These intentions outline our long term aspirations to build on our Vision for a world class visitor experience. The actions detailed below provide a starting point from which to build – they are part of the journey rather than the final destination to ensure the Lake District serves the whole of British society.
There is a separate multi-agency response to environmental, visitor and community safety issues resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic
National Parks contain the most beautiful, spectacular and dramatic areas of countryside in England. The Government’s Landscapes Review ‘Landscapes for Everyone’ theme highlights;
“We want our nation’s most cherished landscapes to fulfil their original mission for people, providing unrivalled opportunities for enjoyment, spiritual refreshment and in turn supporting the nation’s health and wellbeing.”
Final report on Landscapes Review by Julian Glover
The time is right to act now as the founding mission is just as important today as it was in 1949, with the nation recovering from the global pandemic, Covid-19. Changing demographics, physical and mental health, and technology mean there are new challenges, but recent research into people's engagement with nature has clearly demonstrated the value of spending time in nature and the outdoors to children, individuals, and societal health and well-being. The historic environment, cultural and heritage assets also contribute to and support people’s health and well-being. We need to remove barriers to access and embrace the opportunity of broadening our visitor demographic to everyone to benefit society’s health and well-being. The proactive engagement of new visitor groups also opens up new markets to support a prosperous economy in the Lake District, and support the economic recovery from Covid-19.
The Landscapes Review reports:
“The statistics show certain groups especially disconnected. Most visits are made by the same (better off, less diverse) people repeatedly, and those who miss out are the older, the young – especially adolescents – and those from lower socio-economic groups and black, Asian and minority ethnic communities."
Final report on Landscapes Review by Julian Glover
Whilst our own data suggests our visitors aged over 65 are not disconnected from accessing the Lake District, the other findings are consistent with the Landscapes Review findings. The evidence in our Lake District for everyone key challenge supporting paper, demonstrates the challenges and inequity of access to the countryside and nature by particular audiences, and that we can be doing more to address this:
The figure below highlights the location of deprived areas within 40 miles of National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The data highlights there are almost 800,000 people within 40 miles of the Lake District, and 253 primary schools classified as being in deprived areas. Recognising that travelling to the Lake District may be unaffordable or unattainable for some people, success may mean that some people do visit the Lake District but people may also visit other National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in order to secure health and wellbeing benefits, and outdoor experiences resulting from addressing this key challenge.
Covid-19 and the experience of lockdown has, at least in the short term, changed the relationship people have with nature. In the Lake District, the combination of the experience of the lifting of the first lockdown restrictions with the good weather meant we had a large increase in domestic visitors and the demographic of visitors has changed; there was an increase in first time visitors, a slight increase in ethnic minority visitors, an increase in visitors from urban areas and there were more young adult groups visiting. We see this change as an opportunity; our ambition is to secure and grow the changed visitor demographic we experienced in 2020.
Connecting people with nature is not just important for people, it is also important for nature as it is shown that the more people spend time in the environment and value the positive impact it has on their own lives, the more they will want to care for, cherish and protect our environment and wild places. Like many other places nationally, the Lake District, has experienced some new or heightened challenges for visitor management this summer.
We would like to hear your views on our suggested approach. We are developing how we will work together (for example see Safer Lakes) and with others to deliver the Plan. Our activities are likely to change over the next five years as our understanding and working with other organisations, groups, charities and businesses improves.
We know there are a number of organisations, groups, charities and businesses with lots of experience and doing fantastic work to provide opportunities to spend time in the Lake District for many parts of our society (see examples in the Lake District for everyone Key Challenge supporting paper) however, it is clear from the evidence there is more that needs to be done.
We wish to help and support these organisations, groups, and charities continue to do this work and assist wherever we can. We commissioned a piece of research to hear from people who face barriers accessing the Lake District and the countryside to help inform what our actions need to focus on. Their recommendations are to:
If you grew up in the countryside, playing in the woods, riding around the village streets, being dragged up hills by your parents, or splashing in the river on the one hot sunny day a year, visiting a city can seem like a daunting experience, just like visiting the countryside can for some people. The recommendations will help to overcome some of the fears, barriers and challenges by engaging with people where they live to explore and enjoy the outdoors.
Our actions are based on the principle of continuous improvement and designed to help address what we are seeking to achieve. Some of these actions may last the length of this Plan or longer, while others will be delivered sooner. Our actions will change throughout the Plan period as we need to be agile and respond to changing situations and changing knowledge. Some of these tasks are subject to a governance review of the Partnership to ensure we are fit for purpose to meet the objectives of this Plan.
This consultation closed at midday Wednesday 23 June 2021, thank you to everyone who gave their views.
The Partnership are now analysing the responses and will update the Plan for adoption later in the year.
This challenge does not operate in isolation, you may also be interested the four other key challenges: