460-square mile 'alternative National Park' planned for South Pennines

A new project aiming to designate a 460 square mile area of Lancashire, Yorkshire and Greater Manchester as an alternative National Park has been launched.

The South Pennines Park pitch is backed by a variety of influential organisations including local authorities, transport operators, conservation groups and Natural England, United Utilities, Yorkshire Water and the National Trust.

If implemented, the alternative National Park would unlock financial resources and give it a significant voice on a national stage. The area is currently the only upland in England that is not a designated National Park or Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The move to establish the new support structure for the South Pennines Park follows on from the government-commissioned Glover Review into the future of the nation’s designated landscapes. This called for alternative models to be looked at and specifically cited the South Pennines Park as a prime candidate for a different approach.

The South Pennines Park will ensure support for cross boundary working on key projects, like flood protection, tourism, transport, heritage and conservation. It offers a new model for how non-designated areas can contribute to the government’s objectives on levelling up and restoring our natural environment and pursues an integrated approach to environmental, social and economic objectives.

The idea was first discussed in the 1940s and has been revived by Pennine Prospects, which is to be renamed South Pennines Park.

Helen Noble, chief executive, said: "The need for a park was absolutely clear because the South Pennines Park region needs a champion at national level to fight for it, protect it and seek sustainable investment.

"More than eight million people live within 30 minutes of the park and more than 660,000 live in it — twice the population of all the English National Park put together. It is an area of stunning scenery; a spectacular ever-evolving landscape that has been moulded and shaped by the people, the packhorses, footsteps of yesteryear; rich in industrial and cultural heritage.

"We’re excited to be taking an inclusive approach to making the South Pennines Park work for the people who live, work and visit it. Because it will unlock the resources needed to ensure residents and visitors enjoy the positive benefits of being closer to nature.”

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