AN ICONIC listed building at Bolton Abbey is to become a wedding venue after securing planning permission from the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
The Tithe Barn, which features a 16th century oak timber frame, is grade two listed and part of the Bolton Priory scheduled ancient monument, giving it extra protection.
Over the years, the Bolton Abbey Estate has considered using the barn, which is currently used for storage, as a museum, an art gallery and tearooms, but none have been economically viable.
But now, after much planning, it is to be converted into a high class wedding venue for up to 200 people and featuring a new access road off the B6160 and parking for 67 cars.
A new 'bat house' will also be built nearby to provide a replacement roost for the Natterer and Pipistrelle bats which currently live in the barn.
Will Kemp, planning and development manager for The Chatsworth Settlement Trustees, owners of the estate, said the current use of the barn for storage was not sustainable in the long term.
"During the past 20 years we have considered using it as a museum, art gallery and tea rooms, but none of the ideas was economically viable," he said.
"As such, we consider that using it as a high quality wedding venue is the way forward. We are pleased that one of the UK’s leading wedding barn operators, Cripps, is looking to run weddings in it as soon as practicably possible."
He hoped the barn would be in use for weddings sometime next year.
“We believe using the building in this way will not only conserve a building of national importance, but will have several community benefits. The historic link between the Priory and the Tithe Barn will be restored; members of the public will have access and be able to appreciate the internal structure of the barn; and, not least, about fifteen full-time jobs will be created.”
Mr Kemp added that it had been the most challenging project he’d worked on in his thirty-year career as a chartered surveyor. He said 'complex factors' included it being listed, part of a scheduled ancient monument and in a conservation area, as well as having roosting bats and nearby residents.
And he thanked the national park's planning service for helping him overcome the challenges.
“I think it’s only right and fair to reflect on the fact that without its planning service, the national park would not be the special place it is," he said.
Robert Heseltine, the park's member champion for development management, said “An immense amount of work and thought has gone into this application, from both the applicant and park officers. I’d like to congratulate them on the quality of the finished proposal, which members were keen to approve. An iconic building within the national park will be conserved, while being put to a fresh use which will benefit the local economy.”
A total of 40 outside lights will be installed, but under the International Dark-Sky Association guidelines.
An acoustic report submitted with the planning application concluded that using the barn as a wedding venue would result in no more than a minor effect on neighbouring dwellings. A noise management plan includes the stipulation that amplified music must be confined indoors and cease by 1am.