Dales authority ponders 'locals only' homes restriction

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The Independent Online

Planning chiefs in the Yorkshire Dales national park were meeting today to discuss plans to restrict the sale of new homes to local people.

Planning chiefs in the Yorkshire Dales national park were meeting today to discuss plans to restrict the sale of new homes to local people.

The park authority claims wealthy outsiders in search of second homes are pricing locals out of the market. It wants to ensure that new housing in the area is made available for rent or purchase by locals.

The scheme has already been given the backing of a Government inspector and today's meeting will be closely monitored by other national park authorities.

Members of the park planning committee will decide whether to go ahead with the restricted occupancy policy, which has been backed by Government Planning Inspector William Carlow.

In his report, he agreed that any houses to be built within the national park in the future should meet demand from local people and be at more affordable prices.

There are about 10,000 homes in the park, most of which have no occupancy restriction.

In 2002 the average house in the Dales cost £178,000 – double the national average at the time.

The Planning Committee, which is made up of 25 members, will discuss the plan at The Dales Countryside Museum in Hawes later this morning.

It is understood the plan has strong support among the committee and is likely to be approved.

A spokeswoman for the authority said: "There is a lot of support for it. The planning inspector has recommended it to be accepted but it is down to the Planning Committee members today."

The spokeswoman said there had been a lot of interest from across the country.

She added: "There has been a lot of interest from people in Wales and the Scottish MEPs have also been looking into it as well as a lot of interest from other National Park authorities."

The spokeswoman said the policy would include all new housing in the Dales and all new barn conversions. She said under the plans people who wished to buy the homes had to meet a strict criteria such as their employment status and location.

She said the average house price in the region was about £240,000.

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