Castleton: Call to ease stringent planning restrictions in North York Moors village

Residents of a historic high moorland village are pressing for stringent rules over minor changes to their properties to be relaxed, saying they create a “ludicrous” situation where next-door neighbours have different rights over basic repairs to their properties and access to technology.

Castleton. PIC: Gary Longbottom

The case for relaxing rules over properties in Castleton will be considered by the North York Moors National Park Authority almost two years after Danby Group Parish Council approached the planning authority and initially sought to have the conservation area status covering part of the village lifted.

Villagers living in the conservation area say tight ‘Article 4’ planning restrictions, which extend to alterations to gates and whether paint or stain can be used, have prevented them from using modern products to keep their properties in good order and do not reflect the challenges modern technology presents.

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The Article 4 rules were introduced by the authority in 2006 in 36 of the park’s 42 conservation areas to halt a rash of uncontrolled minor changes which were having a cumulatively detrimental impact on the character of conservation areas.

At the time the authority’s members viewed the rules as a bold action to safeguard the built environment, one of the key features the national park is known for.

Castleton’s conservation area designation describes it as “mostly street fronted domestic stone cottages and terraces with cottagey features rather than polite ones and mostly 18th and 19th century in date”.

The parish council has emphasised it is not calling for a “planning free for all”, but says the village already features an eclectic mix of buildings which have been developed over hundreds of years.

It has urged the park authority to relax rules over satellite dishes, gutters, the painting of windows and doors and the erection, alteration or removal of walls, fences and gates.

A parish council spokesman added: “It must be stressed that only part of the village is in the conservation area, the dividing lines appears abitrary and the ludicrous situation can arise where next-door neighbours have different rights when it comes to repairs, improvements or enhancements to their respective homes.

“Due to the very nature of the village and its location however it is highly unlikely there will be any significant new development in the future. That aside there is no need or desire to seal part of Castleton in a time warp like the Ryedale Folk Museum and the village as a whole needs to be allowed to evolve.”

In a report to a park authority meeting on Thursday planning officers highlight while the parish council represents residents “there is local interest and support” for the conservation area status and existing restrictions, which at least ten complaints over work being carried out without planning permission.

The report said the call to relax the rules was the first of its kind and warned authority members changing them could set a precedent for other villages.

It concludes: “Clearly local concern on what might be perceived as a heavy handed approach to minor changes through the authority’s planning role needs to be carefully considered.”

Stuart Minting , Local Democracy Reporting Service