A BODY responsible for the landscapes of a national park has roundly rejected a proposal to convert a early 19th century stone barn into a home for a part-time farmer.

The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s planning committee heard the scheme to transform and extend the semi-derelict historic building in Thoralby, near West Burton, into a three-bedroom home was a classic example of a plan that should be refused.

The decision comes after struggles between some members over the agricultural buildings and whether they should be conserved, converted into homes or left to fall into disrepair.

Members were told the 6,000 field barns in the national park contributed to its landscapes, so to protect them the authority’s planning policy only allowed for barns to be converted for local occupancy or holiday lets in certain locations, such as at roadsides.

The authority’s head of development management Richard Graham said: “That policy has resulted in about 150 planning permissions being granted for new dwellings to date.”

The Thoralby barn, a conversion plan for which was rejected two years ago, did not meet any of the criteria needed to be considered an exception and, in addition, was in an elevated position and visible from further afield.

Members were told the building was among “the most sensitive category of barns that are deliberately excluded from high intensity uses such as use as a dwelling”. Mr Graham said such was the extent of the work needed on the barn there would be “no intrinsic conservation benefit” of rebuilding it as a house.

He added due to a lack of visibility access from Eshington Lane, North Yorkshire County Council’s roads bosses had objected to the scheme saying it would create an unsafe entrance to a narrow Dales lane that is well-used by walkers.

The meeting was told a substantial amount of drystone wall that has remained unaltered since early in the Victorian era would have to be removed, as well as passing spaces along the lane, furthering the landscape harm of the scheme.

Mr Graham said a well-designed camping barn would be more suitable for the site than a home as it would lead to much less intensive use.

Member Ian McPherson said: “This particular application seems to offend against all the reasons why applications for barn conversions could be granted.”

Despite a litany of concerns being raised over the scheme it received support from some members of the authority who are determined that more homes should be created to stop locals leaving the area. Members heard the applicant had said the conversion would enable him to be more central for the electrical business he runs in the area, as well as maintain the barn, but said he had supplied no information to support an ‘agricultural need’ justification for the development.