peak district landscape

Recreation & Tourism


Strategic context


Structure Plan Chapter 7 covers policies for recreation and tourism in the National Park. As stated in the Environment Act 1995, one of the two purposes of the National Parks is :

"promoting opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of those areas by the public".

Tourism makes a significant contribution to the local economy. In an area such as the National Park it is essential that recreation and tourism development is sustainable : that is, ensuring that activities or development today do not harm those qualities which future generations would wish to enjoy. The National Park Authority's approach to recreation and tourism development permits only that which has particular need to use the special qualities and resources of the National Park. It aims to maximise the local economic benefits of recreation and tourism, and seeks to accommodate reasonable provision of local recreation facilities for residents. More than 22 million visitor days are spent in the National Park each year. The number of visitors who arrive by car is a major source of concern for the National Park Authority. Measures to deal with this and to encourage the use of public transport are dealt with in Chapter 11 of the Local Plan. The number, type and location of recreation and tourism developments will also affect car use.


Structure Plan policies for recreation and tourism (RT1 to RT5) make it clear that:



development will normally be accepted where it will not cause unacceptable environmental damage, guided by recreation and tourism zones;



important recreation resources will be safeguarded;



accommodation for staying visitors will be permitted by extension or improvement of existing accommodation, or by conversion of traditional buildings;



static caravans or large new caravan and camping sites will not be permitted;



development of community recreation facilities is acceptable in principle.


Many measures to manage visitor pressure on the countryside are dealt with without recourse to, or outside the control of, the land-use planning system. Current policies are set out in the National Park Plan. Management Plans for specific areas or features in the National Park, negotiated and put into practice jointly with our partner organisations, are a crucial part of this approach. Work continues to find further methods to sustain the National Park's attractive features despite increased use. The National Park Authority aims to ensure consistency between these methods and its land use policy.


The Planning Acts provide for control over the use or development of land or buildings. Recreation in a National Park is usually more to do with land use and activity levels than built development. However, activities once considered solely a matter for land management are increasingly seen as land uses to be controlled by the planning system or to be considered when judging proposed new uses. Recent examples include the competition between hang-gliding and climbing, shooting and walking, sail boats and landscape, or helicopter trips over quiet moorland.

Appropriate recreation development


Structure Plan Policy RT1 states that recreation and tourism development should relate to quiet enjoyment and activities dependent upon the use of the natural and physical characteristics of the area. There have been calls for further guidance in the Local Plan to interpret the meaning of the phrase 'quiet enjoyment', one of the Park's valued characteristics. The Structure Plan and National Park Plan set out the background and justification for the concept, and explained its application. Residents and visitors to the National Park can legitimately expect that the National Park Authority will seek to protect their quiet enjoyment of the Peak District. It follows that small-scale developments and changes to existing facilities are often acceptable where these do not conflict with the quiet enjoyment of the National Park. On the other hand, activities such as off-road 4-wheel drive, motor cycle scrambling, war games, power boating, clay pigeon shooting and mass spectator events are often inappropriate because they cause noise, disturbance, visual intrusion or erosion and restrict public access and enjoyment. The occasional use of much of the Park for these pursuits does not normally require planning permission, but proposals for their introduction on a wider and more regular basis are properly subject to planning control . Other areas no longer have the benefit of permitted development rights.


Circular 12/96 on National Parks (following the 1995 Environment Act) states that "many parts of the Parks should continue to be quietly enjoyed by many people for much of the time". The Circular accepts that it will not be appropriate for all forms of recreation to take place in every part of the National Parks, but goes on to say that "Nevertheless the Government does not accept that particular activities should be excluded from throughout the Parks as a matter of principle." The Government expects that conflicts between recreation and conservation will be resolved by co-operation, careful planning and positive management strategies. Where conflicts cannot be resolved, the National Park Authority can consider the use of Article 4 directions to withdraw permitted development rights.

Recreation zones


Structure Plan Policy RT1 includes recreation zones amongst the criteria used in considering whether recreation and tourism development are acceptable in the National Park. Zoning represents a combination of landscape character, land use patterns and accessibility. Zones are now defined in detail on the Proposals Map. Zone 3 locations which are settlements are identified on the Proposals Map (Inset Maps) and development will be in or on the edge of the settlement in question. Zone 3 locations which are not settlements have been given specific boundaries.


In some instances, recreation zones shown diagramatically in the Structure Plan have been reconsidered in view of Natural Zone designation, conservation and recreation objectives, public transport access and detailed policies in the Local Plan. The most significant changes are to Zone 3 areas, where the more intensive levels of recreational use may be appropriate and in some cases are already happening. Four areas shown in the Structure Plan as Zone 3 are not now considered appropriate to be areas of major recreation and tourism activity. These areas are:


Broomhead reservoir


these areas are quiet and relatively isolated,


Upper River Dove / Hollinsclough


with poor public transport access




a relatively small village on a minor road, with poor public transport


Ilam and Fenny Bentley


small settlements with poor public transport provision. Thorpe is the best centre to serve the Dovedale area.


