and County Councillors from Cumbria.

Will these new Councillors who predominantly represent up-market communities whose main interest in joining the YDNPA was to prevent wind farms in their area, and the loss in value of their houses they might lead on to, have the same priorities as those they replace, representing hard working, what you see is what you get (WYSIWYG) Dales communities, where their very future is threatened by the exodus of young families caused by the loss of affordable housing to buy or rent ??

Will they have any clue – or indeed interest – in the planning issues that can impact detrimentally on the day to day way of life of these hard working dyed in the wool Dales communities. Will they even care about the future of these communities when there is such a mismatch in their priorities ??

impact on planning

Planning, already a National Disaster under the Conservative Government with long established processes protocol and protections being literally slung out of the window on a daily basis (so much so that a recent Friday afternoon Ministerial dictat on Affordable Housing was declared illegal by a Judicial Review) will be a Local Dogs Breakfast as no fewer than six local plans will have to be amended because of the decision made by Secretary of State Elizabeth Truss MP.

This will incur significant extra hidden costs that the Minister does not understandably own up to in this era of extreme public sector austerity. With cutbacks, for example, down to the level of Parish Councils in the YDNP having to pay for grit bins by an Ambulance Station, near a Doctors surgery, on dangerous hills, and outside schools, it is an unnecessary and extravagant public purse expense that political common sense should have concluded must be completely avoided at this difficult time.

This reason alone was sufficient to kick the extension plans into the North Sea. I pity barn owners in the newly designated areas who will find their current right to develop them via the streamlined system of prior notification into dwellings for local families or centres of rural enterprise will fall foul of the YDNPA planning regime which bars their conversion into houses or workplaces without full planning permission and subject to every planning rule in the book.

The losers in the extension areas through the loss of their planning rights are –

– the barn owners, very often local farmers struggling to make a living out of upland livestock farming (have you seen the recent price of a fat lamb, Ms Truss ??) whose hard work in all weathers delivers as a by-product the maintenance of the landscape thought worthy enough of National park designation – in short they are the foot soldiers of conservation.

– the local families denied an affordable opportunity of living amidst the communities that were born and / or brought up in.

– the local economy denied the opportunity for additional prosperity and a higher level of local employment from the new enterprises that would have found a home in a workshop converted from a barn, possibly using Superfast Broadband in doing so.

No wonder the National Farmers Union and the Country Landowners Association were implacably against the extension proposals.

Protecting a successful brand

At least the Campaign to oppose the extension can rightly claim an outstanding success amidst all the doom and gloom embedded in the Minister’s decision. It was the Campaign that brought the likelihood of a change of name of the Yorkshire Dales National Park into the public domain, a change that would have removed at a stroke the unique worldwide branding and marketing tool that connects the iconic landscapes that are the very essence of the Yorkshire Dales – what they are internationally famous for – in the mind of the potential visitor or tourist.

The local economies in the existing YDNP would have been damaged probably beyond repair by such a name change given their increasing dependence on tourism. Despite this the name change was not in the terms of reference of the Inquiry, whilst many could understand the feelings of the local communities in the newly extended areas in Cumbria and Lancashire who would wish to have a name that reflected their geographical location, heritage and identity, and their desire for individuality that would see in the name change their wish come true to stand apart from the ethos and culture conjured up in the word Yorkshire.

The Campaign leaders were pooh-poohed on the potential for name change by the supporters of the extension, but it was their insistence in time and again bringing the possibility into the perception of the public as an implication of enlarging the YDNP into two counties other than Yorkshire that has led to the Minister unequivocally agreeing with what we were saying, and ruling out any possibility of name change in the future. Thank the Lord for Small Mercies.

An expensive trophy project

The extension of the YDNP was always a trophy project and remains so. It is an unnecessary, expensive and extravagant distraction from delivering the bread and butter business that keeps the deeply rural areas in the existing National Park Dales communities going on a day to day basis, and it threatens their future in so many ways.

With deep austerity in the public sector a fact of life already and directly ahead on the agenda again it is completely and utterly the wrong time for the extension to be introduced.

Indeed it is blow in the face of the Dales communities that have so magnificently and proudly, for 60 years or more, and with such wonderful results, acquitted their role of being the host to the Yorkshire Dales National Park. It is more than distressing that the shabby treatment and disregard for their future handed out in a whitewash of an Inquiry, endorsed by the Minister’s decision, should be their scant reward for all they have done to further the cause of National Parks, and their skilled handiwork and their very hard work in maintaining the wonderful landscapes that have provided such huge enjoyment for the visitors to their communities.

A Black Day for the future of the local communities in the Dales.

Right to buy and rural communities

The Right to Buy debate in 2015: at the September meeting of the Upper Dales Area Partnership and at the AGM of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA).

members agreed with North Yorkshire County councillor John Blackie that the Authority should lobby the Government to exclude rural communities with less than 2,000 residents from the proposal to extend the Right to Buy scheme to include housing association tenants. The proposed changes to the housing policy would also mean that local authorities would have to sell off their most valuable council houses when they become vacant. The Authority chairman, Peter Charlesworth, intends to discuss these important issues with other national park authorities and National Parks England with a view  to jointly lobbying the Government.

“We have fought tooth and nail over the past years to build some affordable houses. But now we face having the rug pulled from underneath our feet for what we have created already,” Craven District councillor Carl Lis told the meeting.

He and the majority of the members supported Cllr Blackie’s call for the YDNPA to lobby the Government for communities with under 2,000 residents to be exempt from any extension to the Right to Buy scheme.

“It has to change,” continued Cllr Lis, and called for the government to take into account the different needs of rural communities.

Mr Charlesworth allowed Cllr Blackie’s proposal to be discussed because, he said, housing was such a fundamental part of the new Local Plan. For the full statement that Cllr Blackie sent to members before the meeting see below.

During the debate he reminded them of the struggles they had had to get affordable housing built in Askrigg and Hawes, and that these were in desirable places to live.  He added: “If anybody thinks that when these houses are sold off they will be replaced by a similar stock of houses for renting for perpetuity –  I’m sorry that is just wishful thinking.

“I believe the Government needs to be told of the concerns of the National Parks and of (other) rural communities and councils that this policy will actually put a question mark over the future viability of small communities … to retain our resident population, our young people and our  young families.

“I hate to see the best intentions (of the new Local Plan) undermined by a Government policy of one size fits all.”

North Yorks County councillor John Blackie felt that the proposal to lobby the government should be made even stronger and South Lakeland District councillor Brenda Gray argued:

“I believe no council houses or social housing that has been built with public money should be sold as long as there is a waiting list. In South Lakeland we have a waiting list that is equivalent to the number of houses that have been sold off over the years and it isn’t reducing.”

