Westmorland Fells.com

Information for farmers and landowners

Hire the MMVI

Frequently Asked Questions

Answer: The majority of members of a National Park Authority come from the local area, and many are in fact already elected Local Authority members representing the County and District/Borough Councils whose areas cover the Park.  Elected Town and Parish Councils and Parish Meeting Councillors/Chairs also have local elections to stand for appointment on the National Park Authorities.  


Only a small portion of NPA members are appointed directly by the Secretary of State (SoS) and their purpose is to provide expertise, particularly relevant to the special circumstances of a national Park. Many SoS appointed members live within or close to their respective national parks. The whole point of national Park designation is that it recognises the area in question is nationally important and national resources are allocated to a National Park in recognition of this special status (there's no draw from local council tax revenue).


While local community interests remain very important (and local people are often the most passionate champions of the landscape) it is therefore right that these wider interests also should be reflected on National Park Authorities.



The proposals being brought forward by natural England are for extensions to existing national parks, not for a new designated area. It follows that legally, they have to take the names those parks have been given in the legal orders under which they were established. The Yorkshire Dales national park already covers a large area within Cumbria, including the seven help yourselves. The Orton Fells, Northern Howgill Fells and Mallerstang areas have their own local distinctive features and histories, and their addition will indeed enrich the diversity of the national Park. An enlarged Park authority could adopt a new working title such as the Dales National Park or the Pennine Dales National park, with the Westmorland Dales and Fells to be publicised as a special area within it. In Cumbria, we already have the Cumbria Fells and Dales LEADER local action group, which administers the Rural Development Programme For England funding to support the rural economy and communities.


Natural England is required to work to criteria in Acts of Parliament when it considers whether an area should be designated as a National Park or an AONB. The first criterion concerns the quality of the natural beauty; the second, it’s importance for outdoor recreation. In this case, it considers, after careful evaluation, that all the candidate areas met the criteria for designation as National Park. That view was supported by specialist consultants, and by the overwhelming majority of the authorities, bodies and individuals in the public consultation. Indeed, even the local authorities who opposed designation did not argue that these areas were of insufficient quality for National Park status: their argument was based on the desirability of designation.


 However, the areas now proposed that designation each have their closest landscape affinities with adjacent territories within the national parks: the value of the upper Eden and Mallerstang, for example, is a dramatic example of a Central Pennine Dale: the Northern Howgill Fells are scenically and geologically inseparable from the southern Howgills that are already within the Yorkshire Dales National Park and so on. The areas make sense as extensions: they do not make sense as a separate new landscape unit. Moreover, to designate these areas as a new Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty would be to constitute a new administrative entity that would require an office, staff and funding (25%, drawn from the local authorities, which are currently in no state to bear added financial burdens).

Natural England did hesitate over the Orton Fells, which is clearly the area with the most case for consideration as a unit in its own right. In deciding that the ‘fit’ is best with the Yorkshire Dales National Park it recognised geological affinity (Orton Fells overlay Yoredale Series limestones and have extensive limestone pavements, comparable with those of the Craven Pennines), ecological similarity, topographic continuity via the Howgills and Mallerstang and conversely, marked differences from the more rugged Lake District. This judgement was matched by the majority view in the public consultation. In considering the matter further, Natural England was no doubt aware that when the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty was designated, consideration was then given to including the Orton Fells, Mallerstang and the Northern Howgills within it, but it was decided that these latter areas were scenically distinct and should be separately evaluated. This has now happened - after a major delay- and it has been concluded that the Orton Fells are of National Park quality and fit best within the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

Answer: As described in answer to Q1, the majority of members of the National Park authority come from the area of the park and many are in fact elected members of local authorities. The reason for granting National Park authority its planning powers within their boundaries, is that it is important that consistent policies are followed throughout the park: it could become chaotic and unfair if several local planning authorities with land within the park took different lines or even bid against one another to attract development.


Moreover, each National Park’s distinctive landscape character areas do not follow local government administrative boundaries. The land within a national Park needs to be planned and managed as a single entity, and the planning policies must reflect its special status. And, as in all other areas, about 85% of planning decisions are taken by officers under delegated powers: this is an essential streamlining mechanism allowing noncontroversial applications to be approved, with minimal fuss.


Successive planning statistics show that approval rates in the national parks are higher than in the rest of England.*, Which reflects the responses, localised and detailed approach to planning, adopted by Park authorities that seeks resolution through negotiation, rather than straight refusal, i.e., a development management approach. This explains the slightly lower, determination times within national parks.




*Planning decisions by type of authority and speed of decision-England year ending September 2010 (communities and local government statistics)

Authority

Applications granted.

