1. ITV Report

Thousands object to Lake District National Park Sale

Bluehill and Red Bank Wood is one of the areas available. Photo: ITV Border

Bids have closed for people hoping to buy 100 acres of the Lake District, which the National Park has put up for sale.

The National Park Authority says its budget has been cut by almost 23% in the last 5 years, so it's put the eight sites up for sale as it needs money to maintain its land and start new projects.

Blea Brows was also on the market. Credit: ITV Border

But it's caused huge controversy among local people and tourists, many of whom have signed petitions in a bid to stop the sale.

The Save Stickle Tarn group has over 6000 supporters, many tourists as well as locals, while a wider petition to stop sales of land in all the country's National Parks has over 160,000 signatures.

The Save Stickle Tarn group has over 6000 supporters. Credit: ITV Border
  • There are eight plots of land up for sale:
  • 1. Stickle Tarn, Langdale
  • 2. Yewbarrow Woods, Longsleddale
  • 3. Blue Hill and Red Bank Wood, Ambleside
  • 4. Blea Brows, Coniston Water
  • 5. Lady Wood, White Moss (between Rydal and Grasmere)
  • 6. Baneriggs Wood, White Moss (between Rydal and Grasmere)
  • 7. Amenity land with river frontage, River Derwent, Portinscale
  • 8. Waterside Knott, Newby Bridge

Arguments over how the National Park should be managed and who should own it have been raging in Cumbria for hundreds of years.

Famous Lakeland names like Beatrix Potter and Wordsworth fought to put the Lake District in public ownership.

Beatrix Potter. Credit: Tophams/Topham Picturepoint/Press Association Images

The Romantic movement succeeded many years later in the formation of the Lake District National Park in 1951.

This particular argument has been raging in village halls, and newspaper letter pages and has even reached Westminster over the last month since this sale was announced.

Who owns the National Park?

Lake District National Park Authority
United Utilities
National Trust

The rest is privately owned.

The Lake District National Park Authority says the public won't notice any difference after the lands have been sold: they'll still be publicly accessible and subject to all the same restrictions.

But community groups argue the sale has been too quick to register the lands as community interests and say it's wrong to sell the National Park.

Gilly and John Hodkinson from Rydal Village Society and who live near Baneriggs & Lady Wood in Grasmere. Credit: ITV Border

"It's only five weeks since the first adverts were put in and it takes at least eight weeks to register a community interest so there's been no opportunity to investigate and put forward objections.

"I think it's selling off the family silver, because once it's gone, it's gone."

– Gilly and John Hodkinson from Rydal Village Soceity

"The land the National Park own - although only a small percentage of the National Park - is tremendously valuable amenity land.

"It was bought to protect and enhance the natural beauty, it was bought with the help of a charity and some other people put money into buying this land because they thought it was so special.

"The National Park now only own land on the basis of commercial value and that is totally wrong so selling off these - really jewels in the crown - is really appalling."

– Ian Brodie, Voluntary Advisor for the Open Spaces Society

But the National Park says these areas won't be under threat.

It argues the public won't notice any difference to how the land is used and they'll still be subject to protection and planning restrictions.

"I think it's important that people understand that if we sell a small proportion of that land it doesn't mean that that land can't be protected and visited.

"We own land in order to make improvements to the National Park: to secure better public access or improve the nature of the environment.

Once that job is done we can then return that land into the private market and use that money to invest in other properties that we own or to buying property in order to improve for example access rights. We're really keen to know if there's community interest in the land."

– Richard Leafe, Chief Executive, Lake District National Park Authority

The National Trust says it won't be buying any of the properties.

“The National Trust cares passionately about the Lake District. We own around a fifth of the Lake District and need all the support of our members and donors to look after these special places.

"We were made aware of the disposal of some of the property by the National Park Authority and have been working alongside them to assess what they were proposing to sell on a case by case basis to see if there was any significantly risk to the landscape, conservation etc.

"This was not the case for any of these properties. Therefore, to bid for or contribute financially towards an acquisition of property where there is no threat to its existence, access or to people’s enjoyment, is not the best use of our resources as a conservation charity. For the Trust to become involved in the purchase of land or property would be a last resort measure, i.e. a major threat to its future.

“It is not for National Trust to speculate on the National Park Authority’s reasons for selling off this land, but they have already stated that there are a number of reasons behind the sales.”

– National Trust Spokesperson