GLASSES were raised to mark the Lake District joining the Taj Mahal and the Great Barrier Reef to become a world heritage site.

Now recognised as a cultural landscape of international significance, it is hoped that the prestigious status will boost the area's economy, tourist numbers and create new jobs.

However, despite widespread celebrations, Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron has warned that the new status must not stifle growth by 'gold plating' planning rules.

"What people fear is not that it will bring new rules but it will mean that the rules we already have got become gold plated," he said.

"We should be aware of the fact that there is a danger where there is a 50/50 decision on building social rented homes in somewhere like Coniston and they have the fear of UNESCO (The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) on their shoulder, they may think they better ere on the 'no'."

Using an early day motion he has called for government to consider introducing direct elections to the national park to ensure that the views and interests of local communities are not overlooked.

World heritage status recognises the Lake District National Park as a cultural landscape of international significance. It is the UK's 31st UNESCO world heritage site.

The bid was put together by the 25 partners that make up the Lake District National Park Partnership, chaired by Lord Clark of Windermere.

Inscription is in the ‘cultural landscapes’ category. This reflects the three themes that underpin the bid which are identity, inspiration and conservation.

The announcement, Lake District National Park chief executive, Richard Leafe said, was one some 31 years in the making. Although the decision was taken in Krakow, Mr Leafe was anxiously watching a live feed in the Murley Moss office with his communications team.

"We popped a cork and celebrated with something to drink," he said. "And we were delighted and felt really really good about it.

"It means that we're on a globally recognised list of about 1,000 places that are really significant in terms of the evolution of human history."

And despite Mr Farron's concerns, Mr Leafe said that ensuring the Lake District remains an affordable and vibrant place to live and work remained a top priority.

"Yes it is a concern," Mr Leafe said, when asked about keeping the Lakes affordable. "And something that UNESCO has drawn to our attention.

"Making sure that we provide affordable homes for locals has long been a priority for the national park and we've had a plan in place for a few years to construct 900 affordable houses in the national park in the next few years. I'm pleased that UNESCO has recognised that."

The tourism and hospitality industry looks set to benefit from the status. Rob Johnston, chief executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, said that it will help attract a new audience of high-spending overseas visitors.

He said: “It’s a tremendous accolade but this is about more than kudos.

“Research carried out for the Government by the accountant Pricewaterhouse Coopers suggests that inscription as a world heritage site brings an increase in visitor numbers of up to three per cent.

“That doesn’t sound much but, given the sector was worth £2.72bn to Cumbria last year, three per cent is an extra £81.6m. That’s not to be sniffed at, and would potentially support another 2,900 jobs.”

A number of those involved in the tourism and hospitality industry have welcomed the news, including Cumbria Tourism chairman, Eric Robson.

"World heritage status means that the Lake District becomes one of just over a thousand exclusive sites with this special stamp of recognition," he said. "Being a member of this exclusive club is a fantastic opportunity to communicate with new visitor markets across the globe and to raise awareness of the Lake District’s cultural and environmental assets."

And Nigel Wilkinson, managing director of Windermere Lake Cruises has said that it will be a great way to help reach new international markets.

"We face stiff competition from across the UK to attract overseas visitors, so world heritage status is another opportunity to build the reputation of the Lake District internationally," he said. "We think it will be a great way to help encourage international visitors to venture outside London and highlight the Lake District, Cumbria as the favoured destination to prospective visitors from a wide variety of countries around the globe."

Despite the research from Pricewaterhouse Coopers, Mr Leafe said that the hope was that the status would encourage people to stay longer in the area as opposed to increase numbers.

"We already have 18 million visitors to the national park so what we're hoping for is that it will keep us competitive in an international market," he

"If just one per cent shift to cultural tourists we know that they tend to stay longer and spend more and that could be an extra 20 million into the economy."

However, some business owners have expressed some reservations. Henry Wild, director of Skelwith Folk caravan park said that the Lake District was 'thoroughly deserving' of its status but the wider implications needed to be considered.

"If, as is likely, the number of visitors to Cumbria is set to increase, then provision must be made to cater for them," he said. "This means adopting a sensitive but realistic strategy to ensure that our roads, parking resources and other areas of infrastructure are able to cope."

"I would also suggest that we need to address how to manage even more effectively the incoming visitors. Encouraging trips throughout the four seasons, rather than just in summer, is one way. Another would be to highlight the appeal of destinations in the Lake District other than its best-known tourism honeypots."

Sarah Williams, manager of Kendal's Business Improvement District, echoed his thoughts. She said that she thought that the status would help bring more visitors to towns on the periphery of the Lake District, like Kendal.

"Hopefully if statistics are to go by there will be more people coming in to the Lakes and this area because of it," she said. "And therefore we will then have an opportunity to capture those people and bring them into Kendal."

The decision has also been welcomed by the Cumbria branch of the National Farmers' Union, despite vocal opposition to the bid from Guardian columnist George Monbiot.

Mr Monbiot claimed in a reaction piece that the 'designation protects sheep farming, and nothing else'.

"Sheep, by nibbling out tree seedlings and other edible species, are a fully automated system for ecological destruction. They cleanse the land of almost all wildlife," he wrote.

"Our national parks are wiped clean, our natural heritage erased for the sake of an ersatz farm fantasy. And there is nowhere to turn."

However, Chairman David Raine said that agriculture had an 'important ongoing role in maintaining the basic fabric of the landscape'.

"It is important world heritage site status allows the area to flourish and not fossilise, and recognises the role farmers play in developing the cultural landscape," he said. "The logo used throughout the bid process has been that of a Herdwick sheep, a breed of Nordic influence that dates back thousands of years. This is how long farming has been making a positive contribution to the Lake District and I’m heartened that UNESCO has seen fit to recognise that."