Trouble Ahead For Proposed Farm Developments In The Yorkshire Dales

22nd January 2014

Maria Ferguson, Head of Planning and Development for George F White, based in the firm’s North Yorkshire office at Bedale, comments on the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s proposal to restrict new permitted development rights relating to farm buildings.

“Not many people are aware that Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority proposes to restrict new permitted development rights relating to farm buildings. If this is confirmed and comes into force in a year’s time, it could have wide reaching implications for farmers and landowners in the Yorkshire Dales

“A temporary relaxation of the planning regulations took place in May 2013 for a period of three years, which allows land owners to convert barns and farm buildings to a range of commercial uses including retail, employment and community uses without the need for full planning permission. Whilst certain conditions and notification requirements apply, and there are limited exclusions, these changes bring advantages and flexibility to farmers and landowners who can now find it simpler and easier to find viable uses for their buildings and diversify their incomes.

“However the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority now seek to impose a Direction which restricts those rights, meaning that planning permission would still be needed for changes of use within its boundaries. At a recent meeting the Authority resolved to make the Article 4 Direction, with non-immediate effect.

“Their reasoning was that allowing relaxation of planning regulations for farmers in the Dales would cause:

• Harm to built heritage and scenic quality – harm to the architectural and historic significance of these buildings, and erosion of landscape quality, through physical changes to the buildings and associated infrastructure and curtilages.

• Economic and commercial harm, particularly where commercial uses are created in locations that result in harm to the viability and vitality of existing centres, for example retail uses drawing trade away from established centres.

• Farm ‘over-development’ where the loss of existing farm buildings to new uses could be followed by new replacement farm buildings, and issues surrounding the conversion of buildings that would not exist had it not been for an agricultural need.

• Other environmental and amenity harm from intensive uses (e.g. warehousing, retail outlets) of these buildings, which may result in increased vehicle movements, additional infrastructure, impacts on residential amenity, impacts on protected species (bats, wild birds etc)

“This is not a surprising move for the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority. Traditional farm buildings form an integral part of the character of the landscape, particularly the 4000 or so traditional field barns scattered across the Yorkshire Dales landscape. The Authority has always sought to strongly protect them from change.

“What is surprising is that only the first of these implications is unique in terms of particular or specific impacts on the Yorkshire Dales. The other issues will apply equally across much of England. The Government has considered such issues when devising the amendments to the Permitted Development Order and considered the impacts to be acceptable.

“This reversal of permitted development rights in the Yorkshire Dales would have significant implications for landowners, as the requirement for planning permission brings with it a greater cost burden, not to mention delay. Furthermore, subsequent permissions may be subject to conditions. There is also a chance of refusal.

“It is also worth noting that the provisions under which the National Park Authority seeks to limit permitted development rights normally bring with it certain compensation provisions. However, the removal of rights with non-immediate effect (as is proposed) also significantly limits opportunities for compensation. It means there is a limited window of opportunity to take advantage of the permitted development rights, after which planning permission will be needed and no compensation would be payable in the event of refusal or conditions being imposed on any planning permission granted.

“The Government has also consulted the public on proposals to relax regulation in relation to the use of former farm buildings for residential purposes. It is likely that the National Park Authority will give careful consideration to the need for similar restrictions if these proposals go ahead.”

Any land owner or developer wishing to find out more, please contact Maria Ferguson at George F White on 07885 556849.

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