Are locals being pushed out of Dales villages?
THE housing crisis in the countryside has worsened in the past seven years at a time when the rural population has been growing rapidly because of people moving in from the towns and suburbs.
And unless this trend is reversed, Britain could suffer a growing "polarisation" between mainly wealthy country residents and people from urban areas.
This is one of the stark conclusions drawn up by the former TV presenter Elinor Goodman, who was last year appointed the first chairwoman of the newly created Affordable Rural Housing Commission (ARHC).
This will not be news to country folk - including many right here in the Yorkshire Dales - who have lived with this trend for the past 20 years or more, but writing in the current issue of Countryside Voice, the magazine of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, Ms Goodman reveals some interesting background figures.
She says that completions of new homes in rural areas has fallen by 6% per annum between 1998 and 2005 - roughly the term of the New Labour government - and we need to build 11,000 affordable new homes each year in towns and villages with populations of less than 10,000.
One of the causes, she says, is that planning authorities turn down too many planning applications for new houses at market prices. What is needed, she claims, is for more homes of all types to be built, with planners ensuring that money made by developers on build-for-profit projects should be used to subsidise many more affordable homes for first-time buyers.