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Draft National Park Plan looks to address housing issues in the Cairngorms

11th April 2006

‘Making Housing Affordable and Sustainable’ is a key priority in the developing National Park Plan for the Cairngorms and with the launch of the consultation on the Draft Plan, now is the opportunity for everyone to make their viewpoint known.

The lack of access to affordable and good quality homes has been identified by many communities as a key issue facing the Park.  Young people and those on low incomes in particular have to be given better opportunities to secure homes in their communities.

A study carried out by Heriot-Watt and Manchester Universities for the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) and based on current trends, has predicted that the number of people aged 60-74 living in the Park will increase by 85 per cent from 2001 to 2025 while the number of people aged 0-39 years over the same period is expected to drop by 30 per cent.  In order for the Park to be able to retain its young people, the study estimates that around 114 affordable houses will be needed each year.

Fiona Munro, the CNPA’s Housing Policy Officer explained: “The popularity of the area means a high demand for housing, including second homes, increases prices beyond the range of many and places pressures on the special qualities of the Park.  In 2004 the average price for a two bedroom property across the National Park was between £98,000- £110,000 with only 38 per cent of people aged below 35 years able to get a start on the housing ladder.

“We have to work with partners and others to develop some innovative solutions to encourage our young people to stay here – and be able to afford to stay here – so we hope to see some interesting comments and suggestions coming forward during the Draft National Park Plan consultation.”

The housing priority within the Draft Park Plan however, does not just focus on affordability, promoting high environmental and sustainability standards is also key.

Head of Planning and Development Control at the CNPA, Don McKee explained: “Improving the sustainability of communities and the quality of design is very important.  Through the National Park Plan we want to see standards improved that are consistent with the area’s status as a National Park as well as the first aim of the Park, which is to conserve and enhance the natural and cultural heritage.

“The types of measures we are looking at with partners are the introduction of a sustainable design guide to complement the built and landscape character of the Park and a programme of innovative activities to promote and increase awareness and understanding of energy efficient design.”

The Draft National Park Plan sets out the long term vision – 25 years – for the Park as a whole as well as the key priorities for the first five years of the Plan, from 2007 to 2012.

Some of the key aims proposed for the first five years with regards to the priority ?Making Housing Affordable and Sustainable’ are:

  • The provision of effective land in the Local Plan for housing.
  • Alternative ways to secure funding and land for housing development including private/public partnerships.
  • The supply of quality, affordable, rented accommodation will be increased.

The consultation period for the National Park Plan is from April to 30 June.  The CNPA Board will discuss their preferred options for addressing the issue of affordable housing at special board meeting on 19 May, with this information feeding into the consultation process.

Following the consultation, a report summarising the responses will be prepared and the final Park Plan will be developed, with partners for submission, to Ministers at the end of 2006.  This is the first National Park Plan for the Cairngorms and although the Plan looks ahead to 2030, a new series of priorities will be published every five years.

More information on the draft National Park Plan can be found on National Park Plan homepage.

To get involved in the National Park Plan consultation please contact the CNPA at: National Park Plan Consultation, 14 The Square, Grantown-on-Spey, Moray, PH26 3HG. Tel: 01479 873535 fax: 01479 873527 email: [email protected]