Developers behind two major building projects planned for Leyburn say the Covid-19 pandemic has not derailed the schemes.
Plans are being drawn up for a new 127-home housing estate off the town’s Moor Road, while another scheme for a 40-room hotel, 158-cover restaurant and a large country store on a field off Harmby Road has also been proposed.
Across the UK, building schemes have been put on hold during the pandemic because of safety fears and uncertainty surrounding the economy.
But the companies behind the Leyburn schemes say they intend to press ahead.
Yorvik Homes submitted plans for 127 new homes at Hill Top Farm, off the Moor Road, in May.
Since then, the health crisis has hit the construction industry hard with major firms such as Persimmon and MJ Gleeson reporting 30 per cent falls in profits and sales.
However, Mathew Gath, managing director at Yorvik Homes, remains optimistic about the future of the Leyburn development and is confident that it will attract people to the area.
He said the coronavirus had not prompted the firm to rethink its plans for the site, even suggesting more people were now considering the benefits of moving away from urban areas.
“There is a real interest in rural properties at the moment, most of the questions we are asked by potential buyers are about the availability of good broadband and the like.”
This view was shared by local estate agent, Brian Carlisle, of JR Hopper.
He said: “Since re-starting viewings we are as busy as ever. If the new houses were ready now, there would be no trouble in selling all 127 of them.”
While Mr Gath would not be drawn on a possible start date for Yorvik’s project, which is still at the planning and consultation stage, he did say that as far as the application for planning permission was concerned it was “full steam ahead”.
Inn Collections, the company behind the scheme to build a 40 room hotel, together with a 250 cover restaurant, on land off Harmby Road, is also pressing ahead despite the problems facing the hospitality industry.
Project and development manager Graeme Wood said: “We are still very much committed to the project in Leyburn.
“It’s been a tough time lately, but we have the backing of our financiers and we are pressing ahead with our plans”
Northumberland based Inn Collection now have 14 pubs with rooms across the north and have recently completed a similar hotel in Amble.
Asked if one reason the company selected Leyburn for their latest project was that like the coastal tourist hot spot, they were aware of the plans to build more local housing Mr Wood said: “That would be a hard yes.”
Mr Gath said that he too recognised the benefits any increase in hospitality choices would bring to potential new residents.
“While I wouldn’t want to comment on any particular scheme, generally in terms of attracting people to Leyburn any further development, done right and in the right place is welcome.”
Charlie Turner, from Sam Turner and Sons, which wants to build a large country store, including children’s play barn, next to the proposed hotel, said the new housing development plans for Leyburn were not part of their thinking when they made the decision to put in for planning.
“We have had a store in Leyburn, albeit a small one, for over 40 years, so we know the area well and love the people, many of whom are customers or will know of us.
“The reason for the timing of planning application and wanting to expand what we do in Leyburn was really driven by the availability of a suitable site. We have wanted to expand our Leyburn offering before but were limited by a lack of opportunity.
“We have waited a long time to find the right site in Leyburn to create a Sammie’s that will hopefully please the town and the surrounding area, so we aren’t having second thoughts, we know that in the long run and it will come right and we have already waited a long time.”
Leyburn County councillor Karin Sedgwick said she could see many benefits arising from both schemes.
“The hotel and country store has a lot of wins for jobs and facilities while the extra housing will support businesses and schools, I welcome and support both developments.”
Both schemes have attracted both critics and supports among the local community.
Concerns the housing estate could increase problems of flooding in the town have been put forward, while the impact on traffic levels, noise from the development, loss of a green field and the visual impact of the scheme as you approach Leyburn from the east along the A684 are among the issues raised by those who oppose the Harmby Road proposal.
Councillor Sedgwick has faced some criticism for her stance but says many residents of what she calls the “metropolis” of Leyburn back her,
“A lot of my constituents are so pleased with the developments, some of the objections are short-sighted.
“Whether people like it or not, Leyburn is up and coming.”