REFUSED plans to build 25 new homes in Cononley have been overturned by a government planning inspector.

A partial award of costs has also been  given to the developer after the inspector found that North Yorkshire Council had acted unreasonably.

In January this year, the former Craven District Council refused plans by Calvert Homes to build 25 homes off Meadow Lane/Moorfoot Lane. A revised application went before the Skipton and Ripon area planning committee of North Yorkshire Council just last month, with councillors once again going against officer advice and saying they were minded to refuse the application.

Now, the government inspector has overturned the earlier decision of Craven Council and given planning permission for the development, which will include off street parking and associated infrastructure.

The same inspector has also allowed partial costs against North Yorkshire Council, which replaced Craven Council in April, after it reduced the original eight reasons for refusal to just one, the impact on listed buildings in the area - a reason described by Calvert Homes as 'spurious'.

In their decision notice, the inspector Timothy  Burnham said Calvert Homes had spent more time than it needed defending eight reasons for refusal, resulting in 'unnecessary and wasted' expense.

The inspector, dealing with the development itself concluded that it would have an impact on the Cononley Conservation Area and on the listed Pear Tree Barn and Pear Tree Farmhouse, but that any harm was outweighed by the benefits of the new homes.

He stated: "The site makes a positive contribution to the setting of the Conservation Area and therefore it’s significance. However, that positive contribution is restrained by modern housing development that has previously extended in a north-easterly direction from Meadow Lane, in particular housing on Meadow Close.

"The large detached modern houses form prominent features within this part of Cononley, whilst the wide grass verge at the entrance to Meadow Close forms a rather suburban feature.

"The link between the Conservation Area and the fields of the appeal site has been eroded by the provision of modern formal pavements including tactile elements which sit adjacent to a wide tarmac entrance adjacent to Pear Tree Barn. The gravelled parking area and garage building have the same effect. The harm to the significance of the Conservation Area would therefore be less than substantial and at the lower end of that category of harm."

Mr Burnham also found that Pear Tree Barn and Pear Tree Farmhouse had been 'subsumed into the body of modern Cononley'.

In allowing the development to take place, the inspector added conditions, including hard and soft landscaping details, electric vehicle charging points and bird and bat boxes. Also conditions surrounding the building period.

Calvert Homes is now invited to submit to North Yorkshire Council details of its costs with a view to reaching agreement as to the amount.

Councillor Andy Brown, who represents Airedale on North Yorkshire Council, said the development would do nothing to meet local needs.

He said: "Cononley is a small village. Within the last ten years over 120 new houses have been built there. The only remaining need for new homes is for small affordable ones and for specialist accommodation for the elderly.

"This scheme introduces 25 properties none of which is affordable and almost all of which are way outside the price that any young person on an average village salary could afford to buy. As such it will do nothing to meet local needs and will add to the pressures on an already over crowded village. This dreadful decision reveals just how broken and biased the planning system has become. There is no right for any ordinary citizen to appeal a decision to build but a developer can apply and appeal as often as they like until they eventually win."