The vital contribution of national parks to the nation’s wellbeing has been evident for all to see over the last year, with people turning to us for open-air recreation, relaxation and a chance to reconnect with nature. As we mark the 70th anniversary of the Peak District National Park, now is the moment to look ahead and embrace a bold new agenda of green recovery and the lofty ambitions of the Landscapes Review. Integral to this is the need for national parks to broaden and diversify our audience base, so that everyone can benefit from what remains one of our great national treasures.
Step forward, then, the Peak District Local Access Forum, which for 20 years has been championing wider access, bringing partners together and promoting opportunity and inclusion. As the National Park Authority’s resources are ever more stretched, the volunteer contribution of LAF members and the wise counsel they collectively offer will become ever more important. Thank you to everyone who has played a part in the LAF over these last two decades - your work is admired, appreciated and of enormous value.
Chair, Peak District National Park Authority
(Chair, Peak District LAF, 2004-10)
- Chair’s Introduction
- Purpose of the Forum
- Membership of the Forum
- Issues Discussed in 2020
- The Year Ahead
- Financial Statement
- Member Details and Attendance
- LAF Contact Details
The Peak District Local Access Forum is delighted to be celebrating its 20th year advising the National Park Authority and Derbyshire County Council. Ours was the first Forum to be established under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act, 2000, and our 22 volunteer members give informed, independent advice. We plan to recognise our 20th anniversary linked to the 70-year celebrations of the Peak District National Park, which was established in April,1951.
We have had four Chairs since being established: Andrew Critchlow (2000 – 2004), Andrew McCloy (2004 – 2010), Edwina Edwards (2010 – 2017) and myself from 2017. Our membership has been knowledgeable and committed, with a wide range of experience. Our Secretary over all that time has been Mike Rhodes, who has done a brilliant job. We acknowledged this with a presentation to him at our December, 2020 online meeting. Under the CROW Act and during his time as our secretary, there has been a doubling of access to 37 per cent of the National Park. Mike has always been passionate and committed to Access for All in the Peak District, and we greatly appreciate his 20 years of professionalism.
We have adjusted to working through the Forum and Sub Groups in the pandemic of 2020/21 by email contact and by online meetings, after cancelling our June meeting and holding subsequent ones online, with welcome support from the National Park’s Democratic Services section. We have pressed Defra and hope to see soon action on the report of the Glover Landscapes Review, where we supported positive proposals but emphasised the need for adequate resources for delivery.
We continue to make a major input into the National Park Management Partnership Plan, and have been involved in advising on management of events, climate change, refreshing the Countryside Code and a review of the approach to Visitor Management, including identification of Gateway sites and Recreation Hubs and Area Management. We feel a partnership approach will be crucial to success.
We are reviewing access priorities and have supported the efforts being made to achieve increased accessibility by all, particularly with the development of the Miles without Stiles project and now the Anniversary Gateways project. We had a site meeting with local MPs and Peak and Derbyshire members and officers to emphasise the importance of maintaining the hugely popular Monsal Trail. The Peak District NPA and Derbyshire CC representatives were strongly in support of keeping the cycle/walking/riding route and not re-instating the railway route.
Thank you for the tremendous work of our two vice chairs and to all LAF members, support from all our volunteer members, together with the excellent work by Peak District National Park Authority and Derbyshire County Council officers. I hope that you will read the rest of the Annual Report with interest, and that it will help you understand the nature of the work that the Forum has undertaken over the last year. I also hope you will take the opportunity to hear our discussions and advice at meetings, which are broadcast live.
Chair, Peak District Local Access Forum
Purpose of the Forum
The Peak District Local Access Forum (PDLAF) is a statutory body, appointed jointly by the Peak District National Park Authority (PDNPA) and Derbyshire County Council (DCC). It covers the National Park and the countryside of north-west Derbyshire around Buxton, New Mills and Glossop. The Forum advises on the improvement of public access for the purpose of open-air recreation and enjoyment and in so doing takes into account the needs of land management and conserving the natural beauty of the area.
Membership of the Forum
Membership of the Forum is reviewed regularly to ensure a reasonable balance between the number of members from land-owning, recreation and local interests. Details of the current membership are included at the end of this report and at www.peakdistrict.gov.uk/laf.
In 2020, we were joined by Martin Bennett from Derbyshire Area Ramblers.
Meetings of the Forum in 2020
Formal meetings of the Local Access Forum took place on the following dates:
- Thursday 12 March Aldern House, Bakewell
- Thursday 24 September, Online
- Thursday 3 December, Online
Issues discussed at the formal meetings in 2020 included:
New Right to Roam Campaign
In conjunction with the Local Access Forum’s response to the Landscapes Review and proposals for the Environmental Land Management Scheme, the LAF discussed the campaign to extend access to water and woodland. The LAF also considered the impact of the pandemic on people accessing the countryside, many of them new to the National Park.
