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A typical Dales barn outside Hawes Just off the road outside Hawes. By Andy Kay.

Local occupancy and barns – have your say

Monday 9 August, 2021, by News Release

A public consultation has opened on two of the most high profile aspects of local planning policy in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

People and organisations are being asked for their views on local occupancy restrictions, which can be placed on new dwellings to prevent them becoming second homes, as well as on the policies which guide the conversion to other uses of traditional stone barns, known as lathes or cow houses.

The National Park Authority, as the local planning authority for the National Park, began the process of forming a new Local Plan in December 2019.  Once completed, the plan will contain a set of planning policies to cover the period 2023-2040. 

The latest public consultation, called ‘Exploring our options: Local Occupancy and Barns’, is the fourth such consultation to take place as part of the process to create the new Local Plan. It will remain open until Monday 20th September 2021.

Member Champion for Sustainable Development at the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, Carl Lis, said: “Planning policies on local occupancy restrictions and barn conversions have been the subject of hot debate for many years now, as they link to issues around second homes, community sustainability and the conservation of the farmed landscape.   In fact they have come up so frequently in the first three Local Plan public consultations, we have decided to carry out a consultation specifically on these important issues. 

“The consultation is an opportunity for local people and all those with an interest in the National Park to bring forward their considered opinions.  The consultation responses will influence the planning policies that will shape development in the National Park for up to the next twenty years.   I know people care deeply, as I do, about the future of the National Park and the communities that live and work here, so I hope for a good level of response.”

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News Release

Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority


16 Replies to “Local occupancy and barns – have your say”

  1. Prof Paul A. Carling says:

    I appreciate the need to provide affordable housing and to encourage local people to stay within the area. So local occupancy rules are attractive. However, there is the risk that many vernacular buildings will not be saved if ‘outside money’ is prevented. Many of these buildings are very expensive to preserve. An algorithm is required to work out which properties should be local occupancy, rather than a blanket rule. It grieves me to see many vernacular buildings going to ruin. Planning if possible should allow previously inhabited buildings to be saved in remote locations whereas, as I understand it, there is a focus on development near service centres. Many people, including myself, wish to live in remote locations.

    The external visual appearance of vernacular buildings should be preserved through use of local traditional building materials and skills. Planning should encourage no new openings in buildings, or at least put new windows in the least visible walls and rooves, or use fibre-optic lighting. Greater attention should be given to preserving (or restoring) existing interior partitions, flagged floors etc by imaginative design. Traditional techniques such as lime plastering/sheep wool etc should be required in most cases for insulation. Government grants are required to bring in services. The latter is the chief obstacle to saving remote buildings.

  2. Diane Horner says:

    I simply cannot understand why it is considered that holiday let’s require less “intrusive” features eg overhead wires for tv etc windows , parking or gardens and movement of and number of vehicles . That’s total rubbish. Holiday let’s nowadays have to have everything that the occupants own home has and often more than. Also suggesting that there is more vehicular use for a permanent home doesn’t convince me either. For example a 3 bedroom let often attracts three house holds meeting up from different areas all with cars and all travelling to attractions venues etc daily.
    These barns are often the only chance young local people will have in creating a home for themselves and future family often by being gifted them from members of the previous generations of family who have worked in them. Dales folk are very resourceful and by hook or crook will find a way of getting that home built using friends and doing the work themselves. It seems that one of your rationales suggest that we should consider open market policy only because wealthy people can afford to convert these buildings.
    I also note that there is nothing in policy to counter the biggest housing issue in the National Parks all over the UK. We need visitors to the area but we are getting to the stage where many businesses are crumbling due to staff shortages caused by the lack of cheap rentable housing or accommodation required to service these businesses. Unless something is done to address this or a regular reliable and cheap transport strategy is put in place to bus staff in from eg Catterick businesses will not be able to cope.
    It’s insulting to state that it is due to lack of local skills that buildings are not renovated correctly. Use of traditional methods may in the opinion of some be the best method but you ask a person who used lime mortar on a west facing wall in Swaledale how often it needed remedial work done to it to prevent water ingress despite being advised that it wouldn’t work. Today’s methods will be considered “traditional” in years to come. Traditional/modern – there is a place and a use for both.

  3. Peter Gilbert says:

    I think the occupation of these remote barns will completely ruin the look and remoteness of the Dales.
    Imagine all of those barns in Keld occupied, that is like giving planning permission to build in any remote field .
    The look will be semi urban when all the gardens and lighting are added . Especially at night . They will hardly be affordable homes for locals.
    By all means expand existing villages but leave the barns to either rot or be used as barns and let the countryside look remote not suburban.

