Bid to turn historic Dales pub into house

The Moorcock Inn. Photo: John Illingworth.

Controversial plans have been submitted to turn an historic Dales pub into a house.

Under the plans submitted by owner Jo Cox, the bar area at the Moorcock Inn in Garsdale would become residential space while the former manager’s flat and office would become a tearoom.

The application submitted to the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) also seeks retrospective permission for the retention of three letting rooms.

YDNPA said it was investigating a potential breach of planning rules, which is understood to be concerned with work to convert the premises starting without a change in use being approved.

Documents submitted with the application state: “Following the applicant’s children leaving the former family home at East Mudbecks, Garsdale, that property ahs been sold and the applicant is looking to downsize and continue residing at the Moorcock Inn which property she has owned since 2016.

“In this context, the applicants was hoping to convert what was previously the bar area at the inn into her own personal accommodation. At the same time, because of the falling trade in the public house business, the applicant was looking to change the use of the rear part of the property from the manager’s residence/office space into a licensed tea room.

“At the same time the applicant is retaining three letting rooms within the property for overnight accommodation, with breakfast if required.”

The plans have drawn criticism from local residents and visitors, with eight objections submitted to the national park authority so far.

One submission states: “The Moorcock Inn is the only public house in the area with the nearest alternatives being in Sedbergh some six miles away or Hawes 12 miles away.

“It is therefore the only facility in the area and its loss would represent a significant loss of community amenity to the area and, most importantly, a real loss of its previous and current potential.

“The removal of a pub in this location also represents a significant loss to tourism in the area with many holiday letting businesses struggling to promote their properties due to lack of such facilities. Walkers, riders and cyclist often plan their trips around refreshment opportunities and the area is very remote with no alternative facilities.

“Its loss as a public house also represents a huge impact on the historic/social importance of the building.”

A spokesperson for YDNPA said in a statement: “We have been investigating a potential breach of planning controls and can confirm we have received a planning application for change of use.”

The pub dates back to the 1740s.

It was popular with navvies building the Settle and Carlisle railway line and in 1910 housed 12 bodies killed in the nearby Ais Gill train disaster. The preliminary hearing into the incident also took place at the pub.

In 1975, there was a fire at the pub which killed the landlord and lady on the day of their retirement.

To view the plans, click here.


  1. This would be a crime if it’s lost. It’s not just the locals who would be upset – it’s a legend and a Dales landmark. It was a real go to place for a Friday night out (and that wasn’t so long ago). I realise it’s not a good time for pubs but they all seem to thrive in the national park with tourism.

  2. Hawes is 5 miles from the Moorcock Inn and NOT 12 miles as stated in the article

    • It seems like 25 miles if you get stuck behind a slow caravan whose driver fails to let you overtake!

    • That’s a quote taken from one of the submissions/objections to the Planning Portal. That person must be quoting distances from their home (presumably along Garsdale closer to Sedbergh). There are 22 objections online now – some of them are really good reads!

  3. Once you lose this local amenity it will never come back. Many pubs in the Dales are successfully being bought by the community and run for the benefit of the said communities .

  4. I too think it would be a shame if it were lost but wonder how much it is used by those who’ve submitted objections.

    • If you read all of the objections you will see that some of those who wrote in point out that they have tried to use the pub but it kept irregular hours and at times was shut when it said online that it would be open. As a local that is the case – it’s an obvious example of a licensee running a place down to get change of use then lining their own pockets by cashing in on the price of houses.

  5. Isn’t one of the problems the fact that you have to drive there and drink and driving don’t go together very well?

  6. Depends what you drink and whether you’re the driver! Alcohol isn’t compulsory.

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