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KESWICK Keswick Area Partnership WMUD Final Report November 2006

Keswick Area Partnership Ltd 50 Main Street Keswick Cumbria CA12 5JS t 017687 74144 f 017687 75738

Keswick To w n C e n t r e M a s t e r p l a n

November 2006

WMUD Willie Miller Urban Design 20 Victoria Crescent Road Glasgow G12 9DD t 0141 339 5228 f 0141 357 4642

preface This Masterplan Report is the result of twelve months of intense activity by Keswick Area Partnership Ltd, the local residential and business communities and the wide range of public agencies involved in the future of Keswick. It is an important stage in the work of the Partnership to progress the economic, social and cultural development of Keswick and its neighbouring parishes. The study is built up from many strands examined during the year and which converge to make up the ‘Keswick Experience’. The Report is structured in a logical progression from the background research through to the concluding outline proposals. These are ideas and recommendations intended to stimulate discussion in the community and to motivate constructive forward thinking. The proposals cover a range of ideas and schemes from short term relatively easy to implement plans through to longer term, and perhaps more controversial ideas for the development of the town. I would encourage everyone with a stake in the future of the town to seriously consider this study and explore ways of contributing to its implementation. Sean Crawford Chair, Keswick Area Partnership Ltd

08012007-id-fr#02//wim-it study team: WMUD | Martin Stockley Associates | Ryden | yellow book Nicola Atkinson-Davidson Janet Benton Katharina H端bl Peter Larsen John Lord Willie Miller Viktoria Purser Mark Robertson Martin Stockley Ines Triebel Nick Wright

Keswick To w n C e n t r e M a s t e r p l a n contents

section 1 introduction


section 2 policy context


section 3 economy and property


section 4 urban design and traffic


section 5 the visitor experience


section 6 the Keswick community


section 7 issues and directions


section 8 themes and proposals


section 9 stakeholder and community involvement section 10 action plan

125 131

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1 introduction This Final Report on the Keswick Town Centre Masterplan was commissioned by the Keswick Area Partnership Ltd (KAP) in November 2005. A consultant team led by WMUD carried out the study. The brief for the work described the following scope and objectives of the commission: • • • • •

to enhance and make better use of Keswick’s assets to introduce a greater variety of uses and broaden the town’s appeal to enhance the routes, gateways and corridors into the town centre to better link the lakeside and public parks with the existing commercial core to unlock and provide a focus for commercial development opportunities at key sites

the town is necessarily part of the study area. The importance of connection between the town centre, the lakeside, public parks and the neighbouring parishes beyond has meant that a wide geographical area has been embraced around the central core. Also, because some of the larger scale development opportunities lie just outside the retail core it has been necessary to look at the town in fairly broad terms. This Final Report is in ten sections as follows: • • •

In the first stage of the study, the consultant team carried out an extensive programme of site visits, research, analysis and consultations, the results of which are summarised in this report and recorded at greater length in a separate baseline report. In the second phase of the study, the consultants developed six strategic themes for the town in response to the issues raised in the first stage of work. Within these themes, 22 project headings describe a range of aspirational and practical projects for the town.

The focus for this report is Keswick town centre but the rest of

• •

Section 2 sets out the national, regional and local policy context for the study Section 3 contains a review of the economy and labour market of Keswick as well as a review of the local property market Section 4 sets out an urban design appraisal of the town of Keswick and integrates this with observations on transport, traffic and access Section 5 focuses on Keswick’s staple industry, tourism, and offers a critical appraisal of the visitor experience Section 6 sets out our assessment of the Keswick community and the issues facing it Section 7 provides an overview of the issues and challenges and sets out some of the strategic choices for KAP and the Keswick community Section 8 describes our strategic themes for the town and the range of proposals developed in response to them Section 9 sets out a stakeholder and community consultation Keswick Town Centre Masterplan | 

Keswick Study Area


strategy to accompany the implementation of the masterplan Section 10 sets out an action plan for the implementation of the masterplan with project costings and sources of finance where appropriate

A separate annex to the report contains the baseline report and a description of the work leading towards a Public Art Strategy for the town prepared by Nicola Atkinson Davidson.

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2 the policy context Keswick and Derwentwater from the north

INTRODUCTION This section of the report explores the national, regional and local policy context for the study and sets Keswick and its town centre in the current context of planning policy and related initiatives. NATIONAL POLICY The Rural White Paper (2000) set out 261 commitments aimed at achieving the sustainable development of rural areas. The White Paper focused on three key themes: improving public services; diversifying the economy and protecting the countryside. The Rural White Paper Implementation Plan (March 2001) set out plans for the implementation and delivery of the measures announced in the White Paper. A key theme was the growing concern for the future of market towns. Funds were allocated to the Countryside Agency and Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) to address these concerns through the Market Towns Initiative (MTI). The MTI initiative is based on the following principles: • market towns should be the basis of sustainable rural communities • local communities should have a say in the future of their market towns • the revitalisation of market towns should improve quality of life, Keswick Town Centre Masterplan | 

the town in its landscape

provide essential services, jobs and goods, and enhance the diversity and vitality of rural economies The Rural White Paper Review (2003) assessed progress towards the White Paper commitments; in parallel with this Lord Haskins carried out his Rural Delivery Review. The Haskins Report’s recommendations included: a greater focus on targets; the setting up of an integrated Countryside Agency to rationalise government support for rural areas; increased rural responsibilities for RDAs and the creation of Regional Rural Affairs Forums. The Government responded to the Haskins Report by publishing its Rural Strategy (2004) which set the framework for the Government’s rural policy for the next 3-5 years. The Rural Strategy identifies three key priorities for rural policy: • economic and social regeneration: improving skills and business support, a positive planning regime, sustainable farming and a focus on economic and social disadvantage • social justice for all: better access to public services, affordable housing, Social and Community Programme, promoting citizenship and communities • enhancing the value of the countryside: streamlined funding, protecting the rural environment and promoting the enjoyment of the countryside The Government also announced that from January 2007, it will devolve control of European Union (EU) structural funds programmes to RDAs, to ensure that EU funding is joined-up with other rural regeneration and sustainable farming and food programmes. The Rural Strategy also launched new definitions of rural areas, with

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much of the Lake District categorised as sparse villages or dispersed settlements.

Regional Economic Strategy The 2000 White Paper introduced the Rural Services Standard which set out for the first time the level of services that rural communities should expect, for example: • • • • • • • •

presumption against school, post office and other closures access to GP/primary care professionals geographic access standards response time targets for emergency services provision of telephone services (eg. NHS Direct, Pensions Direct) access to online services help with essential travel costs access to bus services

The North West Regional Economic Strategy (RES) was reviewed in 2004-05. The draft RES was released for consultation in July 2005 and the document has now been published. The RES seeks to create, a sustainable, competitive, high added value, knowledge-based, inclusive economy. Action will focus on 5 key areas:

examples of 2oth century residential development

• • • • •

business skills and employment regeneration infrastructure quality of life

Some key themes of the strategy are of particular relevance to Keswick and these include: • development of an enterprise culture, diversification of the business base and enterprise and higher level skills • raising income levels by increasing the number of high value added jobs • improving the conditions for economic activity in rural areas through: - affordable housing - sites/workspace for business Keswick Town Centre Masterplan | 

- -

June 2006 and the formal Examination in Public runs from November 2006 to January 2007. The RSS is the statutory planning document setting out the proposed scale and distribution of development in the region over the next 15-20 years. The Local Development Frameworks (LDFs) prepared by each local authority must be in “general conformity” with the RSS. Many RSS policies and proposals are framed at the sub-regional/county or district level. Together the RSS and the LDF form the Development Plan.

supportive planning framework development of the business and leisure visitor economy and the cultural offer

The RES sets out strategies for sustainable growth in rural areas including: • • • • • •

developing the role of key service centres as drivers of growth exploiting niche markets such as high value food products focusing support on the worst performing rural districts promoting sustainable growth and business change in the rural economy integrating planning and delivery more effectively across agencies and localities focusing on quality and sense of place

The Regional Economic Strategy supports the Lake District Economic Futures Policy Statement (July 2004) which aims to secure the renaissance of the Lake District’s tourism offer and broaden its economic performance. The RES indicates that improving the visitor economy will also require better standards of service, together with more effective business support and skills development.

