PLANS to allow 440 new affordable houses to be built across the Lake District have been given the thumbs up by a government inspector.

The national park’s land allocations document was described by planning inspector Shelagh Bussey as ‘sound, justified, effective and consistent with national planning guidelines’.

The Lake District National Park Authority’s director of planning and management, Steve Ratcliffe, said: “This signals increased opportunities in some of the area’s key residential areas, including Keswick, Windermere and Ambleside.

“Forty per cent of the housing sites have already been subject to pre-application discussions and are on their way to becoming a reality.”

Ms Bussey’s report also supported the use of 8.8 hectares of land - equivalent to 12 football pitches - for business growth. Identified sites are at Backbarrow, Staveley and Threkeld.