Illustration for communities and economy

Our ideas to address key challenge: vibrant communities and prosperous economy key challenges following COVID-19

What are we trying to achieve?

  1. We will increase the number of permanent residents and the share of the resident population that is of working age.
  2. We will support the Lake District’s economic recovery from Covid-19.
  3. We will increase private financing in natural capital and green growth to create more jobs and enhance the natural environment.
  4. We will increase digital infrastructure coverage to grow a resilient, more diverse and sustainable economy.
  5. We will reduce carbon emissions and improve climate change resilience in our resident communities and businesses.

What is the challenge and why are we trying to address it?

The Lake District is a special and unique place to live in and visit. Having such a high quality environment literally on your doorstep is valued by residents, and also makes it a very popular tourist destination which underpins the economy of the Lake District. People have been living and working in the Lake District for centuries; they are proud to belong to the Lake District and have a strong local identity. The Lake District plays an important role in the Cumbrian economy, and provides Cumbrian residents many health and wellbeing opportunities.

COVID-19 has had an extreme impact across all sectors of the economy, and we recognise it could lead to further business closures, more unemployment and greater job insecurity which in turn could lead to increased ‘localised’ deprivation, adding to the pressures on people living and working in the Lake District. The immediate priority is one of recovery from Covid-19 but longer term there is a need to grow a more diverse and resilient economy. To support vibrant communities, action is needed to encourage the return of customers to businesses.

During the first lockdown in 2020 our residents experienced a quieter Lake District, with significantly reduced traffic, better air quality and an improved environment for nature with obvious tangible benefits for mental health and well-being. This was followed by an extremely busy summer and pressures associated with an influx of visitors creating tensions between residents and visitors, particularly those residents who are not reliant on jobs within the Lake District. The Landscapes Review notes:

“Any attempt to create a division between what visitors need and what locals want will always be arbitrary: lots of people who live in national landscapes love their natural beauty, and lots of people who visit want to be in places which are real communities. It is a shared interest. After all, the most popular social media account linked to any national landscape is not about nature or tourism but the one run by a sheep farmer and writer, James Rebanks (Twitter: @herdyshepherd1).”

Final report on Landscapes Review by Julian Glover

We know there will always be tensions between different pressures in the Lake District and ensuring vibrant communities and a prosperous economy is no different. How do you sustain a national landscape without real communities living and working in the landscape? We know that house prices and jobs are critical issues to living in the Lake District, and this impacts on the balance of population and permanent residents in our communities.

Behind the ‘rural ideal’ our evidence, in the Vibrant communities and properous economy supporting paper, highlights many of the Lake District’s communities face a number of challenges including:

Challenge 1: An economy particularly vulnerable to external change, such as covid-19, but also other factors such as economic, legislation and policy changes as a result of being primarily based on tourism and land based industries.

Challenge 2: Acute pressure for local and affordable housing resulting from a high number of second and holiday homes, a lack of homes in permanent occupation and high property prices.

Challenge 3: A threat to the viability of local services, such as primary schools, as a result of decreasing resident populations.

Challenge 4: A changing age structure of the resident population resulting from the lack of suitable, affordable housing for younger people.

Challenge 5: An environmental capacity which cannot accommodate a level of housing growth that would be necessary to meet the demand for local occupancy, especially affordable housing.

Challenge 6: A lack of a range of high productivity employment opportunities as much of the economy is reliant on the visitor economy, and a shortage of resident workforce.

Challenge 7: Inadequate digital infrastructure including broadband and mobile phone coverage in some more rural areas of the Lake District.

Challenge 8: A potential reduction in migrant labour and economic impacts on the farming sector as a result of Brexit.

Challenge 9: The impacts of climate change on residents and businesses.

For rural communities to remain strong and vibrant, we need to address the declining population and to ensure there are more permanent residents to provide a balanced population in terms of age. The evidence, in the Vibrant communities and properous economy supporting paper, clearly outlines the strong interlinkages between community and the economy, particularly in the context of how the following aspects interact:

  • Affordable housing – high affordability ratio, high earnings required to afford a house
  • Balanced age structure – labour supply shortages, decline in local service provision
  • Employment opportunities – dominated by lower paid jobs
  • Family at Windermere - Cumbria Tourism

    Family at Windermere - Cumbria Tourism

  • Broadgate aerial - Adrian Naik / LDNPA

    Broadgate aerial - Adrian Naik / LDNPA

  • New housing in Staveley - Rob Allison / LDNPA

    New housing in Staveley - Rob Allison / LDNPA

  • Lakes Alive - Pete Carr

    Lake Alive - Pete Carr

  • Shopping in Keswick - Dave Willis / Cumbria Tourism

    Shopping in Keswick - Dave Willis / Cumbria Tourism

Our suggested approach

There are a lot of ‘day-to-day’ activities and services provided by many organisations and businesses to support vibrant communities and a prosperous economy. Our focus in this Plan is on where the Partnership can collectively add value, over and above the ‘day-to-day’ activities of the Partners, which are often captured through their statutory functions, for example the Strategic Coordination Recovery Group’s Cumbria Recovery Strategy.

