5th January 2022

Friends of the Lake District has a long history of helping to recognise the value of the county’s open spaces and working with communities to protect them. We have been continuing this recently, working with a group of local residents in Eden District – Eden Open Spaces Group - who are concerned about the removal of protection for important open spaces in the District.

In the previous local plan for the area, important open spaces within settlements had formal protection in planning policy regardless of whether they were publicly accessible or not. In the current plan however, this protection has been removed, without any clear justification, from all those that do not have public access. Recent planning decisions have shown that these spaces are now under threat from development as a result. 

Open spaces, even if not accessible to the public, can have make a significant contribution to the character of settlements and how they sit within and connect to the wider landscape. They can also be really important for biodiversity or drainage; they may have historic significance or simply provide a pleasant outlook.

Settlements such as Crosby Ravensworth, Maulds Meaburn, Bolton, Brampton, Warcop and Newbiggin (Dacre parish) all saw several open spaces lose their protection but most parishes lost at least one. 

Eden Open Spaces Group will shortly write to all the relevant Parish Councils asking them to take a look at maps of their parishes showing the difference in spaces protected in the former and current local plans and to identify which they feel should have the protection reinstated, along with any other sites, public or otherwise, that they feel merit protection.  

For most parishes this will then feed into a Settlement Study that Eden District Council proposes to carry out soon as part of evidence gathering for the next local plan. However, some of the settlements most affected now lie in the Yorkshire Dales National Park and will be subject to the Yorkshire Dales National Park’s new Local Plan and any protection it provides once it is adopted. These parishes will need to highlight spaces they consider important to the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority. 

We would urge anyone who lives in Eden (except those living in areas that fall within the Lake District National Park) to let their parish or town council know which spaces they feel are important and ask them to support this work. You can get involved or find out more by contacting Eden Open Spaces Group [email protected]