Bid to bulldoze smelly farm at heart of North Yorkshire village and replace it with housing rejected

A plan to bulldoze a particularly smelly farm at the heart of a village and replace it with housing has been rejected after a debate re-erupted over whether rural residents and agriculture should be separated.

Richmondshire District Council's third refusal of a proposed development at The Ashes Farm in Barton, a village which was named after a barley farm, came more than two years after a councillor sparked uproar while speaking in favour of developing homes there, claiming "farms should not be in villages any longer".

Tory councillor Jamie Cameron's comments in 2018 that "villages are for commuters and... they don’t want cows mooing, smells and flies" led to a social media storm, but they were closely mirrored in residents' support for the latest scheme in the village.

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A meeting of the authority's planning committee heard numerous residents believed Lawsons Farms plan for 27 homes and five self-build plots would deliver much-needed housing in the village as there had been no progress on another housing development in Barton that was approved in 2018.

An aerial view of The Ashes Farm in the village of Barton, with the area planned for development above it. (Credit: Saddington Taylor)

They added the housing scheme would allow Lawsons Farms to relocate outside the village, bringing a significant environmental improvement, removing "a blot on the landscape", and taking away heavy traffic and the noise of pigs squealing and their smell.

However, other residents told the committee the villages' lanes were too narrow to cope with extra traffic, which would create hazards for pedestrians and questioned claims that extra housing would increase the viability of the village school, shop and post office.

In a statement, resident Joanne Sutton-Walker said agriculture had given the village its name and its heritage, and relocating the farm would "detract from the intrinsic character of the village as we know it".

She said: "Village life and farming has always been connected and should remain so. The noises smells and activities of farming are part of village life."

Councillors said they were disappointed no progress had been made on the Barton housing development they approved in 2018, particularly as the difference between that and The Ashes Farm proposal had been "thinner than a cigarette paper".

Cllr William Heslop said Lawsons Farms' proposal would bring benefits to the area and added: "It's a damn good idea to get red of modern farming outside the village. It's not like farming of old where you had half a dozen pigs and could make a living like my grandad used to do. It's crazy to go against this development."

Nevertheless, the majority of the committee agreed if both schemes were approved it could overwhelm the village with new homes and undermine the case for creating new housing in other villages such as Melsonby, where more housing was said to be needed to boost key services.