Plans for a new 150-space car park near the popular fell Catbells have caused controversy, with campaigners urging the Lake District national park authority not to approve it.

Groups including Friends of the Lake District, the National Trust, the Campaign for National Parks and the Cumbria Wildlife Trust are among the groups objecting to the proposed 150-space car park at Ullock Moss near Portinscale, a woodland site about a mile from the foot of Catbells.

Campaigners say it will contribute to further traffic congestion in the Lake District, harm the area’s ecology, and go against the national park’s own commitments to reduce car travel and tackle climate change.

The recommendation to go ahead with the car park has been made by Lake District National Park Authority’s (LDNPA) planning officer, but the final vote on the decision will happen on December 1 after the authority’s members have visited the site. 

More car use 

Friends of the Lake District said that while they recognised the need to address ongoing and growing issues relating to parking and vehicle numbers in the Portinscale and Catbells area, the proposal was not an appropriate solution.

A visualisation of the plans for the car park. Photo: Crosby Granger Architects Ltd

Lorayne Wall, Planning Officer, Friends of the Lake District said: “Allowing a new car park in this location threatens to set back plans for sustainable travel and a low-carbon Lake District before they even get started. We are simply asking that the park adheres to its own plans and policies and implements them.”

The Campaign for National Parks has raised concerns that allowing a permanent car park in this location will make it harder to persuade people to use alternatives to the car in future, while Cumbria Wildlife Trust and the Woodland Trust have also expressed concerns about the car park on the basis of its potential impact on the area’s ecology and protected wildlife.

Manage cars

The applicant and landowner, Michael Anderton of Lingholm Private Trust, told the BBC he believes the car park would take traffic off nearby roads which he said were “regularly reduced to one lane with many vehicles parked at junctions, farm access ways and passing places”.

“We think in all probability an equal amount of harm is being done now with damage to roadsides, verges, litter and cars crawling along the Portinscale to Grange road looking for car parking spaces.”

The car park plans provide for a turning circle for a shuttle bus which could run to Catbells and other popular locations nearby.

Tony Lywood, Cumbria County Council’s member for Keswick, supported the scheme, saying: “My position is very clear, we have to manage cars coming into the Lake District,” he said.

“I have always advocated a charge to any cars coming into the Lake District, but given the fact we have a huge number of cars we need to make provision for those cars.”