New Dales homes: only locals need apply

Paul Mobbs mobbsey at
Mon Dec 13 11:22:40 GMT 2004,14488,1372439,00.html

New Dales homes: only locals need apply

Martin Wainwright
The Guardian, Monday December 13, 2004

A long-awaited challenge to the open housing market is about to be launched 
across a swath of Northern England, after robust backing from a government 
planning inquiry.

Virtually all new housing in the Yorkshire Dales will be limited to needy 
locals and incomers taking existing jobs. The radical plan has been drawn up 
by all-party and independent members of the National Park authority.

The attack on the spread of second homes and holiday cottages will also apply 
to all future conversions of barns and farm buildings in some of the most 
sought-after villages in Britain. Properties affected are expected to sell 
for a third less than the market price, with restrictive covenants imposed in 

Although there has been opposition, the enactment of the proposal has been 
virtually ensured by William Carlow, the government inspector appointed to 
review the Dales local plan. The document ties the policy to new employment 
measures, and not only does the inspector back the local housing idea - 
rejected in an earlier form by the government in 1996 - he suggests ways of 
strengthening it.

The implications go well beyond the 684 sq miles of the Dales, because the 
park authority has worked with its counterparts in the Lake District (an even 
hotter property market) and the North York Moors. The Lakes has drawn up a 
similar policy, and the Moors National Park, whose generally smaller 
settlements face similar problems, is working on a version.

Other areas are also likely to be watching the decision on the Dales proposal, 
expected at the authority's meeting in January.

Mr Carlow even hints at experiments in towns. The problem of local people 
being priced out of the market is, he says, "common in very many rural areas, 
and also in some urban situations where the gap between income and house 
prices is sometimes greater than in the Dales".

The Yorkshire experiment has won all-party support locally, and strong backing 
from parish councils. A string of village polls has shown overwhelming need 
for housing for young families.

The average Dales house cost £178,000 in 2002, compared to £95,000 nationally 
and £70,000 in Yorkshire and Humberside. The gap has since grown.

Data in the local plan shows a steady leaching of young families from the 
area, affecting schools, health provision and other services. Census figures 
say 21% of the Dales population is over 65, compared with 16% nationally.

Peter Watson, the head of planning at the park authority, said: "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. The obvious approach is to build 
homes only for people who work here.

"There are already 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."

The authority is confident that it has the slack to interfere with the open 
market because of the gross under-occupation of local housing. The 2001 
census showed 10,236 homes for a population of 19,654, including children. In 
the average Dales village, 15% of homes are second homes and holiday 
cottages. In hotspots such as Bolton Abbey, the figure is as high as 65%.

Mr Watson said the parks authority and councils were confident entrepreneurs 
would not be kept out by the new rules. Outsiders, who often drive 
development and community activity, could still choose from the existing 
housing stock and properties already in the planning pipeline.

The plan does allow very limited new development for the open market in the 
four main Dales centres of Grassington, Reeth, Sedbergh and Hawes. Builders 
there will be allowed one open market home for every new one they build for 
'local need' - a definition which in the last resort will be judged by an 
independent arbiter.



"We are not for names, nor men, nor titles of Government, nor are we for
this party nor against the other but we are for justice and mercy and
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nation, and that goodness, righteousness, meekness, temperance, peace
and unity with God, and with one another, that these things may abound."
(Edward Burroughs, 1659 - from 'Quaker Faith and Practice')

Paul Mobbs, Mobbs' Environmental Investigations,
3 Grosvenor Road, Banbury OX16 5HN, England
tel./fax (+44/0)1295 261864

email - mobbsey at
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