    • Comms Team says:

      Hi Peter, thanks for the feedback and for taking time to write a comment. Please make sure you fill in the consultation. Thanks, Wendy

  4. Peter Gilbert. says:

    I think the occupation of these remote barns will completely ruin the look and remoteness of the Dales.
    Imagine all of those barns in Keld occupied, that is like giving planning permission to build in any remote field .
    The look will be semi urban when all the gardens and lighting are added . Especially at night . They will hardly be affordable homes for locals.
    By all means expand existing villages but leave the barns to either rot or be used as barns and let the countryside look remote not suburban.

  5. J. P. Darwin says:

    I believe that some barns must be allowed to be converted to homes, if only to help the children of farming families stay in the villages they were born in. Obviously the barns in the middle of fields, with no current services, should not be turned into housing, but those inside village boundaries, near to access roads and with an electric and/or water supply should be considered.

  6. Robert Peel says:


    On our farm, we have a derelict field barn which is slowly deteriorating due to the weather. It is a stand alone barn with a water supply and bizarrely brand new poles for the electrics. I am looking to resurrect this barn as a home for my daughter to succeed me running the farm. There is no way she can afford to buy an existing property in this dale (if there were any) so this seems to be the correct solution. The barn is an eyesore for all to see at present and will continue to be so. It is pointless rebuilding the barn to it’s former glory as there would no viable use for it. I have submitted a provisional application in the hope that being a local, farming the locality and keeping the family within the dale is important to me and I believe the continuation of our way of life.

  7. Steve Birkin says:

    The issue of the occupancy of the 000s of field barns is a secondary issue. Of far greater importance is what to do with them. We don’t know how many barns we’re talking about and their condition. It would be unrealistic to attempt to save all of them from dereliction. The YDNP needs to make decisions concerning which barns should be saved and whether private owners should be given financial to carry out the rescue work.
    Obviously not all barns are suitable for residential use owing to their location and the difficulty of getting services such as electricity to them. The YDNP and local residents should identify those which could be used for residential purposes. I suspect that this number will be relatively small. Once those decisions have been made the occupancy issues should be considered.
    I think it would be wrong to place local occupancy restrictions on all barn conversions – this seems to be a knee jerk reaction which panders to prejudice against holiday homes and second homes and will not solve the housing problems of the Dales. It would be wrong to ignore the significant role these two groups have already played in regenerating many of the near derelict barns in the YDNP area – at little or no cost to the public purse.
    It would be useful to have the comparative costs of buying and converting a barn to residential use with the costs of new build developments. I suspect that the barn costs would be significantly higher.

  8. David Naylor says:

    I was very keen to purchase a barn that was in need of conversion, my plans were very sympathetic to the building whilst also being energy efficient. I dont live in the area but was planning to relocate and subject to the availability of a suitable building (existing) i would look to relocate my farming machinery business to the area which would also have bought employment. unfortunately due to the occupancy rules this has thwarted my plan

    • Peter Gilbert says:

      Surely David there are places down the valley near Richmond or the A1 to relocate to. This local jobs thing is a falicy .Most people commute by car in rural areas . A drive down the Dale to work is nothing out of the ordinary.
      I appreciate you probably want to live somewhere nice but converting barns out of the village envelopes is nothing short of environmental vandalism. It would look much better to expand existing villages . This way folk would support pubs shops etc

  9. David Naylor says:

    Hi Peter
    Thanks for your comments and to a degree I agree with you but their are so many barns/outbuildings that aren’t fit for the purpose that they were intended and are now falling into dis repair. In my opinion better to save them now

  10. ricky mackintosh says:

    Hi, i am a family of five looking to re-locate to the dales for a “Simpler life” for myself, wife and three kids 13,12,8.

    We visit the dales every year normally Reeth area or if fully booked we go to North pennies Blachland area.

    The cost of renting a cottage that slept 9 was huge!!

    The problem I have is visiting is now becoming unviable as we simply cannot afford it.

    Therefore this year we have made the decision to try and buy one of these beautiful derelict barns and convert.

    However as a surveyor i would be looking to move to the Dales and i have allowed applied for a few jobs at NYCC and locally.

    This can only benefit the local community as more money into the local area (trades, materials, expert, consultations, shopping etc) is surely a good thing?

    My worry is my gamble on purchasing a barn with out planning is the people already living there do not want outsiders?

    Surely each planning application should be a “case by case “view?

    I have no intention of letting a building but wish to live there.

    These barn should not be left to rot, it is absolute criminal to do so.

    I would be moving my young family to an area to contribute and hopefully see my kids, kids grow up in the area but without conversions on “some” of these barns how will the dales ever thrive??

    You should save these barns, i have just finished a derelict barn in Kent, it was listed, in a conservation area and was falling to pieces. I know its mind but the end result was just amazing and the heritage officer told me she was so happy with the end product after being skeptical of giving permission.

    With the right controls and local trade, & expert people you can still have the rural feel with a family home.

    Save the barns from ruins and the dales with thrive for sure.

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