White Moss Common is close to Dove Cottage. Photo: Tom Richardson CC-BY-SA-2.0

White Moss Common is close to Dove Cottage. Photo: Tom Richardson CC-BY-SA-2.0

Campaigners are celebrating after national park planners threw out plans for a ‘welcome hub’ on common land.

Britain’s oldest conservation charity said the proposals were more suited to Legoland than Lakeland.

The proposals submitted by Jim Lowther, brother of the eighth Earl of Lonsdale, were rejected by 12 votes to two by the Lake District National Park Authority’s development committee at a meeting today.

Mr Lowther, on behalf of the giant Lowther Estate, was seeking permission to build the ‘hub’ at White Moss Common on the main Lakes road between Rydal Water and Grasmere.

The development, in a car park where there is currently just a toilet block, included facilities for refreshments, bicycle hire, exhibition displays and craft workshops less than a kilometre (half a mile) from William Wordsworth’s Dove Cottage.

A planning officer’s report recommended giving consent to the plans, but authority members voted against the proposal.

Open Spaces Society general secretary Kate Ashbrook said: “We are highly relieved that committee members upheld national park principles and recognised the damage that this money-making scheme would cause.

“Jim Lowther wanted to create a new ‘welcome hub’ offering food, drink and various retail outlets, improve the car park and make defined tracks and trails.

“Such a commercial enterprise was more suited to Disney World or Legoland than a tranquil corner of the superlative Lake District which inspired the Romantic tradition.

“The members shared our astonishment that the park’s planners could support such a damaging scheme. We are delighted that it has been thrown out.

Other objectors included the Friends of the Lake District, Lakes Parish Council, Ramblers and a number of individuals.

Kate Willshaw, planning officer for Friends of the Lake District spoke against the application at the committee meeting. The charity, which represents the Council for the Protection of Rural England in Cumbria, expressed concern that granting consent would set a precedent for other locations in the Lake District.

Ms Willshaw said: “The proposed development at White Moss would have transformed it into a parkland, removing the wildness and essential Lake District woodland character which makes it such a special place for residents and visitors alike.

“We are very relieved that it has been turned down.”

Earlier this year, Mr Lowther’s brother Lord Lowther put the mountain Blencathra on the market to help pay off inheritance tax, prompting a community campaign to buy the fell. A sale has still not been agreed.

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