The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority is helping to retain and attract young people, says its chairman.
Carl Lis has spoken out after the authority was criticised last week when it rejected plans for three barn conversions.
Cllr Lis admitted the organisation has “received a fair bit of stick” from local people over the decisions to refuse the planning applications.
However, he added: “We are approving the vast majority of barn conversion applications – 100 approvals, against eight refusals over the past three years.
“These latest applications were refused simply because they involved field barns out in the open countryside, away from the road.
Cllr Lis urged anyone thinking about submitting a barn conversion application to get in touch with us first.
“We can advise whether a particular barn would fit with the locational aspects of the policy and can save the applicant time and money by ensuring that the design details are right,” he added.
The chairman said the authority was doing a number of things to attract young people to the park.
“First, we are continuing to approve new build housing on allocated sites and infill sites within towns and villages. Planning permissions last year were at a ten year high.
“We are working closely with the local District Councils responsible for housing, and have recently approved developments in West Witton, Bainbridge and Langthwaite.
“These schemes contain genuinely affordable homes. Barn conversions can make a small contribution to housing but, by comparison, they are not cheap or quick to complete, and will not be affordable on re-sale.
“The fact that only two of the 100 barn approvals have so far been completed highlights the difficulties involved.
“Second, we have allocated sites for 180 houses across the national park. This includes two sites in Hawes for 21 homes and three sites in Reeth for 16 homes.
“We are actively urging the landowners to bring forward schemes to develop these sites, which are sustainably located near to shops, schools, community facilities and public transport.
“Third, there are more than 200 permissions for houses that haven’t yet been built. All of these permissions and sites have been published on our website to try to bring them to the attention of potential developers.”
Cllr Lis said the authority did not have to choose between conserving the landscape and providing more affordable housing for younger people.
“We can play our part in ensuring the evolution of our communities, but I do think we need to remember that all of us are only short term custodians of this unique landscape and we damage it at our peril.
“We can surely be the generation to leave the environment in a better condition than that which we inherited.”
To read Richmondshire Today’s report on last week’s planning committee meeting click here.