A MAJOR research study will be at the centre of a n new initiative designed to encourage younger people to live and work in the Yorkshire Dales, as well as the Lake District.

There is currently 44 per cent fewer than the national average of 16 to 34 year olds living in the two areas, and the Great Place: Lakes and Dales project (GPLD) aims to do what it can to reverse the trend, encourage younger people to both stay and move to the Dales and Lakes and to make sure they remain vibrant.

The project, which has been given £1.34 million of funding by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England, is being led by Craven District Council in partnership with South Lakeland District Council and the Yorkshire Dales and Lake District national park authorities.

Lindsey Hebden, the project’s programme manager, said:“We live in a beautiful part of the country which has an incredible amount to offer, but the shortage of younger people in the area will be harmful for the local economy unless we can persuade more to stay or move here.

“To do that, we need to listen. So the research project, seeking the views of as many people as possible and particularly those aged between 16 and 44, will be a central part of our whole programme.”

She added: “Retaining and attracting younger people and new businesses to the area is vital to influence and support our future economy.”

Research will focus on the two area’s culture and heritage, and how it can support economic and business development.

“Developing and supporting the creative economy will follow on from defining our cultural distinctiveness by putting arts and heritage at the heart of local policies,” said Ms Hebden.

“Unless we can make the Lakes and Dales realistically appealing for younger people the future vibrancy is at stake. Our research will help identify what needs to be done and what younger people actually want to see.”

The project will be focused on the rural corridor linking Skipton in the south and Grasmere in the north, including the market towns and hinterlands in between.

A series of events, workshops, high profile competitions and support for existing projects are being planned to celebrate the area’s wealth of culture, arts and heritage.

Work will target key festivals including Grassington Festival, Settle Stories and Skipton International Puppet Festival.It also aims to strengthen existing flagship heritage initiatives including Skipton Town Hall and Craven Museum and Gallery.

For more information on GPLD, or to have your say and get involved with the research, email greatplace@cravendc.gov.uk or contact the team through social media.