Couple celebrate after winning planning battle to keep stables

By Susannah Berry

AFTER a long drawn out fight a Nidderdale couple are celebrating following the news they have been given the go-ahead to keep their newly-built horse livery yard.

Christopher and Andrea Cockburn, who run a dairy farm near Brimham Rocks, have been embroiled in a ten month planning battle to keep their newly-erected 24 stables, outdoor arena and horse feed rooms on their land.

They first built the livery yard in February 2005 but without planning permission because they were “absolutely confident” it would be allowed.

However, Harrogate Borough Council rejected the development in September last year and then issued the couple with an enforcement notice in January informing them to take it down by March.

The couple, who have two teenage sons, appealed against the council’s decision and after a long drawn out process have now been granted permission from the national planning inspectorate.

The couple say they are overjoyed as the council’s rejection of the development would have left them facing tens of thousands of pounds in debt.

“It has been a battle and it done us a lot of harm but we want to put the record straight that the planning is now fine. We just wanted to have a quiet livery yard for people to come and enjoy in the countryside,” said Mrs Cockburn.

“My poor husband has lost sleep over this situation and this is our livelihood as the farm doesn’t bring in much money like it used to.

“The stables are just simple timber against the back drop of existing sheds and this is a horsey area,” she added.

Harrogate Borough Council rejected the development because, according to their report, the development was: “seriously and adversely harmful to the visual amenity and character of the area and to the natural beauty of the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.”

The report says the development was contrary to the North Yorkshire County Structure Plan Policy and Harrogate District Local Plan Policies too.

Gary Bell, the council’s Chief Planning Officer for Development Control said last week the national planning inspectorate had made their own site visit to the livery yard.

“The inspector concluded he felt the development had caused relatively modest harm to the landscape and natural beauty of the area and, on balance, the development benefited the farm’s diversification.

“The Harrogate Borough Council planning officers are disappointed but it is a judgement the inspector has made.”

The couple will still have to submit details to Harrogate Borough Council on landscaping conditions the national planning inspector has now applied.