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Council to confirm National Park plan responses

[C]ouncillors are next week due to confirm their responses to a key planning document affecting South Lakeland.

Members of South Lakeland District Council’s (SLDC’s) Cabinet are being recommended to endorse the council’s submission to the Lake District National Park’s (LDNPA’s) Local Plan consultation.

The LDNPA plan includes various proposals affecting South Lakeland, including sites for 690 new homes, employment sites to support economic growth, including ones at Ambleside and Staveley, and proposed solutions for car parking and congestion in Windermere.

LDNPA has been consulting on the plan since early May and the Cabinet meeting on 18 July will be setting out SLDC’s responses to the suggestions.

One of the sites owned by SLDC and considered for possible development in the LDNPA plan is the Royalty Cinema and adjacent car park in Bowness.

In response to the Royalty site’s allocation, the report to Cabinet next week recommends councillors confirm the retention of the cinema at the site.

The report says the LDNPA plan should “include a requirement for retention of the cinema in a way which meets local community and visitor expectations.’’

In a further comment the report says that SLDC request that the allocation of the cinema site be accompanied “by a requirement that the cinema be retained as a community and cultural asset.’’

This formal response confirms a previous commitment from SLDC’s Portfolio Holder for Culture, Councillor Chris Hogg, that there was no threat to the Royalty from its inclusion in the Local Plan allocations, which aims to identify sites in the national park that could be improved, enhanced or developed in the next 15 years of the plan period.

Councillor Hogg said: “We said several week ago that including this site in these discussions did not mean there were any plans or proposals for the Royalty, and we said we had absolutely no intention of losing the Royalty as a cinema.

“It is a vital cultural and historical asset for the district which forms an important part of the Bowness Conservation area. It is highly valued by locals and visitors alike and provides excellent entertainment and leisure in this key tourist location.

“Our response to the LDNPA, which will go to Cabinet next week for approval, puts that commitment in black and white. We are asking the LDNPA to put a condition on that site that clearly states the cinema is retained.’’

The report to Cabinet next week also includes recommended responses to many other areas of the LDNPA’s plan.

The report says SLDC welcomes the plan’s overall vision and generally positive approach to developing the local economy, including support for additional car parking in Bowness, Ambleside and Coniston, ambitious plans for a ‘World Heritage Way’ pedestrian and cycle route at the northern end of Windermere proposals to improve the Lakes Line.

It also welcomes the proposed housing allocations that will help to ensure affordable and local housing needs are met in South Lakeland and proposals to support the retention and development of higher and further education.

The council has requested that the plan includes a clear statement on the ways the plan addresses climate change issues, and asks that the plan refers to the role of LDNPA in the Morecambe Bay functional economic area.

Councillor Jonathan Brook, SLDC’s Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Housing and Innovation, said: “The LDNPA Local Plan is an important document in determining the direction of planning and economic development in the Lake District National Park, which covers more than half of the South Lakeland district and is where about a quarter of our residents live.

“It is therefore crucial that we work closely with the LDNPA on developing the right policies to ensure that it supports and complements our own ambitious plans for a prosperous economy, vibrant communities and a world class visitor experience.’’

Cabinet meets to discuss the LDNPA Local Plan response on Wednesday, 18 April, at 10am at Kendal Town Hall. The full Cabinet report is available on SLDC’s website.

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