A proposal to build a development of commercial units on grazing land in Richmond’s conservation area has been approved, despite fears it will harm views of the town from the castle.

North Yorkshire Council’s Richmond constituency committee took about 15 minutes to approve David Eeles’ proposal to build workshop buildings totalling just under 1,000sq m of floor space on land north of Green Howards Road, beside the Gallowfields Trading Estate.

The meeting heard Richmond Business and Tourism Association had voiced support for the development, saying it would greatly improve the appearance of the perimeter of the business park.

However, the committee was told Richmond Civic Society had lodged a strong objection, claiming the business units would remove part of a substantial area of mostly open ground which rises above the north side of the town, providing viewpoints over Richmond.

The conservation group had claimed the agricultural land provided a backdrop to views from high points within Richmond such as The Castle Keep and was “an important characteristic of this historical market town and its development”.

Richmond Town Council had also objected to the scheme, saying it agreed with the civic society about its impact on the town’s heritage, over the loss of a greenfield site and also that the development would have a poor access onto Green Howards Road, a narrow road with blind hill crests.

While Richmond councillors concluded the commercial units would be "very visible from all of the towns vantage points and would be visible from just about everywhere”, planning officers confirmed the development would be visible from the 11th Century castle’s tower.

However, officers told the meeting as the development was next to an existing industrial estate, single storey, of a “modest design” and would be built with good quality materials, such as stone, it would result in “negligible harm to this important viewpoint”.

After displaying a series of before and after computer-generated images of the development, officers said the proposal provided an opportunity to reduce some of the harm caused by the trading estate, reducing its visual prominence, significantly improving the quality of the setting of part of the conservation area.

The meeting heard the council’s highways department had not objected to the proposal, which presented a unique opportunity to improve the appearance of the trading estate.

The meeting heard the development would be visible from less than 50 properties in the area and from the south side of the town, Councillor Heather Moorhouse said she did not think the development would have a great effect on tourism

Councillor Stephen Watson said while he sympathised with the town council, developments across a expansive area would have to be ruled out if views from Richmond Castle were paramount.