The authority says there are about 6,000 barns in the national park

The authority says there are about 6,000 barns in the national park

The Government has backed a national park’s stance on converting barns to shops and restaurants.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles dismissed an appeal against the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s moves to prevent a free-for-all over turning 6,000 of the traditional structures into commercial properties.

Richmondshire District Council and North Yorkshire Country Council appealed to the Secretary of State to overturn a ruling that any such changes of use would need planning permission. But the Yorkshire-born Tory minister dismissed the move.

The Dales authority welcomed the decision.

A spokesman for the national park said: “Last year the Government decided to scrap local planning controls so that planning permission was no longer required for anyone wanting to change the use of agricultural buildings to some types of commercial use like shops, banks, restaurants, offices, warehouses, hotels and sports halls.

“Members of the national park authority were concerned at these proposals on two counts: first, the potential negative impact on one of the most outstandingly beautiful areas of the country, which includes around 6,000 barns.

“Second, they removed the rights of local communities, through a local planning process, to have a say on what happens in their area.”

Members voted in March this year to introduce a planning direction under a previous act that will effectively retain local control of the planning process so there would still be a need for planning permission to be obtained for a change of use.

The district council and county council asked the minister to step in and force the YDNPA to cancel the direction.

Mr Pickles said authority members are ‘particularly well placed’ to decide on local planning issues and refused to get involved.

Chairman Peter Charlesworth welcomed the decision. Photo: YDNPA

Chairman Peter Charlesworth welcomed the decision. Photo: YDNPA

Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority 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 direction does not mean traditional barns or modern farm buildings cannot be converted to commercial uses.

“Indeed, the national park authority is very supportive of re-using existing buildings but we, and the Government through its decision, recognise that the special landscape in which these thousands of barns sit means that some proposals still need local scrutiny rather than just ‘going through on the nod’.

“The Secretary of State’s decision means that local people are still able to have their say on applications, whether supporters or objectors, and we will go back to a situation where each case will be judged on its merits.

“Hopefully, we can all now get on with tackling the real challenges facing our remote rural areas, like investing in new affordable housing that meets the needs of local families and ensuring we have the quality of broadband that can attract new businesses into the national park.”

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