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Penrith Masterplan: A New Direction

Last night (2 July) Eden’s Executive met to consider the analysis of the feedback received during the Penrith Masterplan engagement and consider how the information gathered would be used in the future.

The Executive were in unanimous agreement that no further activity was to take place as regards the Penrith Masterplan (a Vision to 2050) concept. The Executive also recognised the valuable information that the public had generated throughout the engagement exercise and felt that the information would be useful when considering how Eden District Council’s Local Plan was to be reviewed in the future.

Councillor Virginia Taylor, Eden District Council’s Leader said, “The Executive’s decision to cease any further work on the Penrith Masterplan draws a line under pursuing the concept put forward in 2018. It is clear from reviewing the analysis of the engagement results that a far wider range of issues and options need to be considered when developing such a long term vision for the area. The most useful way of creating a shared vision will be with significant input from residents and businesses from across the District and as such the Council will consider options for formally reviewing the current Local Plan in the Autumn.”

One of the aims of the Plan was to address a pressing need for Eden and Cumbria to tackle the demographic challenge of a rapidly ageing population, by shaping thinking and action in ways that extend far beyond the statutory duties of a District Council. This approach to long range policy making places the Council as a central place-shaping organisation.

Lancaster University and the University of Cumbria played a leading role in analysing the engagement information that was submitted. Dr Chris Ford from Lancaster University said, “Eden District Council can, and should, lead the sustainable development of the environment, economy and society of the region. Lancaster University is committed to supporting them in this endeavour: as signatories to the Civic University Agreement we increasingly work with regional and local governments and communities, and this project with Eden is a great example of such work. This was our first collaboration, alongside University of Cumbria, and it has achieved its aims: to look at all this engagement data and generate a deeper understanding of what our communities value and how they see the future of this region.”

One key theme emerging from the evidence is a real depth of concern of the environment, and for maintaining and improving our connection to it. Dr Ian Convery, Professor of Environment and Society at University of Cumbria, undertook the analysis of this evidence, and suggests that, “this engagement exercise has shown us just how precious the natural environment is to residents, whether simply as a green frame to their view of Penrith, as a place of wildness and discovery, or calm thought that improves their sense of wellbeing. This is not just about enjoyment, it is also a strong driver of place attachment, and if we want to solve our demographic issues and the impact of a rapidly ageing population, then this has to be a piece in that puzzle.”

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