Jocelyn Armstrong-Manners supported the concept of lobbying but felt that the figure of 2,000 residents was arbitrary and that some sort of proportionately should be built into any exemption formula.

Cllr Blackie’s statement on the Right to Buy in rural areas

Under threat – The future of all the rural communities in Richmondshire and the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

The Government’s new policies on social and affordable housing are threatening the very future of deeply rural and rural communities in Richmondshire including all those in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. The continued viability of these communities and whether they remain vibrant and forward-looking is in peril of being removed altogether by the momentous impact of three Government-led initiatives.

1) The raising of the thresholds of affordable housing that developers of housing used to provide when building new open market houses. There is now no need to make provision, either by building affordable houses for rent or shared ownership, or contributing a commuted sum into a fund to facilitate this on sites of five houses or less.

The issue is that in deeply rural areas of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, and rural areas in the more remote parts of Richmondshire, there are very, very few sites available that can accommodate five new houses, as most are plots for just one, two or three houses. In the past these would have yielded an affordable house or two, or a contribution into the commuted sum fund, but there is now no longer a requirement to make this provision or contribution.

And should a larger site become available developers are likely to be imaginative in avoiding the affordable housing provision by only developing part of the site, or splitting the site between owners so each will individually be below the trigger level.

2) The proposal that local Councils that are still housing authorities will have to sell off their most valuable Council houses when they become vacant.

Inevitably the small number of Council houses that remain in the Yorkshire Dales National Park or the attractive villages in rural Richmondshire beyond the Park will have the highest book value of all the houses amongst the stock owned by Richmondshire District Council.

These houses have been available for rent since they were built in the 1950’s to 1970’s and have continued to be so for the last 30+ years of having the Right to Buy them available to their occupants. In many cases they are the last remaining Council house or two in a small rural community, and as such they are the equivalent of the family silver of the Richmondshire District Council housing stock list, and they will have to be sold off once they become vacant.

The idea that they will be replaced by new houses for social rent in the same small community is so much moonshine. The official statistics tell their own story of one-way-traffic.

3) The proposal to allow Housing Association tenants the Right to Buy their houses at huge discounts will spell doom and disaster for deeply rural and rural communities in Richmondshire, as inevitably the take up will be very significant indeed.

This rush for purchase by their current occupants, or as likely their close relatives providing the necessary finance, is fully understandable and I lay no blame at their door whatsoever. After all why would they look a Government Gift Horse in the mouth, especially considering the attractiveness of the communities in which their houses are situated and the price they will be able to buy them at.

However at a stroke it will take away the capacity for these deeply rural and rural communities to accommodate the churn in tenants facilitated by having a stock of houses for rent in perpetuity in their midst, that necessarily needs to be available to maintain a viable, vibrant, sustainable community in the future.

The churn accommodates local young couples starting out, local young families moving along through their life, key workers in your local public services or economy coming or going, those experiencing a break-up in their relationship, even those downsizing to allow others to access their larger family accommodation.

For example, since they were first built in 1994, a development of 11 housing association properties in Hawes has seen some 33 new tenants, including the 11 tenants that first moved into the new houses 21 years ago.

The suggestion from the Government that there will be a one-for-one replacement is simply wishful thinking. In the Greater Manchester area, 830 Council houses have been sold in the last 3 years under a rejuvenated Right to Buy initiative with much higher discounts, of which only 10 have so far been replaced with new affordable houses for rent financed by these sales.

Given this telling statistic what chance I ask has Hawes to replace its existing 21 housing association properties with new properties when they are sold off ?? None whatsoever, I suggest.

The last batch of 10 housing association properties built in 2007 in Hawes opposite the Wensleydale Creamery took 8 years to get built and this at a time when Government funding for Housing Associations developments in rural areas was reasonably freely available. It took a visit I arranged with the then Chief Executive of the Countryside Agency to break the logjam and access the national housing funding pot.

This Government funding has now dried up completely. The fact is that once the Housing Association properties are sold off there will be no more coming to take their place in the deeply rural and rural areas in Richmondshire.

Last November the Rural Summit I organised as the Leader of Richmondshire District Council examined the exodus of young people and young families from the Upper Dales and concluded a key factor was the lack of affordable housing in its small communities. In Swaledale for example the number of children attending its two primary schools has dropped from 95 youngsters to 45 in the last 15 years, a reduction of more than 50%.

This situation will be made much worse if the nine housing association properties in Reeth and the small handful of Council houses remaining there are sold off without replacement.

Unless you have young people and young families in your midst, there is no bright future ahead for your local community in these deeply rural communities. The schools, shops and services gradually all close down as the footfall of the young at their door disappears, and soon before your very eyes, the infrastructure within these communities comes close to collapse.

I believe there is a desperate need to avoid this collapse by the new Government legislation yet to be tabled on the Right to Buy of Housing Association properties and the sell off of the highest value Council houses making an exemption of these new initiatives applying in communities of 2000 population or less. This would preserve the stock of houses to rent in perpetuity in all the deeply rural communities in the Yorkshire Dales National Park and most of the rural communities in Richmondshire, and give them a future to look forward to.

At the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority meeting tomorrow (Tuesday 30th June) a new Local Plan is to be approved which in part is aimed at increasing the supply of local housing, including affordable housing for local people, in the communities in the Dales.

As the impact of the new Government initiatives in housing will prove directly opposed to this worthy intention, I intend to ask the Authority to support a proposal for it to join with all the other National Parks in England, where the issues are exactly the same as in the Yorkshire Dales, and lobby the Government to allow an exemption to its new Right to Buy of Housing Association properties and sell off of high value Council houses, for communities of 2000 or less in population.

At the Richmondshire District Council meeting in July I will be tabling a similar motion, but as it is a political Authority I will be calling upon the newly elected MP for Richmond (Yorks), Rishi Sunak MP, to take our concerns to the highest level in the Government.

There will be many urban communities and cities in England that will welcome the new Government initiatives in housing as giving their local residents the chance to step onto the housing ladder as a member of the property owning democracy. However if they are to be adopted wholesale across the country as a one-size-fits-all initiative they will spell doom and disaster for our deeply rural and rural communities in Richmondshire as the stock of affordable houses for rent are sold off with no hope of seeing them replaced quickly or at all to provide these communities with the viable and vibrant future they so richly deserve.

