Dales fears focused on housing

Sixty per cent of people living in the Yorkshire Dales National Park fear that the precious landscape faces more threats and pressures, despite it already suffering substantial spending cuts.

The natural beauty of the Dales was highly rated in the survey.

Governmet austerity measures have seen National Park budgets tumble in recent years and Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) is no different.

Residents’ concerns are raised in the results of the latest five-year survey of people who live in the Dales.

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Peter Charlesworth, chairman of the YDNPA, said: “In the context of five years of Government cuts to our budgets, which now total 40 per cent, and the consequent reductions we’ve had to make to staff numbers and services, many aspects of the survey are pleasing.

“However, feedback shows that we need to up our game in some areas. We’ll take that on board and use it to help us to continue to improve how we work with and on behalf of the residents of this wonderful National Park in future.”

The survey asked residents to rate the performance of the Authority and for their impressions of an area that continues to prove hugely attractive to tourists.

Ninety-seven per cent of the 800 people who took part in the poll agreed that the National Park is a special place, an increase from 91 per cent who said so in 2009.

The ‘natural beauty, scenery and views’ were chosen by 77 seven per cent as the key special quality, ahead of ‘open space, freedom and remoteness’, ‘villages and traditional buildings’ and ‘peacefulness and tranquillity’.

The majority of the concerns for the future of the park centred on planning and development management issues, with a quarter mentioning Government direction on planning policy.

Twenty-three per cent highlighted a lack of affordable housing as a threat to the National Park, as well as anticipating that the building of more housing would change the park.

Overall, 60 per cent of residents surveyed said they were satisfied with the way the Authority did its job. Less highly rated were planning advice and applications (52 per cent) and consultations (47 per cent).