By Pip Land
The £850,000 development at Howe Syke Farm in Bishopdale can go ahead even though the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s planning committee was warned on Tuesday that the decision could set a dangerous precedent.
Just like last month, most of the committee voted in favour of approving the application which included converting a barn to holiday lets and the erection of two new barns, plus extending the 18th century farmhouse and providing accommodation for staff in its adjoining barn.
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At the April meeting Helen Brown informed the committee 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.
Upper Dales County Councillor John Blackie told the committee on Tuesday 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 North Yorkshire County Councillor Robert Heseltine added: “For future generations I will support this without reservation.”
Roger 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, Richmondshire District Councillor Caroline 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 remain 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.