Pickles refuses request to remove national park barn conversion block

The communities secretary has refused a request from two councils to block an order made by a National Park Authority that seeks to remove new permitted development rights which allow the conversion of barns to commercial uses including shops, restaurants and offices.

North Yorkshire National Park (picture courtesy of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority)
North Yorkshire National Park (picture courtesy of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority)

North Yorkshire County Council and Richmondshire District Council had called on Eric Pickles to force the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) to cancel a proposed Article 4 direction seeking to remove a new permitted development right allowing certain agricultural buildings to be converted to a range of commercial uses.

But Pickles this week dismissed the councils’ request to cancel the order, which will mean that, from January 2015, the permitted development rights will be withdrawn and full planning permission will be required for proposals within the national park to convert agricultural buildings to commercial uses.

The two councils had argued that the Article 4 direction was a potential threat to rural economic prospects and would "deny planning rights" within Richmondshire to those engaged in agriculture as a business, "rights that are freely available in the remainder of England".

Gareth Dadd, North Yorkshire County Council’s executive member for planning, said that Pickles’ decision this week was "very disappointing".

He said: "I believe this places bureaucracy and officialdom in the way of job creation and rural sustainability."

John Blackie, leader of Richmondshire District Council, said that the decision was "deeply flawed".

He said: "If you are a local Dales couple with a young family, relying on a herd of 120 cows producing milk at an uneconomical price per litre for your livelihood, then a really good new employment generating enterprise, based in a converted barn, to make the milk profitable and allow you to stay in the Upper Dales where you were born and brought up is exactly what you need."

But YDNPA chairman Peter Charlesworth said: "We welcome the decision of the government to support the National Park Authority’s stance on this matter – it is a victory for localism.

"It is important to say again that the Article 4 direction does not mean traditional barns or modern farm buildings cannot be converted to commercial uses."


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