The Lake District is one step closer to World Heritage Site recognition after receiving an important UNESCO delegation that had the opportunity to see first-hand the magnificent cultural landscape in which we live and work.
On 2nd October, Low Wood Bay welcomed the Lake District National Park Partnership who hosted the three day event as part of their ongoing bid for the coveted World Heritage inscription. The UNESCO representatives met with a veritable Who’s Who of influential Lake District partners, including district and local councils, Lake District National Park, Cumbria Tourism, University of Cumbria, National Farmers Union, National Trust, Environment Agency, Natural England, RSPB and many more – all united in their desire that The Lake District should be elevated to the select group of sites and landscapes around the world which have been recognised as a vital part of the world’s irreplaceable heritage and which must be protected for generations to come.
Why The Lake District?
The Lake District has long been known as an area of outstanding beauty but the bid needed to satisfy the criterion of having outstanding universal value to join such sites as Stonehenge, Tower of London, Taj Mahal, Grand Canyon and Great Barrier Reef.
This was not difficult to articulate. This concentrated area of magnificent mountains and lakes, modified by hundreds of years of sheep farming has created a unique landscape of fields, farms and open grazing on the fells. The natural beauty became, and remains, a source of inspiration for artists, writers, architects and landscape gardeners.
The English Lake District is known as the cradle of British Romanticism epitomised by the writings of William Wordsworth and fellow poets. Wordsworth also expressed the initial idea of a protected landscape for all to enjoy. This envisioned accessibility opened the flood gates of visitors to the area, posing a threat to the integrity of the landscape, a threat which in itself eventually led to the birth of the conservation movement in Britain, and influential in inspiring birth of The National Trust.
Awareness around the World
As well as affirming the importance of our identify and giving us a huge sense of achievement, becoming a World Heritage Site raises awareness around the world by individuals, institutions and governments and leads to a greater level of preservation and conservation. It also opens the door to a wealth of expert advice from around the globe and can lead to financial assistance.
The cultural role of farming and its role within the landscape will receive greater recognition and the number of cultural visitors to the area will increase, having a knock on effect on accommodation, leisure and food industries.
The Story So Far
The United Kingdom has a Tentative List of potential World Heritage sites from which the World Heritage Committee can consider nominations. The Lake District has been on that list for many years and a potential bid a regular topic of conversation, so much so that in 2005 The Lake District National Park Partnership was formed to facilitate the next step in the process.
In January 2014 The Department of Culture, Media and Sports recommended that The Lake District be put forward for consideration. The Lake District National Park Partnership was tasked with compiling an exhaustive nomination dossier in collaboration with the Department of Culture, Media and Sports. The final nomination was submitted to UNESCO in February 2016, and the careful review of the evidence by three advisory bodies began in March.
The most recent delegation to the Lake District is an important part of the review process. There follows a period of nine months before we will know the outcome of the committee’s deliberations in July 2017.
Low Wood Bay Development
In readiness for successful World Heritage inscription, English Lakes has embarked on the redevelopment of Low Wood Bay, creating the Lake District’s first luxury destination resort. On hearing the news that we had been granted the necessary planning permission, Simon Berry, our Chairman and Managing Director said,
We’re thrilled that the Lake District National Park Authority recognises what we are trying to achieve. In setting its vision for the park to be ‘world class’, it is now clearly supporting business to deliver on that vision and is showing the faith to back us on this project.