Mixed reception for farmer’s unauthorised music festival site

The Pealie's Barn planning application crowdfunding campaign. Photo: LDRS.

A farmer’s crowdfunding campaign to cover the costs of a planning application to convert a range of traditional agricultural buildings into a venue for small-scale music festivals has received more than £2,500 in donations.

More than five years after launching the transformation of Cockleberry Farm, between North Cowton and East Cowton, near Northallerton, Brian Richmond is seeking North Yorkshire Council’s consent to diversify barns once used as part of his family’s mixed arable and dairy enterprise.

While the application to change the use of Pealie’s Barn and other buildings is part of a wave of diversification proposals lodged by North Yorkshire farmers since Brexit, the papers state the barns had been redundant since the dairy herd contracted foot and mouth in 2001 and was culled.

Following the outbreak, the Richmond family received government incentive payments to leave the traditional brick buildings redundant and free from agricultural activity to avoid any future spread.

Papers submitted to the authority state, as a result of Brexit and the Agriculture Act 2020 changing government subsidies away from paying for acreage to producing “public goods” such as environmental improvements, the farm will see the £15,000 of direct Basic Payment Scheme funds paid to the farm in 2020 cut to nothing by 2028.

The venue’s website states: “For the past year we have held events based on the understanding that annually we had 28 days of permitted use and we were working towards a planning application, so we could eventually be a licensed premises. Unfortunately, very recently we were told by the council that the annual 28-day permitted use does not apply to us.”

To ensure the isolated 159-acre farm remains profitable, Mr Richmond aims to stage on average 84 events a year in Pealie’s Barn, including gigs, “musician meet-ups” with live performances, and “mini festivals” for up to 250 people and recording sessions.

The application papers state it is hoped to stage 12 mini festivals annually, and if they ran over three days, from noon to 11pm, the number of other music events would be reduced.

Mr Richmond is also planning on creating an art centre and staging community markets, educational workshops, arts and craft workshops, local craft and food markets and seasonal community events.

The application states: “Traditional buildings can easily fall into disrepair, requiring significant funds to guarantee their upkeep, including roof and structural repairs. These funds would not be achievable through the profit of any livestock enterprise using the traditional range at Cockleberry Farm.

“The conversion of Pealie’s Barn into a live music venue is a sustainable way of supporting the diversification of the rural economy without detracting from the character of the countryside.”

The application has received a significant amount of support from people who have already used the venue, with some highlighting there “is a distinct lack
of provision of such facilities in this area”.

In a letter to support the application, one supporter stated: “The venue itself is unique and will draw tourists and artists alike to the area, therefore much needed revenue to the local area.”

However, objectors have claimed with an increasing number of holiday lets nearby, the area was changing from “a functioning farming community” to a “tourist destination”.

in its response to the scheme which underlined its dismay at the site’s unauthorised development, East Cowton Parish Council claimed many of those supporting the proposal were not familiar with the area.

A parish spokeswoman said: “The application weighs heavily on re-using redundant buildings which is commended, but the impact of the proposed music venue will have substantial impact on residents.

“Having considered the noise assessment, councillors are concerned that noise will still travel and have a negative impact on residents. Noise from visitors will travel, especially from those at outside events and from users of the campsite outside hours.”


  1. Yet more nimby’s. In these troubled times the country as a whole is in desperate need of culture, education, arts and entertainment. The people who object can only be thought of as killjoys.
    Dudley Edwards, Professional artist and retired lecturer.

  2. Not a lecturer in a subject that required the correct use of apostrophes I hope!

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