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Country News - 2005

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Dales housing makes national news

Wednesday 19 January 2005

AS the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority was meeting today to vote on a landmark decision on rural housing, its plans were being watched with interest throughout the UK - and were highlighted on the BBC radio's flagship radio programme.

The meeting was due to vote on a proposal - already backed by a Government planning inspector - that new housing or barn conversions within the park will be allowed only for occupation by local people.

And this morning, Radio Four's Today programme broadcast a feature which highlighted the fact that the average price of a Dales home was now £240,000 - well above the national average - but local wages were well below average.

It has led to a situation, said the BBC - a fact well known for many years to Dales locals - where in some areas of the park, 60 per cent of all properties are either holiday homes or weekend cottages.

This is the problem that the YDNPA is trying to solve but, perhaps unsurprisingly, local estate agents and house builders are strongly opposed to the measure.

A spokesman for Dacre, Son and Hartley, one of Yorkshire's biggest estate agents, told the BBC that it was almost impossible to prevent house prices reaching levels set by the open market - and that if builders were asked to drop their charges to build cheaper homes, they would simply refuse to do the work.

However, the Dales plan is being watched with close interest in rural areas of the UK where similar situations exist, including the Scottish parliament, where SMPs are worried about Highlands cottages being snatched up by wealthy people from Edinburgh and Glasgow.


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