Cumbria Crack
Letters to Editor

Planning on Snowdrop Barn

‘Snowdrop Barn’ after

To whom it may concern,

I am writing to you to express my concern, along with that of many others, about the way this matter has been handled, for a number of reasons;

  • The misleading information that has been shared
  • The unnecessary stress and pressure the owners have been put under
  • Time scale to get any consistent information
  • Consistency of decisions
‘Snowdrop Barn’ before

The barn in question has been in our family now for decades and will be remaining in the family for many more years to come, given the chance that is, if you don’t drive away what is left of any locals in the community through prioritising the visitors to the area rather than the people who live and work in the communities, although we do see there has to be some control of what can and cannot be done and we fully support that.

As a 41-year-old that was brought up in the area in concern, I can recall spending days in this barn and the fields around catching my Great Grandmothers hens and generally helping out, these were great days, as the years have gone by the Barn has slowly deteriorated to a point where it was very unsafe. One of the family members tried to gain planning permission on the building a while ago but was met with problem after problem and did not have the resource to be able to take this forward. The Barn soon fell in to a state of disrepair and needed urgent attention.

My Auntie and Uncle, who are now the owners of the barn and surrounding land, have farmed the area now for over 35 years in various locations, but never far from the property in concern. Their dream was to retire here and form a beautiful place to see out there days close to their roots, doing so by completing the conversion in line with regulations and in keeping with the community, but also return it to its original form, when it was previously a house.

To do this enormous task required a lot of money, as there were many things to look in to and surveys to be carried out before work could start, which was all understood and carried out in accordance with regulations and guidance from EDC/YDNP. The relevant documentation was provided, and they were granted planning permission, all be it that plans were altered and re submitted for them to be passed, then the work was set to commence. This began with making the roof safe by re-roofing the building.

Once the roof was back on no further work took place until, the building which was very weathered needed to be cleaned to be able to repoint the jointing to make water tight. This was done, and the building was actually brought back to its original glory and looked as it would have been the day it was built.

The same stone, the same roof slates and new LIME pointing which really did finish it off to its former glory. The house was starting to take shape but still a long way to go. The comments from local residents were great and reassuring to us that we were doing this sympathetically with the surroundings in mind, as knew it had to be done that way.

As time went on things started to come together, all be it not without complication, then it seemed as though we had met some opposition from nearby residents who seemed to think we had gone outside of our planning, at this point work was stopped.

We were advised by building control that we would need an additional window upstairs to act as an escape route, after the tragic events at Knock earlier in the year the regulations had been up dated to ensure a means of escape in event of fire. We were told this was a must or building control would object and not agree to any more work. Surely this was common sense to add to the plans as a safety concern, but we were told to escape through a Velux window on to the roof, (not so easy when you are getting on in life, never mind the point that this is what happened at Knock and they perished).

The next issue was that of flooding and actual surface water running through the Barn. The floor level, now back to its original level, meant that at the rear of the barn the natural course of the water off the field meant it ran straight in.

The field in concern belongs to the Barn owner so it was agreed to excavate and drain the rear area to enable work to continue. This work was carried out and solved the problem, the water was drained. This was also brought to light again later in the year when properties nearby may have suffered had the work not taken place and the water diverted down the new drains in question, thus proving the need on two levels, firstly for the barn, and secondly the nearby properties.

The excavation that was carried out, all be it very naively, was in thinking that it was there land and that of being farmers it was okay to do so, as many farmers would to provide adequate drainage for their land. However, we now know this was wrongly done, with the best intention, and in no way to cause upset or try and push our luck and think we were bigger than the planning board. It was to serve two purposes that of draining the natural water correctly and to transform an area for a garden, and a small shed.

Which residents have already, clearly visible sheds and even chicken sheds in local proximity to the Barn. All of this work was done in a sensitive way and in doing so, where we believed to outside the area of archaeological interest.

All work was stopped as soon as we were informed of our breach and we sought to find a solution from both sides, so we could rectify our wrong. This was to prove challenging. New plans were put in and when the board considered those, they also considered the old plans, thus delaying the job more. If we had been allowed to carry on with the intended plan this area in question would now be all limestone faced and very in keeping with the local area, which has miles upon miles of stone walls and stone-faced buildings.

New plans have been submitted and are waiting on an answer but to no avail, it seems there was a planning meeting 13/11/18 where the owners could of stood an fought their corner, but we are talking about 2 elderly people that have done no wrong all there life, and to stand them in front of some sort of lynch mob was surely very inappropriate and much needed pressure they did not need nor could they of even face standing there to be accused of “a shocking act of vandalism”.

No further work has commenced, and we are seeking rectification measures to find out how we can move forward on this development. The work has now been stopped for a while and winter has now set in with the barn look half complete. but in if we had been allowed/given guidance this would be soon finished and not looking like an “industrial plot”, which considering the property is in effect, a building site, is hardly a fair reflection on how the property will look when it is complete.

IN SUMMARY

The Westmorland slate on the roof originally, was all removed from and has been reclaimed and replaced back on the roof

The original stone work has been cleaned and re-pointed with LIME MORTAR, not PINK MORTAR as claimed, the lime mortar consists of local sand, which in this area is a predominant red sand, and Lime as to replicate the old buildings appearance. Much of the pointing on nearby properties is of a worse standard but is not in question.

Rear excavation of the field for drainage and to form the garden area with sheds, was done in the best of interest however, in hindsight this was naively done perhaps. Given the chance, this can be put right with minimal affect and once done, finished to a high standard.

The Window added to the upstairs floor was done only under advice from building inspectors as of the new regulations after the tragedy of the two deaths at Knock, who were also both personally known.

Archaeological/Ecological concerns, previous owner carried out and all documentation was submitted to relevant bodies.

