A proposed car park at Ullock Moss, near Portinscale continues to capture the attention of locals and visitors alike. The proposal has polarised an argument between an urgent need for parking and pressing traffic problems at the foot of the popular Cat Bells walk and the Lake District National Park Authority’s own vision for Smarter Travel in the Lake District. 

Many responses have already been submitted to this planning application, including from local residents of Portinscale and landscape charity Friends of the Lake District who recognise the need for parking and traffic issues to be addressed in the location, close to the major tourist hub of Keswick, but do not view the proposal as an acceptable or appropriate solution. 

Their concern is that a car park will set a precedent which could have a major bearing on the wider future of the Lake District, what it will look like and what it will become.   

Importantly, the proposal is in direct conflict with the LDNPA’s own planning policies relating to the location of new car parks and when they would be allowed. This includes current policies and, to an even greater degree, those in their new Local Plan, which is expected to come into force imminently. It also conflicts with the National Park Management Plan and the vision for Smarter Travel in the Park. 

These all establish that reducing travel by car to, from and within the Park is a top priority alongside providing a range of integrated, sustainable travel options. This would address carbon emissions and allow the LDNPA to meet their Statutory Duty to conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the Park. 

Lorayne Wall, Planning Officer at Friends of the Lake District said: 

“Allowing a new car park in this location threatens to set back plans for sustainable travel and a low-carbon Lake District before they even get started. Instead, we are urging the LDNPA to stick to its plans and policies and follow the lead of Snowdonia National Park in implementing them. 

“Traffic, parking issues and carbon emissions continue to rise and it is imperative that we do not undermine the opportunity for a more sustainable future by continuing with a business-as-usual ad-hoc approach to the localised parking problems that impact on many of our communities.”

The car park at Ullock Moss was first in operation during summer 2020 under ‘permitted development’ rules. These normally allow land to be used for car parking without planning permission for 28 days. However, this was extended to 56 days in light of COVID-19 as an emergency measure in response to the influx of visitors experienced when lockdown #1 was lifted. Several temporary car parks were created in the open countryside under the relaxation of these rules. 

Many in opposition to the Ullock Moss proposal want the LDNPA to send a clear message that proposals to make permanent any temporary car parks allowed under the currently relaxed permitted development rules will not automatically be looked upon favourably and will require the same scrutiny as any other new proposal under the strict criteria set out in the Local Plan. 

Comments on the proposal can be submitted to the Lake District National Park Authority via its website until a decision is made (likely to be 5th May at the earliest). You’ll find details of the application by searching for application reference number 7/2020/2291 at www.lakedistrict.gov.uk/planning/planning-application-search-tool