POPULAR plans to make the 'underused' Kildwick Parish Rooms, Kildwick, into a cafe, toilets, and church hall have been given the green-light.

The application by church vicar, the Rev Michael Green, and now approved by North Yorkshire Council, allows the parish rooms, next to the grade one listed St Andrew's Church, to be used as a cafe and toilets on the ground floor, and church hall on the first floor.

Some 347 letters of support and 13 against the proposals were received by the council, with those in favour saying it would bring the community together, be of economic benefit to the village, and a 'great use' of the building. Supporters also believed it would help towards restoration of the church, and was a 'great location to stop' while travelling through Kildwick.

Those against were concerned about congestion and highway and pedestrian safety; while others asked whether proposed outside seating would be on graves, and whether anyone would monitor any resulting noise and disturbance.

In an officer's report, it is stated that the parish rooms are used by both parishioners and community groups. The building lies within the setting of not just the ancient church, but other listed buildings including the church gates, the nearby village stocks and sundial, as well as Parsons Bridge, over the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

It states: "The current parish rooms are underused, generally only the first floor is used and even then, only for short periods of time throughout the week. The proposal seeks to introduce a commercial café business at ground floor, whilst the first floor will be retained as a community space.

"Part of the under use is the building’s current poor condition, the cost to bring it back to a reasonable standard and subsequently maintain it. The applicants are seeking to create additional income to support the long-term future of the community facility whilst making better use of the underused space.

"Additional ancillary income for the maintenance of the grade one listed Church of St Andrew, as well as the operational deficit within the Parish of Kildwick, Cononley and Bradley."

The first floor will remain for community use, independent of the cafe business, and while community use of the building will be reduced, the council concluded it was acceptable because the 'generation of funds will assist in the retention, improvement, and long-term security of both the parish rooms and that of the church and the role they play in the community.'

In addition, the development could actually result in the increase in the use of the building by the community.

Conditions on the permission include that within three months, full details and a schedule of works for the restoration of the church are provided to the council.