Four cars being parked on the former track bed at Halfway House near Hawes might prejudice the re-opening of the railway between that market town and Garsdale the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s planning committee was told.
Ruth Annison, who convened a meeting at Hawes last summer to discuss the re-opening of that six miles of railway, told the committee: “Halfway House is one of the very few critical sites for railway reinstatement.
“The possibility of access and parking for four cars encroaching on the track way is a serious matter so that I have already given formal notice that, if necessary, we will report this application to the Secretary of State.”
A professional engineer, Tony Smare, said that it looked as if establishing a new train service on the former branch of the Settle-Carlisle railway was achievable, and asked if alternative parking at Halfway House could be investigated before the application was approved. Richmondshire district councillor Yvonne Peacock agreed with him.
The application was for full permission to convert the barn attached to Halfway House into a separate local occupancy dwelling.
The planning officer said that as the authority’s policy was to support the reinstatement of the railway line the application had been advertised as a departure to the Local Plan for a period expiring on February 22.
He reported that the conversion of the barn would have a neutral impact upon the landscape and that a dry stone wall would be built to divide the present garden between the two dwellings.
He told the committee that although the existing car parking area on the former track bed would be increased to accommodate two more cars the track bed would remain unaltered and would be reversible should the railway be reinstated.
The head of development management, Richard Graham, reported that the owners of Halfway House also own the track bed there, using some as curtilage and some for parking. Neither he nor the authority’s chief executive officer, David Butterworth, felt the issue was big enough to be considered by the Secretary of State.
Mr Butterworth commented: “In the 21 years that this Authority has been in existence I don’t think there has been a single application that a Secretary of State would even consider calling in. I don’t think this one will be either. So it’s up to members to make a decision.”
North Yorkshire County councillor John Blackie asked, however, that the representations made at the meeting should be carefully considered and if there any issues that couldn’t be resolved the application should be brought back to the committee.
The majority of the committee, however, accepted Mr Butterworth’s advice and voted in favour of the officer’s recommendation.
This means that it is very likely that the application will be approved by officers on February 22.
ARC News Service