COUNCILLORS took a stand for “common sense and good judgment” when they approved an application for a building conversion.

Despite concerns over appearance and location, members of the planning committee agreed that the workshop of Kirkby Lonsdale artist, Andrew Kay, could be converted and used as both workspace and dwelling.

Mr Kay, who often has to make journeys between his home and Beckside Barn, at Lupton, revealed his business could be greener and more productive if plans were approved.

He has also suffered thefts in recent years and, with hazardous materials and machinery kept in the workshop, it was feared the building left empty at night could prove dangerous.

The meeting heard that 18 letters of support had been received which praised Mr Kay’s contribution to the local economy.

Councillor David Ryder, on the planning committee, also hailed the employment and economic opportunities Mr Kay’s business has brought about.

He continued: “The only precedent we will set if we approve this application is that common sense and good judgment should take precedent over an exaggerated commitment to chocolate box prettiness.”

However, council planning officers recommended refusal, saying the barn, located 400m from a farm shop and tea rooms, was too isolated.

But the application was given the green light by South Lakeland District Council last Thursday, following earlier unanimous approval by Lupton Parish Council members.

Mr Kay told the Gazette: “After many years of struggle I am so pleased with the unanimous decision that SLDC's planning committee gave to convert part of my sculpture workshop into living accommodation.

"This is a true forward thinking approach that will allow me to sustain a small rural business for many years to come.

“It is also a fine victory over stagnant, petty minded bureaucracy that, over the years has held back so many positive ideas that would help our rural communities to flourish."

Several councillors also argued that they should consider changing planning regulations in the New Year to make it easier for businesses such as Mr Kay’s to thrive.

Coun Mary Wilson said: “I would make a plan that in the new year we actually start to look at our policies, particularly the rural ones.”