He provided statistics from the 2011 census which showed that for all of England the percentage of social rented (Council houses) was 8 per cent and for social rented (predominantly Housing Association properties) it was 10 per cent. This compared with the following statistics from the 2011 census for the Yorkshire Dales National Park: Social rented (local council houses) – 2.8 per cent; social rented (Housing Association properties) – 3.9 per cent; and shared ownership (Housing Association properties) – 0.6 per cent.

He commented: “These figures hardly suggest that the exemption I am proposing would lead to a revolution amongst local residents, or does it suggest a need to boost the provision of market housing in the Yorkshire Dales.”


The government’s intention to extend the Right to Buy to housing association tenants was a key issue at the meeting. Among the documents given to those attending was a letter from Cllr Peacock, in which she explained to Carperby cum Thoresby parish council why she and the rest of the Conservative group voted as they did at a RDC  full council meeting on a motion put forward by Cllr John Blackie requesting that communities of 2,000 and under should be exempt from this extension.

She said: “My Group and I took a different view on how the potential changes should be dealt with and did not support the more direct approach advocated in the Motion submitted by Cllr Blackie. “I intend, with the support of our local MP, Rishi Sunak, to meet with the Government’s Housing Minister .. to explain on behalf of Richmondshire and other rural communities in North Yorkshire, the types of housing issues that are worrying individuals living in our isolated rural areas.

“My aim is to encourage the Minister to make some concessions in any legislation brought forward that would assist our rural communities, but without moving away from the general principle of Right to Buy which I support.”

At the meeting she stated: “I am not like Cllr Blackie. I work behind the scenes, I work quietly and I try to get things done. And that is the way I intend to go forward.

“I am passionate about housing in my area. You need to remember that the aspirations of people are to buy their homes. If someone buys their home and lives in it they are more likely to stay.”

She said that one of the problems with Cllr Blackie’s motion was that it stated 2,000 and under whereas there were other district councils in North Yorkshire that believed the threshold should be 3,000.  North Yorkshire County and RDC councillor Stuart Parsons commented: “I am sure if you had come back regarding Cllr Blackie’s motion and asked to increase it to 3,000 he would have been quite happy to take that on.”

He explained that he and Cllr Blackie were very concerned about the knock on effect if young people and young families could not find affordable homes within their own rural communities and had to look for houses in urban areas. In Richmondshire the main area where house building was taking place he said was at Colburn. He warned that Colburn’s infrastructure couldn’t take any more.

“I am afraid that going to talk to the minister is not nearly enough especially when our own MP doesn’t appear to understand that one-to-one replacement is not happening,” Cllr Parsons added. He was referring to another letter which was circulated at the meeting:-

Letter from Rishi Sunak MP

Rishi Sunak MP had written that Cllr Peacock’s meeting with the Housing Minister, Brandon Lewis MP was a more effective way of ensuring the Government was aware of how aspects of the policy may affect Richmondshire.

He added:“Receipts from selling current property will help build replacement affordable homes on a one-for-one basis in the same area. This means the number of homes across all tenures will effectively double for each home sold, increasing national housing supply and creating a new affordable home for those in need from each sale.”

Pip Land said that the Association of Rural Communities supported the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority in its request that communities of 2,000 and under should be exempted.

She pointed out that in Aysgarth there had once been eight council houses. All had been sold under the earlier Right to Buy scheme with none being built to replace them.

She also read a note from Ian Cuthbert of Kettlewell who stated that if the first sale to the sitting tenant was affordable the second and subsequent sales could be at full market price. There was no requirement for any subsequent sale to be to a “local” as there was no system in place to monitor it.

RDC Cllr Richard Beal gave an illustration of how unjust the extension of the Right to Buy scheme would be for those who had bought “affordable” homes on a Housing Association site compared to those who were tenants. The difference in cost for such neighbours could be as much as £130,000 if tenants had the Right to Buy.

Cllr Peacock responded that at present the Government had provided no written details of its proposals. She asked that people should give her as much ammunition as possible for her meeting with the Housing Minister.

YDNPA – Authority meeting March 2015

An ARC News Service  report on the full Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) meeting on March 31. The main agenda items were on  how the Authority could generate sufficient income to offset the heavy cuts in its core grant from the government including the introduction of  a 20p charge to use the public toilets at the YDNPA’s car park in Grassington, and the possibility of having a cafe at the Dales Countryside Museum in Hawes.  Other issues discussed included the newly-formed Destination Dales Group,  and if the Yorkshire Dales Society  should be consulted on all planning applications.

As at the YDNPA planning committee on March  10 a one minute’s silence was held in memory of John Roberts who died suddenly on March 8. The chairman of the Authority, Peter Charlesworth, in his tribute stated: “He was a very much valued member and made an immense contribution to the National Park. He gave respect to all of us and he was respected. He was a very popular member.”

A matter of survival?

The YDNPA must undergo a major organisational and cultural change if it is to survive the drastic cuts in its government grants, the chief executive, David Butterworth, told members.

He reported that its core grant been reduced by 40 per cent in real terms since 2010 which was a higher cut than any imposed upon local authorities. He stated: “We are now in a position where we either: cut our objectives and work programmes in line with the new financial realities; or, we change the way we operate – putting a greater emphasis on finding and using other (‘external’) sources of funding to deliver our objectives.”

He asked all those involved with the Authority – its staff, members and volunteers – to be involved in this. And he stated: “Securing ‘unrestricted’ income (as opposed to income that can only be spent on specific activity) is going to be increasingly important as our core grant shrinks.“

Projects that deliver our objectives and contribute to supporting our existing staff costs and running costs will be increasingly important to our survival. This reality is part of the cultural shift that has to take place in the Authority.”

Transitional budget

That reality was clearly outlined by Richard Burnett, the director of corporate services, when presenting what he described as the transitional budget for 2015/16. Following the cuts in the Authority’s core grant it had been estimated that the deficit for this year would be £125,000. This had been resolved by the Authority having put aside a reserve from unbudgeted savings and by generating income through introducing new charges.

But there was always the likelihood of additional cuts and it could become increasingly difficult for the Authority to balance the books. If there are significant grant cuts in the next few years the Authority may have to reduce its staff numbers by 24 per cent.

One impact of these financial restraints is that the publication of the new Local Plan has been put back until Spring 2016. This also allows for a selective review of the plan to find ways to increase the provision of new housing in the Dales.

Both he and Mr Butterworth said that the budget would be reviewed later this year when the following were known: how successful the Authority has been in generating more income; the attitude of the new government towards National Parks; and if a decision has been made concerning the proposed boundary extensions.