shopping in Keswick

Key issues identified for Cumbria are economic decline and out-migration which are threatening the sustainability of local communities. However, the area’s outstanding natural and cultural assets, notably the Lake District, offer a base for sustainable growth. Policy CS1 which sets out the overall spatial development framework indicates that development should focus on key service centres (such as Keswick) which should meet the needs of local communities for housing, employment and services, act as public transport hubs, and enhance the quality of rural life. Policy SDF19 which sets out policy specifically for rural areas indicates that key service centres should: •

act as service centres for the surrounding villages and rural areas, providing retail, leisure, community, civic, health, financial and professional services

have good public transport links to surrounding towns and villages

Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS) The draft Regional Spatial Strategy, the North West Plan, was published in October 2005. The public consultation period ended in 

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below: the CKP Railways proposal for reopening the Penrith Keswick railway

Regional transport objectives which apply to rural Cumbria include: • • • •

management of travel demand to encourage a shift to more sustainable modes development of integrated public transport networks based on hubs at key service centres disused railway lines with potential for public transport use should be protected from inappropriate development parking standards should be more restrictive in environmentally sensitive areas

Policy L4 sets out proposals in respect of regional housing provision. In the Lake District the focus is on continuing restraint, limiting new housing to the level required to meet local affordable housing needs. The total housing requirement for the Lake District National Park (LDNP) area in the period 2003-2021 is estimated at 2100 units (117 per year) of which 40% should be on previously developed land. The RSS indicates that affordable housing needs can be met by: • • • •

identifying specific sites for affordable housing using local occupancy criteria in planning conditions seeking developer contributions on all sites making the most of existing stock and publicly owned land

• •

permitting the conversion of buildings to residential use encouraging employers to provide housing for key workers

With regard to land for business and industry, the RSS suggests that in Cumbria the dispersed settlement pattern may require greater flexibility and choice even though there is an estimated 40 years supply on recent take-up rates. Tourism in the LDNP area should respect the over-riding need for environmental protection. Significant growth is forecast in retail spend in the North West over the next 15 years with and an additional net 160,500m2 of retail floorspace required in the whole of Cumbria by 2021. It is expected that much of this will be accommodated in the existing main centres such as Carlisle but elsewhere investment should be allowed, to achieve town centre regeneration, and to ensure that smaller centres continue to meet local needs. Local Policies and Plans Cumbria and Lake District Joint Structure Plan 2006-2016 The most up to date statement of strategic planning policy for the National Park is set out in the CLDJSP which was adopted in April 2006. The overarching strategy is concerned with the promotion of sustainable communities and Plan Policy ST3 sets out the sustainability criteria for all new development:  development locations which help to reduce the need to travel  using existing buildings and brownfield land wherever possible Keswick Town Centre Masterplan | 

• using sites accessible to public transport • avoiding areas liable to flooding, or including mitigation measures • using poorer quality agricultural land • protecting natural or built heritage conservation features • high standards of design to enhance townscape/landscape character Keswick, Ambleside and Windermere/Bowness are identified as the key service centres in the National Park. Development in these centres will only be permitted where it: • provides a service for the local community • helps sustain a range of services in the centre or supports local businesses • meets other identifiable needs of the locality Development should be of appropriate scale, accord with National Park policy and be compatible with existing settlement character. The Structure Plan states that opportunities for development in the National Park are limited, but development will not be confined to the key service centres in order to sustain and revitalise other rural communities. Policy L52 on town centres states that that only development which promotes the viability and vitality of town centres and which creates a safer and more attractive environment will be supported. Priority will be given to development which:

Market Place looking west towards Main Street from the Moot Hall

• supports the role of the town centre and meets the needs of its catchment area • provides an appropriate scale of development • supports a mix of uses • enables the consolidation or regeneration of the town centre Policies L53 – L56 set out the basis on which the Plan will support development in key service centres in order to improve: • access, especially for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport) • retail, leisure and office facilities, which will be subject to the sequential test • local services including health, education and training facilities The Plan also includes a specific National Park policy (ST12) which makes clear that development causing demonstrable harm to the special character of the area will not be permitted and that priority will be given to development which: • • • •

secures housing to meet identified needs of the local community widens the economic base helps maintain the viability of farming businesses reduces the adverse impacts of car use/improves transport choice

The Structure Plan seeks to encourage the diversification of the rural economy in ways that respect local heritage, environmental quality

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and community needs. Policies on the provision of employment land largely apply outside of the National Park area. However, the plan recognises that there is a need to broaden the economic base and encourage local employment opportunities within the National Park. Key service centres are the preferred location for new development but sites are very limited and the plan requires (Policy EM13) the identification and safeguarding of suitable and available sites for business use (Classes B1 and B2). It is envisaged that many opportunities for employment uses will arise from the conversion of existing buildings. Permission for the redevelopment or other use of land and buildings with an established business use will not be given unless it can be demonstrated that they are unsuitable or that viable alternatives are readily available in the locality (Policy EM14). Policy EM16 relates to tourism development and within the National Park the loss of important tourism accommodation or public amenities will not be permitted unless they are demonstrated to be unviable. New tourism development must not:

the Pencil Factory - employment in manufacturing close to the town centre

only be permitted which meets the identified needs of the locality. A needs survey carried out in 2005 indicated a need for 169 dwellings in Keswick over the next five years. Any housing falling within this category will not count against the RSS target. Policies H20 and H21 indicate that new housing in the National Park should be of an appropriate scale and character to the locality, be part of a social housing scheme and have a legally binding local occupancy condition. While sites exclusively for social housing should be identified in Local Development Frameworks this would not rule out the use of other sites if a local need has been identified. Lake District National Park Management Plan (LDNPMP) The latest review of the Management Plan was published in 2004 and it sets out the LDNPA’s vision for the future of the Park. Elements of the vision that are relevant to this study include: •

a clearly defined role for towns and villages, with key settlements and service centres supported and strengthened, providing good access to services and facilities and with affordable homes for local people

a wide variety of opportunities for employment without overreliance on one industry carefully sited and designed development enhancing the special qualities of the National Park and maintaining the distinctive character of the area

• conflict with the special qualities of the designated areas • be detrimental to the character and quality of the environment • result in the loss of serviced accommodation/touring caravan pitches to other tourist uses

• Finally, the CLDJSP makes provision for additional housing units in the period up to 2016, in accordance with the RSS guidance. No specific allocation is made for the National Park area where housing will

Keswick Town Centre Masterplan | 

the most sensitive landscape of Derwentwater

There are 20 larger settlements (and 35 villages) in the National Park and a key aim is to foster their development as sustainable communities. In May 2006, the Lake District National Park Partnership agreed the following new vision for the National Park to cover the period 2006 - 2030: • the Lake District National Park will be an inspirational example of sustainable development in action • a place where its prosperous economy, world class visitor experiences and vibrant communities come together to sustain the spectacular landscape, its wildlife and cultural heritage • local people, visitors and the many organisations working in the National Park or have a contribution to make to it must be united in achieving this Lake District National Park Local Plan The LDNP Local Plan was adopted in 1998 and set out policies and proposals up to 2004. It is now effectively out of date and work has started on the replacement Local Development Framework. However the Local Plan will remain in force until the LDF is agreed in 2007/8. A number of key policies in the current Plan are of relevance to the development of Keswick. These include Policy NE2 on larger settlements which states that development will be contained within


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development boundaries, except in exceptional circumstances. The boundaries have been drawn tightly to reflect the strategic policy of restraint, and the assessment that the scope for expansion without unacceptable landscape impact is severely limited. Important open spaces within the development boundary must also be protected (Policy BE19). Proposals in or near the Keswick Conservation Area should preserve and enhance its character by the use of appropriate form and scale, detailing and materials (Policy BE11). Demolition of buildings which contribute to conservation area character will not normally be permitted (Policy BE12). There is a range of policies to protect the town’s listed buildings (Policies BE13 – BE16). An Article 4 Direction withdrawing certain specified permitted development rights covers most of the Keswick Conservation Area.

Keswick Conservation Area - house in St John Street

to the alteration and extension of existing hotels subject to acceptable local environmental impact (Policy T1). Change of use to a hotel would also be supported subject to satisfactory impact (T3) but new build will not be permitted (T4). The development of new large scale visitor attractions (such as theme parks and conference centres) will not be permitted (Policy T7). Small scale visitor attractions and changes to existing facilities will normally be permitted where their environmental impact is acceptable (Policy T8).

