A marine diving firm’s longstanding ambition to establish a base in open countryside in the Yorkshire Dales has finally been granted after members agreed the proposal’s economic and social benefits outweighed the limited harm it would have on the landscape. 

The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s planning committee expressed strong support for the proposal by Diving, Survey and Marine Contracting to develop a base for its operations across four fields between Cracoe and Linton.

The planning consent was granted two years after the authority rejected a proposal by the firm to build a 36m x 25m building and convert a barn to expand the business on the site, stating the development would be incongruous in the national park.

The latest application included creating offices and secure storage for its oceanographic survey equipment in four “industrial” buildings sited around a courtyard.

Managing director Charlie Bayston told members while the firm’s work involved commercial diving and remote controlled deep water robots, including on most UK offshore wind farms, it also worked on reservoirs and flood defences for clients including North Yorkshire Council and the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority.

He said the firm, which has ten staff, had spent seven years looking for new premises and if the proposal was approved a further ten employees could be taken on.

Mr Bayston told the committee: “Our company is green, is quiet and heavily invested in the values of the national park. As a resident here I recognise the need to protect the character of the area and I am convinced this application can achieve that.”

The meeting was told a comprehensive landscape plan had been drawn up featuring the planting of 195 new native species trees, areas of hedging and mosaic planting including a species rich meadow area.

Members heard the firm had demonstrated additional biodiversity enhancement through the provision of an attenuation pond, bird and bat boxes, wildflower and grassland planting, while the existing dry-stone walls would be consolidated.

However, the meeting heard residents believed sites such as the redundant Threshfield Quarry were better suited to such developments and a call for the park authority “to turn many years of talk” about creating new uses for the quarry into action.

Local residents, members heard, believed the preservation of the statutory protected landscape should take precedence over the firm’s expansion plans.

Councillor Sarah Hill, of Linton Parish Council, told the meeting while the aims of the firm were commendable, the site had not been identified for development in the authority’s Local Plan blueprint and if the firm’s ambition was granted it could lead to further building proposals.

She said the primary concern of residents was the potential for exacerbating an accident black spot at the end of Lauradale Lane, near a blind summit, which had already seen a fatal incident.

Coun Hill added: “The scale of the proposed development, with four new large industrial storage units and 18 parking is excessive for this site, which is the gateway to some beautiful scenery.”

The authority’s longest serving member, Skipton councillor Robert Heseltine, said the proposed development was much improved on the firm’s previous application, heralding it as a “trailblazer” for what could be achieved to improve employment prospects in the Yorkshire Dales, with a minimal local impact.

Member Yvonne Peacock said with few brownfield sites being available for developing businesses in the national park, the proposal represented a shining example of what could be done to make commercial developments fit in to the protected area.