A COUPLE who hoped that a small housing development would raise money to allow them to restore a water mill have had their plans rejected.

David Clark spoke of his frustration after the latest setback for him and his wife, Carol, in their attempt to get the project moving.

The inspector's decision came after years of negotiation with both Hambleton District Council and English Heritage over the eighteenth century mill at Aiskew, near Bedale.

The Clarks had planned to buy back agricultural land at Aiskew Mill Farm and sell plots for housing. They hoped this would enable them to press ahead with the £100,000 restoration of the mill.

But the bid was thrown out by Hambleton District Council - and the decision has been upheld by the Government.

The Clarks, who bought the Grade-II listed Aiskew Water Mill 18 years ago, want to restore it as a working museum, which would demonstrate the history of milling, alongside their farming and tourism businesses.

Mr Clark said: "I just don't know where we go from here. I am just amazed because the council is talking about wanting to make money for Bedale, which is one of the poorest market towns.

"All the money from the mill would have been coming into the local area."

The council said it had rejected the plans for the four houses because sufficient residential development had taken place to meet housing requirements set out in the local plan.

But Mr Clark said this was double standards, as 40 homes were being built in the same area by developer Persimmon Homes.