Development will not be permitted in Derwentwater/Borrowdale if it would increase traffic and recreational activity or result in visual intrusion or noise (Policy NE6). Development on and adjacent to lakes will also not be permitted except where there would be no adverse impacts (Policies NE7 and NE8).

Existing employment sites within Keswick will generally be protected from alternative uses (Policy E2) and development of business and general industry on such sites will be permitted subject to no adverse impacts (Policy E1). The re-use and conversion of buildings for business and general industry will also be supported subject to the same conditions (Policy E3). There is a proposal to allocate a site for business and general industry adjacent to the Southey Hill Trading Park in Keswick (Policy E4). New buildings for business and industry elsewhere within the town will also be supported subject to an acceptable environmental impact (Policy E5).

The Plan seeks to provide a framework within which tourism can develop without detriment to the environmental quality of the area. Policies are based on the assumption that further provision can be met through the development of existing facilities and the conversion/ re-use of buildings. In Keswick, favourable consideration will be given

The Local Plan defines the boundary of the central shopping area of Keswick and supports proposals for shops, financial/professional services and premises for the sale and consumption of food and drink within this area, subject to satisfactory impact and prevention of the proliferation of non-retail frontages (Policy R1). Proposals for K e s w i c k T o w n C e n t r e M a s t e r p l a n | 11

equivalent uses outside of the defined area will not be supported (Policy R2). At the present time, no specific sites are allocated for new housing in Keswick but development of individual infill plots (Policy H1) to meet defined local housing needs (Policy H2) will be permitted subject to conditions, and exceptionally on important open spaces (Policy H3). The improvement and provision of new facilities for sport and recreation will also be supported subject to acceptable impact (Policy S2). Potential future housing sites are being investigated and discussed with the Town Council. Rural Regeneration Cumbria (RRC) - now Cumbria Vision The Cumbria Rural Action Zone Next Steps Strategy was produced in June 2002 in response to the effects of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) in Cumbria, and within the framework provided by the Northwest Regional Development Agency’s Rural Renaissance Strategy. It set the framework for the creation of Rural Regeneration Cumbria as an independent company dedicated to the economic regeneration of rural Cumbria. In January 2004, RRC initiated a review of the Next Steps Strategy to develop a more focused and targeted strategy for the Company’s future activities. The outcome of this review, New Landscapes sets out a £46m programme for the period to 2008, framed around three areas of focus: 12

Southey Hill Trading Park

• major projects • strategic themes and sectors • cross-cutting themes The sectoral priorities of New Landscapes included support for Small to Medium Size Enterprises (SMEs) with the potential to add value to the environmental and cultural infrastructure of rural Cumbria or are in key sectors including: • • • • •

creative industries food and drink outdoor recreation and education IT and knowledge based industries tourism

The cross cutting themes of New Landscapes are: • sustaining the natural economy, and • developing the labour market Cumbria needs to achieve a step-change in the quality of its tourism product in order to compete successfully. RRC will help to implement the Regional Tourism Strategy; support innovative marketing initiatives, develop the tourism product and improve the visitor infrastructure of rural Cumbria. The RRC Strategic Regeneration Fund supported the Keswick Townscape Project Phases 2-4 with funding of

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£1.71m in February 2004. The Project Development Fund supported the Theatre by the Lake Phase 2 Feasibility Study (£15,000) and the Keswick Museum Feasibility Study and Business Plan (£15,000). Other RRC grants were made to the Keswick Jazz Festival, and Ways with Words. Rural Regeneration Cumbria has recently been integrated with West Lakes Renaissance into Cumbria Vision in order to achieve more effective coordination of the work of all partners engaged in economic development and regeneration in Cumbria. Keswick Market Town Initiative

Theatre by the Lake

West Development Agency to deliver specific criteria and outputs that meet the Regional Economic Strategy for the North West. This identified 9 key projects: • • • • • • • • •

Learn to Earn Business Facelift Scheme Childcare Centre Speciality Retailers Marketing Rural Business Support Tourism Development Local Produce Market Business Improvement District Small Grants Award Scheme

The Keswick Area Partnership Ltd was formed in 2001 in order to bid for resources under the Market Towns Initiative (MTI). A healthcheck of the Keswick area was undertaken followed by the development of an Action Plan which was adopted in 2003. The Action Plan set out KAP’s vision for Keswick:


• • • • •

an environment safeguarded and managed diverse employment opportunities available a balanced community in terms of age structure affordable housing and quality jobs available facilities and services for all

Some of the projects from the Action Plan were developed into a Delivery Plan for the period 2005-8 attracting funding from the North

This review has highlighted the national, regional and local policies that provide the background to the present study. It has positioned Keswick in the context of:

• • •

Government policies to create sustainable, balanced rural communities concern about the future role and prospects of England’s market towns awareness of the need to diversify the rural economy and to create good quality new jobs for local people the need to improve the quality and profitability of rural tourism in increasingly competitive markets K e s w i c k T o w n C e n t r e M a s t e r p l a n | 13

the town centre is a Business Improvement District (BID)

• • • • • •

identified opportunities for rural businesses to exploit niche markets and capitalise on local distinctiveness the need to ensure a supply of affordable housing for local people the requirement to protect and enhance natural and cultural assets the need to tackle car dependency in remote rural areas, and to provide good public transport maintaining access to services the special challenges of development in an area of outstanding scenic and landscape value and a constrained planning regime

The specific policy context for Keswick is its status as a key service centre within the National Park. Local planning policy recognises that Keswick is one of the principal settlements in the area, and that it is also: • • • • • •

a focal point for visitors plus large accommodation sector a local employment centre a destination shopping/leisure centre for visitors a local shopping centre for Keswick and the surrounding area a cultural centre, and a hub for public transport services

In principle, planning policy seeks to sustain Keswick’s role as a key service centre and to support and enable this range of functions, as well as secure an adequate supply of affordable housing. In 14

practice, these goals have to be achieved in the context of sometimes unfavourable market conditions, and of a constraining planning regime predicated on confining development to the present town boundaries. This situation presents major challenges for Keswick Area Partnership Ltd which this study aims, at least in part, to address. Keswick is a popular and attractive town, but its popularity is also a source of some tensions and conflicts. For example: • at peak times, the number of visitors to Keswick far exceeds the resident population • this tests the capacity of the town and results in congestion and pressure on parking • the town’s prime retail pitch is dominated by outdoor clothing and other visitor-orientated shops • demand for property by new residents (many of them retirees or second-home buyers) has driven up property prices beyond the reach of local people • this drives emigration by local people and also contributes to an ageing population; second homes may be empty for much of the year The relationship between the Keswick community, in-migrants and visitors is complex, and new residents and visitors are the source of undoubted benefits for local people as well as some perceived conflicts. For example:

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• • •

• • • • •

tourism drives the local economy and is the source – direct and indirect – of the majority of local jobs visitor shopping for provisions helps to maintain an exceptional level of convenience shopping for a town of this size similarly, the visitor market helps to support valued cultural facilities such as the Theatre by the Lake and the Alhambra cinema the year-round programme of events and festivals is attractive to visitors, and makes a positive contribution to the quality of life new residents have helped to increase the town’s income base and to support local shops and services immigrants often bring an entrepreneurial spirit to the town the “active retired” play a key part in the town’s community and cultural life “active retired” often resist proposals for redevelopment wishing the town to ‘stay the same’

with the condition of the town and a concern that its distinctive quality is under threat. We explore these issues further in the following pages.

below and right: images taken around Bell Close

Our candid assessment is that the policy documents reviewed for this section do not adequately comprehend this complexity. They stake out the issues agenda well enough, but the bland language and prosaic ideas do not offer a positive and compelling agenda for change. The policies of course apply not only to Keswick but also to other settlements and circumstances. The new Local Development Framework will enable a more focused policy approach. That may explain why – even though Keswick people know that they live in a special place – there is a palpable sense of dissatisfaction K e s w i c k T o w n C e n t r e M a s t e r p l a n | 15


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3 economy and property market Population

Fig 3.1 Population Age Structure

The population of Keswick was 4,984 at the time of the 2001 Census, an increase of 400 (8.8%) since 1991. This compares with 2.3% growth in the population of Cumbria in the same period, while the population of Allerdale was almost unchanged. Despite planning constraints on house building the population of Keswick has continued to grow faster than the regional and national average.