That 38 degrees petition

When presenting the draft of the Authority’s fund raising strategy Mr Butterworth stated that the only agenda the civil servants in Defra had now was how to make cuts.

He added: “The only time the civil servants and ministers take any notice is when they think they might be threatened or embarrassed. So the recent 38 degrees petition – with 200,000 calling for no more cuts for National Park Authorities – caused some ructions. They sat up and took notice of that.”

The Authority’s fundraising strategy, he said,  included seeking to secure grants from such agencies as the Heritage Lottery Fund and Local Enterprise Partnership, and charging for services and trading activity. The Authority is trialling an eBay shop for online sales as well as considering a café franchise at the Dales Countryside Museum (see below).

Income generation

Judith Donovan said that it should be called an income generating strategy as fund raising implied charitable purposes. Even sponsorship, she explained, should be listed as commercial and not charitable. “We need to actively go out and aggressively pursue some of these,” she added.

Mr Butterworth warned that the Authority owned very little land compared to some other National Parks. And the value of the land might be insignificant compared to the cost of the consultation process and marketing it.

Each year some of that land would be sold so as to save the high cost of staff managing those assets, he added. “I’m calling them assets but that’s really pushing it,” he commented. The Authority would prefer to find like-minded groups which would take on those pieces of land. If that was not possible they would be sold on the open market.

Public toilets at Grassington

The members agreed that turnstiles should be installed at the public toilets in the National Park’s car park at Grassington and that there would be a 20p charge to enter them.  This will be part o f a two-year trial to find the best way to bring in some income which will help with the maintenance of the ten public toilets owned by the YDNPA.

As part of that trial a donation box will be installed at those beside the information centre at Aysgarth Falls to see which method brings in the most funds.

It will cost £9,000 to install the turnstiles at Grassington public toilets which may take two years to recoup as it is expected that the usage of those facilities will drop by 50 per cent once charges are introduced. The installation of an honesty box at Aysgarth Falls will cost £500.

Mr Butterworth told the meeting that the government cuts since 2011 had left the Authority in a difficult position. Some programmes had ended and others had been substantially reduced.

It was likely there will be further cuts and so the Authority had to find new income streams to maintain existing services. Without the additional income it was likely that several public toilets would be closed, he said.

Of the turnstile system he commented: “If this can’t work at Grassington it can’t work anywhere.”

The leader of Richmondshire District Council (RDC), councillor John Blackie agreed with him. He reported that the RDC might well have to introduce charges at the seven public toilets that it owns in the National Park. “It is very expensive to maintain public toilets,” he said.

In her report the Kathryn Beardmore, director of park services, stated: “Anything that could be perceived to put Grassington businesses at a disadvantage or cause problems for the local community will, understandably, not go down well.

“However, it is suggested that charging is undertaken on a trial basis, and part of the trial will be to assess the overall impact on the village and the local community. It is suggested that this be done in conjunction with Grassington parish council.”

Cafe at the Dales Countryside Museum

It was agreed that the business community and the parish council at Hawes should be consulted about establishing a café franchise at the Dales Countryside Museum (DCM).

Ms Beardmore outlined this income-generating project to the committee and added that they could not be sure anyone would apply for a café franchise at the museum. “If nobody wants to run it – it falls by the wayside,” she said.

Cllr Blackie reminded the committee of the negative response from the Hawes business community when such an idea was put forward in 2008. “The concern then and will be now (is) that if we are not careful in Hawes we will end up with a town with two ends and no centre in terms of the private business economy.” Visitors, he said might drive to the Wensleydale Creamery and the museum and not bother to walk into town.

Mrs Donovan commented: “It’s very important that we do share with the local business community our plans for development.

“When I first joined the Authority I was asked to do a consultant’s report on the DCM which at the time was turning in some pretty appalling numbers. Only about one in ten people who walked into that building was actually paying money to visit it and therefore we had a very under-exploited asset.”

The Authority had invested in developing the museum since then and was now showing an increase in visitors, she said, but it was not yet providing the range of facilities it was supposed to do as a museum.

Mrs Donovan told the meeting: “Success breeds success – the more facilities we can offer visitors the more visitors will come and the longer they will stay. This will benefit all the businesses in Hawes.”

She explained that the key part of the DCM’s revenue comes from business to business – meetings, conferences and events. But one business had recently cancelled two bookings at the DCM because of the lack of food facilities.

“This is not about one café in Hawes making money at the expense of another. This is about people taking their business to another location,” she said.

Mining Collection

The DCM manager, Fiona Rosher, told the meeting that the Yorkshire Dales Mining Museum (YDMM) at Earby had offered them that part of its collection which relates to the Yorkshire Dales.

The YDMM, which will close this summer, has over the past 50 years put together an extensive collection of materials relating to mining in the Dales between 1750 and 1910.

Julie Martin, the YDNPA member champion for cultural heritage, agreed with Mrs Rosher that part of such a collection would be a great asset to the DCM. She said: “The collection pertains to one of the most distinctive aspects of the dales landscape, its culture and its natural heritage and I believe there are no other similar collections.”

It was agreed that the offer should be accepted along with any assistance towards the cost of integrating the collection into that at the DCM. Grants will also be sought.

Andrew Colley asked if the collection could later go on tour to Hebden and Grassington as both these towns had had significant mining industries.

Charitable status for the Dales Countryside Museum?

Cllr Blackie asked if the DCM could become a charitable trust as that could mean saving up to £38,000 a year. At present the DCM pays that much in business rates. If it was a charity this would be immediately reduced by 80 per cent and there was the possibility of the rates being dropped to zero per cent.

“We are going to be facing yet more cuts – it’s just how severe they are. One way of perhaps saving some vitally important money would be to see if we can make the DCM a charity,” he said.

Mr Butterworth replied that Ms Beardmore had been asked to research this and the committee would discuss it later in the year.

Destination Dales Group

Ms Beardmore presented a report on the creation of the Destination Dales Group (DDG) in February which has replaced the Dales Tourism Partnership.

The  DDG is an advisory body of organisations and tourism businesses in the Yorkshire Dales and Nidderdale who will work collaboratively to help guide the development of tourism in the Dales.

It is chaired by Mrs Donovan who is the Authority’s member champion for promoting understanding. The Authority provides the secretariat for the group with the help of the Nidderdale Area of Natural Beauty.

Mrs Donovan said: “This recognises that the majority of businesses in the National Park are small businesses. What they need more than anything is business and marketing advice to sell themselves.

