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Friday, 15 July 2016

Plan goes under microscope

Public hearings next week will examine new guidelines that will affect planning decisions in the Yorkshire Dales National Park for the next 15 years.

A planning inspector will scrutinise the park's local plan – a strategy for sustainable development – over three days starting on Tuesday (19 July).

The hearings will be held at the national park's offices in Bainbridge and will be chaired by independent planning inspector Simon Berkeley.

The authority and consultees will discuss matters raised by the inspector in light of the plan's earlier public consultations.

Authority chairman Carl Lis said: “The local plan will guide planning decisions worth tens of millions of pounds. It is a positive response to the specific challenges being faced by communities in rural areas like the national park.

“One of the issues that will be discussed is the authority’s approach to barn conversions and its decision to extend development opportunities to potentially hundreds of roadside barns outside towns, villages and farm groups.

“The policy was devised to try to find new uses for redundant traditional buildings that contribute so much to the distinctive farmed landscape of the national park and to provide some of the local housing that we really need.

“The submitted local plan policy offered barn owners a choice between conversion to ‘local occupancy’ housing – to meet local housing need – or to open market housing, in which case a financial contribution called a conservation levy would be paid by the developer towards the repair of other important barns in the landscape.

“Unfortunately, in response to a question from the inspector, we have now had legal advice that providing a choice in this way would not be legally sound.

“As a result, we have proposed a modification to the policy which removes the option of the ‘conservation levy’.  In doing so, we are giving priority to trying to create local housing that is more affordable and meets local needs, rather than more second homes.  In effect, what we are now proposing simply continues the Authority’s existing conversion policy, albeit now expanded out to many more barns.”
The authority submitted its local plan to the secretary of State for communities and local government in January, this year. The new plan sets out policies to support development such as housing, business and facilities that will benefit communities living in the area while attempting to conserve the landscape.

On 1 August, the national park will increase by nearly a quarter as its boundary extends to include a small part of Lancashire and a larger part of Cumbria. The national park authority will become local planning authority for the extension area but the new plan will not apply. Instead, the authority will apply the existing planning policies of the district, county and neighbourhood planning authorities until they are eventually reviewed.

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