CAMPAIGNERS pressing for action to stop the exodus of young people from a national park have voiced outrage after a plan to convert a barn into a family home has been sent back to planners again, despite having twice been approved.

Swaledale’s Shoemaker Barn, described by many as an “eyesore” with its expanses of corrugated sheeting, looks set to once again become the focus of a bitter struggle between those wanting to increase housing provision for young people in the Yorkshire Dales and others wanting to protect the park’s heritage and landscapes.

Former Richmondshire District Council leader Councillor Yvonne Peacock said she was appalled the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s planning committee would next week be asked to consider whether to grant life-long Swaledale residents Chris and Laura Porter’s ambition of creating a home near Grinton.

A plan to convert the barn was initially approved in October 2018, only for it to be rejected two months later as members were warned by officers approving the scheme could seriously undermine the authority’s ability to insist developers follow its planning policy.

The decision sparked a war of words which rumbled on until a revised scheme by the couple to convert the barn was approved three months ago, against the advice of the authority’s officers.

It was passed on the condition that the converted barn be tied to the landholdings of the farm business as it had been argued the home was essential to enable the couple to tend to overwinter pedigree rams and lamb ewes in the spring.

The meeting heard the decision was essential to maintaining the community as well as the future of hill farming, which shapes many of the national park’s landscapes.

An agent for the couple told members: “This authority is aware of the fragility of hill farming and is committed to working with stakeholders to safeguard its future. If members support this application today they will do something positive to address this challenge and send a message to other young people that they are valued and do have a place.

“Chris’s family are responsible for the upkeep of 45km of stone wall, 27 field barns, 1,000 acres of heather moorland, 150 acres of hay meadows. These resources are valued by all who are attracted to our national park. Without the retention of people with the skills to safeguard these landscapes, the Dales that we all love and fight to protect cannot be sustained. ”

However, since the plan was granted, the Porter’s agent has said the legal agreement cannot be completed as the land ownership is complex, the farming business does not own any land at all and that they could not compel the various owners to enter into the planning agreement.

The authority’s officers said despite attempts to ease the restriction, the Porter’s agent had said land ownership issues would prevent them from completing the agreement, and have asked the planning committee to reconsider if the plan should be approved without the building being tied to the farm business.

Cllr Peacock said the park authority appeared to have failed to recognise that many there were many tenant farmers in the national park who didn’t own land.

She said: “I am absolutely livid that this plan has come back again. I feel so sorry for the young couple who are trying so hard to live and work in the Dales.”