National parks' concern at plans to allow barns to be converted into homes without planning permission (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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National parks' concern at plans to allow barns to be turned into homes without planning permission
GOVERNMENT proposals to allow barns to be turned into homes without planning permission could result in a sea of second homes - destroying landscape, national park park authorities have warned.
There are fears that second homes and holiday homes could begin replacing the famous “barns and walls” landscape of the Yorkshire Dales if the Government acts on its current proposals.
National parks and other organisations are currently responding to a consultation by the Government to allow farmers and landowners to convert unused barns and cowsheds to homes without planning permission.
The Country Landowners Association (CLA) has been lobbying the Government to reform planning rules on barn conversions for many years and welcomed the proposals as a boost for the rural economy.
But national parks in the region have warned it could have severe consequences for the landscape and would not help tackle the urgent need for housing within financial reach of local residents. They are currently in the process of responding to the Government proposals.
Director of Planning for the North York Moors National Park, Chris France, said: “If you don’t carefully control the process of barn conversions you end up with unsuitable sporadic development. You need to carefully approve the process to ensure each dwelling that results from a barn conversion has local occupancy and is suitable.
“All this will do is create very expensive open market dwellings which will be bought up as second homes, holiday homes or retirement homes. It will do little to help the local economy and reduce the opportunity for getting local housing, it will do the opposite.”
Head of sustainable development at the Yorkshire Dales National Park, Peter Stockton, said they were “very concerned” about the proposals.
He said while their members wanted a more flexible policy towards barn conversions, they wanted the decision to be made locally, rather than by government policy.
“We’re very concerned about it because of the number of barns we have. There are 6,000 traditional farm buildings in the national park and 4,500 are field barns,” said Mr Stockton.
“This would be unrestricted building, they wouldn’t be full-occupancy. The result is they could become “grand design” projects. It would be chance whether it happened to be owned by a farming family that had a housing need. They would be sold on the open market to the highest bidder.”
He said the need for septic tanks, mains electricity, access tracks and remoteness from amenities would make most of the developments unsustainable.
Environment Secretary Owen Paterson last week visited North Yorkshire where he spoke about proposals for biodiversity offsetting, in which developers could make up for damage done to national parks by creating or enhancing habitats elsewhere in order to boost economic growth.
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