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A World Heritage Site is a place that is inscribed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) as being of outstanding global special cultural or physical significance. The official term is World Heritage Inscription and would mean the Lake District will appear on the list of World Heritage Sites.
The Lake District is being considered in the category ‘Cultural Landscapes’.
The Lake District National Park Partnership submitted a nomination to the UK Government and UNESCO, and a wider group of organisations supported the bid.
The bid has been worked on for 16 years. Over that time Lake District National Park Partnership members, along with a range of organisations and private businesses have provided financial and in-kind contributions. In addition, a considerable amount of specialist support has been offered by almost every significant cultural and heritage organisation in Cumbria.
The bid was submitted in draft format to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport and Historic England which was checked in May 2015, a final application was submitted to UNESCO in February 2016.
Our bids in 1986 and 1989 were deferred because the Lake District did not easily fit into the categories of World Heritage sites that existed then. In 1993 UNESCO introduced 'Cultural Landscape' as a World Heritage Site category. This was in direct response to the Lake District’s previous nominations.
The most recent bid began in 2001 following the foot and mouth disease outbreak in Cumbria as an opportunity to provide a boost for economic growth and social uplift to the Lakes, Cumbria and the region. It was further reaffirmed following the 2008 recession as a potential catalyst to meet the growth, social and environmental needs of today.
There was a long process to develop consensus on the bid. Since 2005/6 the Lake District National Park Partnership has managed the bid. In 2009 the Government reviewed its ‘tentative list’ of prospective UK World Heritage nominations and retained the Lake District on this bid. The Partnership was then tasked with undergoing a UK Government technical assessment in 2014 and 2015. In 2016 the Lake District became the UK’s official nomination. The bid to be inscribed as a World Heritage Site is 30 years in the making.
In the 1980s one of the principal questions raised by UNESCO was about Cumbria's ability to deliver a World Heritage Site Management Plan. This was remedied through the establishment of the Lake District National Park Partnership in 2006 - a unified approach to managing the Lake District and production of the Partnership's Plan.
We will be officially inscribed at the close of the 41st UNESCO Committee Convention – 12 July 2017. After that, it’s down to us to work to seize the opportunities that the new status offers.
In the longer term we want World Heritage Status to be a positive force to support new investment in the Lake District’s cultural and natural environment, its communities and economies. Should we be successful, we hope people will enjoy experiencing the Lake District as a World Heritage Site. Businesses and organisations across the county are ready to use the World Heritage brand to reach new customers and visitors will be able to understand more about this special place through a series of planned interpretation material at key focal points across the Lakes.
Claims that World Heritage Status would somehow preserve the landscape in time are not true.
The living, working cultural landscape of the Lake District means change is both inevitable and essential. The Lake District has evolved for centuries and it will continue to do so. The management plan is focused on ensuring that change is managed in such a way that it will not harm the attributes of Outstanding Universal Value or Special Qualities so that World Heritage Status becomes a driver for positive change. UNESCO agree with this approach.
Yes, the Partnership’s management plan for the Lake District as a World Heritage Site is also the statutory plan for managing the National Park. Find out more about the management plan for the Lake District.
Over the years, the Partnership has spent considerable time ensuring there is a robust case for the Lake District to become a World Heritage site. The management plan recognises there are challenges in managing a site of this diversity and size, but the Partnership itself has the strategies in place to manage this change and embrace the opportunities that World Heritage brings. Partners have been working together to manage the National Park for more than 10 years now.
No. The fact that we are already a national park has caused house prices to be above national average. Looking at other World Heritages sites in England suggests that this will not cause house prices to increase. Our housing policies set out how we will ensure there are enough affordable housing opportunities within the Lake District National Park.
We are exceeding current targets and as part of a review of our local plan have invited communities and land owners to propose new sites that may be suitable for local needs and affordable housing.
Whilst there is no automatic funding that comes with being a World Heritage Site, our intention is to use this designation as a positive way to retain and secure new public and private sector funding into the area.
World Heritage Status is not about increasing visitor numbers, we want to encourage visitors to stay longer and spend more.
Being ranked alongside the Grand Canyon and the Taj Mahal is likely to make a wider audience aware of the Lake District's cultural landscape. But bringing additional visitors to Cumbria through World Heritage status is not a specific aim. It is more probable that World Heritage inscription will be useful in attracting higher spending, longer staying national and international tourists who respect the landscape and explore Cumbria more.
In addition, we are providing a business tool kit, available to all businesses in Cumbria to try and 'attract and disperse' tourists across Cumbria, particularly quieter areas in the west of the county.
Our strategy is to enable diversity and availability of high quality accommodation for all budgets, ensuring the needs of all visitors, whether international or domestic are met.
