A development partner has been appointed to take forward a shared vision for land next to Windermere railway station to meet local needs and provide a gateway to the Lake District, befitting of an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Those behind the ambition are the Windermere Gateway Project Steering Group a consortium made up of; Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), South Lakeland District Council (SLDC), National Trust, Lake District National Park Authority (LDNPA), and onsite retailers, Booths and Lakeland.
The area involved includes land around the railway platform, car parks and bus terminal, Booths and Lakeland stores and nine hectares of National Trust investment land, next to Thwaites Lane, identified for ‘mixed use’ development by the LDNPA in their draft Local Plan.
Award winning regeneration company Urban Splash has been appointed as the development partner by the National Trust, with the support of the Windermere Gateway Project Steering Group. Property experts JLL advised on the appointment process which attracted interest from over 30 partners.
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.”
The vision for the site includes transforming steeply sloping land – with a Grade 2 listed farmhouse – gifted to the National Trust as investment land, into one that meets local needs, as the National Trust’s Regional Director for the North of England explained:
“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,” added Mike Innerdale.
Emma Moody, LDNPA’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.”
Lakeland’s Chairman Sam Rayner also commented, saying: “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.”
Development partner Urban Splash has won 416 awards for its work in sensitive restoration, great design and architecture, and regeneration. Director Nathan Cornish says they are incredibly proud to be part of the project. He said: “It is an outstanding opportunity to take forward a rare development site in arguably the most beautiful part of the country.
“Urban Splash has transformed many listed buildings and sensitive sites across the country, and we will need to use all of our skills and experiences to deliver something befitting of this important gateway site to the Lake District.”