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National Park Opens Door To 900 New Homes

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HUNDREDS of new homes could be built in honeypot villages by 2025 to tackle the Lake District’s affordable housing crisis.

Potential sites for 900 homes were revealed this week – one of the largest public consultations the Lake District National Park Authority (LDNPA) has ever done.

It is the first time the authority has earmarked land for housing.

But it comes amid calls for existing empty properties – many used as holiday homes – to be rented to local families.

The LDNPA’s plan for 25 hectares could see 96 homes built in Ambleside, 89 in Windermere and Bowness, 54 in Grasmere, 53 in Staveley and 38 in Coniston. Sites were suggested by landowners, parish councils and others.

Around 10.5 hectares of possible employment space has also been identified to create well-paid jobs, helping more locals to rent or buy a home.

Project leader Chris Warren said the authority was responding to the needs of communities.

“Local people need housing and employment opportunities and it’s about being proactive to make that happen.

“House prices are sky high and we need better jobs and greater access to them.”

But some communities called for action over the number of holiday homes lying empty for most of the year.

Lakes parish councillor Maureen Colquhoun said: “We have got so many empty houses in Ambleside that could be bought and allocated straight away.”

Grasmere resident Andrew Leech said he feared Grasmere would one day ‘look like Birmingham’ under current policy, adding that only 38 per cent of properties had local families in them.

He suggested second homeowners should be given tax incentives for leasing their property to a local family throughout the year.

“I don’t see how the current policy is sustainable,” he said.

Ben Berry, South Lakeland district councillor for Windermere Applethwaite, added: “The whole housing stock needs to be reviewed.”

Paul Truelove, of Grasmere Village Society, said residents were ‘wary’ about future development and hit out at the LDNPA for granting permission for extensions.

“The character of Grasmere is severely under threat from a number of directions,” he said.

“There is a very strong wish to defend the village’s character but, at the same time, people are aware of how difficult it is for young folk to stay in the area.”

But Martyn Nicholson, MD of Russell Armer, said the homes proposed were not enough.

“Nine hundred across the whole of the national park is a drop in the ocean, particularly against the backdrop of a 15-year plan,” he said.

And Gary Middlebrook of Briery Homes added: “There’s a pent-up demand for affordable housing and I’m an advocate for building houses for the next generation of locals.”

Developers will not be granted planning permission unless they can prove their projects will create affordable housing.

Average wages in the Lake District are around £18,000 compared to house prices of about £315,000. An LDNPA survey found 80 per cent of local people in need of housing can only afford to rent.

Mr Nicholson said developers would need some form of public funding, via public-private partnerships, to ensure homes were affordable.

“It’s impossible without public subsidy because the figures at which you can sell them at are less than they cost to build,” he said.

Covenants would ensure homeowners could only sell properties to local people.

Mr Warren added: “It’s natural for people to be concerned and we want to understand those views. This isn’t a done deal.”

Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron said the need for affordable homes was ‘clear’.

“We need to work incredibly hard to protect our world class landscape and strengthen our communities,” he said.

Westmorland Gazette

Its really about time they did something about second homes in the Lake District, at least get them to pay full council tax

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It is the same in virtually every national park and area of outstanding natural beauty in the UK.

it is just a side effect of the property bubble mania - true controls need to be put in place, but at the same time the natural economic cycle will put paid to many speculators who don't have a clue

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Who cares about people living in the middle of nowhere.

The nimbies who own second properties in these areas.

How many kids do those in charge of the national parks have, wouldn't be 900 would it.

The irony is that most if not all of the properties that the national trust protect were built when there no building controls. A lot of the national parks also have been used for industry i.e. tin mining in the south west.

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The nimbies who own second properties in these areas.

How many kids do those in charge of the national parks have, wouldn't be 900 would it.

The irony is that most if not all of the properties that the national trust protect were built when there no building controls. A lot of the national parks also have been used for industry i.e. tin mining in the south west.

Oddly enough, at least in the Britain I know, the majority of people who visit our national parks are foreigners and tourists.

Plus, most of our British kids are far too fat to enjoy a walk in a park.

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Around 10.5 hectares of possible employment space has also been identified to create well-paid jobs, helping more locals to rent or buy a home.

The only jobs in national parks are serving cream teas to tourists, and seasonal waitressing jobs don't pay enough to afford to live in a national park.

10.5 hectares of earmarked land isn't going to change that.

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Tax the sh*t out of second homeowners. Job done!

If we are going to insist on restricting house building like we do in the UK, then this is really the only option. Make owning more than one house prohibitively expensive ad more will come onto the market to be sold.

Better yet, just build more effing houses, or let people build a house on their own land. That should be a situation with presumed consent for planning.

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A dangerous game I think. Why do people visit the Lake District ? The unspoilt nature of the place and scenery. If they start building all over the shop I can tell you that a lot of visitors will go elsewhere.

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