Landscape charity Friends of the Lake District has made clear its concerns about a new 450-lodge holiday resort and facilities proposed on a sensitive stretch of coast at Roanhead, between Barrow- and Askam-in-Furness. Plans that are also causing consternation amongst residents, visitors and other environmental organisations.

The lodge development, including spa, sports facilities and restaurants is expected to accommodate in excess of 1200 people at any one time. It would impact on an area valued highly by local people for quiet recreation and enjoyment, including walking, horse-riding and bird-watching, harming the quality and experience of these recreational opportunities and putting significant pressure on the sensitive dune and intertidal habitats.

It would lie immediately adjacent to part of the England Coast Path walking route and the routes of several Public Rights of Way as well as multiple protected sites for nature. It would border Sandscale Haws, a National Nature Reserve and Local Geological Site, as well as Roanhead Mines County Wildlife Site. It would extend into the Duddon Estuary Site of Special Scientific Interest, Duddon Estuary Ramsar Site, Morecambe Bay Special Area of Conservation and the Morecambe Bay and Duddon Estuary Special Protection Area. An area of Ancient Woodland also lies within the area proposed for the resort.

The scale of the development and its potential impact on the character of this special landscape with its commanding views to the Lakeland fells, has caused much concern amongst residents, visitors and conservation organisations including Friends of the Lake District. The charity has echoed resident and visitor concerns about the traffic impacts on narrow local roads and the lack of sustainable transport options, as well as the impact on tranquillity, visual impacts and biodiversity impact on species and habitats. The instability of the land, which is littered with former mine workings and has resulted in a number of sink holes opening up locally, including in recent years, is also a concern.

Instead, new development should be focused on regenerating the town centre and brownfield sites and should be readily served by public transport.

The charity is calling on residents and visitors to Roanhead to send their images of the area and to submit their views about the proposal, why they value the area and what is special to them about it. 

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

“It is clear from conversations we have had with concerned residents as well as messages from residents, visitors and our members that both our own opposition to this proposal and a love of this special landscape is shared by many.

“Like many, we fully recognise the need for regeneration in Barrow and for new jobs and opportunities to be brought to the area but believe that new development should be focused on regenerating the town centre and brownfield sites and should be readily served by public transport.

“We are not alone in seeing this proposal as wholly inappropriate for Roanhead. We must resist inappropriate developments like this if our Cumbrian landscapes are to remain beautiful, diverse and environmentally healthy.

“We would encourage people to make their opinions known by making a written submission to the Westmorland and Furness Council Planning Authority once a formal planning proposal is submitted.

“We’ll be providing regular updates and help with the submission process via our Roanhead webpage, as well as via social media using the hashtags #saveraonhead and #natterjacksattacked.”