UK National Parks already have the highest level of protection in planning law. We will be assessing applications against the current set of policies after designation. We will need to develop our assessment of planning applications to ensure we have additional information to help us look after the National Park as a World Heritage Site.
Additional national controls are confined to domestic developments of:
Find out more on the planning pages of Lake District National Park Authority's website.
The Lake District landscape itself and the way it inspired poets, artists, adventure seekers and tourists alike for hundreds of years. This lead to a wealth of picturesque villas, romantic poetry and stimulating a wealth of modern-day cultural programmes like Lakes Culture and the Lakes Alive arts Festival.
World Heritage Site status will provide the opportunity to celebrate and protect the natural environment that forms an integral part of the cultural landscape of the Lake District.
The Lake District National Park is a highly protected area with:
Whilst we will continue to work to restore habitats and ecosystems, there are already many success stories:
Our unique farming heritage has helped create this special place over thousands of years. It plays a key role in the World Heritage bid and is recognised in the management plan. The Lake District is a perfect example of a cultural landscape as it was farming and other industry that helped shaped the land that people then felt inspired to engage with. This then led to a conservation movement to care for this special place, and this way of interacting with the landscape continues today.
Find out more about farming in the Lake District and hear from some of our local Farming Heroes.
We recognise that there have been overgrazing and other farm management practices that have threatened the environmental and natural values of the landscape. Much has been done by farmers, land managers and conservation groups to begin the process of habitat restoration and this remains a priority for the management of the Lake District. The Partnership’s management plan includes strategies for ensuring this balance is achieved. We want World Heritage Status to be a positive driver for both the natural and cultural landscape.
Although the WHS bid has farming at its core, it is about how mankind has shaped the landscape, including through industry for example.
It may surprise modern visitors that the Lake District was a hive of industry in the not-so-distant past. The reason for this was the ready availability in the Lake District of the raw materials required for industrial production – rocks and minerals, water power from the numerous Lake District becks and rivers, and charcoal and other wood products from the extensive Lake District woodlands.
Copper, lead and graphite, in areas such as Coniston and Seathwaite, were among the earliest minerals to be exploited from the medieval period and particularly from the 16th century. The copper mines opened by the Mines Royal Company in the Caldbeck Fells are especially significant as the first well-documented large-scale copper mining operation in the UK. Greenside mine, in the Ullswater Valley, was one of the largest lead mines in England in the 19th and early 20th centuries and in 1890 was the first metal ore mine to use electric power for transport (hydroelectric power).
Graphite was originally mined to make moulds for the manufacture of cannon balls and then, most famously, to provide pencil ‘lead’ in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Iron ore, both in the Lake District and from Low Furness to the south, was used from the medieval period to smelt iron. From around the 16th century smelting technology advanced with the introduction of water power and from 1711 a number of blast furnaces were built in the southern Lake District. One of these, at Backbarrow, operated until the 1960s.
In addition to the availability of local iron ore, the production of charcoal from the Lake District woodlands was crucial for the development of the iron industry. The introduction of coppice management, probably from the early 17th century, ensured a sustainable source of fuel and the extensive woods of the southern Lake District, which have survived due to their use for coppicing, have been described as the largest industrial archaeology site in England. In addition to charcoal production, bark from oak trees in the Lake District was used in small local tanneries to produce leather prior to modern chemical methods of tanning.
Slate quarrying is the only extractive industry which now survives but is much smaller in scale than in the past. There are working slate quarries at Honister, Elterwater, Brandy Crag and Bursting Stone on Coniston Old Man.
In the medieval period and up to the early 20th century, the rivers and becks in the Lake District were lined with great numbers of water mills which were involved in a number of industries. In the medieval period, in addition to corn mills, the Lake District had many fulling mills which processed wool to produce the cloth that the area was famous for. In the 19th century, mills were established to produce wooden bobbins for the Lancashire cotton industry, of which Stott Park near Lakeside on Windermere is the best surviving example.
Although the bid was submitted pre-Brexit, we subsequently provided information to the UNESCO assessors both verbally and in writing and as part of their visit to the Lake District.
As part of any changes that come into effect we will need to consider the potential implications about the ease of travel and the need for VISA and travel reforms to sustain the international travel market.
The future of agricultural subsidies is referenced within the management plan, although we acknowledge there is currently some uncertainty around how this will change once the UK leaves the European Union. The Partnership is committed to providing benefits to society that include clean water, healthy soils, high quality food, flood protection and access. Together this provides the best case for securing ongoing support and funding for the Lake District. We believe that World Heritage Site status will help partner organisations play a part in securing new funding post Brexit for practical improvements for the future of positive change and to deliver more benefits for both nature and our cultural heritage.
It is the Lake District National Park as defined by the 1951 boundary.
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