600 new homes waiting to be built in the Yorkshire Dales, says housing chief

Swaledale, by Stephen Garnett. Photo: Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority.

New houses in the Yorkshire Dales are being approved at a record rate but not built, national park authority members were told this week.

The number of planning permissions for new homes granted by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority is running at an historical high, but new housing completions remain disappointingly low, the audit and review committee heard.

It was highlighted during the meeting that the only objective in the authority’s corporate plan 2019-20 that was not on course to be met related to housing completions.

In the year to the end of March 2019, only 25 new houses were completed in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

This was well short of a Local Plan target, agreed with local district councils and other partners, for 55 completions.

The number of new housing permissions, on the other hand, stood at 60 last year, the second highest figure in the past ten years.

In just the first six months of this year (2019/20), 64 new housing permissions have been granted.

This means the authority is on course to grant more new housing permissions this year than in any year since it was formed in 1997.

Officers say this means there are now almost 600 ‘uncompleted’ permissions for new housing units in the national park.

The authority has said that housing delivery is a crucial issue in the national park, given the widely-acknowledged need to retain and attract younger people to sustain local communities.

Member champion for development management for the park authority, Jim Munday, told the meeting: “The reason for the shortage of new and affordable housing in the Yorkshire Dales National Park lies with the slow rate of building in the park and not with any lack of planning permissions.

“There is not enough investment in the sort of small-scale, affordable housing schemes that we need, in part because it’s cheaper to build on large sites outside the national park in places like Colburn and Catterick.

Jim Munday right speaks at the audit and review committee meeting.

“There is also evidence that landowners are not prepared to release land at a price that would make development viable.

“The national park authority does not have the legal powers to build houses.

“That is why we are working to support the district councils on a range of measures to try to get more housing actually built, so that the area can attract and hold on to the younger people we need.

“The fact that the first sods have been turned at a housing development site in West Witton, where there will be 17 new dwellings, eight of which will be affordable, gives grounds for optimism.”