The total numbers are small and there may therefore be some errors, but the level of employment reflects the importance of Keswick’s role as an employment centre, especially in the tourism industry. We know that more than 40% of local employees commute into Keswick from neighbouring areas (see below) and some local people will have two or more part-time jobs. Temporary and seasonal employment are, of course, key features of the local labour market and attract many students and others from the UK and overseas.

The age structure of the town is shown in Figure 3.1. Compared with the national average, the key features are: • •

the very high proportion of Keswick residents aged 65 or older (24.7%; England 15.9%) the correspondingly low proportion of children and young adults under 25 (23.3%/31.1%)

Economic Activity Despite its relatively elderly population, the proportion of the population of Keswick aged 16-74 which is economically active (66.8%) matches the English average. The proportion of residents in employment (62.1%) is actually higher than the average for England, and unemployment is below average at 2.6%. There is a strikingly high level of self-employment (16.5%): our assumption is that this figure includes a number of people of retirement age who are still economically active, for example in the accommodation sector.

The Annual Business Inquiry (ABI) 2004 reported that there were 3,395 employees in employment in Keswick. Given that this figure excludes self-employment it is strikingly high, especially when compared with the 2001 Census which identified 1,775 residents in employment.

Fig 3.2 Employee Jobs by Industry, Keswick 2004

Figure 3.2 shows the distribution of employment by industry. Again, the exclusion of self-employment means that the role of tourism is understated. Nevertheless, the retail and wholesale sector (which is heavily dependent on visitors) accounts for almost 30% of jobs, and hotels and restaurants for 27%. Together these sectors account for more than twice the national average share. As a consequence most other sectors are under-represented, including the public sector. Figure 3.3 analyses employed residents (including the self-employed) by occupation. This analysis therefore included people who commute out of the area to work. It shows that, compared to the occupational profile for England, Keswick has an above average share of: K e s w i c k T o w n C e n t r e M a s t e r p l a n | 17

Fig 3.3 Employed Residents by Occupation, 2001

• • •

managers and senior officials (24%/15%) skilled trades people (16%/12%) people working in elementary occupations (16%/12%)

49% of Keswick residents in work commute less than 2 kilometres to work compared with 25% in Allerdale and 20% across England as a whole. The high level of self-employment means that working from home is more common in Keswick (19%) than Allerdale (12%) and England (9%).

Keswick has a below average share of: • •

technicians and associate professionals (9%/14%) administrative and secretarial staff (6%/13%)

Figure 3.4 analyses the qualifications held by local residents. Despite the high proportion of residents of retirement age (who are typically less likely to have formal qualifications) the Keswick profile compares favourably with the English average, especially for graduates. Across the board, the level of qualifications is much higher than in the rest of Allerdale. Travel to Work Just over 2,400 residents of Keswick are in work (employed and selfemployed) of whom about 1,700 (72%) work in Keswick itself. The 2001 Census found that about 1,200 people commuted into Keswick to work, giving a net inflow of about 500 workers (see Table 3.3).

with the remainder working elsewhere in Cumbria. There is a similar pattern for those commuting into the town, with 95% from Allerdale and the remainder from the rest of Cumbria.


Fig 3.4 Residents’ Qualifications, 2001

Keswick is a small town, but the official statistics confirm that it is an important local employment centre, with an exceptionally high jobs density that makes it an important source of employment for the surrounding rural area, as well as a magnet for temporary and seasonal workers. The high level of self-employment is a striking feature, with many people still economically active after reaching retirement age. Tourism is the key economic driver. Employment in manufacturing, construction and land-based industries has declined very sharply and Keswick is now almost exclusively a service economy. We return to tourism in Section 7.

Most out-commuters travel to work elsewhere in Allerdale (86%), 


These statistics are from the 2001 Census and are therefore different from the 2004 ABI report.

Jobs density is the ratio of local employment to the working age population

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­­­PROPERTY MARKET REVIEW Retail Market The UK has enjoyed a period of sustained retail market growth, fuelled by rising consumer expenditure. While expenditure growth has slowed since its peak, it remains positive and the retail property market continues to be active. In the convenience sector, slower expenditure growth is driving major chains towards acquisition and diversification. Following the major acquisitions of Asda (by Walmart) and Safeway (by Morrison), the other major operators Tesco, Sainsbury and Co-op have all recently acquired smaller businesses. Tesco now controls more than 30% of the British grocery sector (and 6.5% of the non-food sector). There is growing concern about the dominant market position of the multiples. The DTI estimates that the UK has lost almost 30,000 independent convenience retailers over the past ten years. Comparison goods retailers – such as High Street clothing and footwear, and household goods - are seeking economies of scale. These can be achieved by trading from larger units, sometimes in tandem with established high street shops. This “large box” sector, traditionally composed of bulky goods retailers, increasingly includes high street multiples such as Next, Boots the Chemist, Marks & Spencer, Borders Books and Gap. Growing leisure expenditure has fuelled a property development

one of Keswick’s many outdoor shops

boom, encompassing hotels, bars, restaurants, multiplex cinemas and health & fitness clubs. The development rate has now slowed; some sectors such as health & fitness continue to expand, while others such as cinemas are experiencing their first casualties. The principal outcome of these market trends is that larger retail centres are becoming stronger. This includes major cities as well as major retail parks. Meanwhile, smaller centres are becalmed in their local markets, attracting some retail warehousing, supermarkets and smaller multiple retailers, but struggling to secure prime high street multiples. Cumbria is something of a special case: it does not have a large city, but – by virtue of its distance from any major conurbation – Carlisle fulfils the role of regional capital and trades at a higher level in the retail hierarchy than other cities of comparable size. The population of Keswick is just under 5,000 and the 10km catchment population contains a further 3,250 people. Analysts estimate that retail expenditure in the catchment area is £18.0 million per annum, split 62% comparison/38% convenience. Retailing in small towns has suffered severely in recent years, but Keswick is insulated to a degree from the retail trends described above by two factors: •

first, as a relatively remote rural town it enjoys a certain loyalty K e s w i c k T o w n C e n t r e M a s t e r p l a n | 19

from local shoppers: larger alternative centres require a journey of at least 13 miles secondly, retail trade is increased dramatically by visitor numbers, especially during the summer months; an estimated 4.4 million people visited Keswick and the Western Lake District in 2004

Keswick’s retail offer comprises:• • • • • •

around 170 units totalling 26,500 sqm of retail floorspace about two-thirds are occupied independent retailers, the balance being leisure, multiples and vacant units prime national retailers include Boots, Woolworths and WH Smith independent and niche shops sell books, antiques, paintings, jewellery, pottery, speciality foods, clothes, gifts and toys there are around 30 outdoor clothing and equipment retailers, including a high proportion of multiples a number of major banks and building societies

In the convenience sector, Keswick is served by four principal stores: • • • •


Booths Supermarket, Tithebarn Street Keswick Co-op, St James Court Open All Hours, St John’s Street Spar, Shorley Lane

Booths Supermarket at Tithebarn Street

Keswick Co-op on Main Street

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The major national multiples are found in neighbouring larger towns, such as Cockermouth (Sainsburys, Wilkinson’s and Aldi) and Penrith (Morrisons). These operators have diversified their ranges to include clothing, household goods and consumer services. Shoppers increasingly use superstores as shopping destinations where they may purchase a wide range of traditional high street products. In Keswick, Booths has recently completed a £1.75 million re-fit. There are a number of shop units currently available in Keswick and this equates to a vacancy rate of around 6%. Floorspace vacancy is less than this, as the available units are typically small. Recent retail transactions in Keswick are limited, reflecting the infrequent nature of prime market activity in Keswick. However a review of recent planning applications shows demand from leisure and service uses, including consents for a beauty salon, coffee shop and restaurant. Retail rents in Keswick are exceptionally high for a small town. Rents are driven up by visitor expenditure and demand from retailers, particularly outdoors specialists, targeting the visitor market. Prime rents for Zone A (Market Square and Lake Road) are double that of adjoining pitches such as Museum Square and substantially more than for equivalent areas in Penrith, Workington and Whitehaven. Penrith’s catchment population is 20,000–30,000 people and 26 national retailers are seeking premises, yet rents there are lower than in Keswick. Some national retailers are interested in locating in Keswick. These

requirements are a mix of prominent national and secondary retailers. Market commentators also suggest that there is latent demand from other retailers which would potentially be interested in taking premises in Keswick. Retailer requirements for Keswick rose sharply from 2 in 1999 to 14 in 2003, but have since declined to 11 in 2005 and 7 in 2006.

