Yorkshire Dales cry for dedicated housing association for national parks as latest figures revealed

The National Park Authority in the Yorkshire Dales has called for action after the Local Government Association (LGA) has revealed more than a million homes granted planning permission in the past decade have not yet been built.

The National Park Authority in the Yorkshire Dales has called for action. Photo credit: Mark Hardisty.
The National Park Authority in the Yorkshire Dales has called for action. Photo credit: Mark Hardisty.

Latest national figures show that 2,564,600 units have been granted planning permission by councils since 2009/10 while only 1,530,680 have been completed.

The number of planning permissions granted for new homes has almost doubled since 2012/13 with councils approving 9 in 10 applications.

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Jim Munday, of the National Park Authority, demanded more needs to be done, particularly for national park areas, such as the Yorkshire Dales, where despite a “slow rate of building in the park, mainly due to small developments”, it is vital for help to be provided to maintain and improve the current population of 22,000.

“We are looking to maintain a population up here in the Dales,” said Munday. “A suggestion put forward is that there should be a dedicated housing association within the national parks. This is certainly worth looking at and could be helpful.”

The call for action comes after The Yorkshire Post revealed in November that nearly 600 proposed new homes in the Yorkshire Dales remain unbuilt or unfinished, despite a chronic shortage of accommodation for young families.

Nationally, while in some cases there will be a time lag between permission being granted and homes being built, new build completions have only increased by half as much in that time.

"We desperately need reforms to make our land and house building system fairer for everyone. This is essential to allow councils to start building the social housing we desperately need," Greg Beales, campaign director at Shelter said.

David Mills, an LGA housing spokesman added: “There will be a variety of reasons why developers aren’t building, in some cases legitimate reasons. We recognise there will be a time lag in some cases but there are concerns some developers will wait for land value to go up.”

Encouragingly, completions last year were the highest in any single year in the past decade.

However last year no more than around 25 homes across the Yorkshire Dales National Park were completed– a similar number to the 2018 year tally and less than half the current target, members of the park’s audit and review committee heard.

“The very nature of the developments here is that they are very small usually - for one or two houses, because of course if you are a developer it is easier to build 20 houses outside the National Park area than in it,” said Munday.

“I wish I had the solution to the problem with developers,” said Munday. “And I would love it if The Yorkshire Post readership had any ideas.”

But Munday said there were “grounds for optimism” at Long Preston, in lower Ribblesdale, where the planning for a development of 12 homes had been approved last year.

The LGA is calling on the Government to use its forthcoming planning white paper to give councils powers to take action on unbuilt land which has planning permission.

This includes making it easier to compulsory purchase land where homes remain unbuilt, and to be able to charge developers full council tax for every unbuilt development from the point that the original planning permission expires.

Ahead of next month's Budget, the LGA is also calling for the Government to reform Right to Buy, by allowing councils to keep all of the receipts of homes sold under the scheme to replace them and to have the flexibility to set discounts locally.

"If we are to solve our housing shortage, councils need to be able to get building again and resume their role as major builders of affordable homes", Coun David Renard, LGA housing spokesman said.

"It is also vital that the planning process is protected, so that councils and communities can ensure we realise the Government's ambition of building beautiful homes, which includes the necessary infrastructure and affordable housing."