APPROVED plans to build a hotel on the site of a derelict Second World War camp near Grassington will help fuel Craven's economic revival, it has been claimed.

Last week, the Yorkshire Dales National Park approved an application to build a hotel with spa, gym, bar, restaurant and underground car park on the site of Linton Camp, built for evacuees from Bradford and Leeds in the 1939-45 world war.

At the same meeting, it approved a diversification scheme in Grassington for an open farm visitor attraction. It comes after a decision in August to support Craven District Council’s plan to create business units on the former Craven Limeworks site at Langcliffe Quarry near Settle - both of which it is hoped will attract people to come, live and work in the area.

Natural Land, the developers behind the Linton Camp scheme, have said it is hoped work on the tourist facility will start in the middle of next year. It anticipates there will be 40 full time roles at the new hotel.

David Smurthwaite, strategic manager for planning and regeneration at Craven District Council, said the council regarded the Linton Camp development as a 'priority scheme' which would have far reaching economic benefits.

“It has been our hope for many years that a positive economic use could be found for the former Linton Camp site, in particular one which will have an economic benefit across the wider southern Yorkshire Dales.

"The redevelopment of the site is regarded as a priority scheme in the programme of work we are doing with the national park authority to try to attract younger, working age people."

The national park's planning committee also gave the go-ahead to an agricultural diversification scheme at Gam Farm in Grassington for an open farm visitor attraction, an agricultural museum and a whisky distillery and ancillary tea-room.

Applicant Chris Wray told the committee that he ran the largest herd of northern dairy shorthorns in the country, as well as other rare breeds, and that the development would bring significant local employment opportunities.

Mr Smurthwaite said: "Both sites will create more jobs within the national park, so reducing the need for residents to travel to seek employment.

“We are particularly pleased that the proposed hotel aims at higher value spending visitors as opposed to a mass tourism model. This approach is reflected in the modest scale of the development that in turn allows it to fit in with the surrounding environment.”

Jim Munday, member champion for development manager at the national park, said: “I hope the decisions we’ve made on Linton Camp and Gam Farm, as well as Langcliffe Quarry, will help fuel a green economic recovery in Craven.

"The design for the Linton Camp hotel is impressively innovative and sustainable and comes with a plan to create wet meadows, a wildlife pond and a purpose built barn for bats and barn owls."

He added: "The developments will provide careers that will attract younger, working age people to come to live in the national park.

“It should be stressed that like Langcliffe Quarry, Linton Camp was first earmarked for a new economic use in the local plan in 2016.

"They are both sensitive sites that required similarly sensitive development. Extensive discussions took place with the applicant to refine and improve the application. It shows that the planning system we have is working well. I wish Natural Land every success with its scheme.”

The hotel and leisure complex at Linton Camp will form one of the largest scale leisure developments the Yorkshire Dales National Park seen since it was established to protect unique landscapes.

The hotel will feature 34 rooms and six suites, a spa and gym, a bar and restaurant, and nine self-contained holiday lodges.

The firm announced its intention to finalise plans for the extensive scheme after the national park's planning committee voted in favour of the proposal, despite hearing there was strong local opposition to it.

Residents called on members to consider the authority's first purpose to protect landscapes and reject the proposal, saying it was too large, would neither conserve or enhance the area in Wharfedale and would "destroy its tranquility".

The meeting heard while many residents' objections related to concerns over increases in traffic, North Yorkshire County Council highways officers said the road outside the site was very under-used and with the development traffic would only increase to about ten per cent of its capacity.

But member Richard Foster, who is also leader of Craven District Council, questioned the highways officers' findings, saying many of the roads around the proposed site were single track.

He said many Dales hospitality businesses were struggling to recruit staff and the hotel complex employees would need to drive to the site from nearby towns and villages. Mr Foster added the complex would be seen from great distances, He said: "This is a major development in open countryside and ought to be turned down."

However, the meeting heard the complex had been designed to ensure the buildings' landscape impact was minimised.

Members were told the scheme would be a vast improvement to the derelict huts of the former Second World War evacuees camp and the site had been deteriorating for several decades.

After the meeting, a Natural Land spokesman said the firm wanted to work with the local community to help address concerns such as over traffic.

Linton Camp was built by the National Camps Corporation in 1939 to house evacuees. It housed children and young people from Bradford and Leeds whose fathers were away in the forces and whose mothers were often doing shift work in the mills or munitions factories. It has been derelict for more than 30 years.