above: Market Place below: Station Street

Market evidence does not suggest any major retail requirement for Keswick, other than to continue the process of diversifying to accommodate quality independents close to the town centre. The emergence of a small arts and crafts sector is a comparatively new trend for Keswick, which until the 1990s had a rather tired tourist retail offer. Accommodating these uses may require some flexing of the town centre, to provide small units in side streets, alleys and squares, supported by appropriate pedestrian linkages. LEISURE PROPERTY MARKET The visitor market is extremely important to Keswick. Consequently, the leisure property sector – bars and restaurants, hotels and guest houses – is an active local market. Also, the wider Keswick area has an active market in the accommodation and catering sectors (although one hotel was sold for conversion to residential use). However, interest from branded leisure chains seems limited. Apart from Wetherspoons, there are no formal requirements from bar, restaurant or hotel chains, which is surprising given the scale of tourist activity in Keswick. In the cinema sector, the Keswick Alhambra has recently K e s w i c k T o w n C e n t r e M a s t e r p l a n | 21

changed hands along with the Penrith Alhambra. BUSINESS PROPERTY MARKET Keswick does not have a substantial office market, in the sense that new and second-hand premises frequently appear on the market for sale or let. Small office premises are spread around the town centre including upper floors of Barclay Bank Chambers, Museum Square and financial services in retail frontages. The principal industrial location in town is Southey Hill Industrial / Trading Estate, Main Street. Occupiers include Howden Joinery, Data Video Technologies, Keswick Mountain Bike Centre, Keswick Climbing Wall & Activity Centre, DIY and Motor Repairs indicating a mixed business area rather than a traditional industrial estate. Blencathra Business Centre, situated on the site of the former Threlkeld Quarry 5 miles east of Keswick, has been developed by West Cumbria Development Agency. It comprises light industrial units of 25–144 sqm on flexible terms. Occupiers include Aerofix (paragliding service), Fell Fresh of Keswick (food), Shaunsoft (software development) and Keswick Wholesalers. There is some evidence of hybrid properties intended for live/ work occupation. For example, a newly converted 3-bedroom cobblestone house on the outskirts of Keswick is for sale at £395,000 and comes with its own business premises with planning consent for light 22

St John Street - retail or potential business space on the fringes of the retail core

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industrial use. The Pencil Factory is currently a major employment land use in Keswick although this is set to change with the possible transfer of manufacturing to Workington in the next few years. Discussions have been ongoing about potential future uses for this site. There has been a range of interest in the site and potential ideas for future uses have included various permutations of affordable housing, quality residential, workspace, business space and educational uses. There is perceived demand in Keswick for small business accommodation, including some known requirements from local companies. In the absence of a formal survey, comparisons can be drawn from a similar UK area, Aberdeenshire, which has managed business centres in a number of small towns: • • • • •

the towns’ populations range from 4,000 to 8,750 the business centres offer between 12 and 28 units total floorspace of the business centres range from 215 to 700 sqm some are new-build, some conversions all required public sector investment

It has been suggested that a business centre for Keswick might provide 2,500 sqm of floorspace. This is large for a town of Keswick’s size and to be viable would probably require a mix of managed space, central facilities and larger units let to established companies, inward

Museum Square

relocations and/or public agencies. Alternatively, a smaller new-build or conversion could be pursued. RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY MARKET The UK housing market is slowing, following several years of strong price growth. A series of interest rate rises has dampened growth rates in most regions. Houses prices in the North West grew by 7.2% in the year to October 2005, higher than the UK average of 5.1%. The average price of a house in the North West is £138,356 (UK £169,901). House prices in the North West have risen by 65% over the past three years, the third highest house price inflation among the 12 UK regions. However house price inflation is expected to slow in 2006 with prices rising by 4%, slightly ahead of the UK average of 3%. Prices in Cumbria increased by 2.8% in 2005 taking the average house price to £132,700, but the Allerdale Borough Council area saw a strong annual increase of 12.5%. The average price of a semidetached house in Keswick (Dec 2004) is £262,571, and £286,002 for a detached home. Although based upon different data sources, these prices are clearly higher than for the rest of Cumbria, half as much again as the UK average, and almost double the North West average. The rate per sqm for housing in Keswick ranges from £2200 for second apartments up to £4000 per sqm for quality new-build/conversions in prime parts of town. Although average prices for Cumbria are lower K e s w i c k T o w n C e n t r e M a s t e r p l a n | 23

a wide range of residential styles

than those for England & Wales, price inflation is stronger across all types of housing. Housing tenure in Keswick is 73% owner occupied. One in ten homes in Keswick is reported to be a second home and this equates to an estimated 263 homes. Housing market activity in Keswick demonstrates the polarisation of the town into high value at one end and affordable at the other. However all new housing in Keswick, in common with the rest of the National Park area, is now subject to a local occupancy clause. Research into the affordable housing sector is expected to indicate potential demand for up to 169 units in Keswick, including family dwellings as well as starter homes. Various initiatives to deliver sites, some in conjunction with landowners, are under consideration. A robust definition of affordable housing will be required to support any new provision. It is apparent that Keswick has an artificial housing market. Demand is strong from locals, incomers and second-homeowners. However, planning constraints combined with local occupancy conditions may have the effect of: • • •


deflecting residential demand to alternative locations suppressing local housing needs driving up prices to exceptional levels

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putting pressure on any available (or potential) site to meet identified requirements for all types of land use including business and industry, public services, parking, affordable and private housing

DEVELOPMENT PROSPECTS The preliminary view of development prospects for Keswick is set out below. Some are contentious and challenging, and in some cases contrary to planning policy. At this stage we should consider whether these possibilities are desirable in principle, and whether they have the potential to contribute to the regeneration of Keswick.

Site Pencil Factory

Sector currently business use

Infills and extensions Southey Hill Business Park

affordable housing residential business and leisure

Bell Close and Central Car Parks Rawnsley and associated land to the west In lanes and upper floors

residential, business, retail, performance residential, hotel or business

County Court Building Residential conversions

retail / culture Currently guest houses or other uses Modern hotel

Various sites: eg Pencil Factory, Rawnsley Hall, Lakeside or town centre blocks Lakeside Camping and Caravan Park, Walker Park and Town Cass Lakeside – Crow Park Various locations

retail and leisure (including cafes, bars & galleries)

Design-led high value residential development culture / leisure Business Centre

Comment Possible mixed use development: private housing, affordable housing and some business space, educational element from LDNPA and Town Council housing site analysis + new sites refocusing in association with Rawnsley and Pencil factory developments maybe longer term change in the case of Central Car Park conversion if available Identify future locations for expanding independents. Small total requirement eg existing locations at Museum Square, Bell Close and Derwent Close gallery and workspace associated with larger Bell Close development likely future loss of lower grade accommodation to residential use. To upgrade and diversify tourism accommodation and complement other investments in town. Place Keswick at top end of UK quality range, regenerate land and cross-fund other requirements. See Lakeside, Esher, Surrey amphitheatre regrading New-build or conversion

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4 urban design + traffic looking north up Lake Road

HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT Introduction There has been a settlement at Keswick since at least the 13th century, but the earliest recorded map that shows the town as a recognisable urban entity is dated 1787. Since then the town has been mapped at frequent intervals enabling an analysis of the important ages of the town from an urban design perspective. Late 18th century The 1787 map shows a layout which is recognisably Keswick with Market Square and Market Place clearly established as the focus of the town, and the centrally placed Moot Hall Long thin buildings ran at right angles north and south from Market Square into what are now the Bell Close and Heads Road car parks. The outlines of what would become Station Street, St John’s Street and Lake Road are clearly visible, as is Main Street striking out to the west. The town did not extend north or west to the River Greta at this time. Mid 19th century By 1867, Keswick had grown westwards to the Greta Bridge along Main Street and along the Penrith Road to the east. This period also saw the sporadic growth of large estate houses and a number of K e s w i c k T o w n C e n t r e M a s t e r p l a n | 27

Historical development of Keswick: 1787 to 2006


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pencil factories in the west of the town. However the most significant developments during this period were: • the opening of the Penrith and Cockermouth railway in 1865 with Keswick Station situated on the north side of the River Greta • the development of mills by the River Greta adjacent to the town centre Late 19th century By 1898 the expansion of the town centre north towards the Greta was complete. To the east, the residential area based on Blencathra, Helvellyn, Southey and Greta Streets was also largely developed. Stanger Street was developed to the west of the town centre and the villas at the east end of what is now the Heads were also built, marking a significant departure from Keswick’s original compact form. The town had its own gas works, located at Otley Road. Significantly, the Victorian town was catering for the needs of visitors with developments including: • laying out Fitz Park between the station and the town centre (1882) • the new Keswick Museum on Station Road • Keswick Country House Hotel was built on a site adjacent to the station • improved boating facilities at the north end of Derwent Water

Early – Mid 20th century

from 1957. This change is marked by three factors:

There was very little change in Keswick during this period except for the development of residential areas around Greta Hamlet and at the Headlands, both shown on the 1924 Ordnance Survey plan. Although these developments are small they are significant as they marked a move away from the scale and materials of what was then typically the Keswick-Cumbrian traditional building and Victorian and Edwardian architecture towards developments which were suburban in layout, bungaloid in architectural style and un-rooted in the local area. During this period, Hope Park was gifted to the town as public gardens including a pitch and putt golf course.

