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Inspector told Dales barns should be used for housing
EMPTY Yorkshire Dales barns should be converted into cheap homes for local people, a planning inspector has been told.
Upper dales county councillor John Blackie said the move would help ease a shortage of affordable housing in an area where the average wage is £16,000, but where the average house costs £289,000.
A three-day hearing took place this week at the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority headquarters in Bainbridge to examine the authority’s Housing Development Plan, which will govern development in the park over the next 15 years.
Planning inspector David Vickery is looking at a number of issues.
They include a proposal in the plan to exclude the redevelopment of barns and agricultural buildings into housing in settlements of 20 homes or less.
However, Coun Blackie is urging the inspector to alter this restriction to allow smaller communities to convert buildings.
He said: “There are numerous communities with six to a dozen homes that would really welcome the opportunity to have redundant buildings converted into homes for local people.
“We are talking about the small communities which if we are not careful will become virtual enclaves of second homes.”
Coun Blackie said the current proposal would limit development in a number of small Upper Dales settlements, including Cotterdale, Countersett, Newbiggin near Askrigg, and Angram, in Swaledale.
He said the proposal would have a particularly adverse impact on Arkengarthdale.
He said there were a number of small former lead miners’ cottages, some dating from the 15th Century, which could be small homes for local people.
The inspector is also being asked to judge whether a number of sites in the Dales should be set aside for affordable housing.
The park authority has spent several years urging landowners to come forward with potential sites for low-cost housing.
These have now been whittled down to 34 plots across the park.
Although most sites have the backing of local communities, some have prompted objections, including a proposal for four homes behind the village institute in Aysgarth.
The planning inspector is due to present his findings in April.
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