On Tuesday 13th November ACTion with Communities in Cumbria (ACT) were in Coniston hosting the first of four public events this month to explore what World Heritage Status designation means for people who live and work in the National Park and around Cumbria.
Since the designation by UNESCO last year, there has been speculation about the impact of this new accolade on increased international visitor numbers. ACT is working with members of the Lake District National Park Partnership to consider the pros and cons of this, with the communities in which this will be felt across the Lake District.
ACT Chief Executive Lorrainne Smyth said “We’re keen to have a really open discussion about the opportunities and the challenges which World Heritage Status presents to people who live here.”
“Getting the balance right between looking after what we love about the Lake District, the people who have shaped it, and pleasing the millions who visit every year, is indeed a tall order – but residents have perhaps been under-represented in conversations to date and we want to address that.”
ACT Development Officer Fran Richardson led the event in Coniston and said “There was a great deal of positivity at the meeting. People celebrated high employment in the Lake District driven by the visitor economy, talked of ways to educate visitors about respecting the countryside, and wanted to use the weight of the designation to argue strongly for improvements to infrastructure including affordable housing and roads.”
“But there were also real challenges identified: one Lakes Parish participant asked if it was ok that she could not get her son to an urgent hospital visit within two hours because the roads were so congested.”
“We are grateful for the input from Phillip Johnston at Coppermines Lakes Cottages, Cumbrian farmer Jim Webster and Clare Dyson from Rusland Horizons, who all provided really useful insights into what World Heritage Status means for them. The audience were really able to get stuck into the issues, suggesting solutions and making connections – exactly what we had hoped for.”
“We’d encourage anyone with something to say about the WHS designation, to book onto one of the remaining events, whether they live in or outside the National Park boundary.”
Each event runs from 4pm – 8pm with a series of short presentations and discussions on the following dates:
- Tuesday 20th November, Pooley Bridge (Parkin Memorial Hall),
- Thursday 22nd November, Santon Bridge Village Hall
- Thursday 29th November, Lamplugh Village Hall
These events have been supported by the Lake District Foundation and the RSA. ACT is collating information gathered at each of the four events and will report in December to the Lake District National Park Partnership, the body responsible for maintaining the UNESCO designation.