Enforcement ignored, no further work has been done to the property since the enforcement unlike led to believe. Not only this but work was stopped at various points throughout, before any enforcement was in place.

The claims of this being an Industrial site, this is a building site that has been conducted with constant respect for neighbours. Sometimes delaying work as not to cause a nuisance to others but delay the work and progression at the conversion

Once Snowdrop barn is complete it will be an asset to a much-loved community, which has had a lot of support from residents.

Conclusion

The local community has rallied to show its support, and this has been much welcomed. The owners set out to redevelop a building that holds fond memories for the entire family and being from the area would strive to keep things in keeping and never go outside the width of planning intentionally.

A petition has been started to show the support for this development to be finished, in 48 hours it had 510 signatures surely this has to show how the local community feels about this. The number is still rising with support from very high levels.

We have also lobbied our local MP to give us his support, which he intends to do, but surely this can be rectified before that. Newspapers are asking for our story as it has gained much attention on social media, after YDNP shared it via social media, as to did Cumbria crack before the owners were even notified of their pending enforcement order for “AN OUTRAGEASOUS ACT OF VANDALISM”. The owners like everyone else found all of this out via Facebook.

This is poor conduct and verging on the edge of slander (as advised by a solicitor who felt the need to ring us and offer to help). This is all unwanted attention that the owners do not need and which is taking its toll on the two owners, who have lived their lives and conducted themselves with dignity and respect for others, as they have found this is the way to get on in life, only to maybe realise that if you bully, bribe and strive to be pretentious, is a better way to achieve what you want or need.

Inconsistency seems to be a recurring theme regarding planning decisions throughout our parish. Cumbria County Council repaired the bridge in Maulds Meaburn with new Sandstone coins, that had to be changed after storm Desmond, the new coins aren’t in keeping with the existing stonework as they are bright red, standing out for all to see, but this is fine. We can see that once the winter weather takes its toll these will weather and fit in, just like SNOWDROP BARN will.

A new driveway was granted after much consultation and incorrect information, the owner wanted to stone face the garden/driveway entrance to be told no, and that a metal fence that was there previously had to be replicated this was adhered to, only for 8 month later, a property 20 metres along the road, was granted permission for a drive, then a limestone wall soon appeared.

How is this in keeping with the surroundings? It was a metal fence before and surrounded on both sides with metal fences, where is the consistency? Double standards one can only presume?

Planning is surely granted before development? Impacts of new builds assessed and consultation sought, some of the developments that have taken place around the parish are truly shocking and not in keeping, time moves on we know, but to allow (see below photo) and object to SNOWDROP BARN is beyond belief as when finished, it will be a sensitive development and in keeping with the community as it was when originally built.

Developments are even taking place without retrospective planning, how is this fair surely we have to draw a line in the sand and take a stance on such action? It seems not as these have been flagged up but to no avail.

The YDNP was extended to incorporate our Parish and Snowdrop Barn all be it by 200 metres and suddenly turns in to the gateway to the YDNP. What would you want to see on arriving into the village, a broken-down barn or something that is lived in, used and back to former glory that many can still remember, let alone something on the side of the road that is completely unnecessary and not in keeping in any way, barley displaying the village name but to be allowed on the grounds of, we are now in the YDNP, any consultation as to the locals?

The deep running theme in the community is that of disbelief and bewilderment of how anyone can treat people so badly. We agree and understand that not everyone is the same and have different taste but to think that the YDNP think they can walk all over the community when the general opinion is that of they are behind the development in full, and this has been shown on many fronts.

To threaten “WE WILL MAKE AN EXAMPLE OF THE SHOCKING ACT OF VANDALISM” is ludicrous; these authorities are there to help and give advice in situations like this, not to threaten, surely?

Please consider my points, seek advice from local people and not text books, people that care about the community, people that live in the community and people that want to see the community move forward with thriving schools and community pubs in full flow.

We begin to think that if this was an “outsider” from the community, building holiday homes for weekend retreats there would be no problem, as we have seen in the village all the time. The Chapel, The Mill, what next probably the old police station or even the Village hall, who knows?

But one thing for consideration is that these are local people with no agenda, no political gain, no financial gain, but two ordinary hard-working people who have spent their lives in this area. They have spent their time here with many members of the family, all with fond memories, so what reason would they have to ruin all these memories. They hope to create more memories and to see their days out in a thriving upcoming community that they both care about and help nurture.

Yours sincerely

Alan Blenkinship

Gayle Avenue, Shap

Today the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority issued a response following the hundreds of comments on Cumbria Crack’s Facebook page and their own Facebook page.

YDNPA said: “Very interesting to read the comments on the “Barn conversion ‘truly an act of vandalism’” post.

“Here are three points of response:

1 . It was a local resident, ‘speaking on behalf of herself and a larger group of residents in Maulds Meaburn’, who came to Planning Committee to express concerns. This Authority responds to the concerns of local residents.

2. We entirely agree that it is better to turn this handsome barn into a dwelling rather than let it fall down – that’s why planning permission was granted for a barn conversion in 2016.

However, 3. Extensive works have been carried out in breach of the 2016 planning permission, or without planning permission, including: the sandblasting of the exterior; different window and door arrangements; a new opening in the gable; different and larger roof lights, in different locations to those approved; reconfigured internal arrangement; significant excavation works to the rear of the building and hardsurfacing of this area; construction of large block work retaining wall; and a much larger curtilage to the side and rear of the building. In addition, conditions relating to archaeology and protected species, external lighting, bin store, landscaping and surface water have not been discharged.

“Would you rather we took no action? If so, who then will have any confidence in the planning system?

“Please discuss, but respect opinions and keep it civil! Thank you.”

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