National Trust property Lyme has just announced that the planning application it made nearly a year ago to relocate and massively expand its car parking will be withdrawn.
In a statement posted online, they say:
We’ve made the decision to withdraw the planning application that we submitted in March 2023 for the proposed relocation of the visitor car park and restoration of a piece of historic parkland.
We know that Lyme is a much-loved place for many and have heard the concerns that have been raised. We’ve been working closely with partners and key stakeholders to address these and demonstrate how the proposals would benefit the long-term future of Lyme and our neighbours. However, in some areas, we have not been able to find a solution. Changes to statutory regulations and the economic climate have also brought a level of uncertainty to the long-term feasibility of our plans. We will now take the time to consider our next steps.
We remain fully committed to improving resilience to climate change and flooding at Lyme and neighbouring communities, promoting green travel, reducing impact on the A6, and ensuring our infrastructure can accommodate the number of people that currently visit us.
You might be aware that when this major application quietly dropped with zero fanfare from Lyme back in March 2023, someone going by my name felt the need to get the word out there. Many others duly helped, and I’m so grateful to everyone who got involved. You really made a difference to this outcome.
The planning application received over 300 objections, harsh words from organisations such as CPRE and Wildlife Trusts and a middling review by Historic England (“a mix of both benefits and harm”). More than 1,500 signed my petition objecting. Coverage of the case included Cheshire Live, Buxton Advertiser, The Times, BBC News, Daily Mail and a story in The Guardian which was even briefly the top UK headline online.
After so long with radio silence on the issue, today’s announcement is really quite unexpected and brilliant for the National Park. Obviously, they got wind that it wasn’t looking good for approval. I can’t believe they ever thought it was a good idea. And I really did not enjoy one bit of having to speak out against a place I really love and visit so regularly. Every time I cycled or walked through the park last year, it left a negative feeling. I’m so relieved they made the right decision.
I doubt this story is over, of course, but here’s hoping whatever happens next takes more consideration of this precious landscape and, most importantly, starts by actually consulting park visitors and Trust members — rather than the really shameful, hush-hush, greenwashing way the agency involved attempted to push this application through, forcing public action simply to get the word and real detail out there.
The need to actually reduce high-impact car visitor days and spread demand for the attraction remains, as does the need for literally any kind of investment in cycling access and facilities. Plans to modestly rethink the ticket kiosk off the A6 will hopefully be submitted soon. Upgrades to the dining offering are sorely needed and would I think be more of a priority for most visitors than any major car parking upgrade.
I’m sure we all await better ideas eagerly. Until then, time for a celebratory Lyme Loop up to the Knott!