‘Perfect chance’ to update Howardian Hills management plans

Gazette & Herald: Welburn stands on the edge of the Howardian Hills Welburn stands on the edge of the Howardian Hills

A NEW management plan for one of North Yorkshire’s most scenic areas, the Howardian Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), calls for the promotion of tourism and supporting business developments.

It also says that the potential decline of villages as “coherent communities” in the face of expensive housing, poor village and transport services and the lack of local needs housing, are major issues for the 44 parishes in the AONB, which has about 6,100 residents and covers an area from Malton westwards to Husthwaite, and from Helmsley in the north to Howsham in the south of Ryedale.

The plan says that development which will affect key conservation sites will be resisted and it urges the development of a network of regionally important geological sites.

Farmers are being urged to enter into archaeological and agri-environment schemes.

One major feature of the plan is to establish a project to survey and manage heritage sites and buildings which are at risk in the AONB.

Most residents in the AONB are employed on the local estates such as Castle Howard, and Ampleforth Abbey.

However, while unemployment is low, so is the wage economy, says the report. “The visitor economy should be developed in a sustainable way,” it adds.

Providing new space for businesses, the lack of affordable housing are also raised in the report.

The main points are:

• Employment – to support schemes to provide new workspace in the AONB and to encourage existing local businesses through ICT, business and rural skills advice;

• Transport – to support plans to improve the interchange at the A64 and B1257 junction; monitor HGV freight issues and discourage through-traffic in the area’s string of villages;

• Signage – to improve “street clutter” of signs;

• Forestry – to encourage woodland owners to enter into national grant schemes and to be alert to diseases in trees, and support the development of a local woodland market.

County Councillor Clare Wood, chairman of the AONB’s committee, said: “This new review provides the perfect opportunity to update the management plan. The natural environment is as important as ever and there are also new opportunities for bolstering the rural economy.

“The Howardian Hills are well placed to benefit from a sustainable visitor economy, while new EU land management schemes for farmers will help them to conserve and enhance wildlife and the area’s landscape. We are able to take a longer look as to how the AONB should move forward over the next five years.”

Gary Housden, Ryedale District Council’s head of planning and housing, said the council was working with North Yorkshire County Council, parish councils, National Farmers’ Union, Forestry Commission on the new plan, which the district council was supporting.

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