A CAMPAIGN backed by the Prince of Wales to make more rural land available for the building of affordable homes is claiming a major breakthrough.
Thanks to pressure from the Prince's Affordable Rural Homes Initiative, which has been backed by the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) and other rural groups, the Government has scrapped a planning law which forbade building in villages of outstanding beauty - of which there are dozens in the Yorkshire Dales.
Now, local authorities will be able to give planning consent for small "in-filling" building in "exceptional circumstances" - i.e., where local people are being driven from their home villages by soaring house prices.
A week ago, the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority was also given Government backing on a new policy will ensure that virtually all future house building within the park will be for local use and not for second homes or holiday lets.
Prince Charles, a regular visitor to the Dales, has long campaigned for more local housing and he was joined in a national campaign by the CLA. Says Dorothy Fairburn, the association's Yorkshire director:
"For more than a year we have been drawing attention to some of the countless examples across the Yorkshire region of people who cannot afford to live where they work and where they have been brought up, of rural businesses having to bus-in workers, and of the threat to the rural economy by young people being forced to leave their villages."
The CLA is now working with Business in the Community, planners and lawyers to produce detailed advice for those landowners wishing to help meet the problem of the rural housing shortage.
The announcement Affordable Homes for Rural Communities is available on the Defra website www.defra.gov.uk/news/2004/041208g.htm