A plan to build a hair salon and beauty treatment centre across open grassland in one of the most visited villages in the Yorkshire Dales National Park has been unanimously approved.
Members of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority voiced strong support for Swale Hair Spa’s plan to develop a pasture field to the north of the Reeth Dales Centre business park in the village where Swaledale meets Arkengarthdale.
The meeting heard facilities such as the salon were not only vital for the local economy and to provide jobs in the area, but also to attract and keep young people living in the national park.
While the salon’s existing premises in Reeth was unsuitable due to the lack of parking, toilet facilities, disabled access or storage space, the proposed premises would also have space for wellbeing therapists and beauty clinicians.
The meeting heard the existing salon had no toilets, which was “very off-putting” to clients who spend up to eight hours a time having their hair styled.
The committee was told there was uncertainty surrounding the future of the business due to the existing premises being rented, and attempts to find a suitable alternative premises in the village had been successful.
Park authority members heard the salon was a “cherished” service for the area and the proposal to expand the business had been well received by many residents.
However, some residents said there was a large vacant premises with parking near the applicant’s existing salon, and that planning officers were attempting to “shoehorn” the proposal to meet the national park’s policies, even though it would damage the area’s character.
One resident told the committee: “I suggest we are being sold completely the wrong shoe. It is the wrong style, the wrong size, the wrong colour, the wrong height.”
A spokeswoman for Reeth, Fremington and Healaugh Parish Council said it had initially objected to the planning application due to the impact the salon would have on the residents of Arkengarthdale Road, including light and sound pollution.
A spokeswoman for the parish council said while it was believed there were various alternative sites in the village, after the plans were amended to be “more considerate” towards residents the parish council had changed its recommendation to one of supporting the proposal.
She added as the applicant was a young, local businesswoman seeking to expand her business the parish was keen to help such people remain living in the village.
Ahead of members voting to approve the proposal, Upper Dales councillor Yvonne Peacock said the days of “shampoo and set” were long gone, and that women now wanted “the whole works”, rather than to have to travel to places like Darlington for it.