Following on from Structure Plan Policy RT1 (b) (iii), the following guidance describes the types of activity and levels of recreation and tourism development other than camping and caravan sites which may be acceptable within Recreation Zones 1-3. This guidance is indicative and is not intended to be comprehensive. Each proposal will be considered on its merits.


Zone 1:

Informal, low-impact, active recreation uses acceptable with careful management, such as hostels, farmhouse accommodation, walking, cycling and riding routes;


Zone 2:

Informal recreation uses acceptable with careful management, such as small car parks, picnic sites, facilities linked to walking, cycling and riding. Consideration should be given to the re-use of existing buildings wherever possible in preference to new build;


Zone 3:

Development associated with the more intensive levels of recreation use, including larger car parks, information provision and visitor facilities.


It may well be that, despite a proposal being of the appropriate type for a particular zone, it is unacceptable because of its local impact or because it would intensify existing development or activity in the locality beyond acceptable levels.


Structure Plan Policy RT1 and Local Plan Policy LR1 use the words 'small', 'modest' and 'major' in relation to the scale of developments which may be appropriate within Recreation Zones 1-3. The acceptability of a particular scale of proposal depends upon factors including its form, character, location and setting. However, there is a great variety of landscapes within the National Park, which can absorb or accommodate development in different ways. For example, a development which would unacceptably dominate an open limestone plateau may be acceptable within a woodland setting. Thus it is not considered realistic or necessary to set size limits in relation to each zone because the different types of landscape are spread throughout the National Park.


Policy LR1 does not apply to camping and caravan development which is covered in Policy LR3.

Policy LR1: Recreation and tourism development


Recreation and tourism development will be permitted provided that it is appropriate to the recreation zone in which it falls in form, character, location and setting, and will not have an unacceptable impact on the valued characteristics of the area including both the zone itself or an adjoining zone, particularly the Natural Zone.


The following Zone 3 locations are based on settlements. They are identified on the Proposals Map. Recreation and tourism development appropriate to this zone will be permitted provided that it is in or on the edge of the settlement in question:

Ashford, Bakewell, Baslow and Bubnell, Low Bradfield, Bradwell, Castleton, Eyam, Hartington, Hathersage, Hope, Stoney Middleton, Thorpe, Tideswell, Waterhouses.


In the following Zone 3 countryside locations, a specific boundary has been drawn outside which development appropriate to this zone will not be permitted:

Upper Derwent, Lyme Park, Longshaw, Chatsworth.

Community recreation sites and facilities


Structure Plan Policies RT1 and RT2 aim to safeguard and improve community recreation sites such as playing fields, sports halls and swimming pools as well as important recreation resources including climbing crags, caving systems and watersports opportunities. Public access to these sites will be sought and maintained wherever possible, bearing in mind the needs of the elderly and those with a mobility difficulty where appropriate. A list of important recreation resources such as climbing crags and cave systems will be compiled as Supplementary Planning Guidance to help with the implementation of Policy RT2.

Policy LR2: Community recreation sites and facilities

Development that would prejudice the continued use of community recreation sites and facilities will not be permitted unless a satisfactory replacement can be provided in advance. This should be conveniently located in or on the edge of the settlement in question.

Camping and caravan sites


Camping and caravanning are the most popular types of accommodation for visitors staying in the National Park. Considerable provision already exists for touring caravans and tents within the National Park. The Structure Plan enables some new developments and improvements to existing sites to go ahead. Structure Plan Policy RT4 rejects large caravan sites and static caravans, but allows small sites in appropriate locations. It does not define what is meant in terms of numbers of pitches. Much of the landscape is very open. The valleys and dales are often narrow, ecologically sensitive, may have poor accessibility and pressure of day visitor use. Many roads are steep, narrow and poorly aligned. If location, access, landscape setting, and other impacts are satisfactory, new sites may be acceptable. Appropriate size will vary from case to case, but development or activity should in no circumstance dominate its surroundings. Site licences set limits in multiples of 15 pitches. For guidance, sites up to 30 pitches are capable of being more easily assimilated, although this may be too large in many circumstances.


Further Local Plan policy is needed to clarify two issues. Firstly, the provision of facilities (including shops, restaurants, sports and leisure facilities) on camping and caravan sites should only be permitted when there will be no significant adverse effect on the vitality and viability of existing facilities in surrounding communities. Secondly, dwellings for occupation by site wardens for supervision at camping and caravan sites should not be permitted, since in accordance with Structure Plan Policy RT4, sites must be close to existing farmsteads. This will enable supervision without the construction of new dwellings.

Policy LR3: Touring camping and caravan sites


The development of a new touring camping and caravan site or small extension to an existing site will not be permitted unless its scale, location, access, landscape setting and impact upon neighbouring uses are acceptable, and it does not dominate its surroundings.


