PLANS to increase the numbers of tourists and sheep on the North York Moors National Park have been included in the park’s new management plan.

The 90-page blueprint plan covers aspirations for farming, housing, transport, development, the environment and tourism in the park which covers 1,436 square kilometres and is home to 25,000 residents.

Authority chairman Coun Jim Bailey said: “The plan is the strategic framework for the future of the park.

“Without the care of its communities, farmers, land managers and visitors, the park would not be the place it is now and its future is dependent on continuing this careful way of working.”

The plan aim to encourage more tourists during off-peak times by extolling the health benefits of connecting with nature. Tourism currently supports almost 8,000 jobs and is worth £416 million to the park’s economy.

The report states: “It is considered that an additional 1.6 million visitor days and one million visitors by 2015 can be absorbed by the national park without detrimental effect.”

Environmental schemes and initiatives by the park have halted the decline in sheep numbers on the moors and challenges for the future include retaining their numbers. The plan warns that bracken and tick insects are a particular hazard to the sheep.

On housing, the aim is to see 75 new affordable homes built by 2017.

Support for the shooting enterprises which provide jobs and business for local hotels is also a priority.