“It is not our job to market the Dales to consumers and businesses. It is our job to support businesses in the Park who are themselves selling to businesses and we want to help them do it better. “

Yorkshire Dales Society

North Yorkshire County councillor Richard Welch told the meeting that according to the latest Yorkshire Dales Review the Yorkshire Dales Society (YDS) was now on the list of consultees for all planning applications submitted to the YDNPA.  He commented:

“With all due respect this (Society)  is self-appointed, self-opinionated and unaccountable to anybody. It’s a lobby group.” He asked if it was fair for this Society to be consulted on all planning applications.

Mr Butterworth responded that it was fair and right that any individual or any organisation who wanted to comment on any application could do so, even if it was a lobby group. “We want to be open and transparent and we should be open to scrutiny and challenge.”

Cllr Welch replied: “I fully agree about openness and transparency but they are blatantly, in their magazine, saying they are consultees. That puts them on a par with parish councils, the Highways Authority, and others. This gives the impression of superiority and that they are consulted on everything.”

Chris Armitage, who is a member of the YDS, responded that there was no suggestion that the Society was on the statutory consultee list alongside the parish councils and the Highways Authority.

Peter Charlesworth, the chairman of the Authority, said: “We will look to see if there is a list in the planning department of those who are consulted – a “secret” list – and we will make it un-secret.”

Ian MacPherson asked that the results of the inquiry be made known to all the members.

YDNPA – planning committee March 2015 (West Witton)

An ARC News Service report of the discussion at the planning committee of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) on March 10, 2015 concerning the provision by Airwave Solutions of superfast broadband to West Witton  and the subsequent placing of  tree preservation orders on the two trees at the Fox and Hounds. For other reports from the March meeting see February to December 2015.

So yet again the YDNPA offices at Bainbridge, where the planning meetings are held, are being quoted as an example of “do as we say” rather than “do as we do”.

The West Witton residents who attended the planning meeting were delighted when a compromise agreement was reached to allow a national pilot scheme for superfast broadband to go ahead in their village. They were especially pleased that the chairman of the Authority, Peter Charlesworth, fully supported the scheme.

But within days their delight turned to anger and dismay because the Authority issued those tree preservation orders which would probably have made it impossible for the scheme to be launched by April. They asked how the Authority can say it wishes to support the provision of modern communications systems in the Yorkshire Dales and yet make it so difficult to achieve.

On March 16  North Yorkshire County councillor John Blackie sent an email to the YDNPA at 9.36am  asking for an explanation. And West Witton parish councillor John Loader then sent a comment with the good news that agreement has been reached over work on those trees. He added: “Am checking site for crested newts, dormice and giraffes just in case another bit of the Park puts its oar in.”

It had been hoped that the aerial masts would be in place by the end of March but on the 27th Mr Loader reported that Galloway Estates who are managing the installation had hit a couple of administrative problems with two sites. It hoped to start work using early access agreements whilst the paperwork was dealt with. The aim is to have all the sites up and ready to run in three weeks – that is by mid April.

Report of the discussion at the planning meeting:

The ‘tourist dance’ will soon be a past memory in West Witton in Wensleydale thanks to the planning committee approving plans for four masts to be erected by Airwave Solutions as part of a nationwide pilot project to bring superfast broadband to rural areas.

West Witton parish councillor Mr Loader told the committee that mobile phone companies were now offering free apps which enable users to connect with networks when they are in a WiFi zone. He explained that the masts would create such a zone – a WiFi cloud. “That means the end of the tourist dance where people walk up and down the road – even climbing on walls,” he said.

Both he and Richmondshire District councillor, Matthew Wilkes, were surprised at the number of residents who had attended a meeting in West Witton to discuss the scheme proposed by Airwave Solutions. “It was called by the people proposing this because they were worried that the village was going to object. There was not one objection.”

He added that they were very proud to be part of such a pilot scheme and totally supported it. “This is vital for the village as it’s going to serve well over 100 properties. That includes some of our hospitality businesses. The internet is (now) viewed as a utility.”

Cllr Wilkes said that keeping up with modern technology was vital in rural areas and was one way of stopping the exodus of young people and families. He knew of Dales-based businesses which had already seen a dramatic increase in growth since superfast broadband had become available in their area.

To which Cllr Blackie added: “Some of the communities I represent in Upper Swaledale don’t even get terrestrial TV or radio – they’ve been left behind by modern day communications. There’s no broadband, no mobile telephone (network) – until recently they had party lines.

“It’s very difficult if you can’t make internet connection,” he said pointing out that farmers needed it to record the movement of livestock and even primary school children used it to do their homework. “We must ensure in future that when we have new technologies like broadband we don’t leave communities behind.”

Peter Charlesworth commented that since becoming chairman of the Authority he had visited many parish councils and had assured them that the YDNPA was committed to bringing high speed broadband to the communities in the Dales.

“As was said at the Rural Summit organised by Cllr Blackie last year, we are desperate to keep employment, to bring employment to our communities, to keep them alive and above all to keep young people and families in the Dales. This is one of the most important ways we can support them. Obviously we have to balance it with the landscape – but here the benefits should clearly take precedence,” he told the meeting.

Originally the planning officer had recommended refusing permission for two of the masts – that in the Fox and Hounds car park and the other at the playing field – because they could have a negative impact upon the landscape. But for those two Airwave Solutions had changed their applications from permanent installations to temporary.

The planning officer commented: “Taking a pragmatic view this would seem reasonable given that this is a pilot project and would allow the authority to assess the impact of the masts through the changing seasons and allow sufficient time to enter into a dialogue with the applicants to discuss alternative solutions and designs if it was considered that the masts were harmful.”

He had been particularly concerned about the impact of the 13m slimline mast with its four antennae and two dishes would have on the Fox and Hounds which is a Grade II listed building, and that it would be visible from the A684. Cllr Loader, however, argued that it would be very little higher than the tree it would be positioned close to, and that the entrance to the car park was so narrow that most people would not see it from the road.

Cllr Blackie commented: “I see that wiser council has prevailed and we can move forward on a sensible compromise.” He explained that the pilot project was necessary because the cost of bringing superfast broadband to villages and towns which did not have cabinets that could be upgraded was proving to be so expensive.

In his report the planning officer noted that as the government’s target of 90 per cent superfast broadband coverage in North Yorkshire had already been achieved there were no plans for further BT administered fibre-optic links to be provided.

The scheme at West Witton is part of one of the eight national pilot projects being funded by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport with the objective of finding out which was the most cost-effective.

