Mulgrave Estate: Controversy over aristocrat estate's plans to put 'refreshment vans' on car park overlooking Runswick Bay

The custodians of a national park have been told they must ignore the behaviour of an aristocrat’s estate in backing out of its part of a compromise which saw it allowed to develop a controversial car park on a greenfield site overlooking a seaside tourism hotspot.

A North York Moors National Park Authority meeting heard while the Mulgrave Estate’s application to create the car park at Bank Top, Runswick Bay, had attracted a lot of objections from residents, the estate’s subsequent challenge to enable refreshments to be served from the car park was also being opposed by a “substantial” number of people.

Members were told to reassure residents the car park would not harm their amenities, conditions had been attached to the planning consent that refreshments could not be served from the site and, as a further compensation for residents, “eyesore” buildings on the site would be removed.

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However, the meeting heard after gaining the consent the estate had stated it wanted to be allowed to site an unspecified number of refreshment vans on the 42-space car park for up to 28 days a year and keep the buildings for storage.

Runswick BayRunswick Bay
Runswick Bay

No one representing the estate attended the meeting, but in documents lodged with the authority the Mulgrave Estate had pointed towards government guidance which states conditions restricting the future use of the site “may not pass the test of reasonableness or necessity”.

The 15,000-acre estate had told the authority as it had not precisely defined its reasons for the conditions the refreshment van ban at the site should be removed.

The meeting heard the estate’s move would allow it to site as many refreshment vans as it could fit on the site for up to 28 days a year. The authority’s officers warned members it would be unlikely to win an appeal if it rejected the estate’s ambitions.

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Member Christine Robertson said the car park had created a real concern that residents’ front gardens and hedgerows would become a de facto toilet facility and having refreshments served from the site could exacerbate the situation as well as see an increase in vermin in the area.

She said: “I’m sure it’s not just me in this meeting that is worn out and exasperated with this particular applicant. We agreed the car park with conditions for good reasons at the time. I don’t see any good reasons why I would feel inclined to go back on that now.”

The meeting heard the estate could put other food-related businesses in jeopardy by launching rival ventures on the car park during peak tourist season.

Officers told members as a responsible planning authority they had to “divorce the approach and behaviour of this applicant and the impact that actions had on parish councils and local communities…”

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Ahead of members following officers’ advice to remove the conditions, the authority’s longest-serving member, Councillor David Jeffels, told the meeting several refreshment vans could have “a very serious impact” on “a beautiful cliff-top village, internationally-known”.

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