THE residential redevelopment of an 'untidy and unattractive' farm site in Glusburn has been refused planning permission by Craven District Council.

Councillors went against the advice of planning officers to approve the scheme and instead rejected the proposed conversion of two barns into two three-bed homes plus the construction of three new houses, also three-bed, at Town End Barn, Colne Road.

The council's planning committee was told that the application by the Burley Developments Group would provide housing to meet local need and would mean the regeneration of the site. There would also be biodiversity benefits and proposed water mitigation measures would 'help reduce the risk of flooding for existing residents of Colne Road'.

Councillors also heard that the access for the proposed number of houses was described as 'adequate' by the highways authority. The officer at the meeting said sight lines were acceptable, did not cause significant concern, and there was no reason to refuse the application.

Mike Smith, for Burley Developments, said the site was owned by third generation farmers, and was in need of 'tidying up'. He said there had been an amount of pre-application discussion and that the plans had been adapted to address concerns. He added although there had been objections, there had not been from those overlooking the site, which suggested there was 'quiet support' to see the site cleared up.

But, Glusburn Parish Council objected to the scheme, describing the access road onto the development as at a 'ridiculous 90-degree blind bend'. The council also had concerns about wildlife on the site and for the residents of Beanlands Drive, most of who were elderly, being impacted by the additional traffic.

Some 33 letters received by the council commented about loss of privacy, access and highways concerns, and impact on birds and bats.

Ward councillor Philip Barrett also raised concerns about the access.

At the meeting, Councillor Chris Rose said there was a danger of wanting to see the site cleared up, when there were concerns about the access onto Beanlands Drive.

She said: "I'm trying very hard not to be biased and to think this is an untidy site; I have concerns about traffic moving in and out of the site."

And Cllr Robert Heseltine reminded members that the the land was 'good agricultural land' and that it was wrong to abandon it. He also believed the barns were not worthy of conversion into homes.

"They have been left to go to rack and ruin and should be demolished," he told the meeting, before moving refusal.

He was seconded by Cllr Alan Sutcliffe who said his main concern was access onto the main road.

Councillors voted four-three to refuse the scheme, despite being told by the planning manager that he had 'real concerns' that they would win if the developer decided to appeal the refusal decision because the reasons 'did not stack-up'.

Members voted to refuse the application because of concerns over surface water, access and loss of the character of the barns.

Planning manager Neville Watson said it would be difficult to argue to keep the character of the barns when the site was not in a conservation area or had heritage value. "I am struggling for reasons for refusal," he told members.

Cllr Heseltine responded: "Members have won appeals when officers have not turned up."