Dales homes crisis: 600 new houses unfinished despite planning approval

Nearly 600 proposed new homes in the Yorkshire Dales remain unbuilt or unfinished, despite a chronic shortage of accommodation for young families, officials disclosed yesterday.

The Yorkshire Dales National Park

The revelation comes less than two months after councillors demanded Government action to take back tracts of rural land earmarked for community housing which had instead been “banked” by their owners for their retirement.

The National Park Authority in the Dales heard yesterday that despite the number of planning approvals for new homes running at a record high, their completion was “disappointingly low” and “clearly not on course”.

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No more than around 25 homes across the National Park would be completed this year – a similar number to last year’s tally and less than half the current target, members of the park’s audit and review committee heard.

The Yorkshire Dales National Park

Jim Munday, of the National Park Authority, blamed the shortfall on “the slow rate of building in the park and not with any lack of planning permissions”.

He said the problem lay partly with landowners who were not prepared to release plots “at a price that would make development viable”.

However, he said there were “grounds for optimism” at West Witton, near Leyburn, where the first turf has been turned on a development of 17 homes.

The authority does not have legal powers to build houses, but has said that new affordable homes are crucial in the Dales, given the “widely-acknowledged need to attract younger people to sustain local communities”.

In September, a conference of around 100 decision makers from all 15 of Britain’s National Parks, held in the Dales, heard that the lack of houses was hindering attempts to attract younger families to villages with ageing populations, fragile infrastructures and threatened schools.

Carl Lis, chairman of the Dales authority, said at the time that it was lobbying the Government to change the planning rules.

“At the moment you’ve got a window of three years to start developing once you’ve got your planning permission. But in reality, all you have to do is put a put a brick down and the building is considered started,” he said.