A new plan that could see more affordable housing being built in the Yorkshire Dales National Park came into force this week.
Members of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority voted to adopt a new housing development plan that should see more land being released over the next ten years for homes for local people.
The move comes approximately seven years after the authority introduced new local occupancy restrictions in 2005.
Although the local occupancy restrictions were widely hailed at the time, the problem with affordable housing got worse as house prices soared, wages stagnated and mortgage lending all but disappeared.
The new plan identifies 29 new sites for development - ranging in size from two houses to up to 30 - and potentially providing up to 236 new homes.
Half would be affordable homes to rent or buy, most likely through a local housing association.
The remainder would be open-market housing with a legal agreement restricting their occupancy to people who need to live or work in the national park.
A site on Moody Sty Lane, at Grassington, has been earmarked for 20 homes. Other sites are allocated in Airton, Austwick, Cracoe, Giggleswick, Kettlewell, Linton, Long Preston, Malham and Threshfield.
In January the document went before planning inspector David Vickery, who rejected four other small sites in the upper Dales, outside the Craven area.
Authority members repeated their disappointment that Mr Vickery ignored their plea to reinstate those sites, but expressed their satisfaction with the rest of the plan.
Authority chairman Carl Lis said: “Our new housing policy remains, unashamedly, one of trying to support those who need to live or work in the national park.
“As well as allocating new sites for housing, we have widened the definition of ‘local need’ so that more local households are eligible for housing.
“We have also increased the number of settlements in the national park where barns can be converted to houses, or where brownfield land can be developed for new housing, to meet local needs.
“Our focus now will be to get on with working with landowners, house builders and parish councils to get new houses onto these sites.”
Peter Stockton, the authority’s head of sustainable development, said: “The large gap between local incomes and house prices in the national park prevents many local people from getting onto the housing ladder or renting more appropriate accommodation - so forcing them away or into longer commuting.
“This plan releases new land for a mixture of future affordable and local-market housing, which should help some of those people to stay in the area and should also help to sustain viable local communities and services, like local schools.”
The inspector’s report is available on the YDNPA website.