IN a David and Goliath contest, a converted dairy behind a farmhouse in a tiny dales village has fought off some of the biggest beasts in the building industry to take top place in a national competition.

The Dairy at Newbiggin, in Bishopdale, was the smallest project in its category beating, among others, Norman Foster’s billion-pound Bloomberg headquarters in the city of London .

Owned by Diane and Andrew Howarth, the converted farm building, which has the highest level of disability access of any guest accommodation in the Yorkshire Dales, was named best inclusive building in England and Wales in the Local Authority Building Control’s annual excellence awards in London.

LABC confirmed that it was not only the smallest scheme in its category, but the only one to have had no architect and no designer in the project team: just part-owner Diane Howarth and local builder Gary Acton of Acton and Mudd, Leyburn.

The awards recognise the best in technical innovation, sustainability and design and the Dairy was nominated by local building inspector John Youill from the North Yorkshire Building Control Partnership, who worked with them throughout.

“John and Gary worked so closely together and a level of trust built up over time,” said Diane. “That was the key to our success. They knew each other’s work and respected each other. It was a real team effort.”

Rachel Smalley, principal advisor on access and inclusion for the Great London Authority, had special praise for the dales winner: “They faced fierce competition in this category from some multi-million pound projects. The fact that this scheme went above and beyond minimum building regulation standards, to deliver a truly inclusive scheme which appeals to all customers, regardless of whether they are looking for accessible holiday accommodation or not, made this a worthy winner,” she said.

Diane believes disabled accommodation is too often seen as the Cinderella of the tourist trade.

“It’s perceived as clinical and functional and so the last and least attractive option for any able-bodied guests. Hotel receptionists often apologise for offering the ‘disabled room’ as the only room left. But we’ve proved it doesn’t have to be like that. We provide accessibility to the highest standard when needed which simply disappears when it’s not,” said Diane.

“We were David among the Goliaths in our category: ten of the 12 finalists were multi-million pound architect-led projects, including The Bloomberg. We were truly speechless with the winning announcement. It wasn’t about the size or cost of a project, but the design.”

The project involved the extension, conversion and adaptation of the Grade ll listed building to create a holiday cottage specifically designed and constructed around the needs of disabled people.

The panel of expert judges said: “The Dairy goes above and beyond minimum building regulations standards. It used flexible bathroom, kitchen and bedroom layouts, products and design solutions to create a five- star experience and the same level of luxury as their other cottages. It had a non-clinical feel which appeals to all customers.”

LABC Chief Executive Paul Everall said: “Our winners demonstrate how positive working relationships with local council building control teams achieve high quality, sustainable buildings. Our awards are unique because they recognise how this cooperation improves building standards and professionalism across the industry.”

The Dairy is the first accommodation in the Yorkshire Dales to provide accessibility support for guests with mobility, hearing and visual requirements to the Visit England (NAS) National Accessibility Scheme standards.

Other awards for Cottage in The Dales include bronze, VisitEngland Awards for Excellence: Inclusive Tourism Award 2018. National Winner, VisitEngland Awards for Excellence: Self-Catering Property of the Year 2017. Winner, Yorkshire Self-Catering Accommodation of the Year 2016.