Guidelines to prevent farming blighting landscape

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A DEVELOPMENT blueprint is being drawn up to preserve the fabric of a Yorkshire national park amid concerns that growing demands from the agricultural industry are placing the precious landscapes in jeopardy.

Officials at the North York Moors National Park Authority today unveil plans for the design brief to guide the construction on farm buildings and prevent new developments impinging on the countryside.

The move comes after the park authority announced earlier this year that farming in the North York Moors was to be given a major boost to help meet the soaring demand for sustainable supplies of food.

But senior authority officials told the Yorkshire Post there are concerns that the changing face of agriculture will put the national park under an increased risk in future.

The drive for more efficiencies and the increasing size of farm machinery has meant that there is an mounting desire for larger agricultural buildings which impose more on the surrounding environment, according to authority’s policy manager, Sarah Housden.

She said: “This is an important document as it will help shape future development in the national park. There is a recognition that farm buildings are often the schemes which have the greatest impact on the landscapes as they can be the most intrusive because of their size. Hopefully this planning document will help protect the landscapes while also encouraging the development of agriculture in the future.”

The authority receives an average of about 800 planning applications each year, of which a small but significant number are for new farm buildings.

The proposed planning document will set out guidance on ensuring new agricultural buildings are located in the most appropriate location and built from materials which are the most sympathetic. It will also include advice on gutters and roof lights as well as minimising the impact of new farm tracks. The guidance is due to encourage the use of renewable energy and sustainable design principles in new buildings. It is hoped the planning guidelines will also ensure developments fit in with existing farm buildings, many of which are listed.

But Mrs Housden stressed only agricultural buildings over a certain size need planning permission, with smaller developments simply dealt with through a process of notification.

The Yorkshire Post revealed in April that a blueprint to evolve the national park over the next 15 years is looking to provide the first formal strategy to bolster the farming sector. It is hoped the move will help address the mounting concerns about the worldwide demand for a sustainable supply of food. There are intense challenges to produce and supply enough safe and nutritious food for a growing global population, which is projected to reach nine billion by 2050. Research has found that agriculture within the confines of the national park contributed £56 million to the economy during 2009.

A public consultation on the new design brief for farm buildings began today and will continue until December 14, before the document is due to be adopted in the spring.

It is the latest guidance to be issued by the authority after documents were drawn up four years ago for general principles of development along with extensions to existing buildings and the use of landscaping. Another document outlining the best practice for barn conversions and the re-use of rural buildings was published last year.