All four masts at West Witton are required for the project to work. That at Penhill Farm at the top of the Stoops will receive the signal from Leyburn telephone exchange and will transmit it to those at the Fox and Hounds and the playing fields. The signal from the mast at the Fox and Hounds will be relayed to that at Wynbury Stables. It is also hoped to serve 40 households at Preston under Scar from the mast at Penhill Farm.

Airwave Solutions plan to run this trial in West Witton for 12 months.

The following reason was given for issuing the tree preservation orders:

The Authority has made the order for the following reasons: the planning application has been approved by the Authority to install superfast broadband mast within the car parking area to the rear of the Fox and Hounds public house.

The proposal is to install the mast in close proximity to two mature trees, one ash and one sycamore. At a pre-application meeting the developers proposed that the sycamore could be removed to facilitate the installation of the mast. The senior planning officer present was concerned that the removal of the tree was unnecessary and that it should be retained.

On inspection of both of the trees they appeared to be in good health with no obvious of poor  health or structural defect. The trees are situated in a prominent location and are visible from the main street and neighbouring properties and a nearby public way/right of way and it is considered that they make a significant contribution to the amenity of the surrounding area. They also screen where the new mast will be located if planning permission is to be given.

Cllr Blackie’s email to the YDNPA at 9.36am on Monday, March 16:

Having been Community Hero for one day on the issue of Superfast Broadband for West Witton, the YDNPA turned into Community villain the very next day by serving a tree preservation order that will stand in the way of progress being made quickly to deliver the pilot SFNY service.

This is not the favourable community outcome painted in and promised by the press release the Authority issued.   As the member who seconded the Officer’s recommendation for all 4 masts in West Witton I wonder if you could tell me please what is going on ??

I will be knocking on doors in West Witton in my Election Campaign (he is standing as an independent parliamentary candidate for Richmondshire), and householders will understandably want to know from me about a YDNPA that has a public persona of going the extra mile to help the local community and a private stance of doing its absolute best to put obstacles in its way.

Duplicitous (or worse, dishonest) are the words those from West Witton who have contacted me have said about the YDNPA and the imposition of the TPO.

At 10am he received a response from the YDNPA chief executive, David Butterworth – hence, he said, the full steam ahead email to Mr Loader.

Below is part of the press release issued by the YDNPA immediately after the masts at West Witton were discussed at the planning meeting. I can’t help feeling that it is a shame that neither Chris Armitage nor the press officer were told about that steps taken to impose the tree preservation orders!

Chris Armitage, the Authority’s planning committee deputy chairman and Member Champion for Development Management, said: “As part of looking after this special place, the YDNPA also has a duty to seek to foster the well-being of our local communities.

“In the National Park Management Plan we and our local partners made specific commitments to improve access to broadband as part of our efforts to try to keep the area special, while helping it to thrive. We believe it is crucial that local businesses and households should have decent broadband access – with superfast broadband in place for areas with significant population.

“The National Park is a sensitive environment. We have been working very closely with Airwave to make this positive planning decision possible.  We look forward to working with Airwave to assess the outcome of this pilot and, hopefully, to being able to add more areas to the broadband access list in the near future.”

A spokesman for Airwave said: “Over the last six months, Airwave has worked closely with the National Park Authority, the parish council and local residents to identify an innovative approach to providing superfast broadband in West Witton and the Esk Valley, and we can now begin the work needed to deliver a trial.

“Our experience in providing a resilient and dedicated emergency services network – covering 99 per cent of Great Britain’s landmass including remote and rural areas – means that we have the knowledge and skills needed to help address the challenges faced by rural communities like West Witton.”



Upper Dales Area Partnership – January 2015

An ARC News Service  report of the Upper Dales Area Partnership  (UDAP) meeting held at the Dales Countryside Museum in Hawes on January 21, chaired by the leader of Richmondshire District Council (RDC), councillor John Blackie,  and attended by Tony Clark, managing director of the RDC; Callum McKeon,  RDC corporate director and solicitor; and David Butterworth, chief executive of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA).  The issues discussed were: austerity and financial cutbacks; post 16 bus passes; affordable housing; paediatric unit at the Friarage Hospital, Northallerton; out of hours doctors service at Catterick Garrison; community defibrillators;  superfast broadband;  and emergency highway repairs.


Austerity warning

The country is going to face even worse austerity cutbacks in the next four years warned Tony Clark. He expected that  the “huge amount” of £1 million would be taken out of the RDC budget in that time.

He told the meeting: “We are going to see unprecedented reductions in public expenditure  – whatever party is in power after the general election.”

Callum McKeon said that the RDC was trying not to cut services but to deal with the shortfall by carrying out internal restructuring and by looking for new ways of generating income.  “We are working on a five year rolling process and the area partnerships will be a key way of our getting those messages across about the issues we are facing and the problems,” he added.

David Butterworth reported that as most of the Defra budget was not protected the YDNPA had been told to expect additional cuts of up to 50 per cent from 2015 until 2020. The YDNPA budget was reduced by 43 per cent from 2010 to 2015 and this led to 40 members of staff being made redundant in 2011.

The Authority was taking on projects which fulfilled the National Park purposes such as being responsible for the Pennine Bridleway.  This he said stretched from Derbyshire to Scotland and involved 14 local authorities who will pay the YDNPA to carry out the work.

At the Rural Summit held in Leyburn in November it was agreed that the RDC and the YDNPA must work in partnership to tackle problems during such a period of austerity.

Mr McKeon described how they were doing this concerning the future use of the Weatherald site at the old Askrigg railway station. The RDC has given £30,000 to fund a detailed study and development plan for the site.

Cllr Blackie commented: “One of the points that came out of the Rural Summit was that the old days of expecting people to do it for you – organisations to do it for you -have gone. If you are going to keep your communities vibrant you can’t expect someone else to do it for you.”

But he did not feel it was right to expect volunteers to do all the work. The local authorities had to meet communities half way by providing subsidies and resources.

The Rural Summit was a work in progress he  said and there would be a high level meeting soon between the RDC and the YDNPA to cement the working relationships between the two.

Post 16 bus passes

The high cost of an annual bus pass for Post 16 students attending the Wensleydale School is a tax on education and rurality, Carperby-cum-Thoresby parish councillor Steve Sheldon told the meeting.

All were amazed to hear that Post 16 students from Hawes were not allowed to get onto the school bus if they did not have a bus pass which now cost their parents £550 a year.

“My son said he would leave school and go to work because I couldn’t afford it,” said Diane Raw. She had, however, insisted that she would find the money.  She and the other parents who attended the meeting were especially aggrieved that the school bus always had empty seats.

