A POLICY requiring all new homes in the Yorkshire Dales to be for 'permanent residence' only is being considered by the national park authority.

The policy - a first for the national park - is aimed at stopping communities in the Dales from becoming 'ghost-towns', and is one of a fresh set of planning policies out to public consultation.

If approved, the policies, which also include tougher restrictions on barns being converted for holiday use and a revised housing target of 50 new homes per year, will be included in the national park's new local plan, its planning and policy blueprint covering the period from 2023 to 2040.

The consultation, which runs until Friday, August 19, is the result of more than two years of evidence gathering and review of responses received during a series of previous public consultations on specific policy issues such as a housing target, sustainable places for growth and barn conversions.

Currently, developments of more than five new homes have no restriction on who can live there - provided at least half are classed as 'affordable'. If the permanent residency policy is approved, it will mean the Dales following other national parks, the North York Moors, Northumberland and Exmoor. Changes to the policy on barn conversions will mean only in limited circumstances will barns be allowed for holiday lets - such as a farm diversification scheme.

Other draft policies include a requirement for new development to demonstrate climate change adaptation measures; stringent protection for the core area of the national park’s dark sky reserve.

Carl Lis, the authority's member champion for sustainable development, said: “I share the concerns of many local people that communities continue to be weakened by the loss of homes to under-occupation, either to the second home or holiday let market. Many people cannot find an affordable place to buy or rent in the national park. So, in our preferred options for the new Local Plan we are trying to do everything in our power to make planning policy that will benefit the community, the local economy and the environment. The question is, are we on the right track?

“There’s an incentive to take part. A good local plan will make the national park a better place to live. The much-needed housing developments that are coming to fruition now in Long Preston in Craven, in West Witton in Richmondshire and Sedbergh in South Lakeland started life as allocated local plan sites

“There are a number of policies in the preferred options consultation paper that show no change, such as on waste management, because they don’t need to change. But they are presented along with what is new because it’s part of our contract with the public to show what we are doing. I would urge people with a care for the national park and the local communities in it to have a look at this latest consultation paper and let us know what they think.”

The new local plan will be the first to cover the whole of the Yorkshire Dales National Park as extended in 2016. For the past six years, planning applications from the areas of Cumbria and Lancashire which became part of the national park have been judged against different local plans.

To take part in the consultation, go to: https://www.yorkshiredales.org.uk/park-authority/living-and-working/planning-policy/local-plan-2023-40/