THE future management of a popular South Lakeland beauty spot has been cast into doubt.

Birkrigg Common, near Ulverston, has long been maintained by South Lakeland District Council.

But at a meeting of Ulverston Town Council, Cllr James Airey informed members the lease had ended and not renewed.

He said it might be worth the town council considering taking on the lease, while it had also been suggested the Crown Estate, which owns the land, would possibly consider selling the common.

“The lease for the common has come to an end and they (SLDC) haven’t renewed it,” Cllr Airey told the meeting. “They are wondering about other options in terms of who might be interested in taking it on.

“It might of interest for this town council to discuss.

“Birkrigg Common is important to the town and the surrounding areas.

“It’s common ground so that wouldn’t change, but we would need to look at the responsibilities it would involve.”

Mr Airey was also quick to dispel any fears a sale of the land would result in sudden development.

“I don’t think there’s any suggestion a single land owner could come and build on it – its common access is enshrined,” he said.

Pamela Attree, clerk of Urswick Parish Council, said the parish council had been offered the chance to purchase Birkrigg Common earlier this year by the Crown Estate.

But she added: “Urswick Parish Council doesn’t have resources to manage an area as large as that.

“To purchase it and manage it was not feasible.

“It was a leasehold but it was offered to the parish council to purchase.”

A spokesperson for the Crown Estate, however, said SLDC was still in operational charge of the land.

“As part of the management of our assets, we do review arrangements and explore approaches from interested parties, and we have been in conversation in respect to Birkrigg Common,” said the spokesperson. “However, there are no plans to change the current arrangements at this time.”

AN SLDC spokesperson added that the matter was still being considered, saying: “This is an historic lease agreement with The Crown Estate and we have not said we do not wish to enter into a new one.

“We are looking at our options, considering what funding the council would need, what our liabilities would be and what the benefits would be of entering into a new lease.

“Any decision to extend or end the lease of Birkrigg Common would be a matter for cabinet.”