A CAMPAIGN to see the Lake District recognised as a World Heritage Site has been backed by South Lakeland District Council.

World Heritage Site (WHS) status would place the national park alongside destinations including the Taj Mahal, Tower of London and Great Barrier Reef in its worldwide importance.

SLDC’s cabinet voted to endorse the Lake District National Park Partnership’s bid for WHS status.

The authority is a member of the partnership, which comprises 26 organisations, agencies and authorities that are behind the bid.

A report to the Cabinet said WHS status would raise the Lake District’s international profile, boost tourism, improve the area’s ability to secure funding and investment and restore the sustainability of the Lakes’ upland farming.

Speaking at the meeting, Leader of the Council Peter Thornton raised concerns about a lack of housing in the National Park to meet the needs of any new jobs created by WHS.

He said: “We need to have a dialogue with the National Park to see whether they will be changing their housing policy.”

But he added: “We definitely deserve this status – we are up there with other attractions.”

World Heritage Sites are designated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) that have a cultural/or natural significance “which is so exceptional as to transcend national boundaries and to be of common importance to present and future generations of all humanity.”

The Government has already confirmed that the Lake District will be the UK’s official World Heritage nomination when it is submitted to UNESCO by January 2016. A decision on the bid is expected by May 2017.

SLDC’s Portfolio holder for Strategic Growth, Councillor Jonathan Brook, said: “Our endorsement will help to add weight and influence to the bid and I believe this represents a unique opportunity.

“World Heritage Site status would not only affect the Lake District National Park – which is the area covered by the bid – but would also benefit the long-term economic prospects for the whole of South Lakeland.’’