A growing proliferation of holiday parks could despoil the landscapes and cultural heritage of Swaledale, the very reason why it attracts tourists, residents have claimed.
Numerous residents have called on Richmondshire District Council to acknowledge its environmental ambitions by rejecting a proposal submitted by Leisure Parks Ltd to create 12 log cabins and a water treatment plant close to historic hamlet of Easby, near Richmond.
The calls follow senior councillors across North Yorkshire repeatedly raising concerns over the volume of plans for holiday accommodation being put forward in the wake of the pandemic and the future use and look of the land if demand for staycations falls away.
While the proposed site is close to the River Swale and English Heritage’s 12th century Easby Abbey, one of the best preserved monasteries of the Premonstratensian ‘white canons’, planning papers submitted by the firm emphasise that the site is not within a designated conservation area.
The documents underline how the landscape impact of the planned development at Easby Park, where government inspectors approved a plan to build 12 holiday lodges in 2010 despite the district council having rejected it, would be lessened by siting timber-clad lodges amongst mature trees.
The firm has also commissioned a landscape impact survey which concluded the development “can be accommodated within this setting without resulting in significant, long-term, adverse impact upon the character of the site, its immediate context, and its wider landscape setting”.
Agents for Leisure Parks Ltd have added the landscaping they have proposed would create new wildlife habitats and increase the area’s biodiversity.
A spokesman said: “The proposal for 12 high-quality holiday lodges will provide new employment opportunities, increase local economic benefits and create additional visitor spending in the area.”
Within weeks of the proposals being lodged, scores of residents and visitors to the popular site for walkers have pledged to battle against the site being developed.
Many of the objections state how there are already far too many holiday park developments “popping up in Swaledale, which materially affect the high-quality landscape”.
They claim the Richmond area has become “saturated with similar developments” at Brompton Lakes, Brompton on Swale, Yorkshire Dale Lodges and Kiplin Lodge.
One objector wrote the development risked “significant damage to Easby’s intrinsic public value as a highly valued natural amenity for Richmond”.
Richmond resident Joanne Brenkley added: “Those ugly green lodges will ruin the landscape for local people. There are plenty of options for visitors to stay in the area so they can enjoy the views of Richmond too. Why are the people that live here always put second over money and tourists?”
In its letter of objection Easby Parish Meeting stated the single track road in the hamlet was already under “severe pressure”, particularly at bank holidays and weekends.
It stated: “In short, it is already an accident waiting to happen and damage is being done to the verges.
“Easby is part of an area of outstanding natural beauty and subject to conservation restrictions to protect the abbey and church. This is the very reason why it attracts so many visitors.”