Our response to the planning application for the proposed Thirlmere Activity Hub

Press release
Published : 20 Dec 2017 Last update : 21 Dec 2017

The National Trust has been looking after special places in the Lake District on behalf of the nation for the past 120 years. It’s our birthplace, our spiritual home, somewhere we care deeply about. It’s here that we look after over 20% of the Lake District National Park. The land we manage in the Thirlmere Valley is around the high fells, approximately 1.5-2km from the proposed Thirlmere Activity Hub and zip wire installation.

The Thirlmere Valley was one of the key locations for the development of the early conservation movement in the Lake District. It inspired our founders to form the National Trust - it’s one of our birthplaces, and this is recognised in the World Heritage Site inscription. Just as our founders did all those years ago, we’re standing up for the Lake District here, as we recognise this development could have a significant impact on the future of this landscape.

We can see that elements of the proposed development would bring some benefits to the area with plans for improved cycle infrastructure and employment opportunities. However, the application raises significant issues of principle for the Trust, therefore we are objecting to this planning application. We believe it will damage what makes Thirlmere significant and special, for the following reasons:

  • The proposed zip wire will have an adverse landscape and visual impact on the Thirlmere area, and generate levels of activity and noise which are at odds with its tranquil, undeveloped character.
  • World Heritage Site Status has not been adequately considered in the submission.

This presents major concern for us, since approval of the development would undermine the Sandford Principle. This is a policy which has put conservation at the heart of decision making for over 40 years in National Parks. The Principle is clear that when there is a conflict between conservation and recreation, the former should always take precedence.

We are concerned that this would risk setting a precedent for further damaging developments, which cumulatively, could result in significant harm to the special qualities of the National Park, many of which are found in the land that we own and manage, and care so deeply about.