A Yorkshire Dales-wide trust could be set up to make community-owned housing a more achievable proposition in areas of the national park that desperately need affordable homes for local families.
Figures obtained by The Yorkshire Post reveal that by the end of February, just 15 applications had been submitted from across Yorkshire for a share of the Community Housing Fund.
The government fund is intended to empower communities to apply for cash to help them provide housing that is affordable at local income levels and remains so in perpetuity.
To date, just seven schemes in Yorkshire have attracted a combined total of £350,425 from the fund since it opened last July.
One of the first recipients was a community-led housing project in Hudswell, Richmond, on the edge of the Dales, where three homes for affordable rent have been built so far.
Richmondshire MP Rishi Sunak, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, said: “I would urge all local councils and community groups to consider whether they can take advantage of the £163m in the fund – a fund set up to pump-prime the building of affordable homes in those areas which have been most affected by the impact of second homes.”
However, efforts by the Upper Dales Community Land Trust to build four affordable homes to rent in Hawes have encountered problems. Richmondshire district councillor John Blackie said government agency Homes England was stalling on providing a grant for the scheme.
Coun Blackie said: “On housing, we all need to be pulling at the same end of the rope. We need to recognise there is a crisis, be flexible to understand the needs of deeply rural communities and make sure the housing is made available now because very soon there won’t be any families left to house.”
The formation of a Dales-wide trust, to act as an umbrella organisation to offer support for communities seeking funds, will be considered as part of a new action plan for the national park.
Park boss David Butterworth said the limited resources of small communities where new homes are needed most may mean people are being put off from pursuing projects.