‘The National Park is there for everyone’

View of Breamish and Ingram Valley in the Northumberland National Park.'Picture by Jane Coltman
View of Breamish and Ingram Valley in the Northumberland National Park.'Picture by Jane Coltman

The chairman of the body responsible for some of Northumberland’s most spectacular landscapes is calling for the county’s residents to respond to a consultation, which could shape the area’s future.

The Northumberland National Park Management Plan Partnership is reviewing the current National Park Management Plan (2009-14).

The National Park along with Kielder Water and Forest Park was designated a gold-tier International Dark Sky Park in 2013.

The National Park along with Kielder Water and Forest Park was designated a gold-tier International Dark Sky Park in 2013.

The management plan sets out a strategic vision and guiding principles, objectives and actions for managing the park.

Although its preparation and five-yearly reviews are led by the National Park Authority, it is a plan for residents, businesses and visitors.

Coun Glen Sanderson became chairman of the authority around four months ago and he is passionate about his desire for people from across the county to feel that they have a stake in the national park.

He is very keen for as many people as possible to have their say on the management plan before the consultation ends later this month.

Tony Gates, Iain Nixon and Glen Sanderson.

Tony Gates, Iain Nixon and Glen Sanderson.

“The bottom line is that the management plan helps us to focus on our priorities and we do that by listening to people, not just those that live in the park, but people who live across the county, from rural and urban areas,” he said. “The National Park is there for everyone.” A number of consultation and information events have already taken place, but one is taking place in Rothbury’s Jubilee Hall between 1pm and 7pm next Wednesday and anyone can make comments online or by post before Friday, October 23.

Coun Sanderson said: “For me, the management plan is all about getting out and consulting with as many people as we can.

“This time we have gone not just to communities within the National Park, but we have also gone elsewhere – I was keen to engage people who visit the park from the likes of Alnwick, Berwick, Morpeth and Ashington.

“We want different views from different people from different walks of life.”

Coun Sanderson’s commitment to engaging residents from across Northumberland is reflected in his efforts to ensure the park truly is a county-wide asset.

One of the major ongoing projects is the development of The Sill: National Landscape Discovery Centre, at Once Brewed, in the west of the county, which was given the official green light to move into the construction phase last month.

“It’s a very exciting project,” he said. “But it will not be at the expense of the rest of the park and it will feed into events all around the park, not just the Hadrian’s Wall area.”

The strategic aims of the current management plan are considered to be still relevant, according to the consultation document.

They are: A Welcoming Park; A Distinctive Place; A Living, Working Landscape for Now and the Future; Thriving Communities; A Valued Asset.

Therefore the ‘primary purpose of the review is to suggest potential updated or additional outcomes, objectives and means of achieving them’ for the 2016 to 2021 period.

Coun Sanderson said: “The management plan is about ensuring (the authority) is not a heavy-handed, bureaucratic body, but one that is there to help bring about improvements to the quality of life of the people who live or work in the National Park and do what we can to provide a sustainable future.

“It’s also to ensure we are giving the right kind of tourism experience for those people who come visit the park, which could be people who live in the countryside or people who live in urban areas.

“We have got to keep our eye on the ball and generally respond to people’s views so we can do what we can to meet those requirements through our small and dedicated staff.”

As an example of issues that concern the authority, he referred to the ongoing upheaval surrounding GP services in Harbottle. “People in the National Park shouldn’t be prejudiced against because of the place they live in,” he added.

How to have your say

Anyone who wants to be involved in the management plan review or wants to know more about the process can contact Clive Coyne, head of forward planning, on 01434 611547 or managementplan@nnpa.org.uk
There are two drop-in events still to take place: Wednesday, October 14, Jubilee Hall, Rothbury, 1pm to 7pm; Wednesday, October 21, Bardon Mill and Henshaw Village Hall, Bardon Mill, 1pm to 7pm.

A copy of the plan and the consultation documents can found on the National Park website at www.northumberlandnationalpark.org.uk/managementplanreview
You can also send your comments by post to the National Park Authority’s headquarters at Forward Planning, Northumberland National Park Authority, Eastburn, South Park, Hexham, Northumberland, NE46 1BS.