PARK authority bosses have blamed a lack of new and affordable housing on a "slow rate of building" after it was revealed 600 homes had not been built despite the approval of planning permission.

Members of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority heard how hundreds of new homes remained 'uncompleted' across the Dales, and that it was not on course to achieve its plan to "inspire millions of people" to live there.

At the Audit and Review Committee, authority members heard how the number of planning permissions for new homes granted in the area was running at a 'historical' high, but the number of those being completed was "disappointingly low."

The meeting heard how the authority's Corporate Plan '2019-20', which identifies way it can encourage younger people to live in the area, was being affected by the speed in which developers were completing new-builds.

At the meeting, Jim Munday, Member Champion for Development Management for the park authority, said: “The reason for the shortage of new and affordable housing in the Yorkshire Dales National Park lies with the slow rate of building in the Park and not with any lack of planning permissions."

On Tuesday, Mr Munday partially-blamed 'cheaper sites' on a lack of investment in affordable housing schemes, while he said landowners with planning permission were not prepared to sell land at a price which would make building viable.

He said: “There is not enough investment in the sort of small-scale, affordable housing schemes that we need, in part because it’s cheaper to build on large sites outside the National Park in places like Colburn and Catterick.

"There is also evidence that landowners are not prepared to release land at a price that would make development viable.

“The National Park Authority does not have the legal powers to build houses.

"That is why we are working to support the District Councils on a range of measures to try to get more housing actually built, so that the area can attract and hold on to the younger people we need."

The authority said in the year to the end of March, only 25 new homes were completed in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, despite a 'Local Plan' target agreed with District Councils and other partners for the completion of 55.

However, Mr Munday added that the construction of 17 new homes in West Witton, eight of which will be affordable, gave "grounds for optimism" suggesting it could begin to catch-up on the number of new and affordable homes in the Dales.