PLANS to create a holiday home next to the 'nationally important' Hellifield Peel with kennels, gym and dining room 'big enough to sit 60 people' have been described as a 'Trojan Horse'.

Despite being recommended to give the go-ahead for the partial demolition and conversion of the semi-derelict granary, Craven District Council's planning committee voted unanimously to reject both the planning application and listed building consent.

Planning manager, Neville Watson said it was a 'very finely balanced application', and urged councillors to consider what was before them, and not what it might become.

He also pointed out there was nothing to stop people at the holiday home inviting other people to visit, in the same way as a private home.

But, councillors at the remotely held meeting said they feared they were having 'the wool pulled over their eyes', and that it was a 'nightmare waiting to happen.'

Historic England, describing the Peel as of 'national importance', said while it had no objection in principle to the development, it had concerns on heritage grounds to do with a proposed flat, Sedum roof and car port.

Fiona Tiplady, of Rural Solutions, agents for applicants Jo and James Wellock, said they were local residents who were investing in the locality.

They were interested in providing high quality accommodation and reviving community facilities, such as the Angel at Hetton, and were passionate about using local people to carry out the work and to work for them, she said.

She questioned the officer's report which said the council had received 161 letters of objection, and pointed out some had come from Australia, Leeds, Shrewsbury and Newcastle.

There had, she added, been 'numerous misunderstandings' about the proposal in the community.

"It is not a hotel, it will not provide a restaurant facility and it will not be a wedding venue. It will not provide accommodation for large groups, it is a simple C3 holiday use.

"The scheme enhances and sustains the heritage assets of the setting and allows it to be appreciated by a wider audience."

Objector, Stuart Weatherill, who lives nearby, said the granary buildings were part of a unique heritage that went back 1,000 years.

And he asked how the demolition of 'three quarters of listed buildings' could be called conservation.

The development he said was a 'high end retreat for shooting parties'.

"If this is genuinely holiday accommodation, then let the applicant bring forward an amended scheme," he said.

And Hellifield parish councillor, Brian Hugill, urged the council not to repeat the mistakes of Hellifield Flashes.

In a statement read out at the meeting, he said such a development was inappropriate next to a scheduled ancient monument and if allowed, a 'Pandora's box would be opened'.

He said a four bedroom holiday home will soon morph into a hotel, and a greenhouse into a leisure centre and swimming pool. "Look at what happened to the flashes, it will need a barrister to sort that out. Don't repeat that here at the Peel," he said.

Ward councillor Chris Moorby (Con, Hellifield and Long Preston) said he had called the application in because it was another controversial application for Hellifield, referring to the ongoing development at Hellifield Flashes.

Cllr Moorby, who said he had been familiar with the Peel since a child, said while the granary buildings needed work, this was the wrong application.

"Captain Mainwaring would say, 'Pike you are drifting into the realms of fantasy', this is what is happening with this application," he said.

He questioned why a holiday cottage would need a dining room of such a size, and added: "This could be a Trojan Horse."

Cllr Andy Brown (Green, Aire Valley with Lothersdale) proposed refusal of the scheme, which he said was too large.

"The size is out of keeping for even the most luxurious of accommodation for eight people.

"We have a dining room of 183 square metres for eight people. Even with social distancing rules, that is a touch on the generous side, and I am trying to work out why we need kennels of this size for four couples, how many dogs are they going to bring?

"I'm also trying to work out why we need a gym of this size. How much equipment can eight people use?"

Cllr Brown said he further had concerns about the proposed glasshouse, and what it was needed for, even though the committee had been advised against speculating.

Cllr Richard Pringle (Ind, West Craven) said the scale was 'all wrong' and described the dining room as a 'ridiculous size'.

Cllr Richard Welch (Con, Penyghent) described the scheme as a 'nightmare waiting to happen' and seconded Cllr Brown's proposal to refuse the applications.

The applicants had shown no regard to neighbours or that it was a residential area, he said.

Dogs put in kennels would bark and kennels would normally be in the country, away from residential areas, he said.

He could not understand why the dining area needed to be so big and feared different people staying every week causing noise and disturbance with no regard to the neighbours.

"I feel we are having the wool pulled over our eyes. I can imagine the scenario, 30 degrees in the summer, and the first thing you do is open the windows and noise travels. There is total disregard for the neighbours," he said.

And he added: "If a planning application came in for a house with four bedrooms, but with a kitchen able to sit 60 people, I am sure the planning department would want to know why it was so big.

"It's a nightmare waiting to happen."

Cllr David Ireton (Con, Ingleton and Clapham) said dogs tended to bark all night in kennels and would be an unacceptable noise nuisance.

And, Cllr Richard Heseltine (Ind, Skipton South) said there was something about the application that 'just did not add up'.

He said he was not surprised that objections to the scheme had come from far and wide as the Peel was of not only national but international importance.

"There are not many Peels left, we should not ignore the parish council on this matter or the views of the local people and neighbours.The application needs to be refused on the grounds of scale and form, this is not the application for the site."

The application was refused on the grounds of its harm to a complex of buildings which includes a scheduled ancient monument and it being an inappropriate size for the site.