Minor within eight weeks

Other within eight weeks

National parks

89%

73%

81%

England

86%

77%

87%

If 20% or more of the Dales National Park is to lie in Cumbria, then Cumbria will have a good level of representation on the national Park authority. Its representatives will no doubt argue that corner, with characteristic Cumbrian vigour. Moreover, the local communities in the Howgills, Mallerstang, or the Orton Fells villages will have every opportunity to develop and market local attractions just as the different Dales in the Yorkshire Dales do now. It is very much in the interests of the National Park authority to support all its communities, because their initiatives are crucial in giving strength to the park as a whole. Regional government structures are now being abolished to bring more localised decision-making closer to the community level. National park authorities have a good track record of listening and working with local people and local interest groups. The government has recently conducted a public consultation process on governance of national park authorities. This highlights this positive role of the National Park Authorities and is likely to recommend that they build on their existing strengths in working closely with their local communities.

Yes, indeed! The Dower and Hobhouse reports of 1945 and 1947, which led to the creation of national parks, recognised that the areas now proposed as National Park extensions were of appropriate landscape quality. The Northern Howgills and Mallerstang were originally proposed for inclusion within the Yorkshire Dales National Park, but were omitted because of opposition from Westmorland County Council, partly on economic grounds, and from Yorkshire, because of a wish to confine the National Park to its own territory. The changes in county boundaries that placed Sedbergh, the Southern Howgills, Garsdale and Dentdale within Cumbria showed the absurdity of following administrative lines, rather than landscape character units: likewise, the omission of Borrowdale and Bretherdale from the Lake District National Park, because they were severed by the A6 (then the main west coast trunk road) was made a nonsense when the traffic was diverted further east onto the new M6.


 Since then, the ‘unfinished business’ represented by the undesignated status of these outstanding landscape areas has been recognised by Natural England's predecessor organisations (the National Parks Commission, and Countryside Commission) several times: now is the time to correct these boundary errors.

If 20% or more of the Dales national park is to lie in Cumbria, then Cumbria will have a good level of representation on the national Park authority. Its representatives will no doubt argue that corner, with characteristic Cumbrian vigour. Moreover, the local communities in the Howgills, Mallerstang, or the Orton Fells villages will have every opportunity to develop and market local attractions. Just as the different Dales in the Yorkshire Dales do now. It is very much in the interests of the National Park authority to support all its communities, because their initiatives are crucial in giving strength to the park as a whole. Regional government structures are now being abolished to bring more localised decision-making closer to the community level. National park authorities have a good track record of listening and working with local people and local interest groups. The Government has recently conducted a public consultation process on governance of National Park authorities. This highlights the positive role of the national park authorities and is likely to recommend that they build on their existing strengths in working closely with their local communities.

Please click on the answers to reveal the answer panels. If your question isn’t listed here, please Email it to us at info@wemorlandfells.com

Answer: The pressures on today’s countryside bear little resemblance to those prevalent even 10 years ago. Developers and some landowners are pressing for wind farms in quite unsuitable areas. There is also the threat of giant pylons, railways, roads and intensive farming. These unsympathetic  forms of development are far less likely in a National Park.  



Answer: Many feel little sympathy with Yorkshire. However, consideration is being given to having the extension areas known as the ‘Westmorland Fells and Dales’.  Don’t forget that we haven’t been called Cumbria for very long. This was an amalgamation of Cumberland and Westmorland.



House prices in the proposed extensions are already high and close to National Park levels. Housing studies have identified the rural nature of the area and proximity to the M6 as being a major reason for this and those factors are not affected by designation.  


The National Parks already target their housing policies at local household need. This means that most new housing is occupancy restricted thereby preventing it from becoming a second home, a holiday let, a long range commuter dwelling or an external retirement home. Policy also supports the development of affordable housing for local households.  


In the medium term the  District Councils’ housing policies would apply which would mean that some open market housing would continue to be permitted. Eventually local housing policy would be reviewed and local communities would help decide what the appropriate policy would be in the new areas to be designated.

Planning policies are already stricter in the extension areas compared to other parts of Cumbria.  It will be much harder to get permission for very large developments.  The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority approves over 90% of planning applications.  


The extension areas are already rural and the majority of development is probably farm related, domestic or associated with local business. It is probably not under pressure for large scale development.


The main affect of designation would be to add an additional layer of protection that would make it more difficult (but not impossible) to permit major development in the event that there was future pressure eg. a large new aggregate quarry, high voltage lines, a new motorway etc.


Day to day standards of design and finishes associated with more minor development will already be high because the District Councils recognise the quality of this landscape already and any future National Park Authority would wish to keep standards high.


However the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) already permits over 90% of all applications received by offering a good pre-application service to applicants and Planning agents.


Farming Issues

a)      erection of new farm buildings


There will be no difference in procedure.


The farm building policy used will be the one implemented in the current Local Development Framework. Eventually that may be replaced but it is unlikely to be significantly restrictive. The YDNPA understands the needs of a viable modern farm economy and its relationship to the quality of the landscape. The YDNPA’s experience is that solutions can usually be found to the siting and design of new farm buildings.


b)      replacement of farm buildings like for like?


Ditto.


c)      being able to choose how they can farm, what breeds of beasts they can choose etc.


There are no rules about how you can farm or what breeds you can have inside National Parks. It is the same as farming outside a National Park.