• the closure of the railway • the erosion of traditional urban structure in the town centre • the increasing suburbanisation of the surrounding landscape

Mid - Late 20th century The 1957 Ordnance Survey plan shows Keswick as a place of contrasts. On the one hand the town centre was at its most densely packed and urbanised. On the other hand, lower density residential developments at Great Crosthwaite, the Heads and Headlands, Windebrowe Avenue and along Ambleside Road allowed the town to spread the town into the surrounding landscape. The Pencil Factory in its current form makes its first appearance on the plan, occupying the site of an earlier factory near Greta Bridge. 21st century

The closure of the railway created a number of opportunities for development around the former station with the extension of the Keswick Country House Hotel and on the former track to the west, a Leisure Pool and residential developments. The clearance of sites in the town centre – including the former abattoir and the gas works as well as business premises to the north of Market Place – has enabled the construction of Bell Close and Otley Road car parks and the linking of Victoria Street and Bank Street (both former cul-de-sacs) to provide a town centre “bypass”. The construction of the car park on Heads Road did not require the same degree of demolition and clearance. The Co-op development on Main Street has also reduced the perceived density of the town centre by setting back new development from the original building line. Low density residential development has continued in fields to the east and north of the town, as well as in the Crosthwaite area. Business and industrial uses have consolidated around the Pencil Factory and along Penrith Road.

The 2005 Ordnance Survey map shows a dramatic change in Keswick K e s w i c k T o w n C e n t r e M a s t e r p l a n | 29

Market Day - 1930s

Skating on Derwentwater - 1890s

Station Road and Latrigg - 1890s

Southey Road and Walla Crag - 1890s

Victoria Street and the Bell Close area - unknown date

The Boat Landings, Derwentwater 1890s


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Abrahams Shop - Lake Road 1930s

Keswick School of Industrial Arts - 1907

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from the A66 via the B5289 from the west

from the A66 along the Hawthorns to Penrith Road

All routes into the centre of Keswick make a transition from a stunning Lakeland landscape to a dense urban environment. This transition is handled in different ways and some are more pleasant, interesting or appealing than others. There are five main routes into Keswick: • three from the A66 - from the west via the B5289 - from the north via Crosthwaite Road - from the east along the Penrith Road • two from the south east and from the south: - the A591 from Ambleside - the B5289 from Borrowdale B5289 from A66 the west

from the A66 via Crosthwaite Road roundabout

Greta is concealed from drivers by a stone wall, which is an important flood barrier, and beyond the bridge, Main Street is a mixture of set back buildings, disjointed landscape pockets and car parking, interspersed with some attractive traditional buildings.

This approach is markedly different in character from the other four in that it runs along the valley floor in a predominantly open landscape

A66 to A5271 Crosthwaite

with long views to the hills beyond and with beech hedges lining the road. Keswick appears in the distance on raised ground. The route is pleasant, marked by the landmarks of St Kentigern’s Church and Keswick School until the edge of the town is reached at Crosthwaite. From the junction with the Crosthwaite Road, the route eastwards into town is one of Keswick’s least positive aspects. The attractive River

The route from the roundabout on the A66 into the Crosthwaite area is an approach that seems to promise much. The descent from the roundabout into Crosthwaite is initially tree-lined but opens up to reveal a scatter of undistinguished buildings, a petrol filling station and roadside clutter. The River Greta is close to the road at this point but is hardly visible.


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A5271 Penrith Road The approach to Keswick from Penrith is interesting and attractive. The road descends steeply into the town and is initially quite enclosed either by embankment, buildings or trees. From the junction with the A591 Penrith Road and Chestnut Hill, the corridor opens out revealing superb views of the town. The roadside pattern of built and open continues to the old railway bridge. After this, the River Greta runs alongside the road and there is a distinct sense of ‘arriving in Keswick’ at this point. A591 from Ambleside and Windermere This is a stunning approach to the town. The landscape of the road up to the edge of Keswick is very beautiful and atmospheric and the first experience of the town is a sudden panoramic view from the top of Castlerigg Brow. The road then sweeps downhill to meet the Penrith Road. Although the quality of building is not special and architectural interest is low, the scale of the surrounding landscape and views over the town make up for this. A5289 Keswick from Borrowdale This is an approach through another superb landscape, albeit of a more wooded and intricate character. Castlehead Wood to the right and fields to the left mark the approaches to the edge of the town although this gives way to very urban lampposts, a footpath and

signage which clearly mark the urban edge. The large roundabout at the junction of the A5289, Borrowdale Road and Heads Road is an overscaled and unwelcoming late 20th century addition to the town. At this point it is not possible to travel directly along Borrowdale Road to the town centre as it is a one-way street. Instead it is necessary to travel along the enlarged Heads Road which is in effect a partial town centre bypass road providing access to two of the town’s important car parks.

Bell Close car park

The car parks Visitors driving into Keswick will be likely to park in one of the car parks in or adjacent to the town centre, each of which has its own character.

Theatre by the Lake car park

Bell Close is centrally placed and feels part of the town centre, with active uses developing along its edges. There is convenient but neglected passageway and lane access to Market Square. Bell Close functions as a social space; it is visually unattractive but with great potential for improvement. The Theatre by the Lake is in a beautiful setting. The car park blends into the landscape without fuss, with good access to facilities at the Theatre, the Tea Gardens and the lakeside. The car park gives a positive first impression of the town. Central Car Park at Heads Road appears to have been created by site K e s w i c k T o w n C e n t r e M a s t e r p l a n | 33

Otley Road car park

clearance and demolition, although this is not the case. The car park contains some mature trees and there are numerous links through lanes up to the town centre, but it does not feel like an integral part of the town centre in the same way as Bell Close. Work is required to make it a more sociable space but remoteness from the Market Place may militate against this. The Otley Road car park is in a backland location separated from the town centre by Victoria Street and is too concealed to be completely comfortable or sociable.

Central car park


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Development Capacity

Local Plan Designations

Policy Constraints The development boundary around Keswick as set out in the Lake District National Park Local Plan (Policy NE2) is tightly drawn around the current physical extent of the town. Policies S1 and BE18 restrict development on amenity and recreational open space within the town boundary. The central shopping area is also tightly defined by Policy R1 which effectively limits the retail core to its current extent. The town centre and a substantial area around the core is designated as a conservation area, a large part of which is covered by an Article 4 Direction which requires planning consent for normally permitted development. The town centre also contains a number of listed buildings. These combined policies exercise a strong grip on development in the town, and limit the capacity for change. We understand that there has been no landscape character assessment or carrying capacity study carried out on Keswick and its surroundings. In one sense this is disappointing but not really surprising – the landscape is considered to be inviolable. A landscape character assessment is programmed for June 2007 and a capacity study is currently underway as part of the LDF process.

