A proposal has been unveiled “to breathe new life” into an historic farm in open countryside by transforming a traditional building range into units for commercial ventures.

A planning application lodged with North Yorkshire Council seeks to create five commercial units and change the use of barns and outbuildings, some of which date to the 18th Century, at Paradise Farm, Dalton, near Thirsk.

The application follows mounting concerns being raised by residents and elected community representatives over the volume of North Yorkshire farms being “diversified” away from agriculture to ventures ranging from wedding venues and glamping sites to solar farms.

The authority’s Local Plan development blueprint for the area states development in the countryside will only be supported where it will “not harm the character, appearance and environmental qualities of the area” as well as protecting the best and most versatile agricultural land.

Regarding employment development at rural sites, the Local Plan adds such ventures will be supported in locations outside settlements where it involves the expansion of an existing business and buildings which are capable of conversion without the need for substantial extension or proposals specifically requiring a countryside location.

The extensive proposals described in the application for planning and listed building consent include demolishing of some of the buildings fabric, re-roofing all the buildings, removing the floor slabs and installing rooflights and a mezzanine floor.

The documents state the development would provide a viable new use for a redundant heritage asset and help safeguard its heritage significance.

Developers behind the proposal state in planning documents the scheme is “based on a recognition that the building range is not suitable to meet modern farming practices”.

The applicants seek to justify establishing the commercial units at the rural site by claiming that type of enterprise “has been demonstrated to offer a long-term viable and sustainable future for the buildings”, and thereby secures the setting of the grade II listed farmhouse.

At present, the farm is registered with the soil association, and working towards Organic Farm certification, but it is also hoped to create the commercial units alongside the farm.

The applicants say “a viable new use is sought that will both conserve the heritage significance of the range and contribute positively to ongoing farm diversification”.

The application states: “In this respect, it is notable that whilst the site is technically located within an area of open countryside, it is nonetheless well served by the A19… and the A168.

“Consequently, it is considered that the provision of high-quality commercial space in this location, which also benefits from being set within an attractive rural context, would be commercially viable.

“The existing farm buildings are currently redundant, poorly protected from the weather, intrusion and vandalism and do not have a viable long-term future.”