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Next Steps for FellFoot Forward

Fiona Knox and Emma Wright from NPAONBP at Long Meg in Cumbria

[A] multi-million pound project to conserve and celebrate a part of the North Pennines in Cumbria is moving forward thanks to a first phase of National Lottery support.

Led by the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Partnership, the FellFoot Forward Landscape Partnership Scheme focuses on the fellside and valley landscapes between Hallbankgate and Melmberby. The area covered by the project includes a large section of the North Pennines AONB, but also brings in the villages and settlements of the lowland area, down to the River Eden. It will bring together community archaeology, management and creation of woods and grasslands, and conservation of historic buildings, with a strong emphasis on community involvement and public participation throughout.

The initial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, comprising a grant of £162,000, allows for an 18 month development phase to fine tune plans in collaboration with local people. In the longer term, the project is in line for a further £2m to fund the four year scheme between 2019 and 2023.

The project took its first major steps this week with the appointment of two development officers, Emma Wright and Fiona Knox who will work closely with local communities, and an environment officer, Vivien Kent, who will liaise with landowners to develop projects. Emma and Fiona already have experience of delivering the AONB Partnership’s successful Allen Valleys Landscape Partnership Scheme, while Vivien has delivered projects for both Heart of Teesdale and Limestone Landscapes Partnership projects.

Fiona Knox, said: “We have a host of public events planned, to follow up on the initial consultation work we did with local people. Through Fellfoot Forward we plan to help communities and partners in the local area to make the most of their heritage assets which will strengthen the visitor economy. We will also be supporting communities to develop sustainable options for future activity.”

Emma Wright said: “Greater access to heritage sites helps residents and visitors to gain a clearer understanding of this fellside area’s significant cultural history. Fellfoot Forward will also have a strong emphasis on habitat and species conservation, with a focus on the plants and wildlife that help to make this area special.”

Drew Bennellick, HLF Head of Landscape and Natural Heritage, said: “Across the UK people are increasingly realising that nature is in trouble and it’s time to take a more proactive approach. Schemes like these provide a creative solution to helping people reconnect with landscapes and the environment, to implement solutions at a truly landscape-scale and tackle issues such as soil loss and flooding by supporting partnerships and coalitions of the willing.”

The AONB Partnership’s Programme Development Manager, Andy Lees, said: “This is a really exciting time for everyone involved. We’re thrilled that the all-important grant from the HLF means we are now able to start the detailed work to bring everyone’s ideas to life.

“The fellside area boasts outstanding natural and built heritage that will benefit from sympathetic management, increased care and interpretation. With this money, and the help of a wide range of partners, we aim to breathe new life into the area.”

With additional match funding, more than £3.4M could be eventually injected into the local economy through the scheme, including the creation of two-full time jobs and a series of year-long traineeships.

Local resident and Chair of the scheme’s advisory group, Tom Speight, who has been involved from the beginning said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for people like me, who live in this very special and relatively underdeveloped corner of the AONB, to help my community dig deeper into our heritage and landscape. Hopefully it will empower us to research, share and learn together, and draw on the expertise from professionals to help us to do that – and the potential for real legacy is huge.”

Welcoming the scheme Rory Stewart, MP for Penrith and the Border, added: “The East fellside is an incredibly beautiful part of Cumbria which is very much underrated, and I am thrilled that the AONB Partnership is launching the ‘Fellfoot Forward’ project to promote it, with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund. There is so much potential in this part of the Eden Valley, and I will be watching with interest to see how this project develops, and the positive impact it will undoubtedly have on our economy, and our environment.”

To get involved with the Fellfoot Forward Landscape Partnership Scheme contact Emma Wright or Fiona Knox on 01388 528801.

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