Lake District national park in bid for World Heritage status

The Lake District has been recommended as the UK’s nomination for World Heritage inscription in 2016

Owen Humphreys/PA Wire Grasmere Lake in the Lake District, Cumbria
Grasmere Lake in the Lake District, Cumbria

The Lake District could soon be joining Durham Castle and Cathedral and Hadrian’s Wall as an internally-recognised World Heritage Site.

The national park, which is the largest in England, has been recommended as the UK’s nomination for World Heritage inscription in 2016.

The Government’s Department of Culture, Media and Sport, yesterday announced it was inviting the Lake District to prepare a case for the coveted UNESCO World Heritage badge.

If recognised by UNESCO, the national park will be in good company with locations such as the Taj Mahal, Grand Canyon National Park, the pyramids of Gisa in Egypt, and the Vatican City all included on the list.

Culture Minister, Ed Vaizey, said: “The UK’s heritage is world-renowned and the Lake District, England’s largest National Park is one of our heritage jewels. The UNESCO nomination process can be very demanding and success is not guaranteed but I believe the Lake District deserves to be recognised and inscribed as a World Heritage Site and I wish all involved the very best.”

Once the site’s nomination has been submitted, it will then undergo a demanding process of scrutiny and evaluation by UNESCO and its advisory body, the International Council on Monuments and Sites. UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee is expected to take the final decision on the Lake District in June 2017.

The possibility of considering the Lake District’s cultural landscape for nomination as a World Heritage Site has been under discussion since 1999 and a partnership was formed in 2005 including a wide range of strategic bodies in Cumbria including Cumbria County Council, Cumbria Vision, the Lake District National Park Authority, the Forestry Commission and the National Trust.

The news has been welcomed by those who have worked tirelessly over the years to ensure the scenic national park is internationally recognised.

Richard Leafe, chief executive of the Lake District National Park, said gaining World Heritage status could help boost tourism and investment in the area.

He said: “World Heritage inscription will boost the international profile of the Lake District’s unique awe-inspiring landscape, which has evolved over thousands of years.

“We believe it is possible to strike the balance between conserving our historical cultural roots at the same time as encouraging regeneration to meet the needs of a thriving, modern region. World Heritage designation can help us meet this tough challenge - attracting valuable international cultural tourism will also be a catalyst for increased investment in heritage, culture and farming to help us make the most of our greatest asset, the spectacular cultural landscape.”

Mike Innerdale, assistant director of operation at National Trust North West, added: “The National Trust has cared for the natural heritage of the Lake District for 100 years and this is a brilliant opportunity to share these special spaces with an international audience.”

The UK currently has 28 World Heritage sites, spread across all four nations of the UK, and a number of UK overseas territories.

The Twin Monastery of Wearmouth-Jarrow, had been nominated for World Heritage status back in 2011 but the bid was dramatically withdrawn in 2012 after a disappointing evaluation by ICOMOS.

In a statement at the time, the Bishop of Jarrow, the Rt Rev Mark Bryant, at the time, he said: “We are very disappointed by the ICOMOS evaluation of the Wearmouth- Jarrow nomination and have a number of concerns about the report which we will be raising with ICOMOS and UNESCO.”

The twin monastery consists of St Peter’s Church in Sunderland and St Paul’s Church in Jarrow and the surrounding monastic sites.

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