Farming family seeks to restore abandoned Swaledale cottage

The long abandoned property and other historic buildings at West Stonesdale Picture: Google.

A struggle over the future of historic farm buildings in the Yorkshire Dales looks set to resume as planners meet to consider a young farming family’s proposal to restore a Victorian house on a moor that was abandoned more than half a century ago.

An online meeting of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s planning committee next week will hear a Swaledale couple with two children are seeking consent to re-occupy the traditional stone building close to the Pennine Way at West Stonesdale, near Keld.

The application is the latest in a series of moves to convert the area’s distinctive historic farm buildings that have seen the authority’s members split over whether conservation or communities should be of paramount concern.

Documents submitted to support the application state the proposals would see a track leading to the property improved for walkers and horse riders and “provide a long-term conservation option” to stop the 1876 building becoming derelict and that the proposed works “have been designed to be minimalistic and as low impact as possible”.

The application states: “Without receiving consent to reoccupy, this former house will likely fall into disrepair and join the many already ruined buildings which have past the stage of revival.”

Upper Dales North Yorkshire county councillor Yvonne Peacock, who is campaigning to reverse the exodus of young people from the national park, said as the property used to be a home, would be sympathetically restored and would support a young farming family, the proposals should be granted.

She said: “It is important that we keep young farming families. This is what we need for the future of the Dales.”

However, the park authority’s officers said to re-occupy a building it had to be demonstrated they are worthy of conservation, and proposed home had “only moderate interest as a heritage asset”.

They added the existing track to the property “is a very obvious blemish on the hillside” and the new track would have a detrimental impact on “public views of the wide open, undeveloped landscape”.

Planning officers said while the building contributes to the conservation area, the harm to the character by re-occupying the property outweighed benefits that would result from the maintenance of the former home.

Recommending the scheme be rejected, officers stated: “This is a remote site and the level of activity would be at odds with the character of the location.”


  1. This should be approved as this will be a home for local family who you need to retain in the area
    Do you want another dilapidated structure or would you like to see s home for local folk

  2. Oh, please. I’m sure walkers and horse riders would welcome an improved track and I doubt many visitors to the area from urban localities will really see a track as a blot on the landscape. I begin to think National Parks should be disbanded if they are so pernickety. Let the family have the ruin and best of luck to them in the restoration.

  3. the building should be should be repaired and turned into a youth hostel to be visited and used by inner city children

  4. Tracks are a blot on the landscape? What rubbish! I am a keen photographer, and without lead in lines like tracks, my pictures would be diminished. Subconsciously, our eyes follow tracks to lead us into the view – whether through just revelling in the beauty, or taking a picture.
    The planners need to take a deep breath and jump into the 21st century.

  5. There’s so much development up & down this land
    The Dales especially Swaledale is such as special untouched area , that needs to be fiercely protected
    for future generations , we’ve lost so much of our history , please please let’s protect it

  6. This family are obviously passionate about their locale area. What on earth is the matter with you sitting behind your desk? There is a life outside your office you know. The land can only IMPROVE by real people who as farmers,live and respect the conservation of land. Just by applying shows how much they deserve to work hard and live there.

  7. As a visitor to the area and not a resident I think planning should be granted to support families stay in the area and farm otherwise there will be no young farmers able to make a living in the area without having homes.

  8. The park is farmland, maintained by farmers. They need somewhere to live whilst looking after the land and producing food.
    No farmer’s = no food = no future.

    Or maybe you think we should rely on imported food like Hong Kong? And turn the whole country into a theme park?

    The mind boggles!

  9. Over recent years individuals have purchased moors and buildings in the dales for shooting. The work done on some ‘tracks’ and buildings has been extensive and it would seem without challenge from YDNPA. Blinkered economics appears to be the driver of decisions in the park, not natural and human environmental conservation.

  10. I have been coming to the dales with my family from Essex since I was a kid and we love to see all the barns and lonley houses, they are part of its working history and every effort should be made to preserve them, they are part of the landscape and the walls too.

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