A NATIONAL park body which has launched an initiative to reverse the exodus of young people from the area has taken the rare step of approving a new housing development on the edge of a village.

The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority passed the scheme for five market houses, four affordable houses and a stone barn conversion at Horton-in-Ribblesdale in a move that was heralded at a meeting of its planning committee by campaigners pressing for more homes for local people.

While some members said they feared the affordable housing proposal had come too late to attract young families to live in the area, others said they hoped the scheme would serve as a template for other such developments across the national park.

The move comes more than two years after the village primary school was forced to close after pupil numbers fell to 12.

In the wake of the closure, the national park authority’s chairman, Carl Lis said: “With our partners in other local authorities, we hope to be able to make speedy progress on the development of a co-ordinated programme of activity to attract more families to move to the park.

“That means building the right sort of housing, creating new jobs, and putting in place the right sort of infrastructure. As part of that, we will also be working hard to develop a more detailed proposition on second homes that we can put to government at the earliest opportunity.”

Members heard the scheme, beside the Settle to Carlisle Railway Conservation Area, would feature four shared ownership affordable homes, the freehold of which will be held by Craven District Council.

Shares in the homes would range from 25 per cent to 75 per cent subject to the income levels of prospective purchasers and ownership is capped at 80 per cent. The properties will not be sold outright as a minimum of 20 per cent will remain in council ownership.

Officers said while the development of a field north of the village would change the setting of the railway line, it would be a very minor incursion in the setting of the 78-mile long conservation area.

Despite the affordable housing proposal Horton-in-Ribblesdale Parish Council Council objected to the planning application as it considered vehicles from the development would present a hazard to vehicles travelling on the B6479.

It added the absence of a footway into the village would also present a hazard to pedestrians.

Martin Hanson, of the parish council, said he had lived in the village for 24 years, but could not recall the last domestic new-build there, so the proposals represented “a significant change to an established community”.

He added the village had suffered in recent years with the closure of a shop, the primary school and a cafe alongside facing a huge influx of Three Peaks Challenge visitors every weekend who brought little to the Horton-in-Ribblesdale community.

Mr Hanson said: “Doing nothing is not an option. If we want change we have to do something.”

Referring to the parish council’s objection to the scheme on road safety grounds due to a lack of a footway from the development into the village, he said speeding vehicles was a major concern for residents.

Resident Julie Rose, who lives next to the proposed site, described the design of the development as “uninspiring”.

However, numerous members said the opportunity to develop affordable housing in the national park was too good to reject and delegated authority to officers to negotiate developing a footway within the site.

Member Neil Swain said: “One of the things we want to achieve is for young families and people to stay in the national park.”

Richard Dowson, consultant with Great Place: Lakes and Dales (GPLD) said: "We look forward to seeing the plans – which include the winning farmstead-style design in a prestigious Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) competition by McMullen Architects – coming to fruition. The housing will appeal to younger people wishing to live and work in the area, which is why GPLD has supported the RIBA competition.”