Yorkshire Dales plea for government intervention as affordable housing crisis forces mass exodus of young people

The chairman of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority has called for the Government to provide more support as figures have revealed the dearth of affordable homes which is placing the future of villages and market towns at grave risk.

The National Park Authority in the Yorkshire Dales has called for action. Photo credit: Mark Hardisty. Copyright: jpimedia
The National Park Authority in the Yorkshire Dales has called for action. Photo credit: Mark Hardisty. Copyright: jpimedia

Latest figures from the National Park authority show that during the past 10 years, on average just under 10 affordable homes a year have been granted planning permission in the area - resulting in an annual shortfall of 30 affordable houses in the National Park, based on the latest housing register data.

This combined with a soaring cost of property and spiraling rents has priced many rural residents, especially young couples and families, out of the housing and rental markets.

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Carl Lis, the chairman of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, stressed that a critical need for resources from the Government for National Park areas.

"We need resources and identification from government - this is a real problem and we need resource that might try and resolve it," he said.

"Up here we have been saying this for quite a long time - this thing hasn't just crept up on us."

Demographic analysis provided by the authority indicates that the population of the Yorkshire Dale National Park is projected to decrease by around 2,350 resident - the equivalent of 10 per cent - from 2017 to 2040.

At the same time, the number and proportion of older people is set to increase, with those aged 65 and over increasing by 31 per cent.

Coun Lis said that unless urgent measures were taken the community was at risk of "collapse".

"There is a real crisis in the Dales, the demographic keeps going up and up," he said.

"We can already see evidence that schools specifically are closing down, or are threatened with closure, because we haven't got enough children to warrant staying open.

"There simply aren't enough young people or young families in the area.

"Eventually it will result in the community that we have here just collapsing. Something needs to be done."

The call for action comes after The Yorkshire Post revealed this month that according to the Local Government Association (LGA) more than a million homes granted planning permission in the past decade have not yet been built.

This includes nearly 600 proposed new homes in the Yorkshire Dales remaining unbuilt or unfinished, despite a chronic shortage of accommodation for young families.

Coun Lis suggested that introducing new government legislation could combat these figures.

"The situation is somewhat blighted by the fact that, even if approval is given - at the moment a developer can keep that plot if like in his back pocket," he said.

"Legislation would help to change that. So for example if you hadn't built on the land permission could be withdrawn, or we will start charging you council tax on the land. Those sorts of measures would be a big help."

Figures provided by Craven District Council showed 386 people are on the waiting list for affordable renting properties, and 170 for shared ownership. And Richmondshire District Council said 56 affordable homes are needed to be provided each year, with an even 28-split between affordable rental and shared ownership.

Craven District Council’s leader, Coun Richard Foster, said: "More affordable housing built in the right places is needed to match local income levels, and provide a supply of housing that cannot be lost to second homes.

"New affordable homes and their occupants also have the potential to support their local community and economy as well as facilities such as schools and services.”