New village mooted to solve Yorkshire Dales housing crisis

A bid to tackle the affordable housing crisis in the Yorkshire Dales National Park has seen ambitious ideas put forward including creating a new village and increasing the number of barn conversions.

Aynham Close in Grassington was the last sizeable affordable housing scheme to be completed in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.  (Picture: Stephen Garnett/YDNPA)
Aynham Close in Grassington was the last sizeable affordable housing scheme to be completed in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. (Picture: Stephen Garnett/YDNPA)

The number of people and organisations who responded to a call by the National Park Authority to shape its Local Plan for 2023 to 2040 increased more than five-fold compared with the last time the policy was renewed, in 2013.

Among the suggestions were an Eden Project-style major tourist attraction and a new settlement, in the hope of meeting high demand for housing.

The responses, which included comments by 249 people and 26 organisations, will be used to shape a consultation, which will include a number of development “scenarios and ideas”.

Alongside housing, renewable energy and biodiversity gain were among the “interesting” responses.

YDNPA member champion for sustainable development Chris Clark said: “New affordable housing is clearly a priority for many people, with one parish council suggesting that consideration should be given to creating an entirely new village. Barn conversions remain a hot topic, with some saying the policy should be loosened further, while other people say there should be no further conversions at all.”

Aysgarth and District Parish Council were among the consultees to raise concerns about housing, in particular, about the conversion of large holiday “party houses” and the need for suitable complexes for older people. It also asked the authority to consider building a new village to meet housing needs.

YDNPA’s head of sustainable development, Peter Stockton, told The Yorkshire Post that while new settlements such as those in Catterick or the model village of Saltaire in West Yorkshire have been successful, something that radical “probably wouldn’t work” in the National Park.

However, all suggestions were on the table.

“There is always the possibility of creating a new settlement,” he said. “Our issue is that we need housing scattered across the whole of the National Park, an area that is bigger than Worcestershire.”

The housing need required “at least” 20 new homes to be built per year, with more needed in future.

However, there are around 600 sites with planning permission that are not being built on.

“If we want to sustain a population in the park we need to plan for around 50 new houses a year in the National Park, and 20 of those need to be affordable – but whether that is the figure that goes into the final plan remains to be seen,” he added.

The Authority will debate the responses at its next full meeting at the end of this month, before a further consultation is launched in the spring.

Mr Clark added: “The process to create a new Local Plan is a long one, but we’ve made a great start. I hope local people will continue to engage in the process. The National Park Authority, as the local planning authority, is looking to empower local people to shape the development of the area in which they live and work.”