A CHARITY dedicated to preserving and promoting public appreciation of structures along the Settle and Carlisle Railway has unveiled plans to secure the future of one of its historic station buildings.

The Settle and Carlisle Railway Trust has lodged an application with the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority to transform the 483 square metre Horton-in-Ribblesdale station building into a cafe, bar and holiday cottage.

The move at one of the seven smaller stations on the 73-mile long line – one of the most popular in the north – comes 21 years after the trust completed its first major project, converting the next station building to the north, Ribblehead, into a visitor centre, which now attracts about 8,600 people a year.

Documents submitted to planners reveal how the Victorian Horton-in-Ribblesdale building remains “very well preserved”, due to the efforts of volunteers and initially comprised of a large waiting area and ticket office, as well as a waiting room especially for women.

The papers state: “The manner in which the buildings have been used has radically changed from the original design intent and when railway and passenger activities were at their peak.

“The station is no longer staffed and passenger numbers, having declined for a number of years, are growing steadily, but not yet to the extent originally intended. It is not envisaged that railway staffing will return to original levels.

“For some time before then and certainly since, there has been no meaningful public access to the spaces subject of this application.

“The intent of these proposals is to secure the future of the building by giving it an economic use and providing greater visitor opportunities for rail users.”

The blueprints show how the trust aims to create the holiday accommodation in the northern wing of the station building, while a cafe and bar would occupy the southern wing and former general waiting room in the centre of the building, making the most of a large window, with views of Penyghent, one of the Yorkshire Three Peaks.

Because the Settle-Carlisle line, which is thought to represent the most complete piece of Victorian railway engineering and architecture in the UK, forms England’s longest conservation area, the application documents state the future viability of the building will be “best served by sensitive application of environmental improvements”.

However, the papers state significant changes will be needed for the new uses and to make it more environmentally-friendly, such as the removing of interior walls and also one of the traditional fireplaces.

The application states: “The architecture of the Settle and Carlisle Railway is a recognised entity in its own right with design dictated by the vision of the Midland Railway Company architects and engineers. The proposals seek to harmonise with the existing, allowing principal features to retain their status.

“By necessity works will impact on the fabric and it is intended that this will still allow the history and context of the building to be easily interpreted.”

The documents state that pre-application advice from the park authority “considered that the proposal could be beneficial to the local economy, provide a diversification of visitor facilities associated with the railway and ensure long-term viability of a building of significance in Settle-Carlisle Railway Conservation Area”.

The application has received the objection of Horton-in-Ribblesdale Parish Council.

In its comments to the planning authority, the parish council says it resolved to object on three grounds at its meeting on October 11 – parking, use of the ‘community room’ and potential for noise and disturbance.

They added: “No additional parking provision for the cafe/bar, the five spaces are for the use of rail customers, and the one additional space is to be created for the holiday let; the statement provided by the Settle and Carlisle Railway Trust is incorrect as the community room was used by the Horton History Group prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, and is also used by Horton Parish Council for filing and storage.

“Also, (there are) no opening times quoted for the cafe/bar, the potential for night time noise nuisance exists.”

North Yorkshire highways has raised no objection to the scheme.

Horton Station is at the end of the most popular of the Yorkshire Three Peaks – Penyghent, Whernside and Ingleborough – routes, with walkers passing through the station itself.