A HOTEL and leisure complex, which will form one of the largest scale leisure developments the Yorkshire Dales National Park has seen since it was established to protect unique landscapes, could be built within three years.

Natural Land, the developers behind plans to transform Linton Camp, near Grassington, said it was hoped building work on the tourist facility featuring a hotel with 34 hotel rooms and six hotel suites, a spa and gym, a bar and restaurant, and nine self-contained holiday lodges, would start in the middle of next year.

The firm announced its intention to finalise plans for the extensive scheme after the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s planning committee voted in favour of the proposal, despite the hearing there was strong local opposition to it.

Residents called on members to consider the authority’s first purpose to protect landscapes and reject the proposal, saying it was too large, would neither conserve or enhance the area in Wharfedale and would “destroy its tranquility”.

The meeting heard while many residents’ objections related to concerns over increases in traffic, North Yorkshire County Council highways officers said the road outside the site was very under-used and with the development traffic would only increase to about ten per cent of its capacity.

But member Richard Foster, who is also leader of Craven District Council, questioned the highways officers’ findings, saying many of the roads around the proposed site were single track.

He said many Dales hospitality businesses were struggling to recruit staff and the hotel complex employees would need to drive to the site from nearby towns and villages. Mr Foster added the complex would be seen from great distances, He said: “This is a major development in open countryside and ought to be turned down.”

However, the meeting heard the complex had been designed to ensure the buildings’ landscape impact was minimised.

Members were told the scheme would be a vast improvement to the derelict huts of the former Second World War evacuees camp and the site had been deteriorating for several decades.

The authority’s development management champion Jim Munday emphasised the planned development, which has features such as wild flower roofs, was “well considered and well designed”.

He said the scheme would lead to substantial biodiversity enhancements and that concerns the leisure complex would do little for the local economy were unfounded.

Mr Munday said: “You can’t have visitor attractions, but no visitor accommodation whatsoever.”

After the meeting, a Natural Land spokesman said the firm wanted to work with the local community to help address concerns such as over traffic.