RADICAL plans reserving new housing in the Yorkshire Dales National Park for local people were approved last week.

The move will mean only people living and working in the park will be able to buy new properties. The rules will also prevent new housing being turned into second homes and holiday cottages.

Members of the park authority agreed in principle to the restricted occupancy policy at a meeting in Hawes.

Peter Watson, the authority's head of planning, said: "Most house building in the Yorkshire Dales National Park is open market, meaning anyone can buy it.

"There is no logic in meeting open market demand in the national park because we can't build enough houses to bring prices down to levels affordable for local people without destroying the landscape.

"So the obvious approach is to build homes only for people who work here. There are something like 10,000 houses in the national park and most have no occupancy restriction on them so anyone will still be able to own one because the policy will only apply to new homes."

Brian Carlisle, director of estate agents J R Hopper and Co, which has offices in Leyburn and Hawes, said the move could mean prices of new homes in the park fall by 25 per cent.

However, he believes the shortage of land available for building means the proposal will have limited benefits for local people.

Dorothy Fairburn, who is Yorkshire regional director of the Country Land and Business Association, welcomed the proposal but said there was still a lot more to be done to halt the exodus of young people from the Dales or to create new jobs.

The details of the proposal will now be decided, with the restrictions expected to come into force later this year.