Work to save a crumbling historic mill beside one of the Yorkshire Dales most visited beauty spots looks set to start in the spring after concerns over a lack of car parking at the tourism honeypot were overcome.
Developer Dave Peacock, of Richmond, said he hoped the site at Aysgarth Falls, which has been used to generate power for several hundred years, would see that use restored within months with a turbine installed and the caved in roof was secured.
Mr Peacock, who has recently completed the restoration of Richmondshire District Council’s offices at Swale House, said he expected the restoration of the mill would take about four years.
He was speaking after the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s planning committee enthusiastically approved the scheme, with member Robert Heseltine stating the “magnificent industrial gem and its cultural heritage had to be preserved at all costs”.
The committee granted permission for the conversion of Yore Mill into nine apartments with a visitor centre and commercial unit, with a reinstated hydro-electric turbine.
Officers had told members the building made “a significant contribution to the cultural heritage of Aysgarth and the wider national park”, but it had suffered from years of decay and lack of investment.
They said a finding future use of the building as soon as possible was of great importance to prevent further decline.
However, the meeting heard while the grade II listed mill site would only provide three car parking spaces due to limited land, the developer had negotiated with the park authority to pay for a new space at the nearby national park centre car park and to buy nine annual passes.
Officers – who had previously recommended the plan be rejected due to a lack of car parking which they stated would lead to cars parking on the verge – said the new arrangements went some way towards alleviating concerns.
Members were told despite the objections of North Yorkshire County Council highway bosses on safety grounds, park authority officers “did not consider the road impact of plans would be severe”.
A spokesman for developer Dave Peacock told members he was still actively pursuing buying land for car parking on a nearby field.
The authority’s chairman Carl Lis thanked planning officers for their “doggedness” in helping produce a viable scheme for the mill.
He said: “Thank goodness we have got there. I know there has been an awful lot of criticism in the past from one side or other.”