National park issues assurances over village housing

Residents of a Yorkshire Dales village where almost a quarter of all new houses in the national park could be built have called for transparency and answers amid concerns hundreds of properties will be given the go-ahead in the coming months.

In response, the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority has issued assurances over its Local Plan development blueprint, saying the allocation of potential sites to enable young families to live in the area would be subject to much more scrutiny.

A full meeting of the authority heard residents in Threshfield, near Grassington, feared consent could be granted to develop sites by the summer.

The concerns were raised nine months after the authority released a early stage Local Plan document showing potential housing development land focused in the park’s largest settlements, and particularly in its south.

The paper stated up to 50 homes could be built in Hawes, 92 homes in Sedbergh, 199 homes in Grassington and neighbouring Threshfield and 119 more homes nine miles away in Embsay, leading to criticism the properties would be used by commuters to Leeds and Bradford.

Steve Webb, of the Threshfield Village Development Concern Group, told the meeting the village represented just three per cent of the  national park’s population.

He said the authority had proposed in its Local Plan consultation to concentrate 24 per cent of planned new houses for the whole of the protected area in Threshfield, which had grown four-fold since 1960, and the park authority’s proposal represented a further 44 per cent increase.

The meeting heard Threshfield residents had become “very much invested” in the indentification of sites to build housing in the national park and “to support full transparency of the decision-making process”, details of meetings over potential development sites should be published.

Mr Webb added it was essential residents be given sufficient time to respond to future consultations about village developments.

The authority’s chairman, Neil Heseltine, said rather than propose developments, the first public consultation on housing sites, had put forward locations which could be developed and where there was a willing landowner.

He said: “The purpose was to get views about those sites before any decisions about whether to allocate were made and that is still the position now.

“The authority has no intention of granting permission now for any of the potential new sites that might eventually be recommended for allocation in the new plan. However, the timeing and nature of applications and development is in the hands of developers, not the authority.”

The meeting was told prospects of developing a range of sites continued to be examined and would be subject to a further lengthy consultation.

A decision about which sites to take forward in the Local Plan would then be made at a full meeting of the authority, whose members include elected councillors and Government-appointed experts.

Mr Heseltine said Threshfied was of “critical importance” to the social and economic wellbeing of communities in the south of England’s second largest national park.

He said the village was among the largest settlements in the national park, was home to one of two secondary schools across the 683sq mile protected area, one of the largest remaining primary schools and the largest after care facility and the largest sporting venue in Wharfedale Rugby Club.

Mr Heseltine said with only three new houses having been built in Threshfield over the past 20 years, the issue of housing was one of “fundamental importance” to all who live and work in Upper Wharfedale.

2 Comments

  1. I wouldn’t have thought that the Yorkshire Dales National Park would be classed as being in the south of England! What about the sewage problems?

  2. As usual these houses will be bought by people who work outside the National Park and by wealthy Southerners as second homes just like in other parts of the Dales

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