JUST what is the Lake District National Park Authority up to? It has an approved policy in its core strategy which states: 'Within the national park, there should be no net increase in parking capacity or permanent measures merely to accommodate peak traffic demand'.

It was reported that the authority had refused permission for a car park for 100 cars and seven coaches in Coniston as it 'contravened policy' (Gazette, December 7, 'Honeypot car park is rejected').

Fair enough, presumably. However, a few weeks ago, the authority applied to itself for permission to extend the car park at Brockhole. Its consultants stated that “Brockhole's lakeside’s car parking area suffers from congestion and confusion at seasonal peak times. LDNPA is seeking to alleviate these issues…..” The authority gave itself permission.

A week or two after that, the Gazette reported that the Great North Swim would be relocated from Low Wood to Brockhole, where additional parking was to be provided.

Park policies are meaningless if they are inconsistently applied.

Without park-wide policies to control or provide for increasing visitor numbers arriving by car, we face a future of ever greater usage of our narrow lanes, and sporadic, ad hoc spreading of parking at all the familiar honeypots. Not the best way to protect the landscape.

On this, the park authority seems to have no idea. We do need a traffic management strategy, and there is no other body able to provide this.

Paul Truelove


l The Westmorland Gazette contacted the Lake District National Park Authority after receiving Mr Truelove's letter and here is a response from Steve Ratcliffe, its director of sustainable development.

“As the local planning authority our planning decisions are guided by our current park-wide planning policies and based on the available information. This is the same for all proposals. Proposals for new public car parking provision require careful assessment, looking at both the potential impacts of the new proposal and the benefits.

As part of the planning process we also consider views in favour and against proposals. The proposals that are referred to have been to our development control committee meetings and these are open to the public and, indeed, people have spoken in support and objection.

We have received several applications for car parking this year including, but not only, Brockhole and Coniston. All are assessed on their individual merits and some have been approved and some refused.

In all recent cases involving proposed car parking we have found impacts and benefits. Our assessment reports are on our website for people to see our reasoning and to ensure we are transparent. While I am certain we take a consistent approach to policies, the circumstances vary from one proposal and location to another and on the balanced judgement some proposals are acceptable in planning terms and others not so.

We are currently reviewing our policies, including for parking and transport generally as part of our local plan review. Communities and individuals will be invited in spring next year to comment on what they believe the strategy should be.

In the meantime if anyone wishes to take advantage of our advice on any planning matter they should contact us or drop into one of our regular planning surgeries across the park.”