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Artists win battle to save their workshops
2:52pm Thursday 22nd August 2013 in News
Artists and craftsmen have won a reprieve for their Ilkley studios with the dismissal of a housing plan appeal by a planning inspector.
The studios on Back Nelson Road have been a central focus of art open studio events for several years, including the up-and-coming Ilkley Art Trail.
Fellow artists across town were among those who objected to plans by Mike Hanson of Town & Country Properties (Wharfedale) Ltd to convert the two remaining studio workshops to houses. The scheme follows the conversion of two neighbouring buildings which also housed studios.
Mr Hanson, who says the units are not commercially viable, launched an appeal after the plans were turned down by Bradford Council earlier this year.
But Government planning inspector Matthew Birkinshaw has now dismissed the appeal.
In his appeal decision, Mr Birkinshaw concluded converting the units to homes would be unacceptable.
He said: “While I have found that the scheme would preserve the character and appearance of the Ilkley Conservation Area, I conclude that the appeal proposal would be unacceptable due to its impact on the living conditions of neighbouring residents and highway safety.”
Supporters of artists including painter and sculptor Joy Godfrey, fused glass artist Chris Bailey and ceramic sculptor Ken Jaquiery, wrote to planners, saying the studios were an asset to the town.
But representations were also made about the effect of the houses plan on the privacy of neighbours, and the effect of the proposed access and car parking arrangements on road safety.
Mr Birkinshaw said there would be “direct and harmful overlooking” of residential properties.
He said he shared the Council’s concerns that additional vehicles likely to be generated by the residential conversion of the units would exacerbate existing traffic concerns.
Tenant Joy Godfrey said she was relieved to hear the plans had been turned down.
“To say it is good news is the understatement of the year,” said Mrs Godfrey.
She recently opened her studio to members of the public for this month’s Ilkley Summer Festival, and will again be part of Ilkley Art Trail in October.