Vibrant Communities and a Prosperous Economy following Covid-19

What is it?

As well as building on a strong visitor economy, we need to enable a diverse range of employment opportunities, capitalising on Cumbria’s attractiveness as a place to live and work. Our communities are ageing and this will present pressure on rural services and the sustainability of our settlements. Across Cumbria there is an urgent need to attract and retain young people to visit, live and work, but in some communities in the Lake District over half the housing stock is being used as second or holiday homes meaning many young people and working families cannot afford to buy open market homes.

What we are trying to achieve is set out in the Partnership Plan here:

Shortage of affordable housing in the Lake District – 2022-23

The extreme shortage of affordable housing, to buy or to rent, is a major issue in the Lake District, both because of its impact on the vibrancy of local communities and on the availability of employees, which has reached critical proportions for many local businesses.

The Partnership has written to the Government to urge a change in use classes, so that the conversion of principal residences to second homes or holiday lets requires planning permission, and to ask that holiday lets be subject to the council tax regime. The Levelling Up Bill provides for the possibility of increased council tax for second homes; the Government is considering introducing a change in use classes; and a proposal to require registration of holiday homes is out to consultation.

Removal of Small business rate exemption – 2023-24

Furnished holiday homes still qualify for small business rate exemption – this has not been removed.

The new business rates relief scheme for retail, hospitality and leisure properties in 2023-24 was announced by The Chancellor in the 2022 Autumn statement. The 2023-24 Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Business Rates Relief scheme will provide eligible, occupied, retail, hospitality (including self-catering accommodation) and leisure properties with a 75% relief, with a cash cap limit of £110,000 per business.

The 2024 Spring Budget announced that the government will abolish the Furnished Holiday Lettings tax regime from 6 April 2025, meaning short-term and long-term lets will be treated the same for tax purposes. This will eliminate the tax advantage for landlords who let short-term furnished holiday properties over those who let residential properties to longer-term tenants. This will take effect from 6 April 2025 and draft legislation will be published in due course.

Percentage of second homes by parish (not to exceed 25 percent of the existing housing stock) – 2024-25

The most up-to-date and accurate data we hold about the number of second homes by Parish is the written evidence that the LDNPA submitted to the government in 2022. This set out the percentage of second homes by parish, with some having a particularly high percentage.

We also have some supporting data about holiday homes and second homes from the 2021 Census. However, this data is not collated to reflect the park boundary so is based on a ‘best fit’ approach.

More up-to-date information on second homes as a percentage of housing stock by parish is not currently available.

No. of key mortgage lenders that are flexible on lending where there are local occupancy controls – 2023-24

We have not been able to source exact figures about the number of mortgage lenders who are active in this area.

However, Halifax, Nationwide, TSB, Skipton and Leeds building societies and banks will consider lending on properties with local occupancy conditions.

The main lenders who will not consider lending on local occupancy properties are Natwest, HSBC, Santander, Accord, Coventry, Virgin, Barclays and most of the smaller building societies.

Windermere Gateway – 2022-23

The Partnership is working to establish a transformational new gateway for Windermere which sustainably connects to the onward travel network and significantly contributes to the vibrancy of the town by delivering affordable and local needs housing, employment opportunities, and improved sustainable travel opportunities for residents and visitors.

The Windermere Gateway project continues to make progress, following the adoption of the Windermere Gateway Transport Infrastructure Delivery Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) in 2021 and recruiting of a dedicated Project Manager resource in 2022.

The Windermere Gateway Programme, split into five distinct workstreams (see figure below) seeks to deliver a number of outcomes to achieve the Windermere Gateway Vision including; highways improvements and access infrastructure along the A591; provision of new affordable and local needs homes; and an employment hub on the Orrest Head farm site, as well as station improvements and transport interchange proposals around the railway.
Progress has been picking up pace, including:

– The award of £45,000 from the UK Government, through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund administered by Westmorland and Furness Council, which has facilitated progress on the Windermere Station improvements feasibility studies, to improve sustainable transport and future-proofing of the station interchange;

– Discussions with Homes England, who are seeking funding support for the project, to bring forward enabling infrastructure for the Orrest Head allocated site;

– Working with developers Urban Splash on proposals for the main housing and employment site but also the highways and access infrastructure into the development and off the A591. Urban Splash, and their consultants, are looking to deliver junction and highways improvements which meet Manual for Streets standards, appropriate to this rural setting, within a World Heritage Site and National Park;

– Working closely with partners and stakeholders to ensure that all works meet the overall ambition of the Vision.

The next few months are going to be busy for the team working across all workstreams of the project. A hybrid planning application will be brought forward for Windermere Gateway; this application will include housing and employment uses as part of a single masterplan.

There is lots to look forward to and we are excited to make further progress in 2023.

– Abi Patel, Strategy Planner, Windermere Gateway Project

1. Highways and Access infrastructure
2. Employment Hub
3. Housing & Tourism
4. Station improvements
5. Transport interchange & Public Realm

Economic Value of Tourism (£m)

Mindful of the very significant impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the economic value of tourism in the Lake District, the Partnership set itself ‘speed of recovery’ targets that it felt were realistic in terms of improvements after the very significant economic dip in 2020. These are shown on the graph above as slow, medium and fast trajectories. Happily the economic recovery surpassed our ‘fast’ target in 2022 and we hope that this upward trend continues when the next data becomes available in Summer 2024.

Source: Cumbria Tourism STEAM (Scarborough Tourism Economic Activity Monitor) survey data, published 2022)

Broadband Coverage

Source: Connecting Cumbria
*USO (Universal Service Obligation) refers to a universal right to a decent broadband connection (at greater than 10 mega bits per second)’.

Improved Connectivity for Troutbeck Camping Pods – 2023-24

Poole Bank Farm was considered to be in one of the ‘hard to reach’ areas of Cumbria in terms of online connectivity. After making the decision to diversify into luxury camping pods, Pip Simpson and his partner Hannah Towers knew that the broadband service they had would struggle to meet the connectivity requirements which have become an expectation in today’s world.

‘With no known plans for improvements in our area, our community approached the commercial market for the delivery of a network to provide an improved service. Supported by the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme and Digital Borderlands Top-Up Vouchers, our selected supplier worked up a scheme which was successfully delivered’.

‘Many businesses, particularly in the tourism industry, will agree that the provision of Wi-Fi services to customers has become an expectation. We can now offer this. We have also been able to create and manage our website, run our social media page and handle the online enquiries we receive’.

‘The improved service has also benefitted our farming business; we can now work BACs [payments] with confidence, notify BCMS (British Cattle Movement Service) of cattle movements and register new stock using an online cattle passport system, and carry out a host of other administrative functions’.

‘At home, our service supports a range of activities including online learning, gaming and entertainment’.

‘The benefits of our improved service are huge; it has made such a difference to our lives.’

Digital Connectivity

Connecting individuals, communities and visitors through decent broadband provision is an important action for the Partnership, enabling both leisure and business activity.

In 2022 the Partnership acknowledged that 4G mobile phone coverage was an essential resource for residents and visitors alike and therefore agreed to add a new action to the Plan to ensure that improvements in coverage are delivered.

Source: Connecting Cumbria
2024 Source: Connecting Cumbria
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