What is the Local Plan?

The Local Plan 2020 to 2035 sets out the strategy for all new development in the Lake District. It provides a practical framework within which decisions on planning applications can be made with a high degree of predictability and efficiency. Local Plans are where some of the big decisions on planning for the future of our communities and use of land are made.

What is the purpose of the Local Plan?

The Local Plan provides planning policies which steer development decisions and guide planning applications. As well as providing guidance to assess day to day planning applications, it also identifies where and how many new homes should be built, the locations where businesses need more land to expand or to create new jobs and which areas should be protected from development.

How have we produced the Local Plan?

We have produced the Local Plan in cooperation with a variety of stakeholders and in alignment with our Statement of Community Involvement. We have assessed future needs and opportunities within the Lake District, considered a number of options for addressing these needs and opportunities, and identified our suggested approaches. This has involved collecting and analysing evidence, understanding the main issues and discussing these with local communities, businesses and other interested parties.

We commissioned an independent Sustainability Appraisal (SA) and Habitat Regulations Assessment (HRA) on the Options and Suggested Approach Document, and Published Local Plan. This also includes a Marine Conservation Zone Assessment.

We have produced Supplementary Planning Documents which provide further guidance on how to implement Policy 04: Biodiversity and geodiversity, Policy 05: Protecting the spectacular landscape, Policy 08: Developer Contributions and Infrastructure and Policy 15: Housing.

National Park Authorities as Planning Authorities

Under the Environment Act 1995, the National Park Authority is the sole local planning authority for the Lake District, including the functions for Minerals and Waste. We must use these planning functions to further the National Park purposes and duty.

Planning law requires that applications for planning permission be determined in accordance with the development plan, which includes local and neighbourhood plans, unless material considerations indicate otherwise. The National Planning Policy Framework is a material consideration in planning decisions. For National Parks the English National Parks and the Broads – UK Government Vision and Circular 2010 is also relevant, providing updated policy guidance on a variety of themes, in particular, the Governments position on the delivery of housing in National Parks.

Status of the Local Plan

On adoption, the Local Plan 2020 to 2035 becomes the Development Plan for the Lake District and replaces (See Appendix 2 for details) the following Local Plan documents:

  • Local Plan Part One – Core Strategy (October 2010)
  • Local Plan Part Two – Allocations of Land (November 2013)
  • Local Plan Part Three – Minerals Safeguarding Areas (November 2013)
  • Saved 1998 Local Plan Policies

The Lake District - Spatial Portrait

Designated in 1951, the Lake District is a mountainous region in North West England of some 2,362 sq. kilometres. As well as being the largest National Park in England, it has a resident population of approximately 40,297 (2017) making it the second most populated National Park in England. Its boundary extends across parts of Eden, Allerdale, Copeland and South Lakeland districts and it encompasses 82 parishes. It is bounded by the M6 and A6 to the east. The A66 and A590 run through the northern and southern areas respectively. It has some of the country’s finest upland scenery which attracts approximately 19 million visitors each year, making tourism a major industry. It was awarded World Heritage Site inscription in 2017.

The Purposes and Duty of National Parks

The purposes of National Park designation were first established in the 1949 National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act. The Environment Act 1995 revised the original legislation and set out two statutory purposes:

  • Conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage
  • Promote opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of national parks by the public

In pursuing the statutory purposes, National Park Authorities also have a duty to:

  • Seek to foster the economic and social well-being of local communities within the national park

Within the Lake District there are many different, and often conflicting interests to manage. Protection of the spectacular landscape versus economic prosperity, vibrant and resilient communities versus world class tourism – the challenges are endless. And it is widely acknowledged that the Lake District is a living, man-made cultural landscape that has evolved over time and needs to continue evolving to sustain
its future.

Section 11A of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 (amended by Section 62 of the Environment Act 1995) makes clear that if National Park purposes are in conflict then conserving and enhancing the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the area must have priority. This is known as the ‘Sandford Principle’ and stems from the Sandford Committee’s recommendation in 1974, that the enjoyment of the National Parks “shall be in a manner and by such means as will leave their natural beauty unimpaired for the enjoyment of this and future generations”.

Section 11A of the 1949 Act also requires all relevant authorities, such as statutory undertakers and local authorities, to take National Park purposes into account when they make decisions or carry out activities which might affect the National Park:

In exercising or performing any functions in relation to, or so as to affect, land in a National Park, any relevant authority shall have regard to the purposes… and, if it appears that there is a conflict between those purposes, shall attach greater weight to the purpose of conserving and enhancing the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the area comprised in the National Park.

Sustainable development in Lake District

We will encourage and support development that is sustainable in the context of the Lake District and national planning policy. Taken as a whole the Plan’s policies and principles of development outline what we consider to be sustainable development in the Lake District context.