Plan to convert former North Yorkshire school for tourism venture

The final chapter of an epic on an isolated Victorian schoolhouse turned into a community-worthy asset seems imminent as the proposal to convert it into tourist accommodation has won the support of planners.

Martin and Sue Stephenson’s passion for making the former Arkengarthdale Primary School a base for Inside Out Yorkshire guided walks and weekend activity initiatives will be judged by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority on Tuesday.

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Serving the Upper Dales area for 360 years, the school near Langthwaite closed in 2019 after student numbers dwindled.

When attempts to use the site to support the affordable housing stock in the area failed due to funding issues, the Arkengarthdale Schoolhouse Community Group, sponsored by the Arkengarthdale Parish Council, registered the site as a Community Value Asset.

The move triggered a six-month moratorium limiting the building to community uses, but the community failed to increase the group

The funds needed to buy the building by the deadline, so the Church of England school sold the school for £185,000 to the couple.

In planning documents submitted to the authority, the couple states that their businesses will work with other activity providers to offer a wide range of services.

activities such as yoga, canoeing and mountain biking.

The documents state: “There will be job creation for local accommodation providers and bars, and employment opportunities for the local.

service providers, including cleaners, activity trainers, and guides.

“The business model requires guest accommodation and studio/classroom space for events that include small group yoga and navigation classes.”

Park officials said for planning purposes, the old school will be classified as a community facility until a permit for other authorized use is applied.

They recommended that alternative developments should not be allowed unless the land or building is proven unfit or necessary for an alternative community use.

Officers said that although appeals have been filed regarding the loss of registered Community Value Property, including one from The Upper Dales Community Land Trust, the moratorium period has passed without demonstrating sufficient need to hold it as a community. building.

The officers’ report states that creating local needs housing for a family living and working in the valley will help visitors enjoy the special features of the national park.

“It will bring couples, families and small groups to enjoy activities in the local countryside and in the field,” the report says, recommending approval of the plan. This will create local employment and support businesses in the area that provide housing and the means to carry out outdoor activities.

“The proposal will see buildings redundant for residential and business use.”

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