Posted on 2nd July 2013

Looking to Build a Home in a National Park?

Martin Williamson, Head of Residential Property The beautiful Yorkshire Dales holds an enduring fascination for many people and none more so than those fortunate enough to live within its boundaries. The next step for many is to think about improvement projects to their existing property. Improvements such as extensions will usually require permission from the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority.

The important thing to bear in mind for anyone seeking permission is that advice is at hand, so there is no reason why a property improvement project within the boundaries of a national park should be anything other than a positive experience. While improvements to existing properties can be straightforward, securing planning permission to build in any national park can appear to be an onerous, albeit not a totally impossible task.

Many national park authorities have now acted to ensure that new builds will be reserved for people who already live within a national park. The Yorkshire Dales Housing Plan for example stipulates that half of the 240 properties having recently secured planning permission in the Yorkshire Dales will be affordable housing to rent or buy. The other half will be sold on the open market, but with a binding legal clause restricting their occupancy to people who work or need to live in the national park.

The Dales was at the forefront of a long campaign to influence the market to try to control the spread of second homes and very high house prices which seems to be the inevitable consequence of surrender to supply and demand. In 2005, when the authority agreed the basic principles of its approach to housing, Dales properties cost on average £240,000 compared to £153,000 in nearby, and generally prosperous, Leeds.

So, what are the key points to remember for anyone considering seeking planning permission in a national park? First, try to be over-prepared. It is a good idea to first contact the relevant people, for example the Yorkshire Dales planning service, to outline property improvement intentions. Try to speak with the local planning officer to explore whether any development needs formal planning permission, as it may have the benefit of permitted development rights. What is and is not considered permitted development is set out in the General Permitted Development Order (GPDO) legislation.

Building a new property within a national park can be a long drawn out, but not insurmountable, process. Each National Park Authority website gives details of the local planning policies and processes, explaining when and how to apply for planning permission. There is also the ability to check online the progress of a planning application, and to submit comments relating to the plans.