A Hawkswick family have spent their life savings trying to win justice in their fight against an “inconsistent” planning decision from the 1990s.
Mick Hawkins, his wife Ginette and sister-in-law Michelle Pickles are trying to get the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority to lift a section 52 agreement imposed on the conversion of Hazel Head Barn in 1990.
The barn was converted into two homes – Hawksnest where Mr and Mrs Hawkins live and Holme Barn where Mrs Pickles lives.
They claim the agreement – which limits occupancy to those working within a ten-mile radius or already living within a ten-mile radius but in need of alternative accommodation – should never have been imposed as three other barn conversion schemes in the village, passed at about the same time, had no restrictions.
“The inconsistencies are undeniable and all we have ever wanted is fairness and justice,” said Mr Hawkins, a former champion fell runner.
But national park bosses say the request involves complex legal issues.
The restriction has already prevented Mrs Pickles from selling up and buying Kettlewell Post Office.
She said: “We had a buyer for Holme Barn but once the buyer had been notified of the Section 52 agreement the house sale stopped and our hopes of buying a business were completely destroyed.
“I now need to sell my house through personal circumstances.
“All I want is to be able to sell my house and move to a location where my family can live, work and have the same opportunities as everybody else.
“Holme Barn has a ten-mile restriction imposed by the Section 52 so it is impossible to find work or career prospects for me or my children.
“I have lived in Hawkswick for over 40 years, 22 of those living at Holme Barn.
“I never thought the day would come that I would regret the purchase of Holme Barn but it now it feels like a prison sentence with no right of appeal.”
The family launched a new attempt to get the agreement lifted 18 months ago – but their battle has come at a high price.
“It is really taking its toll on our families and our lives, both financially and with our health,” said Mr Hawkins, who is suffering from a stress-related illness. “We have spent all our lifesavings in our fight for justice. Everything we have has gone on this.”
They are being backed by the Association of Rural Communities, which campaigns for consistency in planning decisions in the Yorkshire Dales.
Chairman Alastair Dinsdale told the recent annual general meeting: “It’s time the authority rectified this injustice.”
But Richard Graham, the authority’s head of development management, told the Herald: “The request has raised some complex legal issues and is not straightforward. It is anticipated that the planning committee will make a decision on the case at its next meeting in February.”