Community leaders say they are becoming increasingly alarmed over the gentrification of campsites in the Yorkshire Dales, claiming camping pod, yurt, log cabin and static caravan developments are “pushing out” young people and those with smaller budgets from holidaying in the area.
Mounting concerns over the affordability for visitors of staying in the national park were raised as the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority agreed to launch enforcement action against numerous unauthorised changes to the type of accommodation at Bainbridge Ings holiday park near Hawes.
A meeting of the authority’s planning committee in Grassington heard claims that soaring demand for staycations following the pandemic and higher profit margins from using land for glamping rather than camping had added to a rash of campsite closures.
Some members held their heads in their hands as they were shown aerial photographic evidence of how the long-established camping and caravan site at Bainbridge Ings had been extensively developed, with low landscape impact camping at the prominent location edged out.
Officers described a litany of unauthorised changes, retrospective approvals, and development in breach of planning conditions and contrary to Planning Inspectorate appeal decisions at the site.
Several members responded by stating the holiday park’s owners were making a mockery of planning rules and urged officers to take “very vigorous” enforcement action.
Swaledale councillor Richard Good, a Duke of Edinburgh Award expedition assessor, said while there was “a definite need for camping in tents” in the national park the lack of campsites was becoming a serious problem.
He said: “With the increase of people coming into the Dales we have noticed over the last year or so a lot of those people will want to come in tents.”
The meeting heard sites that had hosted young campers for generations were now being developed with glamping facilities or static caravans for people with higher disposable incomes and that the area’s campsites had regularly been used by people who could not afford to stay elsewhere.
Speaking after the meeting, Wensleydale farmer John Amsden, chairman of Richmondshire District Council’s planning committee, said glamping pod and holiday lodge parks were “popping up like mushrooms” in and around the national park, but there was often little that planning authorities could do to stop them gaining consent.
He said: “Campsites that have people for a full week have just disappeared. There’s only Usha Gap and Muker.
“People who can only afford to camp are being pushed out. There seems to be nothing for the younger generation because many of them can’t afford to stay in log cabins and the like, which can be as expensive as renting a cottage, the prices for which have also gone up.
“I don’t think it’s about profits, I think it’s about greed.”
He added while many people were making large investments in creating holiday parks, there was a concern over what would happen to the landscapes and local economy when the boom in staycations subsided.
Bainbridge Ings campsite’s owner has been asked to comment about the enforcement action.