Authority bids to protect jobs in Peak Park

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THE Peak District National Park Authority is to apply for an exemption from the Government’s proposal to allow offices to be converted to housing without planning permission.

The Department for Communities and Local Government announced on January 24 that it would allow offices to be converted to housing without planning permission from the spring.

It gave planning authorities until February 22 to apply for exemptions.

At their meeting last Friday, members of the authority’s planning committee agreed to apply for an exemption for the whole of the national park as it believes it would harm the area’s economy while not helping its shortage of affordable housing.

Planning committee chair Cllr Lesley Roberts said: “The national park has only limited office space and we want to protect it for the sake of local jobs for local people.

“We would be unable to restrict it to affordable housing, which goes against our policy of prioritising low-cost housing for local people.

“If jobs are driven out and more people are moving in there is a danger of becoming solely a dormitory area for people with jobs outside the national park.

“In our case it would harm the local economy rather than help it, which is the Government’s stated aim.”