A DALES farmer looks set to have his plan to expand his tourism business at his farm in Airton approved after members of the national park's planning committee overwhelmingly chose to go against the advice of their officers.

The application by Chris Hall of Town End Farm to site four timber camping pods and a bio-disc treatment plant at the farm, and to extend an existing building for storage purposes was recommended for refusal by the national park authority planning officers. Members at a meeting of the planning committee were told the pods would be visible at both long and short distances, would be insufficiently screened, and would cause 'significant landscape harm'.

The report concluded: "The proposal would not be well screened at the time of application, or subsequently, being visible from short and long distance public views. It would conflict with the statutory purpose of the national park to preserve and enhance the natural beauty of the park."

But, members overwhelmingly supported the plan which they heard was a necessary expansion of the farm diversification business which included a farm shop cafe and three holiday cottages.

Owner and applicant, Chris Hall told the meeting the scheme had the support of neighbours and Scosthrop Parish Meeting. He said Town End Farm was the 'heart of the local community in Malhamdale' and that expansion of the business would allow it to be taken over by his children once he and his wife retired.

He said he had visited other camping sites in the Dales and had noted that there was little screening. Expansion was necessary to allow the business to support two families and be sustainable, he said.

Craven member, Robert Heseltine, described the Hall family as 'stalwarts' of the community and moved approval of the scheme, subject to additional screening.

"I find the recommendation (to refuse) a harsh conclusion; this is a family business of smallish scale," he said.

Allen Kirkbride said it was part of a farm diversification business and added it would 'not stick out like a sore thumb'.

And Richard Good said the authority needed to encourage young people in business.

"I really cannot understand the recommendation to refuse this application, its exactly what we are looking for. I cannot see a problem and I fully support it."

Members voted to delegate approval of the scheme to the head of development management subject to a suitable landscaping scheme. If a satisfactory scheme is not forthcoming, the application will return to the planning committee.