‘Bold and brave’ changes to prevent second homes in Dales

Swaledale. Photo: VisitBritain.

“Bold and brave” changes to planning rules aiming to prevent housing in the Yorkshire Dales from becoming second homes and holiday lets have been unanimously approved.

Members of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority signalled their determination to get to grips with the high-profile housing crisis across much of the 2,179 square km area and gave the green light to several key changes to the body’s forthcoming Local Plan blueprint.

The decision follows years of debate over which of the park’s estimated 2,000 traditional stone barns should be conserved and how to create sufficient new housing for local people to remain living in the area, parts of which have seen property prices rise by some 20 per cent this year.

Earlier this year it emerged some 3,100 of the national park’s 12,000 properties had become holiday lets and second homes, and the number was rising, as the pandemic had accelerated a trend for rural relocations among wealthy and retired people.

The meeting heard although some 150 potential sites for housing were currently being considered, continuing to permit barn conversions in settlements, building groups and roadside locations could make a significant difference to housing supply.

However, members said in future the conversions should only be allowed for holiday letting as part of farm diversification schemes.

Officers told the meeting extending the area restricting occupancy of new homes to local people to the whole of the national park and making the criteria for occupancy more favourable to attracting new households would benefit the local economy.

Other key changes agreed include that local occupancy restrictions could form part of the housing mix on larger sites and that a principal residence restriction should be introduced on new housing, to stop properties becoming holiday lets or second homes.

A meeting of the authority, held at Tennants in Leyburn, heard that despite concerns permitting traditional agricultural building conversions over the last six years had seen a small proportion of new homes for locals, relaxing the planning rules had boosted the park’s heritage.

Neil Heseltine, the authority’s chairman, described some of the recommendations as being “bold and brave”, as the meeting heard further action was needed to help increase the housing stock ring-fenced for local people.

Recreation champion for the authority, Nick Cotton, said while almost 200 barns had been permitted for residential conversion since the policy was extended in 2015, only 42, or 20 per cent of them had been completed over the six years.

He said: “We are giving plenty of permissions, they just aren’t being taken up.”

Nevertheless, Jim Munday, the authority’s member champion for development management, said the policy over barns needed to remain largely unchanged as it had proved to be successful in conserving derelict traditional buildings.

He said barn conversions had contributed 40 per cent of the homes to the authority’s housing targets over the past four years.

Mr Munday said: “Let’s not forget 94 per cent of planning applications for barns have been approved. It’s that six per cent that aren’t that hit the headlines. I don’t know why.”

1 Comment

  1. If only 20% of barns that have been granted ‘change of use’ have been completed does that mean 80% are still derelict?
    If so, that doesn’t sound like a success.

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