Creating a True South Pennines National Park

February 11, 2021 2:08 PM
By Littleborough Liberal Democrats

Kate & REM at Hollingworth Lake (Rochdale Liberal Democrats)For many years Littleborough Lib Dems have campaigned against the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF). A plan which would have seen hundreds of acres of Greenbelt land around the Borough swallowed up by luxury housing developments. As you may be aware, the GMSF foundered in late 2020 after Stockport Council voted against the plan - GMSF required all ten Greater Manchester Authorities to approve it. However, plans are already moving ahead to implement 'Places For Everyone' in the remaining nine authorities - its a catchy title - but beneath the public friendly name the destructive ambitions of the GMSF remain.

In an attempt to balance the harm 'Places For Everyone' will undoubtedly cause, we are heartened to see proposals like the Great Northern Bog and the Great Northern Forrest which we fully endorse and support

Unfortunately, these initiatives simply don't go far enough. We advocate the creation of a true South Pennines National Park - with all of the planning controls enjoyed by the National Parks to our north and south. A true South Pennines National Park astride the Lancashire/Yorkshire county border would link the existing Peak District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks - creating a huge unbroken area of protected countryside down the spine of England.

The notion of a National Park for the South Pennines was originally proposed in the 1940's - when the other major parks were created. Unfortunately, due to the presence of significant industry in the area at that time, the plan did not move forward. It has been considered a number of times since - but now seems to be on the verge of becoming a reality.

An organisation called Pennine Prospects have done significant work on a 'South Pennines Regional Park' in preparation for this, particularly in relation to the enormous tourism and business opportunities that the new park would bring to the area. However, their proposals - as good as they are - stop short of insisting that the new park would have the same statutory status as its older more established cousins. This would mean that 'Places For Everyone' could still help itself to large tracts of precious countryside.

South Pennines National Park

The proposed South Pennines National Park

We absolutely welcome the many advantages that Regional Park status would bring to the area - it would provide a massive, sustainable boost to the local economy and create countless local jobs. However, if the park is just a branding exercise to help boost tourism, it has somewhat missed the point. A lack of undeveloped countryside could be a turn off for eager visitors. Developing a thriving local economy on a more sustainable basis - truly embracing the Green Economy - must go hand in hand with the full protections a true National Park enjoys - including control over planning and construction within the park boundaries.

Kate Clegg & Richard Eden-Maughan

Littleborough Liberal Democrats

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