THE owner of one of Craven's few grade two star listed buildings has narrowly lost her bid to build a 'Georgian' studio workshop in its grounds.

The proposed three storey building, made to look like a coach house, in the grounds of Carr Head Hall, Cowling, was strongly opposed by both Historic England and Craven District Council's own heritage consultant.

There was however strong support in favour by some councillors and an attempt to go against officer recommendation and approve the application by the council's planning committee lost by just one vote.

Rosemary Thompson, owner of Rosemary and Co Artists' Brushes, based at the Georgian mansion, said her globally successful business supplied brushes to modern day 'Rembrandts and Monets'.

She told the online planning committee meeting that artists also came to Cowling from all over the world to take part in painting workshops, bringing business to the area.

She said she employed 27 people, and the business was one of the highest regarded of its type in the world.

The running costs of Carr Head Hall were £25,00 for just a month, paid for out of the business, and she wanted the workshop so she could get on with the complete restoration of the hall, dating from the middle of the 18th century, to return it to its former glory.

Ms Thompson said she felt 'frustrated' and 'cross' that her application to build a studio workshop in the grounds had been recommended for refusal.

"I am frustrated, cross and disappointed that a vision such as mine is blocked through ignorant minds, by individuals who are afraid to go with their gut, by people who hide behind clipboards and bureaucracy," she said.

Ms Thompson said she was a supporter of Historic England, but argued the organisation was not always right and that the building would be 'safe in her hands'.

"I believe that people like me are rare and essential for architecture and heritage for the next generation. We who have a vision, and go with it."

And, quoting Vincent Van Gogh, she concluded: "What would life be like if we had no courage to attempt anything."

But planning officer Andrea Muscroft said while the council wanted to be able to support the application, at the current time it failed to meet council policy on three strong points.

She pointed out that officers were willing to negotiate with Ms Thompson and that there was existing planning permission for a workshop studio in the grounds, given in 2018, but never built.

There were also available industrial units available in nearby Cross Hills which could be used.

Ms Muscroft added by allowing the application, it could make it difficult to refuse other applications in the future.

Ward councillor Bill Mercer (Lab, Cowling), speaking in support of the application, said the business was growing and the previously planned and approved workshop was now too small.

The employment brought to the area by the business was very welcome, he said. Ms Thompson also brought business to others in the town, such as guest houses and food outlets, and was a tireless ambassador of Yorkshire to the rest of the world.

"I am finding it very hard to find anything wrong in this application," he said.

Cllr Richard Pringle (Ind, West Craven), said he 'took his hat off' to Ms Thompson for taking Carr Head Hall and 'making it beautiful', and moved approval of the application.

He added: "I have a bee in my bonnet that our Local Plan is all about building houses, but not jobs.

"This lady has had nothing but support, there has been an odd letter of objection, but far more letters of support.

"It is unfortunate that Heritage England is not quite happy, but this lady is not going to ruin her mansion, she won't be building something that is not nice."

Cllr Stephen Morrell (Ind, Sutton) said he believed there was a shortage of industrial and business premises in Craven and welcomed the scheme.

"Businesses are struggling to expand, I think this is a golden opportunity for Craven," he said.

Cllr Andy Brown (Green, Aire Valley) said while the application was against policy, he wanted to see it approved, and wondered if permission could be given, but with a condition that it not extend to other schemes.

And, he added an artists' studio situated on an industrial estate was not quite the same as one situated in Cowling.

Cllr Brian Shuttleworth (Ind, Embsay with Eastby), said the earlier application two years ago had received unanimous support by the then planning committee, and he could not see a problem with it being resited.

"It does not have a materially adverse impact on the hall, there is a cluster of buildings around the hall," he said.

Cllr Shuttleworth added that the area was an 'artist's dream' and claimed the business was doing more for the area than Welcome to Yorkshire which was going 'cap in hand' to councils asking for money.

"It is important to restore the economy which is wobbly because of the coronavirus epidemic. This is commendable, and I am going to vote in support."

But Cllr Alan Sutcliffe (Con, Gargrave) said while everyone wanted to support the application, they were doomed whichever way they went.

"We are over a barrel. We all want to encourage this business and wish it all success, but can we throw the planning book to the wind and say we are going to break all the policy of the previous established precedents."

The building proposed was in the 'wrong place', he said, and he could not support it.

Cllr Richard Welch (Con, Penyghent) asked why the committee bothered to employ heritage experts if members were to ignore their advice.

"What is the point of employing them, if we think we know better," he said.

And he added were councillors thinking emotionally rather than looking at the policies.

"I am quite happy to refuse this application. I think the applicant has had plenty of opportunities to discuss this, but appears to have not gone ahead.

"In principle, it is a good idea, but there has been co-operation between the applicant and the professionals. The applicant should come back with a better solution to satisfy everyone."

Committee chairman, Cllr Linda Brockbank (Con, Bentham) said there were rules that the committee had to follow.

"I commend the applicant for her passion, but unfortunately, we have rules that we have to follow."

Ms Muscroft added the business did produce prestigious artists' brushes, which did fit well with Carr Head Hall, but the plans did not meet with policy.

"Yes, they want to expand, but it is not policy compliant."

She said policies protecting heritage assets went back a long way and was one policy supported by Government.

"We want to support it, but we cannot do it. At the moment, it does not meet policy on three very strong points.

"I feel we could get a better scheme for Carr Head Hall, I don't think this is the scheme we should be supporting."

Planning manager, Neville Watson, said harm to the heritage asset was of 'great significance'.

"We don't have many grade two star listed buildings. I have real reservations that members are not taking account of the advice we have received," he said.

Planning solicitor Alex Strickland said the advice from the planning officer and manager was 'very clear' and urged members to be very cautious with their vote.

A vote, proposed by Cllr Pringle to approve the application was lost by five to six.

Members then voted to refuse the scheme, which was carried by six for refusal, and five abstentions.

Historic England said: "We consider that the scale, massing, design and siting of the proposed workshop would result in harm to the significance of the grade two star listed Carr Head Hall, for which there is no clear and convincing justification."

Historic England continues it believes that in the right location a 'new studio workshop to an appropriate scale and design could contribute sustainably to the future expansion and diversification of Carr Head Hall.'

The application was refused on the grounds of it being inappropriate development in the open countryside in that it did not fulfil the requirements for industrial development in rural areas, and there was no justification to depart from the policy.

It also failed to respect the form of existing and surrounding buildings, and would result in harm to the setting of the listed building, Carr Head Hall.