Dales barn conversion would ‘set new bench mark’ if approved, YDNPA members told

Oughtershaw. Photo: John Illingworth.

A new bench mark could be set for the conversion of traditional roadside barns in the Yorkshire Dales if the plans for a small one at Oughtershaw are approved by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s planning committee.

This was the warning given by a planning officer at the meeting on April 10.

And when the majority of the committee voted in favour of Nigel Pearson’s application the head of development management, Richard Graham, said that the decision would be referred back to next month’s meeting as there were some fundamental points on policy to be considered.

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He explained that there should be strong material considerations for deviating from the local policy and if there weren’t a precedent would be created.

In his report a planning officer stated: “If approved, the proposal would set a new bench mark for barn conversions whereby all applicants would wish to have a kitchen off the main building with a fully glazed screen wall that represented a 33 per cent increase in floor space.”

At the meeting he said that the extension could be half the size of that proposed and warned: “Officers consider that to allow this proposal due to its size and function would result in a clear precedent that would seriously undermine the existing policy.

“It would be likely to generate numerous new applications.

“While officers would have to try and resist such proposals it would represent a green light for the addition of bright, modern fully glazed airy kitchen and dining rooms for all new barn conversions and applicants would ask to have these considered by the committee rather than by officers.

“Any such subsequent approvals would further erode the policy and efforts of officers to negotiate sensitive conversion schemes.

“The final and fundamental tenet of the planning system is that applicants should be able to expect consistency in decision making.”

North Yorkshire County councillor John Blackie expressed concern that the officer had over stepped the mark in his presentation – and for doing so Cllr Blackie was rebuked by both North Yorkshire County councillor Robert Heseltine and the chairperson, Richmondshire District Councillor Caroline Thornton-Berry who stated after the vote : “I would ask members if they would respect officers who are doing their best – they have got very clear guidelines.”

Even so the majority accepted Cllr Blackie’s argument that the plans should be approved as it would provide accommodation for a rural worker in a very isolated area where  additional storage and utility space were required especially in winter.

He explained that Mr Pearson had reduced the size of the extension as suggested at the March meeting and no longer wished to use the converted barn as a holiday let until his son wanted to live there.

Cllr Heseltine said he  had no problem with the proposed design and form of the extension but asked if the amount of walling could be increased. “This application is now for full-time occupancy, hopefully by a family eventually. This would be a reasonable extension suitable for modern living needs.”

Chris Clark agreed with him and stated: “We should, as a committee and as an Authority, be looking 50 to 100 years forward. We should be allowing this to go through because without the extension it is not fit for purpose. It cannot be used for local occupancy.

“As an Authority we should be leading the way. Refusing this would be counter-productive.”

He added that if the application was refused they would be rejecting a local  housing opportunity.

Some members argued that a precedent would not be set because each application would be considered on an individual basis.

But Ian McPherson reminded them that the local plan policy for the conversion of roadside barns was that they should not need to be significantly extended.

“If we do grant permission for this, in my view, we do so in direct contravention of policy and here is a precedent set along the line.

“If we don’t like the consequences of our decisions because of existing policies then the way forward is to change the policy, not simply to modify our decisions to fit in with what we think it should be.”

ARC News Service

1 Comment

  1. Absolutely clueless, they vote for absurd policies and then make an exception, who is the applicant?

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