Airton farmer told protecting landscapes must take precedence

Wednesday, July 27th, 2022 1:38pm

By Stuart Minting, Local Democracy Reporter

A farmer who overcame policies designed to protect the national park’s landscapes after losing all his stock in the 2001 foot and mouth crisis has been told adding to the tourism venture he established would damage the “extremely prominent” landscape.

Planning officers have recommended the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority rejects Chris Hall’s proposal to offer glamping pod experiences to couples and families seeking a peaceful break at Town End Farm at Airton, near Skipton, saying the protection of landscapes must take precedence.

The officers have cited a principle established in the 1970s over irreconcilable conflicts between conservation and public enjoyment in national parks, which found conservation interests should take priority.

The scheme, due to be considered on Tuesday, comes more than two decades after the authority took “a sympathetic line” towards Mr Hall’s situation following foot and mouth.

The authority agreed to relax its conservation policies for the highly protected area so Mr Hall could diversify with a farm shop, tea room and three holiday cottages.

In the latest planning application to the authority agents for Mr Hall said the proposal for four 3.3m by 7.2m timber structures would be the only camping pods site in the area and had been designed to ensure the development would not negatively impact on the landscape.

The documents state Mr Hall is keen to use the prime Yorkshire Dales location to provide more high-quality visitor accommodation, which would be screened by a new drystone wall, levelling part of the site to reduce the height of the land and by planting of mature trees to provide “instant screening”.

They add: “The applicant has given careful consideration to the siting of the pods. The existing drystone wall against which the pods will be sited will provide an existing dark background. The new northern boundary dry stone wall will screen the pods from long distance views along the road from Malham to Airton, as will the new mature trees that are to be planted
along the field boundary…”

While Scosthrop Parish Meeting has written to the authority stating the pods would fit well into the pastoral farming landscape, the authority’s planning officers said the proposed pods would form “prominent and incongruous visual features within the landscape”.

The officers said the proposed site was “extremely prominent and seen in long distance views as well as close up ones” and that the development would introduce a “high level of human activity in a landscape with a quiet and undeveloped character”.

An officers’ report to the authority’s planning committee adds the prospect of up to 16 guests staying at the pods and utilising the patio areas would introduce “an intense level of human activity into this area”.

It concludes: “The proposal would support the second statutory purpose of the national park, as it would provide an opportunity for the understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of the national park by the public as it would provide additional tourist accommodation in a site that already provides tourist accommodation and facilities.

“This development proposal creates a direct conflict between the two statutory purposes, thus the well-established Sandford principle ought to be applied in this case, and the conservation of the landscape must take
precedence.”

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