A LONG established gallery in Settle could face eviction after permission was given to convert its premises to holiday cottages.

Settle councillor Richard Welch (Cons) last week called for the application at Linton Court to be refused on highways safety grounds, but it was defeated after a vote.

Cllr Welch, chairman of Craven District Council's planning committee, went against the recommendation of officers and advice of North Yorkshire highways in moving refusal of the plans to create four holiday lets in place of Gavagan Art and a music shop at the Duke Street premises.

"I'm sorry to go against officers' recommendation, but I think a bit of local knowledge supersedes it," he said.

Cllr Welch said access to the site, through a narrow archway off Duke Street, was difficult and an "accident waiting to happen".

Although it was proposed there would be no parking with the accommodation and for guests to use town centre car parks, it was unreasonable to think people would not try the access, or even park on double yellow lines outside, causing congestion, he said.

"It is the individual shops that make a small town like Settle unique," he added.

Cllr Alan Sutcliffe (Cons) agreed that highways raising "no objection" was all wrong.

"Highways seem to be getting more laid back by the week, I get the impression they want the easiest way out," he said.

Earlier, the committee had heard from Peter Elliott, speaking for Mary Gavagan, of Gavagan Art and other objectors.

He said Gavagan Art had been at Linton Court since 2010, but that a gallery had occupied one of the outbuildings since the early 1980s.

In addition to the difficult access, the holiday lets had no hope of replacing the lost specialist jobs or hundreds of visitors the gallery brought to Settle.

Agent for owners, Robert Hodgkiss, said the tenancies of both the gallery and the music shop were under review and the conversion of the premises would require limited external changes.

Councillors were told they could add a condition stopping the use of the narrow archway and it was not uncommon for holiday lets in town centres to not provide parking.

Cllr Linda Brockbank (Cons) said it was a "delightful" place for holiday cottages in the middle of the town.

There was no guarantee that the businesses would be allowed to stay by the owners of Linton Court and there were other places in the town where the businesses could relocate.

"They don't own the premises, I like the gallery, but there are other places where it could be," she said.

Cllr Ady Green (Cons), who moved approval, said there were no valid reasons to refuse the scheme.

"I think we would be hammered if we refused it and it went to appeal," he said.