PEOPLE are being invited to have their say on how new homes and rural workers and farming families can be applied for in Exmoor National Park.

A public consultation has been launched and will run for six weeks until June 18 regarding the draft Exmoor ‘Rural Worker and Succession Farm Dwelling Guidance’ policy.

Nationally, homes in the open countryside are only permitted in exceptional circumstances, such as needing a full-time worker permanently on site to tend livestock.

Local planning policy further recognises that maintaining the fabric of Exmoor’s farming community is intrinsic to conserving the distinct landscapes and habitats of the National Park, along with the centuries-old farming practices that help sustain them.

For example there is extra flexibility to help older farmers retire and a younger generation to take on responsibility for the farm business, or for larger dwellings to be applied for if the scale of the enterprise demands it and the need can’t be met through alternative arrangements.

But equally the rules are necessarily stringent around the impact of any new dwelling on the landscape to ensure they are sensitive to the unique character and scenic beauty of the National Park. These new guidelines are intended to help balance these two obligations.

Robin Milton, chairman of the Exmoor National Park Authority, said: “This is an important document for Exmoor and its communities to ensure there are opportunities for new housing where it is essential to working people being able to live locally and to conserve and enhance this beautiful area.

“It is intended to help applicants and all those involved in planning for farm dwellings in the National Park and we would love to hear people’s views.”

The draft guidelines and comments form are available from the planning policy section of the Exmoor National Park Authority website.

Hard copies at the following locations: Exmoor National Park Centres in Dulverton, Dunster and Lynmouth, Lynton and Porlock libraries, Exmoor House in Dulverton and the West Somerset and North Devon Council Offices in Williton and Barnstaple.