She explained that as all the parents were working it was not possible to organise a car share system to take the students to the Wensleydale School which is about 18 miles away.  This is the nearest school and the Post 16 section of it could be jeopardised by the high cost of bus passes.

Cllr Sheldon commented that North Yorkshire County Council was penalising those who wanted to go on to further education and wondered how many young people had decided not to continue their education because of it.

Both he and RDC councillor Yvonne Peacock queried the principle of charging for bus passes when children now have to stay in some form of education or training until their 18th birthday.

“I am stunned,” said David Butterworth. “This is another attack on young people. In Britain we hate young people. We must do something to change this – it is outrageous.” He added that this was the first challenge to the Rural Summit.

Cllr Blackie, who is also a North Yorkshire County councillor, said that he had not supported the introduction of charges for bus passes for Post 16 students. When this was introduced a few years ago the bus passes had cost £300 but that had gradually increased. He stated:

“If you live in a place like Hawes or Swaledale there’s no way that you can have a car sharing scheme because it means somebody has to give up at least an hour of their day in the morning and an hour in the evening. At the Rural Summit we spoke about keeping young families in the dales. There is an exodus going on.”

The sixth-formers of today were potentially those who will find employment in the dales and become active members of the community in 20 years time Ruth Annison said.

Burton-cum-Walden councillor Jane Ritchie commented that the cost of the bus passes should be challenged but also wondered if, in the short term, a practical solution could be found. This might involve the parents forming a collective so as to apply for financial assistance.

It was agreed to support Cllr Blackie raising the issue at the county council’s area committee in March.

Paediatric service at the Friarage Hospital

There is little faith now in the South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust since it announced that the paediatric unit at the Friarage Hospital  will be open for 20 hours less a week than was promised just three and a half months ago, Cllr Blackie told the meeting.

“We’ve lost faith, we’ve lost trust, we’ve lost confidence – and so has the public. The biggest cut back of hours is on a Saturday and Sunday when there are no GP practices open. They are actually cutting hours when they are likely to cause the greatest worry for young parents,” he said.

He reported that both the Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which pays for that service,  and the county council’s  scrutiny of health committee were opposed to  the cutback in hours. The RDC has also  told the South Tees Trust that it strongly opposes the cutback and has asked that the 10am to 10pm seven days a week service be reinstated.

He pointed out that at present the South Tees Trust has only promised to review the situation in April.

Cllr Peacock was concerned that in the past a temporary cutback in a service at The Friarage had later become permanent. “Is history repeating itself?” she asked.

Cllr Ritchie, who is a lay member of the CCG,  agreed with Cllr Blackie that the South Tees Trust owed the local population an explanation and a commitment to bring the full service back as soon as possible. She said she had no additional information but did know that there was a serious shortage of doctors because it was proving difficult to replace those who had either retired or had emigrated to Australia.

The concern about the future of the Friarage Hospital  was raised by RDC councillor John Amsden who said: “I think they are just draining away the Friarage slowly but surely in anticipation of closing it.”  But Cllr Ritchie responded:

“I don’t think they will close it. The South Tees Trust has an enormous debt – I think that’s one of the things that might be causing practical problems. But I don’t sense at all a sort of ‘let’s get rid of the Friarage’.

“As I understand it the government is trying to get this 24/7 service and the only way they are going to do it is by having a small number of massive hospitals and all the little ones will get much, much smaller and become like super cottage hospitals. They don’t seem to be able to train enough doctors to cope with the demand.

The area partnership agreed to fully support the RDC in its opposition to the cutback in hours of the consultant-led children’s services at the Friarage Hospital.

Out of hours service

Ruth Annison said that the NHS should send out a simple set of instructions about how to get to the out of hours doctors’ service at Catterick Garrison.

Even the road signage had not been changed yet to direct people to the new location. Mr Clark reported that the highways authority hoped to erect a new sign soon.

And it didn’t help that a doctor contacted via the 111 service didn’t know where it was either. RDC councillor Richard Beal reported that when he had rung 111 he was connected to a doctor at Leeds who could not give him directions to the out of hours surgery.

It was agreed to ask the NHS to send details with a map to various publications including the Upper Wensleydale Newsletter, to holiday cottages and B&B providers, and to the parish councils.

The out of hours service is presently at the Harewood GP Surgery, 42 Richmond Road, Catterick Garrison, DL9 3JD.

Community defibrillators

Cllr Ritchie reported on the provision of community defibrillators in the dales and said she would like to see each village have a small team of people who had been trained in CPR – cardiopulmonary resuscitation. The area partnership approved a grant for the purchase of a dummy on which volunteers could practise.

She explained that it would be hard for one person to continue giving CPR for ten to 20 minutes and so it would be better if there was a number of people who could help.

There isn’t a community defibrillator at Carperby because there is a first responder team based there. That team’s equipment includes a defibrillator and an oxygen cylinder Cllr Amsden said.

Cllr Blackie told the meeting that the community defibrillators had been funded by the RDC’s Communities Opportunities Fund, with the district council working closely with the CCG so that even the smallest villages in Upper Swaledale had such equipment available. There was, however, a problem in Keld where the public phone box was some distance away from the community defibrillator and there was no mobile phone signal.

In an emergency a 999 call should be made to the ambulance service first. Ambulance control will then give the code for opening the box and accessing the defibrillator.

Affordable Housing

The right to buy council houses has been the death knell of the sustainability of small communities in the dales, said Cllr Blackie.

And Mr Butterworth commented: “Council houses provided the first rung for so many young people before they could get in a position where they could afford to buy a house. That first rung has been wiped away. I don’t think you or any other local housing authority will get any support from central government. We had better realise that we are on our own.”

He added that almost a quarter of the housing stock  in the Yorkshire Dales National Park was now second homes or holiday cottages.  And the proposal by the Minister of State for Housing, Brandon Lewis MP,  to limit the use of Section 106 agreements on new developments has further undermined their ability to provide affordable homes. The Section 106 agreements enabled local planning authorities to seek contributions from developers to mitigate the harm of developments on local infrastructure and to provide affordable housing.

Mr Butterworth stated: “I think what was galling was the announcement was shoved out on a Friday afternoon when no one was listening just before Christmas and what was more galling than that the fact that it just absolutely took the legs away from years of consultation that goes into developing (housing plans) by people who are living and working in those areas – by some bloke sat in Whitehall behind a desk who was issuing this dictat. To be fair to the bloke in Whitehall – it was actually the politician standing behind him.

“It was a political decision. Because it was rather bonkers there are one or two organisations that have decided to challenge it.”  (West Berkshire Council and Reading Borough Council have applied to the High Court for a Judicial Review.)

