Councillors’ unhappiness over barn conversion refusals

Pike Hill Barn looking from Hawes. Photo: YDNPA.

Richmondshire members of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s planning committee spoke of their dissatisfaction after three proposed barn conversions were rejected yesterday.

“Businesses involving young families are not appreciated by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority,” Askrigg parish councillor Allen Kirkbride told the planning committee.

“I am not pleased with the way today has gone and how the authority appears to be reacting,” he told other members of the committee.

Richmondshire District councillor Yvonne Peacock agreed with him.

She warned that the authority was going back to being as divided as it was 20 years ago.

And North Yorkshire County councillor John Blackie stated:  “We want to attract young families. We want to retain young families. We want to attract new businesses. [But] we have been kicked in the teeth by a planning system that is there to shape our future, not ruin it.”

They spoke out about the way three barn conversion applications had just been dealt with when discussing an application for 7 seasonal yurts at West Shaw Cote Farm, Low Abbotside in Upper Wensleydale.

The head of development management, Richard Graham, told the committee that the barn conversions should be refused as the landscape would be harmed if they became dwellings.

For each application Cllr Blackie and Cllr Peacock asked the committee to consider the needs of local young families.

Cllr Peacock pointed out that it was young farmers like the one who wanted to convert Shoemaker Barn at Grinton into a  home for his family who maintained the walls and barns.

“You cannot expect to sustain our communities and to look after our landscape if we don’t actually have people wanting to live and work in the dales,” she said.

Cllr Blackie asked for a comparison in the distance between  Mike Barn in Lanacar Lane near Appersett and a road and that between Tug Gill Lathe and the B6160 in Wharfedale.

The application to convert the latter had been approved by an appeal inspector.  Mr Graham accepted that Tug Gill Lathe was further away.

He added that the appeal inspector had stated that its curtilage did meet the road. “That was a mistake. I think the inspector’s decision was a very cruel one and I don’t think [we] have to stand by it.”

“That’s something I have never heard before in a planning committee in 21 years,” commented Cllr Blackie.

He had argued that Pike Hill Barn at Ashes was in an enclave of Hawes and so could be accepted as being part of a settlement.

It was very unusual that no committee members spoke against the 3 barn conversions. Yet  when the vote was called 7 members lifted their hands in support of the officer’s recommendation for refusal while 7 supported the applications.

The counting was almost inaudible and it wasn’t clear that the chairman, Richmondshire District Councillor Caroline Thornton-Berry had voted against approving the applications.  Nor did she clearly state after each vote what the results were.

For the voting about the yurts at West Shaw Cote Farm no announcement was needed as every member approved the application – even though the officer had recommended refusal.

Cllr Kirkbride had questioned the way a “long-range” photograph had been used to support the officer’s argument.

“That must been at least two and a half miles away at least… to make it look worse than it actually is,” he commented.

He pointed out that the yurts would be there during the summer when the trees were in leaf and so there would be more screening.

“The nights were also shorter – and so there would be far less impact upon the National Park’s dark skies status.

Mr Graham agreed that this decision would not be referred back  but the applicants will be asked to plant more screening.

“Bushes not trees,” said Cllr Thornton-Berry.

After a long afternoon she asked the committee to make a quick decision about an application for a children’s playhouse at Hudswell  which the planning officer had recommended for approval.

The voting was so fast it was lost among the scraping of chairs and chatter.  And there was no announcement about the result. (It was approved)

ARC News Service 

1 Comment

  1. It would suit the National Park planners if nobody lived in the Park – well the Chief Exec doesn’t so he sets an example

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