Landscape Character Assessment: Despite the corona virus lockdown we are still involved with the LDNPA’s Landscape Character Assessment work. A number of partners will be meeting by video conference next week to discuss some work that’s been carried out to assess and evaluate the best landscape monitoring techniques to use in the Lake District.  This work has been carried out by the consultants Countryscape on behalf of the Lake District National Park Partnership, partly funded by Friends of the Lake District and Natural England.
We hope that the completed report will be used to implement a scheme of monitoring for the Lake District’s different landscapes which will help to protect them from damage, and also can be used to recommend appropriate management within different landscape character types to ensure that the character is strengthened and made resilient in the face of threats such as climate change.

National Park Partnership Plan
Some work is continuing on the National Park Partnership Management Plan for 2020-25 and staff are still involved in this process. This may well be the most important plan ever prepared by the Partnership given the changes in agricultural support that are due, the ‘Glover’ Landscapes Review Review into National Parks and crucially how the area recovers from the coronavirus outbreak.  The plan was due to be drafted and consulted upon this summer, while some of the drafting work is likely to continue, partners in the plan will have to work out how and when to carry out the required public consultation. When the draft plan is ready for consultation we will let you know so that you can get involved.

Since participating in the public hearings in November/December 2019, we have continued to keep a close eye on the progress of the Examination of the Lake District National Park Authority’s (LDNPA’s) new Local Plan.

When the Inspectors who are conducting the Examination issued details of further work required on the Plan and changes proposed to the document, we were pleased to learn that they had taken several of our suggestions into account. This included re-instating a policy setting out how proposals for major development would be considered in in National Park and making it clearer when a landscape assessment would be required for planning applications.

Further progress has been delayed by the COVID-19 outbreak, but the LDNPA are undertaking the additional work required and a consultation on the Inspector’s recommended changes to the Plan will now take place later in the year. That will be followed by the Inspectors’ report. For details of the latest position, keep an eye on the LDNPA’s Local Plan Examination page .

COVID-19 has had a wider impact on the planning system too. Whilst some aspects can be continued relatively normally by planners working from home, Local Plan and Appeal Hearings have been suspended for example, meeting applicants or concerned residents on-site is no longer possible and there has been a slight downturn in the number of applications submitted.

Some applications that need to be decided by planning committees rather than officers have been delayed whilst local authorities put in place new ways of working. New regulations under the Coronavirus Act 2020 give powers to local authorities to enable them to hold virtual committee meetings, although some authorities, including the Lake District National Park Authority, have chosen to delegate these decisions to senior officers, who will make decisions in conjunction with the committee chair. If you would like to know more, we suggest checking the relevant local authority website(s) for details of their approach.