SPECULATION is mounting that ministers are planning to shelve plans to allow easier conversion of field barns in protected areas such as national parks.

A report in The Daily Telegraph today suggests that the Government is about to heed concerns of countryside campaigners over changes to planning rules which would have made it easier to turn agricultural buildings everywhere into homes, offices and workshops.

Instead, it is thought ministers are preparing to issue guidance designed to ‘nudge’ national parks into accepting barn conversions to help ease the rural housing shortage.

The chance of a reprieve for national park barns was welcomed by the Yorkshire Dales Society.

Chairman Malcolm Petyt said: “The Yorkshire Dales Society has been a key player in the national campaign to explain to ministers why national parks should be exempt from the blanket removal of planning permission on barn conversions.

“We are delighted to hear that Government appears to have listened and Britain’s most precious landscapes will continue to be protected. Farmers will still be able to apply for planning permission through the normal planning process.

"This is the best way to protect individual barns as well as allowing affordable housing for local people in the right places.”

There are around 4,500 field barns in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.