The land at Orrest Head Farm. Photo: National Trust Images

The land at Orrest Head Farm. Photo: National Trust Images

A consortium that includes the National Trust and the Lake District authority is planning to develop land near Windermere to create a ‘gateway’ to the area.

Retailers are also involved in the proposals for the scheme next to Windermere railway station and bus terminus.

The proposals, on nine hectares of land owned by the trust, are subject to planning approval, and would include housing, a transport hub and opportunities for local employment.

The area, around Orrest Head Farm and Thwaites Lane, was gifted to the National Trust in 1987 as investment land. The charity said the donor’s intention was that the value of the site would be realised at the optimum time to form an endowment to support the National Trust’s work in the Lake District.

“Because of opportunities identified in the draft local plan the trust can act according to the donor’s wishes as well as meeting local needs,” a National Trust spokesperson said. “The vast majority – 99 per cent – of land owned by the National Trust is inalienable. Such land cannot be voluntarily sold, mortgaged or compulsorily purchased against the trust’s wishes without special parliamentary procedure.

“These nine hectares fall within the 1 per cent of alienable land the trust owns. Once the plans for the site are clear and related costs are known the National Trust will understand what its options are for selling, keeping or leasing the land.”

The Windermere Gateway Project Steering Group, which is behind the plans, is made up of Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership, South Lakeland District Council, the National Trust, Lake District National Park Authority, and onsite retailers Booths and Lakeland.

Regeneration company Urban Splash was chosen from more than 30 interested parties to lead the scheme.

Any proposals would be subject to planning permission and would need to meet a number of policies, including those on affordable homes, sustainable transport, local infrastructure provision, landscape protection and design quality.

Jim Jackson, deputy chair of Cumbria LEP and chair of the Windermere Gateway Project Steering Group, said: “The potential developments around Windermere station are very welcome enabling improvements to the transport infrastructure, local economy and additional local housing.

“It is great to see partnerships come together to provide improvements in Cumbria.”

Plans include transforming steeply sloping land, with a Grade 2 listed farmhouse. Mike Innerdale, National Trust’s regional director for the North of England, said: “There is a unique opportunity for us to make a difference in Windermere through a gift that supports our conservation work.

“It means developing land next to the station in a sensitive way to provide housing for locals, meet employment needs and provide a world-class entry point and transport hub to the Lakes. “It involves other landowners and stakeholders. It is very much a shared ambition and a partnership project supported by many.

“We are at a very early stage of establishing what sort of development is viable on this challenging site. It will be informed by discussions with the local community and key stakeholders.

“It is also dependent on the proposed allocation for our land being part of the local plan for the Lake District, the subject of recent consultations and up for public examination later this year.”

Emma Moody, the national park authority’s lead strategy advisor for transport, access and recreation said: “This development, which is subject to planning permission, has great potential to support the low-carbon and sustainable transport aspirations of the park, creating a new hub that can have a positive impact on traffic and travel for residents and visitor as well as providing affordable and local needs housing for the community.”

Retailer Lakeland’s chairman Sam Rayner said: “Lakeland recognise the need to create a better gateway to the Lakes than the existing overcrowded arrangement.

“Visitors arriving by train should have more of a sense of arrival and of reaching a unique and beautiful part of the world. The opportunity afforded by the National Trust to work in partnership with local businesses and transport infrastructure operators may help create such a gateway as well as providing much needed affordable homes for local people.”

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