‘Eyesore’ Swaledale barn set to be converted into house after planners back scheme

The field barn east of Grinton, which it is proposed to convert into a farmworker's home.

A young couple’s long-held ambition to convert an “eyesore” barn to enable them to continue living and working in a national park appears to have been finally achieved.

Farmer Chris Porter thanked members and staff of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority after it was unanimously agreed to change residential restrictions over Shoemaker Barn, near Grinton in Swaledale.

A meeting of the authority’s planning committee heard it was the seventh time they had considered an application over the former agricultural building, which has been a focus of battles between groups battling to conserve the park’s landscapes and those believing the preservation of communities is paramount.

While being given consent to create a home in open countryside in the national park is rare, members were told Mr Porter and his wife Laura had received planning permission last year to create a home on farmland as they needed to live near their animals and no other properties were available.

The couple’s permission came with a legal agreement that the barn could not be sold separately from the land holdings of his family’s farm business, which is responsible for the upkeep of 45km of stone wall, 27 field barns, 1,000 acres of heather moorland, 150 acres of hay meadows in Swaledale.

However, the meeting heard it had not been possible to conclude the agreement as much of the business was tenanted farmland and the business is a partnership with land owned collectively by individual family members or groups of family members.

In addition, the proposed dwelling would not be owned by the business but by one of the partners.

But after negotiations between the couple and the park authority, it was proposed to tie Shoemaker Barn to a person who is employed full time in agriculture on the land at Oxnop, Summer Lodge and Crackpot.

Members were told the restriction would be a standard agricultural tie, but with an additional restriction ensuring that the dwelling is only used for housing agricultural workers working on the particular land holdings used by the partnership.

Member John Amsden said it was important that flexibility be shown in planning to keep residents such as the Porter family living in the national park.