A FAMILY which was threatened with the loss of the Yorkshire Dales farm it has tenanted since the 1700s in a David and Goliath struggle with the estate of one of Britain’s wealthiest aristocrats have spoken of their joy after planners ruled in their favour.

Colin and Joanna Winterburn said they had been overwhelmed by the public support they received, including 2,100 signatures on a petition to stop the Chatsworth Settlement Trustees (CST) plan to convert their home and nearby agricultural buildings into extra storage and offices for the 30,000-acre Bolton Abbey Estate.

The couple were speaking after members of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority condemned the proposal by the CST, which also owns the Duke of Devonshire’s estates at Chatsworth in Derbyshire and employs more than 650 staff, as extremely unjust.

Members of the authority’s planning committee said the CST had launched the plan after “a breakdown of the trust needed between landlord and tenant”, and that it rode roughshod over the Winterburn family’s human rights.

Mr Winterburn told the committee how generations of his family had farmed the 140 acres and his children hoped to do so in the future, but the CST had announced it wanted to change the properties’ use, enabling it to terminate the tenancy and reduce the family’s farmland by 100 acres.

Mr Winterburn said while the plan would end the family’s cattle farm, farm shop and home, there were numerous buildings that would suit storage and office purposes had stood empty on the estate for many years.

He told members: “It seems to us the estate are intent on removing the indigenous population to make way for holiday cottages, business people and wealthy retirees.”

Mrs Winterburn said if the proposal was approved it would obliterate her family’s “past, present and future”.

CST agent John Steel said the proposal was necessary to relocate existing estate workers and associated storage and workshops to a single site to provide for better operational management of the estate.

He said the landlord had offered the Winterburns an alternative house with the same number of bedrooms, compensation which greatly exceeded the statutory minimum and alternative farm buildings which would allow the continued working of 44 acres.

He said: “Whilst a longstanding tenant is facing change, it is a change that will not make a family homeless or deprive them of an ability to continue farming.”

But members of the committee said it was “completely unreasonable” for the estate to insist on sacrificing the farm business for storage.

Member Robert Heseltine said: “It is tragic that this application is before us and matters to have come to this. Surely the applicant themselves have a myriad of options to manage their estate without throwing a longstanding well-known local family out of their home and out of their business. What is needed for all concerned, landlord and tenant, is for them to reconcile their differences.”

Another member Ian McPherson said he had been staggered by the estate’s action, adding: “I would go as far as to say I regard their approach as completely unconscionable. I can’t imagine where they are coming from if they are taking the view storage requirement by the settlement trustees overrides this very longstanding tenancy and the needs of a Dales farmer and his family who have been farming this particular land for generations.”

Members voted to reject the CST proposal, saying it would damage the national park’s landscape and impinge on the Winterburns’ human rights.

Mrs Winterburn said they were delighted at the outcome after “a tense two years” and thanked the thousands of people who had signed their petition.

She added: “We are thankful the committee understood the importance of looking after the Yorkshire Dales, and took the time to understand the details of our case.”