Fears over Yorkshire Dales campsite ‘push’ young people

COMMUNITY leaders say they are increasingly alarmed by the gentrification of campsites in the Yorkshire Dales, saying developments of camping pods, yurts, log cabins and static caravans are ‘chasing away’ the young people and those with smaller budgets vacation in the area.

Growing concerns over affordability for visitors to stay in the national park have been raised as the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority agreed to launch enforcement action against numerous unauthorized changes to accommodation type at Bainbridge Ings Holiday Park near Hawes.

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A meeting of the authority’s planning committee in Grassington heard claims that the growing demand for vacations following the pandemic and the higher profit margins resulting from land being used for glamping rather than camping had added to a wave of campsite closures.

Some members held their heads in their hands as they were shown aerial photographic evidence of how the long-established camping and caravan site at Bainbridge Ings had been extensively developed, with low impact camping on the landscape at the prominent location.

Officers described a litany of unauthorized alterations, retroactive approvals and developments in violation of planning conditions and contrary to appeal decisions by the Planning Inspectorate at the site.

Several members responded by saying the holiday park owners were flouting planning rules and urging officers to take “very vigorous” enforcement action.

Swaledale councilor Richard Good, Duke of Edinburgh Award expedition assessor, said while there was “a definite need for camping in tents” in the national park, the lack of campsites was becoming a serious problem .

He said: “As the number of people coming into the Dales has increased, we have noticed over the last year that many of these people will want to come in tents.”

The meeting heard that sites which had hosted young campers for generations were now being developed with glamping facilities or static caravans for those with higher disposable incomes and that campsites in the area were regularly used by people who did not could not afford to stay anywhere else.

Speaking after the meeting, Wensleydale farmer John Amsden, chairman of Richmondshire District Council’s planning committee, said glamping and holiday lodge parks were ‘sprouting up like mushrooms’ in and around the park national level, but planning authorities often could do nothing to prevent them from obtaining their consent.

He said: “The campsites that take people in for a full week have just disappeared. There’s only Usha Gap and Muker.

“People who can only afford to camp are being kicked out. It seems there is nothing for the younger generation as many of them cannot afford to stay in log cabins and the like, which can be as expensive as renting a chalet, the prices of which have also increased.

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“I don’t think it’s about profit, I think it’s about greed.”

He added that while many people were investing heavily in creating holiday parks, there were concerns about what would happen to the landscapes and the local economy when the holiday boom subsided.

Campsite owner Bainbridge Ings was asked to comment on the enforcement action.

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