Yorkshire Dales pub landlord applies to build workers' accommodation in old school playing field to solve staffing crisis
Charles Cody, who runs inns in Arkengarthdale and Swaledale, has issued the appeal after unveiling a proposal to build staff accommodation on the playing field he gifted to Arkengarthdale school, 17 years before it closed due to a lack of pupils.
The closure of the school, of which Mr Cody was chairman of governors, after 360 years, was linked by many to the lack of affordable housing in the dale.
Mr Cody’s appeal comes ahead of a public consultation by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority on possible housing site options needed to contribute towards the forthcoming local plan target of 850 new homes between 2023 and 2040, many of which will be affordable housing.
In a planning application to build accommodation for staff on the field beside the Charles Bathurst Inn in Arkengarthdale, Mr Cody said the lack of affordable housing was driving “both the shortage of young people able to remain in this area to work, and the ability of those from away wishing to take up employment”.
He said the hospitality industry was having “serious difficulty recruiting and retaining staff” and emphasised while his inns had 19 full-time and 37 part-time staff at the moment, he had full-time post vacancies and that it was becoming increasingly hard to find local part-time staff.
Mr Cody said: “As a result of these difficulties, we are now seriously at risk of being under-staffed for the majority of the year, and unless we increase recruitment from further-afield, the problem will get worse and become critical.
“Were this to be addressed, the community would be enriched with new blood, it would help to retain those families who are currently forced to move away, and would strengthen the local economy, thus breathing life into an aging dale.”
The landlord said while he appreciated the authority had tried to address the affordable housing issue, it seems to have been “mainly unsuccessful” and the situation had been exacerbated by staff leaving the industry through Covid and the eastern European staff he had employed leaving after Brexit.
In the planning documents he asked the authority to consider whether its policies and Local Plan are flexible enough to address new ways of addressing the housing issue.
The proposed development, which has been reduced in scale following advice from planning officers, includes accommodation for single people and couples as well as a two-bedroom house for a manager.
Mr Cody said: “Most hospitality businesses are similarly affected by these issues, which makes it even more difficult to attract staff, who are in great demand.”
“This is an urgent situation and needs drastic action to solve the problem.”
Upper Dales councillor and park authority member Councillor Yvonne Peacock said there was “nowhere to rent and finding one-bedroom accommodation for staff was out of the question”.
She added: “Our young people who do the part-time work are having to move out of the area as they don’t want to live at home forever and they can’t find anywhere to live. We just haven’t got enough houses for people to work in the Dales.”