Update, 16 March 2015
Bidding closed on 12 March and the Lake District National Park Authority has published an update on its website. It reports that:
- We have identified new future owners for two properties (Longbridge, Portinscale and Lady Wood, White Moss)
- We are in discussions with a charitable body for one property (Blea Brows)
- We have not managed to find a suitable new owner for the five remaining properties, including Stickle Tarn.
It seems that the park authority has listened to the objections from the OSS, Friends of the Lake District and local communities and have been particular about who should buy the properties, but we believe that it should not have rushed into these sales, and we fear that the land might in future come into commercial hands. We hope that now it will withdraw the remaining properties from the market and have a serious rethink.
9 March 2015
We have condemned plans by the Lake District National Park Authority to sell seven of its sites in the national park, including Stickle Tarn, high up in Great Langdale, the lovely Yewbarrow Woods at Longsleddale and part of the shore of Coniston Water.
In common with other national park authorities the Lake District is strapped for cash, although the environment minister, Lord de Mauley, told the House of Lords on 5 March that the sales were not in connection with government cuts.
The park’s budget has been cut by £1.56 million, 23 per cent, in the last five years and further cuts are threatened.
The authority claims ‘We have safeguarded and strengthened public access where it already exists and included other special conditions to protect the special qualities.’ The properties are being sold through agent Michael C L Hodgson of Kendal and bidding closes on 12 March.
We deeply concerned about the sales. The land is all subject to access under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act, some of it dedicated under section 16 of that act, but that does not protect the land in perpetuity.
Says Kate Ashbrook, our general secretary: ‘A new owner may not have national park purposes at heart but may be driven by the potential commercial benefits to be wrung from the site. Although such development would require planning permission, and the national park authority would, we hope, reject it, the development might be granted on appeal. We believe that if the national park authority sells this land it could be at risk.
‘We have great sympathy with the park authorities who are suffering slashed budgets and we back the Campaign for National Parks’ battle against the cuts. But it is no solution to flog off land which should be held for the nation. We hope that the Lake District National Park Authority will change its mind even at this late hour.’
Adds Ian Brodie, former director of the Friends of the Lake District and the OSS representative in the Lake District: ‘I fear for the future of much of this land. Unless it is purchased by a suitable charity, it will potentially end up as someone’s private park, to the detriment of public access and the landscape of the national park.’
The sites for sale are:
• Stickle Tarn, Great Langdale (£20,000-£30,000)
• Baneriggs Wood at White Moss, Grasmere (£110,000-£130,000)
• Lady Wood at White Moss (£20,000 – £25,000)
• Amenity land with river frontage at Portinscale, Keswick (£8,000-£10,000)
• Shoreline at Blea Brows, Coniston Water (£70,000 – £90,000)
• Yewbarrow Woods, Longsleddale (£110,000-£130,000)
• Blue Hill and Red Bank Wood, Ambleside (£100,000-£120,000)