NATIONAL park planning bosses have emphasised that caravans will remain welcome in a national park following concerns that they were to be banned as part of a  long-term strategy to preserve the landscapes.

Paul Fellows, head of strategic policy at the North York Moors National Park Authority, told members of its planning committee that the draft Local Plan that was submitted to the Government earlier this month featured changes to policies over static rather than mobile caravans.

The national park is home to numerous caravan sites.

Mr Fellows was responding to concerns over the Local Plan raised by the authority’s planning committee chairman, farmer David Hugill, who is also a North Yorkshire County and Hambleton District councillor.

Mr Hugill had asked officers for confirmation about the proposals relating to caravans in the Local Plan, which is nearing its climax with a week-long public examination of the proposals set to take place by October.

He said while there had been significant speculation over the future of caravans in the 554sq miles area, he had understood the authority was putting “a brake on development” rather than caravans.

Mr Fellows said the policy had been amended so as not to permit any new static caravans or the conversion of existing camping or caravanning sites to static ones, partly due to concerns over their visual impact.

The impending ban on new static caravans also follows the authority finding that nearly three-quarters of caravans and chalets in the park are not available for public hire and are being used as main homes, second homes or holiday rentals for prolonged periods of residence.

While drawing up the Local Plan the authority found touring caravan and tented campsites made the largest proportion of tourism accommodation in the national park, and formed the biggest type of employment within the recreation and leisure industry sector.

After the meeting, Mr Hugill said: “There was a perception that caravans were no longer welcome in the North York Moors National Park. That is definitely not the case.

“Caravans are very important to the local economy. Many caravan owners enjoy setting off from different parts of the country to visit the North York Moors.”