National Park chiefs fear affordable homes block

School rolls in parts of the Upper Dales have fallen dramatically in a generation.
School rolls in parts of the Upper Dales have fallen dramatically in a generation.
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England’s ten National Parks have written to Communities Secretary Eric Pickles over proposals they say put at risk their ability to achieve more affordable housing in National Parks.

A consultation was carried out earlier this year by Mr Pickles’ department on introducing a ten units threshold in agreements with developers, below which local planning authorities would not be able to require new housing to be ‘affordable’.

In their letter to Mr Pickles, National Park bosses said most sites available for development within park boundaries tended to be small, in-fill opportunities and conversions for new affordable housing development, and any new threshold “risks seriously threatening our ability to facilitate affordable housing in National Parks for local needs”.

Jim Bailey, chairman of National Parks England and the North York Moors National Park Authority, said: “The National Park Authorities are committed to supporting living working communities. This proposal simply won’t help that in rural areas and we hope the Government will listen and exempt National Parks from the change.”

The Government has already denied the new threshold would block affordable homes from being supplied as part of small housing developments, saying: “Our proposals specifically exempt rural exception sites. Our reforms are about avoiding unrealistic Section 106 agreements on small sites, which result in no development, no regeneration and no community benefits.”