Investigation finds no evidence of ‘party house’ at historic Swaledale stables

Marske Hall. Photo: David Rodgers.

Monitoring of a controversial development at a historic stables linked to the birth of horseracing has found no evidence of planning consent being broken by it being used “a party house”, rather than for holiday accommodation.

Residents in Marske, between Richmond and Reeth, had called for enforcement action at the grade II listed former stable block and coach house at Marske Hall last summer as works continued to refurbish what has been described as among the finest examples of polite architecture in the Yorkshire Dales.

Marske and New Forest Parish Council complained to the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority over potential planning breaches at the quadrangular building which was the birthplace of 18th century stallion Marske, whose thoroughbred descendants include Kauto Star and Desert Orchid.

At the time parish council chairman Nigel Philips said while planning consent had been granted to convert the building in the 19-acre grounds of Marske Hall into holiday accommodation, a number of the Swaledale village’s residents were concerned about noise and parking issues resulting from the building’s future uses.

The complaint came months after the developer’s plan to transform Marske Hall itself into an exclusive wedding venue and aparthotel was rejected over its long-term impact on the listed buildings and the village’s tranquillity.

Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority officers told its planning committee they had been monitoring the property since the complaint and the 1741 building’s owners had provided lists of guests who had visited.

An officer told the meeting: “There has been no evidence at all that is is being used as a party house. There has been no breach of control in that regard.”

However, officers concluded that a stone wall on the site needed to be rebuilt to not harm the setting or significance of the listed building and to screen oil tanks which had been installed without planning and listed building consents.

The meeting was told a planning application had been submitted to resolve the issues and officers believed both the impact of the changes and parking provision on the site were acceptable, so had recommended that permission be approved.

Before the revised plans were given consent, member Julie Martin questioned why the developers had set out to create 34 parking spaces on the site and said a planning condition was needed to ensure the 20 parking spaces that had been created at the stables must only be used by the guests.

She said: “This is a curious application and I can understand the concern of quite a number of local residents.”

Lower Swaledale councillor Richard Good added as the village suffered “serious parking problems” when a few groups of walkers parked there, it was vital that developments at Marske Hall did not exacerbate the issue.

He added: “I think the residents are beginning to accept that the place is working reasonably well.”