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FLOOD RISKS The Environment Agency (EA) advises the government on the control of flooding and makes recommendations in response to planning applications, although local authorities are not obliged to adhere to the advice. In practice, permissions have only been granted against the advice of the EA on rare occasions in the past few years. The EA has produced a flood zoning plan for Keswick which is used to assess flood risk for existing and future development. This map is likely to have an impact on land values/house prices/insurance and has therefore upset some local residents and businesses. However, the major floods in January 2005 showed that the plan is not entirely alarmist. The EA is working with Allerdale Borough Council to produce the Derwent Catchment Flood Management Plan, due for completion in 2007. It will take a holistic look at flood control (including land management issues) and set out broad brush policies for flood control for the next 50 years. Consultants have also been commissioned to undertake a “Keswick Strategy” looking into the viability of preventative measures, which may include a mixture of river defences, upstream attenuation and self help. Upstream storage may appear an attractive option, but no sites have been earmarked at this stage and such measures may be resisted by the farming community. 36

flooding in Keswick: above - Main Street 1950s and below - Fitz Park 1930s

flooding in Keswick 2005: above - Tithebarn Street and below - Main Street

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Flooding Zones

These possible measures would not entirely preclude the risk of flooding in Keswick but would help to prevent the extreme conditions experienced in January 2005. Keswick is prone to flooding which require infrastructure improvements. We understand that flood prevention measures for Keswick are considered to be a medium priority and they are not expected to appear in the capital programme before 2010. Keswick has always flooded, but run-off from increased development has exacerbated the situation. The flooding threat comes from three directions: from Borrowdale and the lake northwards, from the Northern Fells via the River Greta and from Thirlmere. This is aggravated by mixed foul and storm water backing up the drains into Main Street. The river flood defences are currently too low to contain the highest water levels in the river and in January 2005 they were breached. The Greta Bridge is a bottleneck even though a bypass conduit has been added alongside it. United Utilities (who are responsible for the water system/supply) have a pumping station at the back of Booths Supermarket which theoretically should prevent the area immediately around the supermarket from flooding but signally failed in 2005. The caravan and camping sites have had to be evacuated 3 times in the last 5 years.

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Implications for development

Brownfield land within Zone 3

Other Issues

The EA advise that any development around Keswick will require a quantified flood risk assessment looking at the risk to the development itself, but also at any displaced impact on other properties/land/parts of the water system. Flood risk assessments must take into account current flows plus 20% to allow for climate change.

The EA has very specific advice on development proposals for brownfield sites in Zone 3, such as the Pencil Factory. The development itself would have to be protected and there must be access/egress from the site during flood conditions. Ideally any development would provide for storage of run-off water on site (for example, a tank under a car park) and improvements to the flood defences.

Regardless of where any new development is located, it will be necessary to ensure that the run-off into the drainage system is no greater than exists at present. This means in practice that all developments will have to incorporate a sustainable urban drainage system with porous surfaces, attenuation ponds and so on. One impact of this requirement may be to reduce the intensity of development, with some land being reserved for these measures.

The Agency suggests that increasing the height of the flood defence walls around the site (say, to 6 feet) would not be acceptable in terms of visual impact. It would also be necessary to implement measures well beyond the site itself to avoid displacing the problem to adjacent areas (in the case of the Pencil Factory, to Lower Crosthwaite). This could be very costly to prospective developers.

The EA reports that residents of Lower Crosthwaite are anxious about plans for the Pencil Factory site in case it exposes their homes to greater risk of flooding. They have established a self-help group which sends out warnings of flooding and uses threshold stops, airbrick covers and other measures to deal with rising water levels. In this area, consideration is also being given to raising electrical outlet sockets, and using solid flooring and cement plaster at ground floor level to reduce the damage caused by occasional flooding.

Greenfield land within Zone 3 The EA’s default position is that no development should take place on greenfield land within Flood Zone 3 as this acts as a floodplain. The existing caravan and camping grounds in Zone 3 are considered hazardous, requiring evacuation and towing off of caravans at short notice, sometimes in the dark. It is not viable to develop in front of the defences - that is, west of the properties lining High Hill/Main Street.


Basements are not acceptable and the EA does not recommend building on stilts as the ground floors are often enclosed over time and then become dangerous. Likewise, the idea of ‘floodable’ or ‘sacrificial’ ground floor uses is not favoured. New affordable housing has been built on a site northwest of Booths, inside Zone 3. It was given consent despite EA objections, since the emergency services indicated that they would be able to cope in the event of flooding. The development is quite small and number of people who might need to be rescued is limited. It is unlikely that a larger development would have been approved.

The EA have objected to the proposed relocation of the football pitch to a new site west of Fitz Park. They are unhappy about a new facility and clubhouse within Zone 3, but they are especially concerned about the expansion of the camp site onto the vacated football field which is immediately adjacent to the lake, and also within Zone 3. However planning permission has now been granted.

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Character area ASSESSMENT

Character Areas

Keswick is a popular town in which to live and to visit. Much of this is due to the world renowned Lake District landscape which provides a superb setting for the town, but Keswick itself has many attractive characteristics. However, it also has some less attractive features. In the following paragraphs we assess Keswick’s urban assets and liabilities. Following a detailed appraisal we have identified eleven character areas. These are described below with an initial assessment of strengths and weaknesses and the need and capacity for change. Character Area 1 – Town Centre The town centre lies on rising ground between the River Greta and Derwent Water. The basic street pattern shown on the 1787 map is still largely unaltered, centred on Market Place and the Moot Hall. From this central focal point, Station Street, St John’s Street and Lake Road lead off to the north, east and south respectively. This complex of streets forms the densest and most urbanised part of Keswick. It is dense visually as well as functionally and socially. In addition to shops – this is the town’s prime retail pitch - the area is home to many small businesses in back court areas as well as residential uses. It is a conservation area containing the majority of the town’s listed buildings. K e s w i c k T o w n C e n t r e M a s t e r p l a n | 39

The Town Centre Character Area

The area around the Market Place has been the subject of recent successful streetscape works which have underlined the status and role of the town centre. At the same time, these works have exposed the poor quality pedestrian environment of Station Street and St John’s Street. These secondary streets have a number of vacant shop units. In general, the standard of 1970s and 1980s shop front design is poor. The town centre area peters out to the west along Main Street and terminates around Booths Supermarket and the Co-op. The town centre also contains three important car parks described earlier and these play an important part in the town centre’s economic health and activity. However access to the car parks is from busy streets which reduce the quality of the pedestrian environment and cut across obvious pedestrian linkages. Our summary assessment of this character area is: • Strengths: street pattern, traditional architecture and building materials; some notable landmark buildings; range of small business space, parking well located; landscape backdrop and bustle/activity • Weaknesses: streetscape and pedestrian environment in secondary streets; standards of shop front design; narrow footpaths/pavements; pedestrian routes to car parks • Need and capacity for change: limited scope or need for radical change although improvements to car parks through new built development as well as public realm works would be beneficial. 40

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Character Area 2 – East Town Centre/Blencathra/Helvellyn Streets

The East Town Centre Character Area

This is a predominantly residential area that was built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It contains some good buildings and domestic architecture largely set out in a gridiron layout. The area accommodates a range of other uses such as hostels, places of worship, clubs, printers and professional services while maintaining the feel of a settled residential area – although parts of the area along Penrith Road are distinctly mixed use. The area has a considerable number of guesthouses and bed and breakfast establishments. Although the street pattern is quite open-ended, the rising landscape that terminates almost every view within the area ensures a strong sense of enclosure. There appear to be issues with parking management in this area with many cars belonging to businesses in the town centre displacing local resident spaces during the day. Our summary assessment is: • Strengths: street pattern; traditional architecture and building materials; ability to accommodate mixed use; landscape backdrop, Article 4 Direction to prevent innappropriate alterations • Weaknesses: parking issues; number and mixed quality of guest houses and bed and breakfast establishments • Need and capacity for change: limited scope or need for radical change, though conversion of some guest houses back to residential is possible and would be beneficial. K e s w i c k T o w n C e n t r e M a s t e r p l a n | 41

Greta Bridge and Hamlet Character Area

Character Area 3 – Greta Bridge and Hamlet This is a mixed use area west of the town centre. It contains a wide range of uses from residential through to manufacturing and from places of worship to restaurant. This area contains the Pencil Factory, which is a local landmark and a key site for the future with its riverside setting. Immediately adjoining the factory is the Southey Hill Trading Park which is the town’s principal business location. The area also contains an attractive residential enclave around Stanger Street and Greta Hamlet, and the distinctive group of green slate buildings around Rawnsley Hall. Despite this, the overall impression is of an area in transition. The area contains a wide range of building styles and ages. Parts are relatively high density, compact and urban; elsewhere the character is low density, dispersed and suburban. No other part of Keswick is as diverse or disaggregated. Main Street forms the spine of this area and as described above, it is an unsatisfactory point of entry to the town, despite some interesting and attractive features. Greta Bridge is an historic feature of the town, but it has no discernible presence: it is a forgettable hump in a busy road. Our summary assessment of this area is:


• Strengths: river frontage; some traditional architecture; Stanger Street area; Pencil Factory; busy trading park, overlooks park • Weaknesses: flooding; poor urban structure; Main Street frontage; access • Need and capacity for change: Pencil Factory a key site; great scope for rationalisation of uses and restructuring of the area, taking advantage of the river frontage and upgrading Main Street; need for a sustainable solution to flooding issues.

