Decision on Swaledale visitor attraction expansion postponed after changes

Hazel Brown visitor attraction.

A proposal to bolster the future of a tourist attraction that has attracted hordes of visitors since 2003 has been postponed for a month after last-minute changes to the plan.

The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s planning committee heard Hazel Brow Visitor Centre’s scheme to build five hotel-style bedrooms with glass balconies, create a 32-cover cafe, and covert a joiner’s shop into holiday lets at Low Row, Swaledale, had been recommended for refusal due to road safety concerns.

The proposal, which aimed to enable workshops based around traditional farming techniques such as butter-making, spinning, and weaving, as well as yoga and photography, be staged alongside the working family farm, had been revised from a similar application last year.

Activities the traditional farm has become known for include sheep racing, goose herding and alpaca trekking.

To overcome planners’ concerns, over issues such as landscape impact, plans to create an underground nature observation room and launch a craft barn were abandoned.

However, after the park authority’s officers recommended the ambition be rejected for a second time due to concerns over the number of visitors entering and leaving the site from the B6270, the centre revised its proposals again.

Officers told the committee the proposal was now limited to providing two accommodation units, at the converted former joiner’s shop, works to improve the visual appearance of the existing visitor centre and make it more attractive from both the inside and outside.

While the scheme would also see a 30-cover café, play space and interpretation areas created, plans to build five hotel-style bedrooms with glass balconies have been abandoned.

Officers told members the changes would mean fewer vehicles visiting the centre, so it needed time to consider if road safety concerns had been overcome.

Officers added it was now envisaged the centre would operate “more or less as it has done previously”.

After it was agreed to defer a decision on the scheme until next month, Cath Calvert, who runs the centre, said was pleased the committee’s members would have more time to consider the scheme.

Mrs Calvert said she had received a lot of support for the scheme. She said: “We are trying everything we can to get this proposal through as at present it’s a question of what sort of scale we can function at.”

Regular visitor to Swaledale, Janice Applewhite, said she was among those hoping the scheme is approved next month as “sometimes there is a lack of activities for my two children”.

She said: “My children have visited the farm before where they did a nature trail, goose herding and sheep racing. They got an insight into farm life, and as we live in a town this was an eye opener and a rarity for them.”

1 Comment

  1. As a local resident and business owner I hope to see these plans passed. Tourism and farm diversification is imperative for the sustainability of our dale.

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