National park custodians have urged the Government to abandon legislation which would see developers enabled to convert a range of buildings into housing without needing planning permission.

A meeting of the North York Moors National Park Authority heard Rishi Sunak’s constituency was at the heart of where proposals opening the way for thousands of barns, shops, pubs and offices to be repurposed would have the biggest impact.

The meeting heard despite a wave of criticism to the proposals to allow conversions without any assessment of the benefits or drawbacks, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs had already stated the proposals would go ahead unless there was “a watertight reason” not to.

Letters highlighting grave concerns for the future of the national parks had been sent this week to MPs Rishi Sunak, Kevin Hollinrake and Robert Goodwill, this week, the meeting heard, highlighting the array of potential impacts on their constituencies.

The meeting was told while the Government was determined to kick start a bigger supply of housing by removing planning restrictions, some 95 per cent of planning applications in the North York Moors were approved.

Members heard should the changes go ahead, the authority was set to investigate the possibility of applying special planning directions to undermine the new permitted development rights where they would risk undermining landscape quality or the economic and social viability of some areas.

As residential values typically outcompete commercial values, the proposed legislation would mean there is an economic incentive to convert economic uses to residential use, potentially leading to a rapid loss of shops, offices and cafes with subsequent adverse impact on the viability and sustainability of rural communities.

The meeting heard the proposals were likely to see sporadic, often isolated new homes standing out in the landscape, especially once new access roads are created and the curtilage contains residential features such as patios and play equipment.

Officers said the new regime would counter the long established planning principle of focusing development in settlements for clear sustainability reasons, while also prevent the authority from being able to restrict occupancy to local need only.

Given the cost of converting buildings there is a significant risk that most

housing created this way will be used for second homes, officers stated.

Green councillor and member Arnold Warneken said if it was enacted, the legislation would “totally destroying our landscape and environment”.

The authority’s chairman, Jim Bailey, said by proposing to take some types of development outside the planning system, the proposals would exacerbate consistency and fairness.

He said: “If we can deal with billion pound mineral developments surely we can deal with housing in our patch as well. I really do plead with the Government – let us be local.”

Scarborough councillor John Ritchie told the meeting if someone had written a policy to destroy a national park, the Government’s proposal would be it.