The last remaining part of Skipton’s Belle Vue Mills redevelopment “jigsaw” is to be turned into flats instead of offices.
Despite the lack of dedicated car parking spaces on the site, which fronts onto Broughton Road, approval for 39 apartments over shops was given by Craven District Council’s planning committee.
Councillors heard that parking was to be made available at nearby Glista Mill, residential use was unlikely to create as much need for parking as the originally approved offices and parking was not a requirement for town centre developments.
But many remained concerned that residents of the apartments would park on roads and increase problems for existing residents.
There was also concern that increasing Skipton’s parking problems would have a negative impact on the town’s image as the best place in the country to live.
The committee also heard from the residents of nearby Hall Croft about roads being clogged up during the day by people working in Belle Vue Mills – including Craven District Council staff.
“We do have some reprieve at evenings and weekends, however, this will not be the case anymore,” said spokesman Roland Wohlrapp.
Mr Wohlrapp said residents had been assured when the mill was first redeveloped that office workers would be using permits for the town’s car parks but that had not happened.
He said residential roads in the area had been reduced to single lanes with no passing places.
Mark Finch, of Belle Vue Mills Ltd, part of owners Rushbond, said redevelopment was the final part of the Belle Vue Mills complex jigsaw and work would hopefully start at the “back end” of the year.
He said efforts to market the site as offices had been unsuccessful and it was felt residential use would be more popular. There would be no parking on the site, but parking would be offered at nearby Glista Mill.
“We don’t anticipate everyone will want a parking space, but we feel some will and we will offer residents the opportunity to park at Glista Mill if they wish,” he said.
Coun David Ireton (Cons) said he had great concerns about the lack of parking provision. “It is very disappointing that we are seeing these mills converted without parking,” he said.
And Coun Chris Harbron (Cons) asked where the residents of Glista Mill would park if the spaces were to be offered to the new residents.
Coun Robert Mason (Ind) said he would like to see the application refused on the grounds of parking, if that was possible.
“Skipton will lose its best place to live in the country title  rapidly if this congestion can’t be sorted out.”
Coun Lin Barrington (Ind) said it was “crucial” that parking was provided.
But committee chairman Richard Welch (Cons) said not everyone had cars and thought some of the apartments might be bought by people who worked in the town and would walk to work.
“If I wanted somewhere to park, I would not buy a flat,” he said.
Councillors were also advised by officers there was already a permission for the office redevelopment of the site and that would have had a greater impact on surrounding roads.