Planning changes will do nothing to address housing needs in National Parks

We respond to a recent Government consultation on national planning policy, concluding it will lead to inappropriate housing in National Parks.

Prioritising starter homes and reducing planning authorities’ ability to take account of local circumstances will undermine existing measures to address local housing needs and could lead to significant amounts of completely inappropriate housing in National Parks. That’s the key conclusion of our response to a recent Government consultation on changes to national planning policy aimed at speeding up the delivery of housing.

National Park Authorities (NPAs) have a strong track record of supporting the delivery of the kind of housing that is needed locally but the proposed changes would restrict their ability to do this in the future. House prices in National Parks tend to be higher than average, partly because they are popular places for second homes.  Starter homes will be sold at discount but are still unlikely to be affordable to those who live and work in National Parks, many of whom are on low incomes. In addition, unless NPAs are able to apply local occupancy restrictions ‘in perpetuity’ then many starter homes may be sold as second homes or holiday rentals at the end of the initial five year period.

We are very concerned that the Government has not fully considered the implications of the proposed changes and are calling for National Parks to be exempt from some of the proposals. One such change would allow dense housing development around virtually all rail stations but there are many small stations in National Parks where such development would be completely inappropriate, for example, where the existing settlement is very small and has few or no shops and other local services.  We believe there is a strong case for exempting National Parks from this and other damaging proposals given that national policy emphasise the high level of protection that should be granted to these areas.