Plan to build hotel and restaurant on former showground in Yorkshire would 'ruin market town's charm'

Developers behind one of the most significant planning applications in Wensleydale for decades, in which a large country store and a hotel could be built at a town’s entrance, are to be asked to improve aspects of their proposals after apparently ignoring residents’ pleas.

An emotionally-charged hearing over a plan to create a T-shaped 40-bedroom hotel and 276-cover restaurant alongside an S-shaped 2,501sq m country store, play barn and cafe on the former Dales Festival of Food and Drink showground in Leyburn heard numerous residents call for clarity over how the scheme would impact on them.

Richmondshire District Council’s planning committee was told those behind the Sam Turners store and Inn Collection hotel scheme had not consulted with residents over the major development and had not responded to requests to lessen the impacts of the scheme on those living nearby.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Residents told the committee the noise mitigation, biodiversity and drainage plans were grossly inadequate, while proposals to manage traffic around the site were an accident waiting to happen near the store which could open for 66 hours a week and the hotel which would be open 24 hours, seven days a week.

Leyburn Shawl

Other residents questioned the scheme’s benefits, which included the developers’ claim that it would create 50 full-time and 40 part-time jobs, saying the large buildings would also ruin the market town’s charm and character.

Resident Elise Barron said the development would not encourage people to use the town centre’s shops and cafes. She said: “Far from enhancing consumer choice it risks putting local small and medium sized enterprises out of business.

“These low-wage retail, cleaning and bar jobs are not the high quality, high skilled jobs the Local Plan supports, nor do they contribute to the diversification of the local job market.”

A spokesman for the developers did not directly respond to claims that they had repeatedly ignored residents, but said Sam Turners was “fully committed to being an asset for the town and good neighbour to those located near them”.

He said: “Sam Turners are confident their new store will attract customers and visitors from outside Leyburn, leading to wider benefits for the town and supporting the agricultural community. The proposed Inn Collection would also attract more tourists to Leyburn, providing new overnight hotel accommodation, reinforcing Leyburn as a gateway to the Dales.”

Councillors agreed there were “great gaps” in the information they had been presented with and that carbon cutting features, such as solar panels and electic vehicle charging points were lacking or absent.

Coun Pat Middlemiss said: “We are talking in the dark at the moment.”

Coun Helen Grant added assurances that the developers “would look into” a range of outstanding issues at the site were unacceptable and firm agreements needed to be tabled.

The committee unanimously approved postponing a decision on the scheme, saying the developers needed to speak to residents about their concerns and that more information about impacts of the proposals needed to be gathered.