Recent weeks have seen planning authorities across North Yorkshire warned about overseeing an oversupply of holiday accommodation and the loss of agricultural land as schemes to diversify farms have been approved.
North Yorkshire County Council’s deputy leader Councillor Gareth Dadd said while tourism was a critical industry for the area, so was agriculture. He said it was important to strike the right balance as well as protect the area’s rural character.
He said: “I think we are in danger of over-supply and it could detract from what attracts people into the county. We have got to be careful going forward.”
Since the beginning of the pandemic councils and national park authorities in the county have seen about 100 planning applications submitted to launch glamping pods, shepherds huts, log cabins or extend existing holiday parks.
While many schemes are yet to be decided, the overwhelming majority of those that have been considered have been approved. Alongside the business rates they generate for councils, elected members often point towards the amounts visitors spend on local services and products.
As Richmondshire District Council’s planning committee considered a plan for 15 timber lodges at a Middleham farm this week, members raised concerns over the long-term impact of many acres of agricultural land elsewhere in the district becoming covered with holiday accommodation.
Councillor Jimmy Wilson Petch said: “It does worry me about the plethora of chalet applications that are coming. While we are in staycation they are absolutely full, but what worries me is in a year or two’s time when everybody starts going abroad again there are going to be an awful lot of empty chalets.”
Less than 48 hours later, similar concerns were raised by elected members and residents at the neighbouring planning authority Hambleton. Councillors said it was clear the supply of lodges in their areas was already outstripping demand. They added developers were even submitting further applications for sites before completing plans they already had consent for.
The debates came just days after the North York Moors National Park Authority approved plans for more timber lodges at Runswick Bay and a glamping site at Byland Abbey.
The authority’s chairman, Jim Bailey, said the surge in applications was being market-driven, as where people used to be happy with a touring caravan or a tent, they now wanted a glamping pod or a holiday lodge.
He said while the authority aimed to help promote the enjoyment and understanding of the park as well as assist farms to diversify, there was a determination not to get into a situation where the local people start to resent visitors, so achieving the right balance with holiday accommodation was vital.
Mr Bailey said: “In the North York Moors National Park we try hard to make our visitor economy related to our rural economy. It’s important to have smaller sites so they don’t have a big impact on the surrounding communities and so that they are managed by local business or better still help support a local farm.”
Large-scale proposals that have been lodged in North Yorkshire in the last few months include extending a Pickering holiday park by 127 static caravans and a 78-lodge scheme in Filey.
Numerous other large-scale plans, such as an application for 99 lodges at Hellifield, near Skipton, have yet to be decided.
Most of the proposals, and particularly in the national parks, are small in scale and some are part of a wider farm diversification plan.
A scheme submitted for a site at Ravensworth could see 40 lodges created alongside a solar farm.