COUNCILLORS rebelled against the advice of their planning officers and unanimously rejected a scheme to build new homes on a council owned car park in Ingleton.

Despite being repeatedly advised to be ‘very cautious’ every member of Craven District Council’s planning committee, including its chairman, went against officer recommendation to approve the scheme on the grounds replacing the car park off |Back Lane with houses - opposed by both the parish council and 89 residents - would have an adverse impact on the economy of the village.

Committee chairman, Cllr Linda Brockbank (Con, Bentham) said it was a very difficult decision and she had listened to both the planning manager and planning solicitor who had repeatedly reminded members that the site was largely allocated for housing in the Craven Local Plan; but she believed the plan should not be ‘tablets of stone’ and that circumstances had changed since it was put together.

The committee at its virtual meeting on Monday was told that the application by Craven Barnfield Regeneration Ltd - a joint venture partnership between the council and Barnfield Investment Properties set up to deliver regeneration projects across the district - was for eight homes and was a resubmission of an earlier withdrawn application.

There would be four three bedroom and two four bedroom homes, and a buffer created between the development and the cricket field. There would be gated and locked access, with keys provided to the cricket club, the community centre and the district council. None of the new homes would be affordable or a commuted sum necessary after two separate, independent reports concluded high development costs meant the development was not viable for an affordable housing contribution.

Chris Creighton, on behalf of agents for the developers, said the car park had been ‘lightly used’ over the years and described the increase in use since earlier in the year following a relaxation of coronavirus restrictions as a ‘temporary blip’, similar to other parts of the Dales.

He said development of the site was a more efficient use of the land and would help to reduce the pressure to develop green field sites outside the boundary of the village.

But, David McGonnigal, for the parish council, said whereas the village was not against the building of new homes, it had seen a large increase in the number of visitors not just since earlier in the year, but after Ingleton Water Falls appeared on the television as one of the best walks in the country. The car park was frequently full now with other cars parked on the road, he said.

Ward councillor Carl Lis (Con, Ingleton and Clapham) moved refusal of the application, saying Ingleton had seen a steady increase in visitor numbers over the last three years, mainly due to the popularity of the waterfalls, but also with people choosing to start the Yorkshire Three Peaks walk from the village.

He also claimed that the car park in Ingleton was the only council owned car park which was currently ahead of budget because of its increased use.

“Times are changing in Ingleton. A lot more visitors are using the village and the last thing we want to do is impinge on this. Ingleton is not against new houses being built, and that support will continue, but it needs to be using sites that do not reduce the service provision,” he said.

Cllr Robert Heseltine (Ind, Skipton) seconded the proposal to refuse the application and added he could not understand why a level site such as the car park was considered so expensive to develop, putting it out of the reach of an affordable homes contribution.

Cllr Richard Welch (Con, Penyghent) further raised the issue of heavy goods vehicles which parked overnight in the car park and asked where they would go and questioned the assessment of the site being expensive to develop.

“To say it is not viable is quite laughable. It is a level, flat site. I say the viability assessment is wrong, and I don’t care who is saying it.”

Planning solicitor Alex Strickland said two, independent assessments had been carried out on the site, both had come to the same conclusion that the development would not be viable for an affordable housing contribution.

Members unanimously voted to refuse the scheme on the grounds circumstances had changed since the local plan was completed and that the loss of the car park would have a negative economic impact on the village.