Strong legal advice about the consequences did not stop the majority of the members of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s planning committee confirming that two barns could be converted into dwellings.
The barns were proposed at Oughtershaw, between Hawes and Buckden, and at Hartlington Raikes, near Grassington.
Planning committee member Ian McPherson warned the meeting on Tuesday about the consequences of ignoring the legal advice.
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“We went to the trouble to get counsel’s opinion. It is a very thorough and detailed opinion.
“If we don’t stick to policy, we will be letting ourselves in for the consequences as Counsel sets out.
Mr McPherson added that those members who agreed to approve the applications after such advice were on a “different planet to him”.
Member Julie Martin commented that if they breached their own criteria it would be difficult in the future to adhere to the policies in the authority’s local plan.
Committee member Jocelyn Manners-Armstrong reminded the committee: “Our policy is basically a conservation based policy – and that is our primary purpose.”
Richard Graham, the head of development management, summed up the counsel’s advice by stating that consideration had to be given to the impact upon the character and appearance of a traditional barn, its landscape setting and upon the historic significance of the building.
Most of the committee, however, did not agree with the planning officer that the conversion of both of the barns should be refused because the proposed alterations would detract from their heritage significance and the landscape.
The planning officer also argued that the proposed extension to that at Oughtershaw was significantly too large.
North Yorkshire county councillor John Blackie pointed out that counsel had stated it was possible to have a large extension or alteration that did not have a significant effect on a building, just as it was possible for a small extension or alteration to have a significant impact.
So just measuring an extension did not reveal if it’s size was significant or not.
He added that the converted barn without the extension to house a utility room would not suit the needs of a young farmer with a family living in such a remote place as Oughtershaw.
Chris Clark said: “If that barn is not converted it will fall down.
“It is already deteriorating and there are holes in the roof. I would rather see a family in a roadside barn with the extension than have a barn which falls down.
I”t’s only a few yards away from Oughtershaw hamlet.”
The planning officer had also argued that the barn at Hartlington Raikes was too far away from the road to be described as a roadside barn.
North Yorkshire county councillor Robert Heseltine reminded the members that an appeal inspector had overturned the authority’s decision to refuse a barn conversion at Tug Gill Lathe near Starbotton which was a similar distance from a road.
He did, however, want the authority to reconsider its policy of allowing dual use of such barn conversions, removing the permission for holiday lets and retaining just that for local occupancy.
And he did not like the use of telescopic lenses on cameras when officers were seeking to illustrate what they believed would be the impact upon the landscape.
“It is important to take care of the landscape but also to care for the people who live here,” said Richmondshire District councillor Yvonne Peacock.
She added that it was proving very hard to get new affordable homes built in the national park and so barn conversions were very important.
ARC News Service