THE Lake District National Park Authority (LDNPA) have defended a decision to put several pieces of land in the Ambleside and Grasmere areas for sale on the open market.

The land referred to is the area at Blue Hill and Red Bank Woods at Ambleside and at Baneriggs Wood, Penny Rock Wood, White Moss and Rydal Woods at Grasmere, which is for sale via agents Savills.

Paul Truelove was one of several residents in the Grasmere area who particular concern over a clause in the sale agreement which states that the LDNPA is entitled to 50 per cent of the profit of any future sell on.

Mr Truelove fears may be seen as a conflict of interest as the LDNPA would be in a position to benefit financially from the grant of planning permission.

“The land should have no development potential as it largely consists of attractive woodland which is the reason people come to the Lake District,” he said.

“This condition is very concerning as despite those reassurances from the LDNPA say, they should not have this kind of temptation in front of them.”

And Cllr Will Clark, who represents the area on Cumbria County Council, echoed those concerns.

“I find the profit sharing clause written into the contract a little confusing,” he said.

“Whilst I understand financial prudence the clause only becomes relevant if there were significant development potential for the land to be sold.

“There is not. These sites ought to be among the most highly protected sites of the National Park.

“A much more appropriate clause would be one simply prohibiting any kind of urban or commercial activity on the land.”

Cllr Clark stressed that he was aware the LDNPA was totally within its rights to sell the land, and pointed out a smaller piece of land at nearby Ladywood had been well managed by a private purchaser following a similar sale.

However, he noted the validity of the concerns especially as it is understood Lowther Estates are interested in purchasing the land and residents have expressed concern over the standard of management by the group of neighbouring land at White Moss.

An LDNPA spokesperson said the body had a duty to the taxpayer to obtain best value for their land but pointed out safeguards were in place to protect the land in the future.

“The woodlands are protected by statutory designations to preserve public access and their future enjoyment and future development would be subject to the usual planning process,” said the spokesperson.