Cowling centre voices fears over bedsit scheme

First published in News

An outdoor adventure centre in Cowling says it will consider moving if the bungalow next door is turned into bedsits.

A director of High Adventure told Craven District Council’s Planning Committee on Monday that the application was “so contentious” the centre had looked into relocation.

Chris Jepson said he personally had tidied up the site of hazardous materials, had witnessed drunk builders and was seriously concerned for the safety of the up to 200 young people a week who stayed at the residential centre.

The owner of the now closed Langdale Nursing Home in Keighley Road wants to convert the existing 17 rooms formerly used by residents into bedsits.

Councillors were told on Monday that a decision was no longer in their hands because applicant Tariq Majeed had lodged an appeal with the Planning Inspectorate after the council overran its time to come to a decision.

Planning officer Roger France said it would now be up to the Inspectorate to decide the application, but that the committee needed to make its own decision so officers could consider the council’s representations.

He added Mr Majeed had made it clear that he was proposing no external or internal changes to the building and it could be argued planning permission was not needed, although other aspects of the development would be controlled by building regulations.

He said that objectors’ fears of what could happen at the site could not be used as a valid planning reason for refusal without proof of evidence.

Mr Jepson, speaking for objectors, said the outdoor centre, which shared access with the bungalow, should be seen as a primary school and his concern was for the children in his care.

He said the centre had a good relationship with the former nursing home and there had never been any problems with the access and the limited number of cars.

“I want the centre to look good for clients and I want it to be safe for the children. So contentious is this that we are looking to relocate. We employ 30 people full time and we use local businesses and that will be a great loss to Craven,” he said.

Ward councillor Ady Green (Cons) accused the applicant of being less than open with the council.

He said there had been problems with waste at the site, requiring action from Environmental Health, and workmen were clearly well into converting the building.

Coun Alan Sutcliffe (Cons) said he believed the council had been misled from the start by the applicant who had supplied insufficient information.

But Coun Paul English (Lib Dem) was unimpressed wth the objections. He said: “It’s not often I get angry in planning meetings, but I’m pretty livid at this lynchmob mentality.”

He said he could see no problem in the development and it could help people get on the property ladder. “What really troubles me is people scaremongering like this,” he said.

Despite being recommended to approve the application, councillors voted six-five to refuse it on the grounds of insufficient information on the intended use of the building.

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