THE North York Moors National Park Authority said it is delighted new rules that threatened to create “ghost villages” have been dumped.

Ministers have bowed to fierce pressure by agreeing to exempt national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty from a loosening of planning restrictions.

Under the shake-up, landowners would have enjoyed permitted development rights, allowing barns to be turned into homes without planning permission.

The North York Moors Authority had warned buildings would be snapped up as “second homes, holiday homes or retirement homes” and be left empty for much of the year.

The criticism was echoed by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, which raised the alarm over the threat to its famous “barns and walls” landscape.

A spokesman for the North York Moors Authority said: “We are pleased the Government has decided to uphold the long established protection for national parks by exempting them from these changes.”