Local authorities back community housing scheme in Arkengarthdale amid funding concern

The site of the proposed houses.

A landmark community-led housing initiative designed to alleviate a depopulation crisis in a national park will be driven forward, with or without the support of the government body created to fund such schemes.

Both Richmondshire District and North Yorkshire County councils have offered support to The Upper Dales Community Land Trust to build affordable homes for rent in Arkengarthdale in the Yorkshire Dales National Park after Homes England said the trust did not meet its criteria to receive a £240,000 grant.

While it is understood Homes England bosses are continuing to examine solutions to the funding issue, the trust said it had received assurances from the local authorities that they viewed the four-home scheme at Langthwaite as of the utmost importance and wanted to see it built this year.

The housing scheme, which would be the first of its kind in the area, will come too late to prevent the closure of Arkengarthdale’s primary school after 360 years, but it is hoped will help retain and attract families to live in area, which has a high proportion of holiday home properties.

The district council’s leading members have been recommended to underline their support for the scheme next week by approving a £145,000 grant, and a further £150,000 for a three-home community-led housing scheme 12 miles away at Askrigg, in Wensleydale.

The backing of the councils comes as a huge boost to the scheme, the future of which had been left uncertain after Homes England insisted the developing group also had to be the landlord when homes are built for rent through its grant funding.

Chairman of the trust Councillor John Blackie, who is a member of both councils, said while he remained hopeful that Homes England would relax its criteria, he was confident the scheme would be financially viable.

He said: “The district and county councils are prepared to think outside of the box and are determined to see the scheme delivered this year.”

A Homes England spokeswoman said it was a legal requirement for the provider to also be the landlord when homes are delivered for rent through its grant funding and when meeting that criteria was an issue it encouraged groups to partner up with a registered provider.