Peak park seeks partner for Stanage

Posted by Tina Gardner on 21/04/2011
Stanage Edge, part of the North Lees estate

Stanage Edge, the iconic climbing, walking and wildlife area on the borders of Sheffield, could be leased or sold by the Peak District National Park Authority (PDNPA) to a like-minded body.

The PDNPA is currently consulting community groups and users about the possible transfer of its North Lees estate near Hathersage, asking them what they would seek from any new partner. It will then draw up its requirements for potential bidders to fulfill – covering conservation, public access, recreation, widening understanding of its wildlife and heritage and farming to high environmental standards.

The BMC has been in discussion with the PDNPA regarding its asset disposal programme for the past 2-3 years. The BMC holds strong views on the transfer and sale of publically owned land and does not support the asset disposal programme as a whole, preferring that all publically owned land remain public. However, the BMC is realistic that the programme is going ahead and is engaging in the process to voice the concerns of our members and to get the best possible outcome for these sites. For instance the BMC is a major consultee for the Eastern Moors Partnership (RSPB and National Trust) which has recently taken on the lease for the Eastern Moors Estate, including Froggatt, Curbar and Birchens.

Stanage and the Roaches, two of the Peak’s most iconic crags, are next on the transfer list. The BMC has met with several of the parties with an interest in these sites and discussions are ongoing.

BMC CEO Dave Turnbull commented: “Climbers and walkers can be assured that the BMC is doing everything it can to secure the best possible future for these sites. Whilst the BMC is not in a position to take on either crag ourselves we will certainly ensure that we are integrally involved with any new management structures introduced as part of a change in management. Indications are that PDNPA is more likely to offer a long term lease for both sites rather than sell them outright.

“Our overall preference – for the PDNPA to keep hold of both sites – seems an unlikely prospect given the financial pressures on the Authority. It will be a massive under-taking for any new management partner but we also recognise the opportunity for greater investment than the national park authority can now afford.

“The National Trust is interested in both Stanage and the Roaches. The Trust has significant experience owning and managing climbing and mountaineering areas across England and Wales (e.g. parts of Pembroke, Swanage, Cornwall, Brimham Rocks and much of the Lakes District and Snowdonia) and in the BMC’s view would be an ideal choice for Stanage and the Roaches. The National Trust has a positive stance on access and recreation and unlike other landowners also has the power to declare land inalienable; this provides additional protection against future developments on land.”

The National Trust (NT) General Manager for The Peak District attended the BMC’s Peak Area meeting in February to explain more about their position. Read the Q&A here.  The BMC is already lobbying for continuance of the current style of management of the North Lees campsite – a unique haven for climbers.

PDNPA Director of Operations Richard Campen said: “We want to find organisations or individuals who could continue to look after the special environment of Stanage and the North Lees estate and build on the good work we have already achieved.

“In the light of public spending cuts the Authority is in the process of transferring several of its assets to other like-minded bodies who have a commitment to conservation, recreation and widening understanding, but have more resources to invest than we do.

“Stanage Edge is held in high regard for its spectacular views, world-class climbing crags and rare wildlife. We are determined that any new partner would protect those aspects and continue to involve user groups and local people in its management.”

The Authority expects to seek expressions of interest by the end of May or early June, with tenders invited towards the end of this year. A decision could be made by March 2012, and any transfer could be completed by March 2013.


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