Plans have been submitted for four affordable houses to rent in perpetuity on a site in Langthwaite, Arkengarthdale.
The houses would be the first social houses available to rent in the Dale.
The planning application has been submitted by the Upper Dales Community Land Trust (UD CLT), a community-driven registered housing trust and informal association between the Upper Dales Community Partnership (UDCP) and Arkengarthdale Parish Council.
The submission is the culmination of ten months of work by the UD CLT, which has included locating a site suitable for development in Langthwaite, organising a housing need survey which had a 43 per cent return rate and uncovered an urgent need for affordable housing to rent, and staging an initial community engagement event.
The plans were drawn up by firm of architects and specialists in community projects, Native of York, and aim to make the most of the site by using a splayed layout of the four houses and providing a garden and picnic area open to members of the public, as well as a shared private garden area for the sole use of the residents of the scheme.
The four houses feature a high specification and have been designed to be energy efficient.
Richmondshire District Council has fully funded the fees for the plans, including those of the Architects and for a number of surveys, as well as the planning application fees paid to the YDNPA, from its Community housing fund.
It has also pledged to cover the project management fees for constructing the houses if the planning application is approved.
Independent county councillor John Blackie is volunteer executive chairman for the UDCP, and chairman of the Upper Dales Community Land Trust.
He said: “I am tremendously excited by the prospect of providing these 4 desperately needed affordable houses to rent in perpetuity in Arkengarthdale, a deeply rural and extremely remote iconic Dale.
“They are long overdue – but better late than never – and will help to stem the loss of local young families which the housing need survey confirmed are leaving because they have no chance of being able to afford to live in Arkengarthdale.”
He added: “Our work has only just started – if we are fortunate to win approval of the planning application we then need to secure around £700,000 to build the houses, but Central Government’s keen emphasis on community-led housing should help us in this task.
“However for houses that will remain forever in the ownership of the community in Arkengarthdale, and available plus affordable to rent for its residents, it is a small investment that will underpin a brighter future for the Dale”.
Cllr Stephen Stubbs is the chairman of Arkengarthdale Parish Council and vice-chairman of the Upper Dales Community Land Trust.
He said: “I too am delighted – we wanted to deliver a beacon scheme and we have got one.
“It is important the occupiers of new houses immediately feel part of the community so its layout and the provision of a garden for all members of the public are very important features.”
He continued: “Our excellent Arkengarthdale Primary School established 358 years ago in 1660 is sadly now down to just nine pupils so the new houses if approved and built quickly could provide a lifeline to keep it open.
“It would break the heart of our community to see it closed especially as in the true spirit of self-reliance famous in the Upper Dales we have seen key signs of regeneration recently, not least with the award winning CB Hotel and Inn in Langthwaite, now the major employer in the Dale and often in need of extra staff accommodation which the new houses could help with.”
The planning application is likely to be decided at the November meeting of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s planning committee.