'Soaring' numbers of applications to convert buildings into tourist accommodation to serve staycation boom in the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors

Yorkshire’s two National Parks are seeing soaring numbers of plans to create tourist accommodation as the owners of anything from farm fields to a garage seek to cash in on latent demand for holidays and a boom in staycations.

Hutton-le-Hole in the North York Moors

National Park bosses said dozens of planning applications have been lodged with the North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales authorities in recent weeks following issues over foreign holidays becoming clearer and a massive increase in media awareness of the British landscapes.

Director of planning for the Moors authority, Chris France, said that while development proposals in general rose by 20 per cent last year, the first month of this year had seen an even sharper increase.

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He said: “Last year it was down to small-scale household applications as people were saving money and weren’t travelling, but this year it’s larger proposals as well and in particular a really significant increase from the hospitality and tourism accommodation sector.

“We are seeing a lot of small-scale works on farms, expansion of existing camping and caravanning sites, lots of glamping and holiday lodges. There’s been a move towards self-contained holiday accommodation where people don’t have to share amenity blocks.”

While the Dales has also seen numerous plans to make barns and fields more profitable, the latest accommodation plan submitted is for the conversion of Arkengarthdale’s former school, which its new owners hope to run guided walking holidays from.

Upper Dales councillor Yvonne Peacock said she welcomed the plans aiming to create holiday cottages, but proposals which ended up as second homes were unhelpful for the communities as they were empty for much of the year.

She said: “The important thing for the Dales is to get the balance right. We do need tourists, but don’t want the house prices to go so high that local people can’t afford to buy them.

“I wouldn’t like to see the Dales overrun with tourists like places such as the Lake District, in places like Windermere you can hardly stir.”

Communities, particularly those in areas with high volumes of tourists, have started to react to the wave of proposals, warning the park authorities of the consequences of mass tourism.

However, planning bosses say while their policies recognise the importance of tourism for local economies, the National Parks have the capacity to attract more people to enjoy their special qualities. Mr France highlighted how the Moors had adopted policies last July that would protect against inappropriate tourism developments.

He said: “We are aware of the need for a balance and some local communities unease with tourism, but we feel our policies are about small-scale appropriate tourism that helps people to understand what a fantastic place the North York Moors is and helps the local economy.”