RESIDENTS of three of Ryedale’s oldest and prettiest villages who have drawn up a wish list of improvements they would like in their communities, have called for a probe into the number of second homes and holiday lets.

A 34-page report on the parish of Appleton-le-Moors, Spaunton and Lastingham covers health services, community activities, traffic and roads, crime, consumer services, tourism, local heritage, planning and the environment.

Sixty-two per cent of households wanted restrictions on properties which were not permanent homes. The report added: “There were many comments about how empty houses were bad for community spirit, the local economy, restricted affordable property for locals and undermined the sustainability of the villages.”

They urged premium rate bands for holiday lets and second homes. But one resident replied in the questionnaire: “It is not for a village to decide who buys a home in the village.”

The villagers highlighted a lack of good employment opportunities, low wages, health and transport, particularly for the older population, lack of affordable housing, lack of services such as broadband and mains gas and poor communication networks.

Among issues they raised included shopping, the possibility of setting up buying syndicates for buying oil and coal cheaper, and the setting of an action group to probe policies and planning in Lastingham and Appleton on second homes and cottages used for holiday lets.

Improvements called for include the restoration of ponds at Appleton and Hamley and the sheepfold at Appleton.

Some 66 per cent of residents in the villages responded to the house-to-house questionnaires.

At Appleton and Spaunton, residents have given the thumbs down to road humps but say speed restriction signs should be sited further out of the village. Spaunton wants a clamp down on parking on its lush green verges saying that cars spoil the appearance of the village.

Some 65 per cent of all villagers are against more tourists visiting the communities At Appleton, residents said it is becoming a retirement destination and not a family village, affordable properties were being changed into high market accommodation, and said there were “too many horses, riders and inconsiderate horse transporters”.

Improvements urged at Lastingham include a small general shop and post office, picnic benches on the green, encouraging younger families, while Spaunton wants a playing field for its young generation.

Report authors, Janet Hayton, of Appleton-le-Moors, Sir Michael Carlisle of Lastingham, and John Cawley of Spaunton, said: “The report provides a framework for improving our experience of living in the three villages. There are also businesses, village halls and churches that will benefit from the feedback particularly through better communication of their services.”

In a report to residents they added: “Your responses showed how much we value an outstanding our natural environment, and the great deal of pleasure and enrichment which comesdirectly from the kindness of neighbours and the work of local volunteers.”