Residents of Hawes applauded as members of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s planning committee voted to reject plans to convert Hawes Methodist Church and Sunday school into holiday cottages and flats.
After the meeting they said the deconsecrated church was a key part of the town’s heritage and that they were confident there would be other financially viable and more suitable uses for it than had been proposed.
Residents added they would be more forgiving about the parking issues a scheme to transform the church would create if homes were being developed for local residents, rather than holiday lets.
The decision was made despite park authority officers warning the applicants, Matthew and Sally Faulkes, Ian Morton and Heritage Apartments, could be successful if they appealed against refusal on the grounds that it represented an overdevelopment, that it would affect residents and lack proper parking provision.
The applicants had proposed to retain the church’s heritage features including a vaulted ceiling, arched openings with lead-framed coloured glass and front railings. They had also included a proposal to buy five permits for guests to use at the long-stay car park at the Dales Countryside Museum, 300 metres away.
Officers said while the church site did not have any of its own off-road parking, the situation was similar for numerous buildings in the centre of Hawes.
They told the meeting the plan to convert the church, which was built in 1913 and the neighbouring school rooms in 1902, into guest accommodation would attract less traffic than alternative uses would.
Officers added the future of the buildings would be secured through a sympathetic revamp, putting the objectives of the national park into practice.
However, members John Blackie and Yvonne Peacock said the scheme would created enduring parking and traffic obstructions on both the A684 in the town and also Chapel Street.
Mrs Peacock said: “This is a time when we have to consider all the people who live around there and all the people who use the shops around there.”