A landscape for the future: made in the South Pennines

Posted: 21.02.19

A blueprint for the future of the South Pennines was outlined on Friday, 15 February to the man charged by the Government with reviewing the nation’s protected landscapes.

Writer Julian Glover is leading an independent panel considering whether England’s 10 national parks and 34 areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONB) are still fit for purpose in the 21st century.

Currently the South Pennines does not feature amongst these and is the only upland landscape in England not given statutory protection.

But local agencies and councils are working on a plan to create a self-declared South Pennines Park, the first of its kind in the UK and one which would pioneer a radical new approach to caring for the landscape. This new approach is being developed with support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, with thanks to National Lottery players.
He learnt about the plans on a day-long visit to the region.

Pam Warhurst, Chair of Pennine Prospects, said:

“We are not seeking to become either a national park or an AONB – we want something that works specifically for our area and is in the tune with the massive environmental and social challenges we face. That’s why we are delighted that Julian Glover accepted our invitation to visit.

“A different approach to caring for our environment means building on three pillars: creating a landscape for the future, space for all and supporting thriving local economies. Having an overall management body will allow us to do that more effectively and build on the good things that have already been done, whether that’s fostering local distinctiveness, supporting the arts, restoring peat bogs, improving well-being, or backing local businesses. Ultimately it is not designation we seek, but national recognition of a different and in our view more sustainable way of doing things that is more centred on the needs of local people.”

During his visit Julian Glover saw a striking map of the South Pennines created by Angela Smyth and set to be rolled out across 26 rail stations locally by Northern Rail to encourage visitors to explore and met councils and representatives from utility companies, community groups, Canal and River Trust and the National Trust.

The South Pennines was considered for designation by the post-war Hobhouse Report that led to the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act, passed in 1949. It spans West Yorkshire, Greater Manchester and Lancashire and is bounded to the north by the Dales and Nidderdale AONB and the Peak District to the south. Despite straddling the county border the area shares a common heritage and sense of place.

It has over 2,500 miles of rights of way, nationally important peat bogs, provides drinking water to the north’s two biggest cities and is a haven for rare wildlife like the twite (Pennine Finch). It has also been celebrated by artists including Ted Hughes and Simon Armitage.

Julian Glover added:

“I’m really pleased to be visiting the South Pennines as part of this review – it’s such a special place and I’m looking forward to meeting the people involved in looking after it. This review is not only looking at how to support and improve the existing National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, but the case for new protections too and I’m keen to hear from those working, living in and enjoying the South Pennines as to what they would want to see.“

Last year Pennine Prospects was awarded £183,500 by the National Lottery Heritage Fund to improve sustainable management and build capacity to potentially pave the way for a South Pennines Park.

David Renwick, Head of the National Lottery Heritage Fund in Yorkshire and the Humber who attended the visit added:

“The National Lottery Heritage Fund uses National Lottery players’ investment to help the UK’s heritage thrive so that it can benefit people and communities now and for the future. The South Pennines is a special landscape that is not only important in it own right, but also provides so many benefits to the communities in and around it – from absorbing and slowing down flood waters, enhancing wellbeing as we walk amongst its wildlife and breath its clean air to providing opportunities for volunteering and training which help people of all ages and backgrounds learn new skills. We’re delighted that our funding is helping to create a new model for this area that will help inform the wider review of protected areas and important landscapes across the UK.”

Media calls

Contact Richard Darn
email: richard@richarddarn.com
or telephone 0775 367 0038