Shopping, catering or sport and leisure facilities at camping and caravan sites will be permitted provided that there is no significant adverse effect on the vitality and viability of existing facilities in surrounding communities and the development is of a scale and nature suited to the needs of the site itself.


Permanent dwellings for site warden's accommodation at camping and caravan sites will not be permitted.


As stated in Structure Plan Policy RT4, static caravan sites are not considered appropriate in the National Park. However, there are existing static caravan sites in the National Park which could be improved by landscaping or colouring of caravans. Wherever possible through negotiation or agreement, the National Park Authority will seek to enhance existing static sites by landscaping and colouring of caravans appropriate to the landscape setting. A range of approved colours will be published as Supplementary Planning Guidance. In current budgets, it is not an economic option to consider compensation for stopping the use.


Chalet developments are considered inappropriate in the National Park because their materials, form, size and regular placing on a site are extremely difficult to blend satisfactorily into the landscape. Accommodation of a similar standard can be provided by other means more acceptable in the National Park. Sites for travellers and gypsies are dealt with in paragraph 4.51 and policy LH7 in the Housing Chapter.

Policy LR4: Holiday chalet developments

The development of holiday chalet sites or individual holiday chalets, or the conversion of static or touring caravan pitches to chalets will not be permitted.

Holiday occupancy of caravans and holiday accommodation


Camping and caravan sites and self-catering holiday accommodation sometimes have conditions placed upon their planning approval limiting them to seasonal occupancy. In view of the concensus that attempts should be made to lengthen the holiday season to benefit the local economy and provide more full-time employment, applications to relax these seasonal occupancy conditions will be considered on their merits. However, consideration needs to be given to the benefits to landscape, wildlife and local residents of a period of closure and respite from tourist pressure. Particularly when considering applications for camping and caravan sites, visibility in the winter months and the impact on conservation features, need to be carefully assessed. These considerations can be dealt with by the use of planning conditions and/or agreements limiting occupancy to holiday accommodation and preventing full-time use. The National Park Authority defines holiday use as occupation for no more than 28 days per calendar year by any one person.


Within Local Plan Settlements, the conversion of a traditional building to a house may be equally acceptable as use for holiday accommodation. There may be some situations where properties made available for holiday accommodation are unsuitable as full-time residences because of poor outdoor or indoor living space or their relationship with adjoining dwellings. However, unless there are specific reasons for limiting such conversions to holiday use, holiday occupancy conditions need not be applied.

Policy LR5: Holiday occupancy of camping and caravan sites


Where the development of a touring camping or caravan site is acceptable, its use will be restricted to holiday accommodation.


For an existing camping or caravan site, the removal of any existing condition that stipulates months of occupation, and its replacement by a holiday occupancy condition, will be permitted, provided that it is adequately screened in winter months and that there would be no adverse impact on the valued characteristics of the area or residential amenity.

Policy LR6: Holiday occupancy of self-catering accommodation


Outside Local Plan Settlements:


where self-catering accommodation is acceptable, its use will be restricted to holiday accommodation;



for existing accommodation, the removal of any condition that stipulates months of occupation, and its replacement by a holiday occupancy condition, will be permitted, provided that there would be no adverse impact on valued characteristics of the area or residential amenity.


Within a Local Plan Settlement:


a holiday occupancy condition will be applied to self catering accommodation if the property being converted has inadequate indoor or outdoor living space or is so closely related to adjoining properties that permanent residence would cause unacceptable harm to their amenity;



for existing accommodation, the removal of any holiday occupancy condition will be permitted where the circumstances in (b)(i) above do not apply.

Public rights of way


The network of public rights of way provides a valuable resource for both visitors and local residents. It requires maintenance and protection from development. This issue is dealt with in Chapter 11: Transport (paragraph 11.82 and Policy LT20).

Facilities for keeping and riding horses


Horseriding is an appropriate activity as part of the quiet enjoyment of the National Park. Planning permission is not normally required for the use of land for grazing horses, but stables, exercise rings and the recreational use of land usually do require permission. The scale of use can vary from individual stabling associated with residential use of a property, to large scale commercial livery, riding school or pony trekking establishments. Any of these developments can have significant impact individually or cumulatively over time on the landscape and character of the National Park. The impact may be lessened by siting stables or facilities adjacent to existing groups of buildings, by using local stone and roofing materials, and through detailed design which reflects the local building tradition. Consideration should also be given to issues such as the ease of access to an adequate local bridleway network, likely traffic generation, and possible nuisance to local residents, landowners or farmers.

Policy LR7: Facilities for keeping and riding horses

Facilities for keeping and riding horses will be permitted provided that the development:


does not detract from the landscape or valued characteristics of the area, either individually or cumulatively;



is located adjacent to existing buildings or groups of buildings;



is not likely to cause road safety problems;



in the case of commercial stables/riding centres, has good access from the strategic and secondary route networks and to an adequate bridleway network that can accommodate the increased activity without harming the valued characteristics of the area or their enjoyment by others;



does not constitute a nuisance to local residents, landowners or farmers by noise, smell or other adverse impact.

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