Barn conversion for family which grits Dales roads set for refusal

Bouldershaw Lane in Arkengarthdale. Photo: Google

A barn conversion application submitted by a family which helps to clear ice and snow from Dales roads is set to be refused.

Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority officers are recommended that the proposal to convert a barn off Bouldershaw Lane, in Arkengarthdale, into a small house with a local occupancy restriction is rejected.

The application has been submitted by the Stones family which are contracted by North Yorkshire County Council to clear ice and snow from the roads in Swaledale and Arkengarthdale – a fact which Upper Dales county councillor John Blackie should be taken into account.

An identical application was rejected by the park authority in 2012.

Cllr John Blackie led for the planning application to house the winter gritter operative five years ago.

He said: “In 2012 there was compelling arguments to support the provision of a rural workers dwelling given the essential nature of the winter gritting service provided selflessly with total dedication to the local community by the Stones family since the 1970’s.

“I remember Mike Woodford, the now retired area highways manager writing to the park authority planning committee confirming the excellent work the Stones do in keeping the roads in Arkengarthdale and Swaledale clear of ice and snow, and that there was no other contractor based in the Upper Dales who could do it.”

He added: “The situation is even more precarious today.

“Clark Stones is 80 years of age and unable to get up at 4am to set off on a winter gritting route.

“Robert his son is available, and now his son, Jack is returning from New Zealand to take his grandfather’s place in the business, but needs the barn conversion to live in.”

Cllr Blackie said the policy on roadside barn conversions like the application site had changed recently, with with planning policy relaxed.

But he added: “Yet again though this modest barn conversion is recommended by planning officers for refusal.

“The community in Arkengarthdale will be bitterly disappointed if the winter gritting service provided by the Stones, on which the Dales relies upon, has to cease.

“Its school is under threat with just 14 pupils and the plan for four affordable houses for rent in Langthwaite has led nowhere.

“And it does not see why the planning report says the barn would be suitable for accommodation for tourists when the need to house a local person who will help keep the community going about its day to day business is so very pressing.”

Cllr Blackie stressed that his preliminary view was to support the current planning application, but as a member of the YDNPA he would only make up his mind on the day at the planning committee when it is decided.

The application has the support of Arkengarthdale Parish Council, but the Yorkshire Dales Society has raised concerns.

It said: “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.”

A letter has also been received from a resident of Langthwaite commenting that the barn should remain undeveloped.

“If all of the barns are slowly converted it will result in urban sprawl,” they say.

Recommending refusal, planning officer Michelle Clowes said in her report that the barn could be suitable for a low intensity economic use such as group visitor accommodation, camping barn, or barn pod.

But she added: “It is considered that the works necessary to convert the building to a dwelling in continuous occupation including the creation of a new vehicular access with wide visibility splays would have a harmful impact on the character and appearance of the conservation area and on the character of the building.”

The application will be discussed at a meeting on Tuesday at authority’s offices in Bainbridge.