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Barns plan 'may destroy Yorkshire Dales National Park landscape'
11:31am Monday 21st October 2013 in News
GOVERNMENT proposals to allow barns to be turned into homes without planning permission could result in a sea of second homes – destroying the landscape, national park authorities have warned.
There are fears that holiday homes could begin replacing the famous “barns and walls” landscape of the Yorkshire Dales if the Government acts on its current proposals.
National parks and other organisations are responding to a consultation by the Government to allow farmers and landowners to convert unused barns and cowsheds to homes without planning permission.
The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) has been lobbying the Government to reform planning rules on barn conversions for many years and welcomed the proposals as a boost for the rural economy.
But a national park boss has warned it could have severe consequences for the landscape and would not help tackle the urgent need for housing within financial reach of local residents.
Head of sustainable development at the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, Peter Stockton, said they were “very concerned” about the proposals.
He said while their members wanted a more flexible policy towards barn conversions, they wanted the decision to be made locally, rather than by Government policy.
“There are 6,000 traditional farm buildings in the national park and 4,500 are field barns,” said Mr Stockton. “This would be unrestricted building, they wouldn’t be full-occupancy. The result is they could become ‘Grand Design’ projects. It would be chance whether it happened to be owned by a farming family that had a housing need. They would be sold on the open market to the highest bidder.”
He said the need for septic tanks, mains electricity, access tracks and remoteness from amenities would make most of the developments unsustainable.
And environmental charity the Yorkshire Dales Society has also expressed concern. Chairman Dr Malcolm Petyt said: “We believe these proposals fundamentally undermine the legislation designed to protect the beauty and heritage of landscapes in the Yorkshire Dales National Park and neighbouring AONBs. The changes would do nothing to help local families buy affordable homes.
“It could result in thousands of isolated field barns being converted into upmarket homes.
“These new barn conversions would be sold at inflated prices on the open market, resulting in a flood of high-priced housing out of the reach of local families.”
Rick Cowley, volunteer member of the society’s policy committee, added: “We are submitting a very strongly-worded objection to these proposals. We also encourage anyone who cares about the stunning landscapes of the Yorkshire Dales to register their objections.
“We fully support the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority in its efforts to make national parks exempt from these planning changes.”
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