As a Partnership we have developed proposed Asks, Tasks and Local Actions and proposed research through discussions with partners and stakeholders, the Business Task Force and the Plan Steering Group. There may be opportunities for businesses, communities and organisations to collaborate in different ways to address these challenges, and we would be interested to hear your ideas.

The activities are based on the principle of continuous improvement. Some of these may last the length of this Plan and beyond, while others will be delivered sooner. They are likely to change throughout the Plan period as we need to be agile and respond to changing situations and changing knowledge. We would like to hear your views on what you can you do to help deliver the actions and address this key challenge?

Actions - to increase the number of permanent residents and the share of the resident population that is of working age.

Our Asks

  1. Lobby Homes England to make the social rent funding available for all relevant housing schemes throughout the Lake District not just South Lakeland by 2022.
  2. Lobby central Government to agree to introduce a mechanism to control the conversion of first to second homes in the Lake District, and to remove the small business rates exemption for furnished holiday homes.
  3. Lobby mortgage lenders to agree to be more flexible when lending on properties with local occupancy controls

Our Tasks

  1. Review and seek to increase council tax on second homes to raise additional revenue for the provision of more affordable homes
  2. Deliver the projects within the Windermere Gateway area to improve Windermere Station, and deliver affordable housing (circa 160 units) and employment space.
  3. Partners review their landholdings and consider their potential as future affordable housing sites.
  4. Continue to secure funding to deliver improvements at Bowness Bay and the Glebe

Local Action

  1. Empower local communities to report suspected breaches against local occupancy conditions
  2. Promote ‘takeover spaces’ to support young people and the creative economy to deliver arts and cultural activities

Actions - to support the Lake District’s economic recovery from Covid-19

Our Ask

  1. Lobby central Government for continued provision of fundamental financial support to sustain the Lake District economy through the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent recovery.
  2. Lobby central Government to recognise, through various policy measures, such as the Tourism Recovery Plan and Levelling Up agenda, the role the Lake District visitor economy plays in the wider economy.

Our Tasks

  1. Continue to support the multi-agency response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
  2. Encourage longer and overnight stays and extend the visitor season through coordinated marketing campaigns and product development.

Actions - to increase private financing in natural capital and green growth to create more jobs and enhance the natural environment

Our Tasks

  1. Collectively explore new models for private financing in natural capital drawing on the partnerships investment ready schemes, including working through the National Park’s Partnerships Net Zero for Nature programme.
  2. Actively engage with the Clean Energy Sector Panel of the Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership to assist with the delivery of a Clean Energy Prospectus and the Cumbria Nuclear Prospectus.

Local Action

  1. Encourage businesses, individuals, and organisations operating in the Lake District to invest in natural capital projects through the Lake District Foundation, and promote when this occurs.

Actions to - increase digital infrastructure coverage to grow a resilient, more diverse and sustainable economy

Our Tasks

  1. To maximise the opportunities presented by the Project Gigabit Cumbria pilot project to connect superfast broadband in hard to reach premises in the Lake District.

Local Action

  1. We will promote the Cumbria County Council Digital Infrastructure Strategy particularly to the hardest to reach areas in the Lake District
  2. For those premises which will not be covered by Project Gigabit, we will work with communities to help promote the opportunity presented by ‘altnet’ providers to connect rural communities to superfast broadband.

Actions to - reduce carbon emissions and improve climate change resilience in our resident communities and businesses.

Our Tasks

  1. Use the funding from European Structural Investment Fund to deliver low-carbon investments to support a wide range of businesses by 2023.
  2. Develop a training programme for communities to reskill and/or retrain to help build a climate resilient Lake District, including platforms for local community groups to share best practice.

Local Action

  1. Support communities at very high or extreme vulnerability to the impacts of climate change to create Community Emergency Plans to prepare for extreme weather events or Plans to adapt and increased resilience.
  2. Promote initiatives to improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions in traditional and community buildings.
  3. Empowering locally led climate action by creating a network of “climate champions” within communities.
  4. Encourage local businesses in the area to procure locally when sourcing goods and services.

Research priorities

  • Understanding the future opportunities for farm diversification in the Lake District.
  • What are the financial costs to a local economy with respect to non-permanent residences in communities?
  • How do we attract young people to stay or arrive in the Park?
  • What makes a holistically sustainable rural community (including research covering housing, employment, services and transport)?
  • Develop location and skill-specific data on employment requirements.

More information can be found in the research framework

Help shape the plan - our shared plan for the Lake District

Please tell us what you think

We want your views on our shared plan.

Fill in the full survey here

The consultation opens on 25 May and closes at midday Wednesday 23 June 2021.

The other key challenges

This challenge does not operate in isolation, you may also be interested the four other key challenges: