The Brown family, owners of Howesyke Farm in Bishopdale, near Aysgarth Falls, applied to the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority for consent to change the use of Thorbers Barn, which is currently used for grouse shooting parties. The farmhouse already operates as an 18-bedroom holiday let.
The venue is already being advertised online for ceremonies by the company Riverside Yorkshire Wedding Venues, who are offering packages for its hire starting from £6,000 prior to the Authority issuing a decision; however the Browns' agents said that bookings would not be taken unless permission was granted.
The proposal was for the barn to be used between March and August, outside of the shooting season, for up to 50 guests, with 10 bookings accepted per year. Some of the guests would be accommodated in the farmhouse and the barn would be used for the ceremony, meals, discos and live music.
The barn has already been fitted out with facilities including toilets following consent granted in 2019 to turn it into an amenity for shoot clients and staff.
Aysgarth parish council objected to the recent application, citing noise and the impact on tranquility. North Yorkshire County Council's highways team raised concerns about the suitability of the parking area, which would have required some cars to block in others.
The planning officers' report notes that conversions of traditional buildings can only be approved in remote areas if their use is considered 'low-intensive', such as the shooting barn, and if they mainly operate in daytime hours.
Officers considered the wedding venue to be a 'high intensity' use and that parking for 20 cars would have an adverse impact on noise pollution. They expressed concern over noise created by late-night functions in an open area, which is part of a natural ampitheatre, and the potential erection of marquees and other additional structures as well as increased traffic and late-night comings and goings. Conflict with users of a nearby public footpath was also cited. The proposal was therefore not in compliance with the relevant planning policies.
Writing to the Browns' agents to confirm that their application had been refused, the National Park's head of development management Richard Graham said: "In the opinion of the Local Planning Authority the proposed change of use of the existing barn to a wedding venue would amount to an intensive use including significant comings and goings,noise and demand for car parking that by virtue of the prominent isolated location of the barn, would be significantly harmful to the character, appearance and setting of the barn within the open countryside.
"The proposed use would have an adverse impact on the visual quality and tranquility of the National Park. In the opinion of the Local Planning Authority the proposed use of the barn as a wedding venue in its isolated position within a wide open dale, would have an unacceptable impact on the peace and traquility of the area from the potential of noise disturbance from the disco/live music element of the proposed use.
"In the opinion of the Local Planning Authority the proposed use would lead to an intensification of use of the access however, insufficient information has been submitted to allow a full assessment of the impact of the proposed use on highway safety. The proposed car parking layout is unworkable and the area of existing hardstanding is harmful to the setting of the traditional building."