Cllr Blackie reported that many more local authorities were planning to challenge the government on this issue because it blew affordable housing policies out of the water. “I think the government has got it completely, utterly and totally wrong. We are hoping for a U-turn,” he said.

Mr McKeon explained that the RDC had sought the advice of a leading QC and had been told that, as the district council had only recently adopted its local plan, the minister’s statement, which now forms part of the National Planning Policy Guidance,  could be treated as a material planning consideration. The RDC will, therefore,  continue to apply its policy of requiring affordable housing contributions from development sites no matter what their size. The government guidance is that such contributions can now only be required on developments of 10 houses or more in urban areas, and on five or more in rural areas.

Cllr Peacock did question imposing a contribution on the construction of just one house. She argued that a local young family having a house built for their own use would find it hard to pay towards the provision of an affordable home for someone else. Mr McKeon explained that the contribution would only have to be paid if the house was later sold.

It was useful that the YDNPA and the RDC had been forced to work together to try and address such serious issues as the lack of affordable housing, said Mr Butterworth. “Richmondshire has this bold plan – to try and provide housing while circumventing the government’s proposals for the right to buy. It is critical that housing is kept for renting for perpetuity. I think the initiative by Richmondshire to have a go deserves a lot of credit regardless of whether anything comes of it.”

Cllr Blackie explained that the RDC had stated at the Rural Summit that it would explore setting up an arms-length trading company with the objective of seeing  affordable homes built which would not be subject to the right to buy. Mr McKeon told the meeting:

“We have started the groundwork and have actually set the company up. We are now going into the detail of the legal work to prepare a business case to see what we are allowed to do within the financial constraints that we operate within in the RDC. That work is underway.”

The RDC has also been consulting with the housing associations to find out why it is so difficult for them to build affordable housing in rural areas. “We are looking for ways they can work with the district council in partnership to overcome those hurdles – to allow them to do what they do best which is to deliver houses. The district council would play a supporting role rather than an active, actual building role,” he said.

Forty local authorities were working together to try and develop their own schemes for affordable housing, Cllr Blackie said. They were looking for finance on top of that available through the government’s Housing Revenue Account.

Superfast broadband

One of the key elements required for economic development in rural areas was the provision of superfast broadband, said Mr McKeon. For that reason the RDC was working closely with Superfast North Yorkshire  to try and resolve any problems, including “not spots”.

The RDC’s business and community officer, Chloe Lewis,  reported that the pilot project to test a remote node for a few residents at  Ulshaw Bridge had been successful but the cost of providing electricity to it had proved to be as high as the connection to a cabinet serving 200 households.

This would further  increase the high cost of providing superfast broadband to those villages which did not already have a BT cabinet.

Cllr Beal commented: “Where there isn’t an existing cabinet the argument from the BT side is that’s more complicated and costly and in remote areas prohibitive at the moment. In Arkengarthdale we are looking at extending a radio network up the dale.” But that would not be considered until after 2016 and residents wondered if it would ever happen, he added.

All the cabinets have now been fibred for superfast broadband  Cllr Sheldon reported and the next stage will be  to put fibre into those places that haven’t got it at the moment – like Aysgarth and Carperby. Cllr Peacock remarked that it was a disgrace that those two villages did not have superfast broadband yet and called for that to be done as soon as possible.

“It’s certainly worth waiting for,” commented Cllr Blackie as Hawes already has superfast broadband.

Emergency highway repairs

The area partnership supported Cllr Blackie in his call for more common sense with dealing with urgent highway repairs.

At present the protocol for out of hours highway emergencies is that the Police should be contacted. North Yorkshire Police will then inform the duty operatives at Selby Swing Bridge.

At the meeting Cllr Blackie referred to these as the Selby Bridge gang when he described an incident which had occurred at Gayle in late October. A concrete mixer lorry had spilled a considerable amount of wet concrete onto the road on a steep hill. As the concrete was setting fast he contacted a local RDC employee (Neil Banks) who, once he had permission from his supervisor, cleared it before it formed a hard, dangerous lump.

When Cllr Blackie wrote to the highways department to commend Mr Banks he stated: “It would have been absolutely no good calling North Yorkshire Police. By the time I would have been able to contact them, then spelt Hawes, then told them where Hawes and the incident was, then waited the standard five hours (at least) for a policeman to arrive, the concrete would have set. In the old days I would have called Mike Woodford who encouraged county councillors to get in touch with him on these urgent matters. This is frowned upon, if not ruled out, wrongly in my view, by current management practice.”

the highways department responded by telling Cllr Blackie that he should have adhered to protocol. He was informed: “The protocol is not in place to inconvenience anyone, it is there to ensure that the correct action is taken as quickly as possible given the resources available to us; the protocol also ensures that out of hours tasks are allocated fairly, rapidly and efficiently.”

Cllr Blackie told the area partnership that in December Aysgarth and District parish council had contacted those at Selby Swing Bridge to report a dangerous situation along the road above Thornton Rust scar.  It wasn’t until 11 hours later that any police came to check the situation – and by then the A684 was closed to traffic due to flooding. This meant that all vehicles, including emergency ambulances were using the road through Thornton Rust.

“So our emergency ambulance route out of the dales was hanging by a thread,” Cllr Blackie said. “I’ve had plenty of other experiences of the system and it doesn’t work. It might work up and down the A1 and A19 corridors but it is not an appropriate system for the upper dales with the weather we get here. We must go back the system we used to have with Mike Woodford.”

When arguing for a more common sense approach Cllr Ritchie stated: “They should send some people on a training session on how to work within austerity and work differently to solve local problems.”

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YDNPA – Full Authority 2012 to 2014

Some reports from YDNPA Full Authority meetings 2012 to 2014, provided by the ARC News Service

There were times at the YDNPA full authority meeting on March 25 2014 when I felt as if I was listening to people from two different worlds.


Above: very much a family affair – Leyburn Auction Mart 2007

There was that of the auction marts in the Yorkshire Dales where farmers shared stories about trying to survive under the regime of  the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority. Stories of how planning officers put people off from making applications; of how farmers in the past had helped to create the wonderful landscapes of the Yorkshire Dales but their descendants were not trusted to take care of it; and of how children were being forced to move away even though their parents had a barn which could be converted either into a home for them, or into a workshop, restaurant or shop where they could make a living.

There was some hope on the horizon when the government decided to relax the planning regulations. Maybe at last those within the National Park would have the same opportunities as those just outside it. But if the YDNPA does introduce an Article 4 Direction in January 2015 farmers will require full planning permission for the change of