National park chiefs have claimed that the dream of owning a home remains as unachievable as ever for many househunters despite a slump in property prices as the economic crisis continues to bite.
Property costs in the North York Moors National Park had increased in recent years after weathering the financial storm that has engulfed the UK economy and caused the price of homes elsewhere in the country to fall.
But an annual housing survey has revealed the average price of a home in the national park fell by 9.5 per cent from £267,690 to £242,385 in the past financial year.
The park authority’s managers say, however, that the hope of owning a property in the North York Moors still remains a distant possibility for the majority of house-hunters.
Wages in Ryedale average less than £16,500-a-year - the lowest in the region and below the national average.
The park authority’s policy manager, Sarah Housden, said: “We are acutely aware that more needs to be done to address the issue of affordable housing in the national park. The hope of owning a home remains extremely difficult for the majority of people in the area.
“We are doing all we can to get more affordable homes built, but it is a balancing act to ensure that we protect the character of the national park. The numbers we are hoping to achieve are small, and in many people’s eyes they may appear like a drop in the ocean. However, even a small number of homes can make a very real difference to rural communities.”
A lack of affordable homes is seen as perhaps the biggest threat to rural areas as young families who are unable to get on the property ladder are being driven out, with the rural demographics now slanting heavily towards an ageing population.
The annual housing study showed 28 residential dwellings were completed of which just 12 were classed as affordable homes in the past financial year - a significant fall on the 55 units finished in the previous 12 months.
The completed properties in 2012/13 included 20 new-build homes and eight existing buildings being converted.