Unique scheme to bring Yorkshire dale community together

The memorial hall in Carlton. Photo: Google.

Residents of Coverdale have unveiled an ambitious plan to bring the far-flung community together more often by providing an array of facilities on a field they have bought after receiving a bequest.

The committee of volunteers behind the charity-run Coverdale Memorial Hall in Carlton is hoping to win the backing of both the National Lottery and the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority to create a £90,000 community field beside the central meeting point for residents across the dale.

The move comes 11 years after the community of little more than 230 people came together to buy the village pub and run it as a cooperative, and also follows a study of what facilities residents of the area between Kettlewell and Middleham most want.

A planning application to the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority states the ambition is to create a space for fun, remembrance, reflection and, crucially, to “support mental health to build strength to cope with

It states: “The Coverdale Memorial Hall is renowned in the dale to remember the men lost in World War I, but over time has become an area of memory for those people who have dedicated their time to the benefit of the community.”

The plans aim to create an outdoor area for bowls, a wildlife area, with trees and hedging, bird boxes, and with the levelling of the field, a flat football pitch.

The proposals also include an outdoor play equipment for children, an accessible walking track for the elderly, infirm and mothers with buggies, an area for marquees for events and areas of shade and seating.

Hall treasurer Caroline Harrison said the field had been designed to bring together all members of the community more regularly.

She said: “Isolation in rural areas is more prevalent than you think.”

Architect and Carlton resident Louise Deeming added: “Most of the houses around here have very small gardens, so at the moment I’m having to drive with my daughter to all the way to Middleham for an area where children can play safely.

“There’s quite a few children in the valley and when we were trying to sell the idea to the village hall committee a lot of the children very bravely came and presented why they thought it would be nice to have a play area and a levelled field.

“It wasn’t just an adults thing saying let’s do this, kids were the driving force for it.”

Leyburn and Middleham division county councillor Karin Sedgwick said she fully supported the unique scheme to bolster the community.

Those leading the project said they have also received support in principle from the park  authority’s planners after providing assurances over public footpaths on the proposed site.