The guardians of a national park which was designated among 21 International Dark Skies Reserves in the world two years ago have approved a proposal to extend a holiday park despite its appearance at night being compared to “Blackpool illuminations”.
Wensleydale-based members of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority also called for Leisure Resorts Ltd’s plan to remove two holiday lodges and replace them with a further six glamping pods at its Westholme Bank site, in Bishopdale, close to Aysgarth, to be rejected over a range of issues, including road safety.
The calls came just weeks after community representatives criticised plans for 15 holiday lodges near Aysgarth Falls, amid fears the area’s landscapes were being harmed due to overdevelopment.
A meeting of the authority’s planning committee heard an agent for Leisure Resorts state the proposal represented a small extension, that the firm was seeking to diversify the established holiday site’s accommodation and that it was unlikely an additional lighting would be required.
An agent for Leisure Resorts said the proposal represented a small extension, that the proposal was seeking to diversify the established holiday site’s accommodation and that it was unlikely an additional lighting would be required.
Highlighting safety concerns, Wensleydale farmer Allen Kirkbride said to reach Aysgarth visitors to the campsite faced a 300-metre walk on the A684, the main east-west road through the national park, beside fast-moving traffic, as there was no footpath.
Yvonne Peacock, a former leader of Richmondshire District Council, branded the narrow lane on which holiday-makers would walk from the site to the nearest village as “very dangerous” and said the proposal was “a step too far”.
Referring to the existing lighting at the holiday park, the Upper Dales councillor said: “It’s like Christmas. It’s unbelievable the light.”
Wensleydale farmer and chairman of the council’s planning committee, John Amsden then compared the site’s lights at night to “Blackpool’s illuminations”.
He told the meeting the authority had approved so much holiday lodge-type accommodation he feared the lodges would be “just left to rot” when in ten years’ time tourists attention had turned back to holidaying abroad.
Mr Amsden said: “The number of lodges which have been built in Wensleydale these last two years is horrendous.”
However, the meeting heard members underline that visitors to the Dales wanted a greater choice in accommodation, such as glamping pods.
Members agreed that while there was a pre-existing road safety issue with the site’s frequently walking up the minor road and across the A684 to the village, North Yorkshire County Council as the highway authority had made no objection on highway safety grounds.
Members added there was sufficient planting around the site to mitigate any light spillage and that any new external lighting could be controlled by condition to ensure that it meets the authority’s Dark Skies’ requirements.
Ahead of a strong majority of members approving the proposal, Secretary of State appointee to the park authority Lizzie Bushby added the impact of a net increase of four holiday units at the site would be limited.