An initiative to attract and retain families and young people in the rural parts of Richmondshire has been endorsed by district councillors.
The authority is working with partners across the Yorkshire Dales to develop an action plan to tackle the long standing problem. They want to see more young people set up homes - or work - in the Dales, which impacts on the sustainability of local services such as schools, healthcare, shops and businesses.
Four years ago, the district council hosted a rural summit that looked at a number of cross cutting issues – housing, access to services and employment. Since then work has been undertaken on affordable housing improvements and a Richmondshire Economic Action Plan produced.
“The issue of the falling working age population is most pronounced in our sparsely populated parishes,” said Council Leader, Councillor Yvonne Peacock.
“We want to see that reversed and bring more young people and families into the areas to live and work. At the moment, we can see the reasons for this decline as poor access to higher paid work, lack of affordable housing, and remoteness for essential services.
“But we recognise that working in just one area will not arrest this trend – we need to tackle these issues collectively and joining with other local authorities and the National Park is a key factor in doing this.”
The action plan is looking at: increasing the levels of new house building; broadening the type and tenure of new homes; identifying and delivering new employment sites; delivering economic regeneration projects; creating better broadband and mobile telephony; creating a higher quality cultural offer; and marketing the district and the national park as a place to live and work.
“We are already doing a great deal as a local authority – we have new affordable housing schemes opening, we are helping local businesses employ apprentices and obtain grants; and we are promoting the area as a destination to live, work and visit,” added Cllr Peacock. “But we aim to do much more through this action plan.”
Members of the authority’s Corporate Board will look at the action plan at a future meeting. It is being developed with Craven, Eden and South Lakes District Councils and the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority.