Simply too many second homes in national park

Date: Tuesday 16th January 2018

Sir, Thank you for the coverage you have given in recent weeks to our joint efforts to retain and attract families and people of working age to live in the Dales.

The most controversial bit of the initiative so far, a proposal to lobby government for the power to increase council tax substantially (by at least five times) on second homes in the Yorkshire Dales national park, has understandably stimulated the most debate.

The new “Westmorland Dales” area of the park has a lower proportion of second homes than the rest of the park, but still around one in 10 homes is in second home ownership.

The proposal is now at a critical stage. As you reported, the national park authority gave its approval to take this forward just before Christmas.

Now it is up to the eight constituent county and district councils in the park to make up their minds.

We want to stress that we have nothing against second home owners. Far from it. They love the Dales and make a contribution to the local economy.

The problem is the impact of second home ownership. There are simply too many second homes in the national park. That these homes lie empty for most of the time is a terrible waste.

The sharp growth in second home ownership during the past 20 years has pushed up house prices, denied dwellings to permanent residents and left some communities hollowed out.

More than anything, rapidly shrinking primary school rolls — and indeed school closures — have focused minds. The moment has come to take action; if this proposal fails, it is unlikely that the negative impacts of second home ownership will be addressed again any time soon.

We would urge your readers to make their views known to their local councillor. Yours etc,

CARL LIS (Chairman, Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority), GILES ARCHIBALD (Leader, South Lakeland District Council), YVONNE PEACOCK (Leader, Richmondshire District Council) and RICHARD FOSTER (Leader, Craven District Council)

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