Peak District Proud
The Forum is one of the partners involved in taking forward key messages of the Countryside Code with #Peak District Proud to share the positive ways in which people can help care for the Peak District. Pictures, videos and stories encourage protecting the invisible, respecting your environment and enjoying your access.
In the 20th year of the right to roam and for the 70th year of the Peak District National Park, the Forum heard about the work to improve accessibility to Access Land. In a number of key areas, the National Park Authority is upgrading and mapping access points and identifying link paths and destinations. Anniversary Gates are funded through the Access Fund.
In 2020, the Local Access Forum considered long-term restrictions on Access Land and the National Park Authority’s proposals and process for the disposal of property. The Forum was updated also on donation opportunities to the Peak District Foundation and for Miles without Stiles routes.
Members of the Forum were updated on the Authority’s action plans in 2020 for the wider engagement, protection and enhancement of these valued routes. They received the Green Lanes Annual Report and noted the focus on accessibility, protecting verges, telling the story of the trails, and promoting Peak District Proud.
The Forum has responded to the following consultations:
- Long-term direction restricting public access at Silence Mine
- Review of directions at Hollins Hill and Crowden
- Defra consultation on Environmental Land Management Scheme
- England Tree Strategy consultation
- Department for Transport consultation on the Highways Code
- High Peak & Staffordshire Moorlands consultation on review of dog controls
- National Park’s Wooded Landscape Plan
- Derbyshire’s Rights of Way Improvement Plan
During the year, there have been updates on the PRoW ease of use surveys, legal orders, repairs and the funding secured for rights of way and multi-user Greenway route development and maintenance, including the Pennine Bridleway National Trail. Updates have also included information about Derbyshire’s emerging Key Cycle Network (KCN) and the Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan, which is being produced for the Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire (D2N2) area.
Training and Liaison
The LAF has been represented by members at:
- National Park Management Plan (NPMP) delivery
- Regional LAF Chair discussions
- Sheffield Moors Partnership and Eastern Moors Partnership
- Moorland Managers’ meeting
- Land Managers Forum
- Stanage Forum
National Park Plans
Forum members on the Management Plan’s Advisory Group reported on its implementation at each meeting of the Forum in 2020. The Forum was also updated on the Diversity Action Plan and Recreation Hubs work and consulted on the Wooded Landscape Plan.
Other key matters discussed:
- The need to safeguard the popular traffic-free Monsal Trail from being reopened as a railway because of its importance as a national resource with no comparable route available
- Moorland tracks
The Year Ahead
- Reflecting on the pandemic and engaging with visitors
- Considering access opportunities arising from the new right to roam campaign, landscapes review and environmental and land management scheme
- Identifying access improvements and supporting efforts to secure contributions to the Access Fund
- Contributing towards further development of Miles without Stiles easy access routes and accessibility improvements to include Anniversary Gates with partners
- Inputting to asset disposal proposals from the National Park Authority to ensure safeguarding of access and recreation arrangements and potential
- Involvement in landscape and other partnerships and the protection and promotion of countryside assets
- Climate change – active and sustainable travel, including Derbyshire’s Walking and Riding networks
- Input to the D2N2 Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan
- Reviewing and supporting Derbyshire’s Rights of Way Improvement Plan
- Strategic support for Pennine Way and Pennine Bridleway National Trails including pursuing completion of the Pennine Bridleway around Glossop
- Contributing to the Staying on Track campaign for green lanes
- Involvement in advising on delivery of outcomes of the National Park Management Plan
- Seeking further expansion and improvements to horse riding routes including Unrecorded Ways
- Working with neighbouring Local Access Forums, Access and Highway Authorities on shared interests
- Continuing to raise the profile of the Local Access Forum among a wider audience
Scheduled Meetings in 2021
Thursday 11 March Online
Thursday 10 June Venue TBC
Thursday 9 September Venue TBC
Thursday 9 December Venue TBC
Financial Statement 2020
The Peak District National Park Authority administers and provides secretariat for the Forum with officer input and financial support from Derbyshire County Council.
Member’s Travel £118.80
Room hire, refreshments and lunches £139.25
Annual Report £135
The Peak District National Park Authority administers and provides secretariat for the Forum with financial support from Derbyshire County Council.
Member attendance at the LAF meetings in 2020.
Details of the Forum are available at www.peakdistrict.gov.uk/laf All Forum meetings are open to the public and, by prior arrangement, members of the public may ask to speak at the meetings. Meetings are at www.peakdistrict.gov.uk/lafmeetings and are available on audio webcast.
Mike Rhodes (Access and Rights of Way Manager, Peak District National Park Authority), firstname.lastname@example.org
Gill Millward (Countryside Access Improvement Officer, Derbyshire County Council), email@example.com