Vets’ home beside surgery wish is granted

The owners of a veterinary practice in the Wensleydale village which featured in the original All Creatures Great And Small television series have had their wish granted to live beside their surgery to facilitate round-the-clock care for animals.

Members of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority unanimously agreed to approve converting a stone former Wensleydale Railway building on the former Station Yard at Askrigg into a four-bedroom home for vets Davinia Hinde and Michael Woodhouse, despite the land being one of a few areas in the national park set aside for business purposes.

Bainbridge Vets, which employs 13 people, had said it wanted use the premises to make the “overnight supervision of hospitalised animals” easier at its base in Askrigg, known as Darrowby in the James Herriot show.

Officers told the meeting allowing the development would be a significant departure from the authority’s employment strategy and questioned whether a large, detached house was the right way to achieve having some element of accommodation on site.

They said brownfield sites, particularly ones where there were a number of similar or compatible commercial uses, were strongly protected for business use by the authority’s policies as they already had infrastructure.

Officers said residential accommodation was available nearby and brownfield sites had been reserved for commercial developments as such proposals had much less of a harmful impact than they would on greenfield sites.

The meeting was told such sites were strategically important as they were so “few and far between” in the national park and by introducing a residential use elevated land prices for other businesses wanting to use the site.

However, members said it was unreasonable to expect a vet who had spent years studying at university to live in a one-bedroom flat.

Member Allen Kirkbride told the meeting the proposal was “a reasonable sized place” that would improve what had become an eyesore.

He added having a vet living on site would alleviate concerns over security and safety in the area and help sustain a business which employed numerous people, most of whom were young.

Mr Kirkbride said: “That’s what we need within the area.”

The meeting was told there was an alternative vacant large development site for businesses in Askrigg which had been empty for seven years and if the Station Yard building was not used by the vets it could deteriorate further.

The authority’s cultural heritage champion, Libby Bateman, told the meeting it was important to provide accommodation for trainee vets in an area where finding somewhere affordable to stay was difficult due to tourism demand, particularly at lambing time.

She said: “There is a real need this business can accommodate its employees, its trainees, its next generation, and that it’s also able to do that on a site that’s near to where the business is and be able to be on call and near to the surgery if people need to bring animals in late at night.”



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