Progress slowed on conversion of Askrigg property to affordable homes

The building which Askrigg Foundation hopes to convert to homes, retaining the shop.

By Betsy Everett

Progress on the conversion of the Askrigg Foundation property in Market Place to provide three affordable homes to rent had been delayed by the planning application process, Askrigg and Low Abbotside parish council has been told.

The application had been due to be heard in early January but would now not be considered until February 12 by the national park authority. Councillor James Hodgson asked why there had been a delay and Cathy Gosling, a trustee, said it may have been due to Christmas holidays.

She said the top floor of the building had now been cleared of piles of old documents by local historian Christine Hallas with the help of a resident, Martin Garside, and Dr Hallas had arranged for a visit from the county archivist to advise on retention and storage of the material.
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The noticeboard – too high, too inaccessible and difficult to use.

Clerk to the council Karen Lynch, said an estimate of between £350-£400 had been received for a new village noticeboard on the wall of the Askrigg Foundation building. The current one had been reported as too high, too difficult to access in high winds, and resistant to drawing pins.

A letter from St Oswald’s Church in Askrigg informed members of proposed work to save the church tower. The church architects had recommended rendering the outside to prevent water ingress which was causing severe problems including rotting woodwork, damage to the bell ropes and unsafe conditions. Members were told the cost would be at least £200,000. Councillor Bruce Fawcett, chair, said the church had the full support of members in carrying out the necessary work.

Cllr Fawcett said the parish precept would remain at £3,500, but Mrs Lynch reminded members they would need to consider the possibility of contested parish council elections on May 2, although there had been none in recent years. Fees for contested elections for a small parish like Askrigg, with up to seven councillors, were between £700 and £1,000, and £100 if it was uncontested.

A parent had asked if there were any grants available for repairs to playground equipment as it appeared the parish council were “not interested.” Cllr Hodgson said he believed the baby swing was corroded and dangerous and needed replacing. Members agreed with him that the council should replace it.

The dispute over the proposal to build a six-foot high fence around the perimeter of the school had been resolved, said Cllr Fawcett, who had been a member of a working group charged with finding a satisfactory solution. A combination of a fence, railings on the wall, and more hedge-planting had been agreed and “everyone was happy,” he said.

Councillor Martyn Alderson reported the dangerously damaged wall at Nappa which was “belling out” into the road. Highways had said they would put some plastic bollards in place, but members agreed this was not good enough, especially as there was further, longstanding, damage 100 yards down the road. “When somebody from Highways last looked at it, his last words were ‘I don’t know who I’m going to get to do that,’ but it’s their wall so they’d better get on with it,” said Cllr Fawcett.

There was praise for the national park authority from a resident, Kath Alderson, who said she was pleased to see that the paths through the fields at Worton Bottoms and from the playground to the main road, had been cleared and the edges trimmed. “It’s nice to see the grass has been cut back and I think they should be complimented,” she said. Members agreed to write a letter of thanks.

The next meeting would be on Thursday, February 28, at 7.30pm in the village hall.

Walkers on the newly-trimmed path: thanks to the national park authority.