Swaledale visitor attraction expansion set for refusal

Hazel Brown visitor attraction.

A scheme to cement the future of a popular Swaledale attraction has been recommended for refusal for a second time, despite overcoming concerns a conservation area in the national park would be harmed.

The proposal to build five hotel-style bedrooms with glass balconies, create a 32-cover cafe, and covert a joiner’s shop into holiday lets for Hazel Brow Visitor Centre, in Low Row, Swaledale follows the attraction withdrawing a similar scheme last year.

A Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s planning committee meeting next week will be told it is hoped to provide workshops based around traditional farming techniques such as butter-making, spinning, and weaving, as well as yoga and photography, at the expanded visitor centre, which was was launched in 2003.

To limit concerns over the impact on neighbours, it has been proposed the café would only be available to visitors in connection with pre-booked activities and the visitor centre’s opening hours would be limited to 9am to 6pm.

In an attempt to make the plans more acceptable to planners, a proposal to create an underground nature observation room has been scrapped and an ambition to launch a craft barn abandoned.

However, North Yorkshire County Council highways officers have said planning permission for the scheme should be refused as the access to the visitor centre from the main road running through Swaledale, the B6270, has “extremely poor visibility” to the east and west.

A report to the authority’s planning committee states larger vehicles may struggle to reach the visitor centre and that the access to it was in more or less the same state when the application for the visitor centre was approved in 2003.

Since that time numbers of cyclists passing the site have soared, many of whom are riding the Tour de France Grand Depart route.

It states: “The approval was also subject to a management plan governing the procedures for coach parties and requiring that coaches stop at the lane end with passengers then walking down to the visitor centre.

“The café would represent a significant increase over the approved catering area, both in terms of floor space and the facilities available. It would also be open, along with the hotel style rooms, on a year-round basis. It is also difficult to see how access to the café from casual visitors would be restricted.”

5 Comments

  1. I really hope this scheme gets approval
    We are regular visitors to reeth and the Dale’s area but sometimes there is a lack of activities for my two children
    My children have visited the farm before where they did a nature trail, goose herding and sheep racing
    They got an insight into farm life, and as we live in a town this was an eye opener and a rarity for them
    I would certainly welcome any further advancement in this project and would be regular visitors to the farm and its surrounding area and businesses

    • A fair point Janice and good to get children and families exploring the area, rather than needing to go further afield for a simple family day out. We love Low Row, and the Visitor’s Centre is a lovely touch.

  2. The scheme is simply inappropriate for the location. It is ideal for somewhere with better access. Increasing traffic, particularly coaches, along the B6270 would be a danger for residents, walkers and cyclists. I appreciate the need to improve amenities and create jobs in the area but sadly not through such an ambitious development. Ideal for Wensleydale or Upper Wharfedale but keep Swaledale for cyclists and walkers.

  3. The area needs initiatives like this, year round non-bike based attractions like this need supporting.

  4. Would be good to see YDNP and Highways taking positive action to improve the access to allow for schemes like this to go ahead.

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