Yorkshire Dales National Park launches plan to tackle the soaring cost of countryside homes

A long-term vision to tackle an affordable housing crisis in the Yorkshire Dales National Park is being shaped to help deal with the contentious issues of barn conversions as well as providing enough housing for local communities.

A traditional stone barn, or lathe, near Hawes. A public consultation has been launched to shape the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority's planning policy on traditional farm buildings. (Photo: Andy Kay/Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority)

The public are being urged to help hone the policies of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority through a consultation which is running until next month.

The authority is looking to incorporate so-called local occupancy restrictions, which can be placed on new dwellings to prevent them becoming second homes, into an over-arching planning blueprint, called the Local Plan, that will shape development in the National Park between 2023 and 2040.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The consultation is also looking to glean the public’s views on the policies which guide the conversion of traditional stone barns, known as lathes or cow houses, into new permanent housing or second homes.

The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s member champion for sustainable development, Carl Lis, said: “Planning policies on local occupancy restrictions and barn conversions have been the subject of hot debate for many years now, as they link to issues around second homes, community sustainability and the conservation of the farmed landscape.

“I know people care deeply, as I do, about the future of the National Park and the communities that live and work here, so I hope for a good level of response.”

There are 12,688 dwellings across the 841 square miles of the National Park, and latest figures have estimated that its population was 23,488 in 2017.

But demand for second homes and holiday lets in the Dales has seen property prices soar. A total of 21 per cent of all properties are not permanently occupied, compared with a national average of just four per cent.

The National Park Authority set a revised target in June of 50 new homes being completed each year, with two-fifths of the properties classed as affordable housing. Last year, 105 homes were granted permission, although only 15 of the properties were actually built.

The high demand for homes in the Yorkshire Dales National Park has seen property prices outstrip the average household incomes in local communities.

Median house prices in the National Park are £268,750, compared to £155,000 in Yorkshire and the Humber and £235,000 across England. However, average annual wages in Craven, for instance, are just £23,353, according to the National Housing Association.

The consultation runs until Monday, September 20.