The council's executive voted to register Blencathra as a community asset

The council's executive voted to register Blencathra as a community asset

The campaigning group hoping to buy the Cumbrian mountain Blencathra is claiming a victory after it said the peak has been declared a community asset.

The Friends of Blencathra said Eden District Council agreed yesterday to the charity’s application to have the mountain and surrounding land declared an asset of community value under the Localism Act.

The council’s executive made the decision despite the present owner’s solicitors’ argument that the main use of the mountain was for grazing, rather than recreation such as walking, climbing, fellrunning and paragliding.

Declaration as a community asset sets a six-month moratorium on any sale, but solicitors Bond Dickinson said a provision of the Localism Act exempts the Blencathra estate from its provisions because it is being sold following the death of the seventh Earl of Lonsdale to help his son, the present earl, pay inheritance tax.

The mountain’s owner has the right to have the decision reviewed and can appeal against the registration.

A spokesperson for the Friends of Blencathra said: “We hope that we now have a period of time in which to negotiate with the current owners.

“Very importantly, this gives Friends of Blencathra Ltd access to very significant sources of matched funding.

“Although this successful registration is a massive step forward, we have to point out that it does not mean that we have bought Blencathra, but this is a quantum leap forward in our campaign.”

Hugh, eighth Earl of Lonsdale, has put the mountain, also known as Saddleback, on the market with an original guide price of £2.1m to help settle an impending inheritance tax bill.

Agents H&H Land and Property said an offer had been made which exceeds that price.

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