Bid to use former Dales school site for affordable housing

UDCLT directors Stephen Stubbs, John Watkins and county councillor Yvonne Peacock outside Arkengarthdale School before it was sold to a private buyer.

Plans have been unveiled to build affordable housing on the former Arkengarthdale School site.

Community leaders, who have submitted a bid to but the school, say all other potential sites in the Dale have been ruled out and the school is the only remaining development site which is suitable.

Previous proposals have been discussed for other sites in Langthwaite, including the district council car park.

Arkengarthdale Parish Council and the Upper Dales Community Land Trust (UDCLT) say the new proposal will create high-quality and energy efficient homes for local people.

They have submitted a bid to the owners of the site, Swaledale with Arkengarthdale Parochial Church Council, to buy the site.

Stephen Stubbs, is chairman of Arkengarthdale Parish Council and vice-chairman of the UDCLT.

He said: “It was a very sad day when the school was forced to close, having been a focal point of the community for 360 years.

“What better way to preserve its integrity with a sympathetic development that will revitalise this pivotal building and continue its legacy.

“This development is being aimed primarily at young people to encourage them to bring up their families in the Dale and so keep the future bright for our deeply-rural community for a Dale without the presence of young families has no future at all.

“I urge all members of the Swaledale with Arkengarthdale Parochial Church Council to let their voice be heard and support our offer.”

The school building was purchased by the parishioners from Arkengarthdale Parochial Church Council (APCC) in 1933.

The APCC no longer exists and the school building legally belongs to the Swaledale with Arkengarthdale Parochial Church Council.

John Watkins, chairman of the UDCLT, said: “We hope the PCC will take an altruistic approach to our offer which is closely aligned with their charitable objectives, promoting the mission of the church in the widest sense.

“Over the years, many Christian initiatives have focused on addressing issues such as homelessness.

“We believe this scheme will enable us to honour the intent of the original parishioners, back in 1933, who sought a better future for the Dale and give the building back its long-held purpose in supporting the welfare of the Dales people, serving at the heart of our community and offering a lasting and positive impact on the future sustainability of Arkengarthdale.”

UDCLT has four directors, chairman John Watkins, vice-chair Stephen Stubbs, Abbie Rhodes, manager of Upper Dales Community Partnership, and County Councillor Yvonne Peacock.

For further information on the UDCLT’s affordable housing scheme in Arkengarthdale email udcltrust@gmail.com