A SCHEME to build a two storey 409 space car park and improved grass playing pitch close to Skipton's 'sports village' has been lodged with North Yorkshire Council.

Submitted by the owners of the former London, Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS) sports club, off Carleton New Road, it replaces an earlier, plan for a 180 space car park and improvements to the pitch which was withdrawn in 2019 following the objection of Sport England.

Applicant, Dalesway Construction says the revised proposals if allowed will provide a grass pitch, with 'significantly improved drainage' for  community use, linking up with the adjoining Sandylands Sports Centre and Skipton Cricket Club,  improving what is currently on offer in the town and wider Craven area.

It will also provide additional car parking, relieving the pressure of on-street parking on residential streets around the railway station - an issue which it says it long negotiated with the former Craven District Council, which was replaced by the unitary North Yorkshire Council in April. The scheme, which Dalesway says addresses the objection of Sport England, will also involve the demolition of the unsafe changing rooms block on the site, and proposes access off Carleton New Road.

In a planning statement submitted as part of the application, Dalesway's development consultants Planning Prospects says the proposals have been prepared in response to a "detailed brief, and following extended discussions with Craven District Council to provide additional car parking provision to alleviate existing on street car parking in the surrounding area, whilst also retaining and improving sports provision at the application site."

It states: "The new playing pitch will be made available for community use, including for local sports and recreation clubs. There is no certainty of future community use under the current arrangements for this site and in this context the playing capacity of the proposed pitch represents a significant improvement when compared to the existing grass pitch provision."

It will also mean the removal of the current 'dilapidated' changing rooms and their replacement with new, improved replacement equipment storage facilities.

The document adds: "The proposal will provide additional car parking of a suitable scale for the surrounding area, to alleviate existing pressures for on street parking, which is an existing local concern, and improved provision also forms part of the (Craven Local Plan's) strategy for this part of Skipton."

The car park will provide additional parking for users of the numerous sports and recreation facilities at Sandylands and also users of the all weather pitch; and will also 'resolve an on-going concern around continued sports pitch provision at the site which 'could otherwise be lost for recreation use if a sustainable and viable use cannot be agreed," it claims.

Following the closure of the LMS sports club, Dalesway Construction bought the site in 2013.

The company's partners are Skipton residents with 'long established businesses in the town and who have been involved in the LMS sports ground for over 20 years, says the document, which adds there are 'significant and compelling grounds' to grant planning permission for the development.

Since the company bought the site, only 'very limited' football has been played on the LMS pitch due to a 'lack of demand' and 'lack of revenue' making its continued upkeep 'unviable', it is stated.

It states: "Dalesway Construction has invested heavily in the site but in order to continue - or increase - investment and safeguard the site's continued sports use, alternative use is required."

Since buying the site, the company has put up fencing and steel gates to the boundary with Skipton Cricket Club, removed 'over 400 tonnes of illegally tipped rubbish' and carried out regular grass cutting, landscaping and maintenance work.

In 2014, Dalesway agreed to a request by Craven Council to allow the site to be used for temporary parking during the weekend of the Grand Depart of the Tour de France cycle race.

Sport England objected to the earlier, withdrawn plan which proposed 'improvements to the existing playing pitch' on grounds that the 'loss of the playing field area would have a detrimental impact upon football, even if the quality of the remaining area was improved' and was not a 'genuine replacement'.