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Greta Bridge and Hamlet Character Area

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Character Area 4 – Fitz Park Fitz Park is a traditional, largely informal, late 19th century park, running alongside the Greta north of the town centre and is managed as a charitable trust. It is a very scenic location with a framework of mature trees in the foreground and a dramatic mountain backdrop. The park is divided in two by Station Road with more formal facilities such as sports courts and ornamental gardens clustered towards the east, in Upper Fitz Park, and a large open green space including the picturesque Keswick Cricket Club ground to the west, in Lower Fitz Park. The Art Gallery and Museum is situated on Station Road, and its decorative Victorian character ensures that it acts as a landmark feature and focal point for the park. The park is popular and well-used, especially during the warmer months. It is also an important social space: it has facilities for sports and games, children and their parents congregate at the adventure playground, and people walking dogs gather to chat. In general, the park environment is of a high quality. The original infrastructure of ornamental tree planting and cast iron fences and bridges has lasted well and brings a sense of robustness and permanence to the park environment. The ongoing commitment of local groups and the Town Council to the maintenance and improvement of the planting and facilities in the park are welcome. On close inspection, however, there is some evidence of poor maintenance (aggravated by the 2005 floods) and examples of 44

careless planning which could, if continued, erode the special quality and appeal of the park. Our summary assessment is: • Strengths: landscape backdrop; river frontage; traditional park appeal, award winning cricket ground • Weaknesses: skateboard half-pipe; insensitive treatment of the surroundings of the leisure pool and the poor integration into the park environment; insidious, gradual erosion of the quality of design, materials and maintenance, especially for paths, edges and boundaries • Need and capacity for change: should look to meet the open space needs of upcoming generations who may be less interested in the conventional offerings of parks and address the sensitive integration of new facilities within a 19th century design.

Fitz Park Character Area

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Fitz Park Character Area

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Character Area 5 – Brundholme Road and Former Railway Track This area lies along and to the north of the former railway solum and forms the northern edge of Keswick. The area was largely developed in the late 20th century following the closure of the railway although there are a small number of older buildings. This area is visually discordant with very ordinary buildings arranged along Brundholme Road in poor layouts looking north towards a stunning agricultural landscape and hillside. This is undoubtedly a favoured place to live, but it represents a low point in urban design in Keswick and would benefit from intervention either in terms of further development or landscape work. The area also contains Keswick Country House Hotel and the former railway station and the timeshare development to the east on the banks of the Greta. The summary assessment is: • Strengths: landscape backdrop; hotel/station • Weaknesses: 1970s residential building design and layout • Need and capacity for change: may have capacity for new development but a new landscape plan should be considered


Brundholme Road and Former Railway Track Character Area

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Character Area 6 – Hope Park and Crow Park

Hope Park and Crow Park Character Area

Hope Park is a more formal counterpoint to Fitz Park, with ornamental gardens and facilities for visitors such as pitch and putt and crazy golf. It has a decorative character based on traditional horticultural themes and is generally well looked after. Although Hope Park is very popular, especially with holiday-makers, it is not fulfilling its potential, for example: • the poor quality approaches from the town centre and shabby ‘milling space’ at the main entrance • the unattractive fence along The Heads; this compromises one of the town’s scenic views to the architectural set piece of the terrace and the mountain backdrop beyond - the fence is there for Health and Safety reasons • the slightly dated character of some features and parts of the park • the inconsistent and sometimes inappropriate character of the pedestrian sequence from the subway, along the edge of the park, to the theatre and lakeshore. Hope Park is in reasonable condition and functions adequately at present. Some environmental improvements and a continuing focus on high quality management and maintenance will help to ensure that it is appreciated and well used. A key question must be however, how traditional parks such as Hope Park will fare in the future, especially K e s w i c k T o w n C e n t r e M a s t e r p l a n | 47

Hope Park and Crow Park Character Area

as people’s leisure needs and expectations change. It will be important to develop a future vision for the town’s parks that ensures they continue to be well used, maintainable and sustainable. We have been briefed on proposals by the National Park Authority and KAP being developed to upgrade the links between the town centre and the foreshore within the Derwentwater Foreshore Project. These also affect Character Area 8 (see below). Crow Park is a drumlin - domed pasture field which provides stunning views of Derwentwater to the south and the town to the north. It is very different from Hope Park – it is a natural landscape and is low maintenance. Together, the parks form a transition zone between the town and the lake/theatre to the east. Our summary assessment is: • Strengths: landscape backdrop; contribution to landscape; popular facilities; buffer, link and transition zone between lake and town • Weaknesses: unrealised potential; high maintenance; uncertain future role • Need and capacity for change: likely to be resistance to change, but enormous development potential; Hope Park threatened by future flooding


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Caravan Sites, Rugby and Football Ground Character Area

Character Area 7 – Caravan Sites, rugby and football grounds This is a substantial area of low lying parkland extending from the Heads and Headland area westwards to the River Derwent. To the south it abuts Derwent Water and Town Cass (which is a former waste disposal site). The dominant use of this area is for residential holiday caravans; it also includes Keswick Rugby Club and Walker Park football ground, although there are plans to relocate the latter. The summary assessment for this area is: • Strengths: landscape backdrop, waterside setting, popular facilities and convenient location • Weaknesses: very prone to flooding, underused potential of land, development potential unrealised, waste of land, visually intrusive • Need and capacity for change: may be resistant to change, but has enormous development potential if flooding issues can be tackled creatively.

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Derwentwater, Lakeside and Theatre Character Area

Character Area 8 – Derwentwater Lakeside and Theatre This area comprises the foreshore of Derwentwater, the Tea Gardens, the Theatre by the Lake and the adjoining car park. It is the number one location for visitors and a stunning environment, combining all the elements that make the Lake District so special. At the same time, it is very typically Keswick – a story of background and foreground - where the stunning and ever present scenery makes it easy to forget that the foreground is sometimes banal and dated and functions poorly. Plans have been developed to upgrade the foreshore, and the pedestrian links between the lake and the town. Certainly, the quality of the lakeside environment is disappointing and falls well short of the standard to be expected in such a key location. The Tea Gardens are in urgent need of treatment: they could be restored to their former glory or replaced with a contemporary pavilion. The theatre is a great asset, popular with residents and visitors. The design might have been more contemporary in feel and lighter of touch, but the building has been integrated reasonably successfully into the landscape at this most sensitive of locations. Our summary assessment is: • Strengths: landscape context; views; popular facilities; top visitor destination 50

• Weaknesses: tired facilities at lakeshore; development potential unrealised; Tea Gardens; an ugly boat; fluctuating water levels • Need and capacity for change: sensitive location but enormous development potential

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Derwentwater, Lakeside and Theatre Character Area

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The Heads Character Area

Character Area 9 – The Heads This residential area was first developed in the 1920s and was substantially built out by the mid 1950s. Greta Court was added in the 1960s. The area is predominantly low density typical of developments in Keswick during this period. It contributes little to the town in terms of style and character and provides little opportunity for positive change. Our summary assessment for this area is: • Strengths: moderately desirable well located housing • Weaknesses: little contribution to the town environment • Need and capacity for change: none


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Crosthwaite Character Area

Character Area 10 – Crosthwaite Development of this residential area also began in the 1920s although there were some large dwellings in the area prior to that time. The area was substantially built out by the mid 1950s and is a predominantly low density development in a desirable location. It is a very high quality environment, although architecture and design are not of a particularly high standard. Keswick School and St Kentigern’s Church are located in Crosthwaite. The lower lying parts of the area are prone to flooding. Our summary assessment for this area is: • Strengths: moderately desirable well located housing; attractive location; landmark church • Weaknesses: little contribution to the town environment; prone to flooding • Need and capacity for change: may be able to absorb a small number of new houses

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East Keswick Character Area

Character Area 11 – East Keswick This large area is made up of predominantly 20th century residential developments on rising land around Penrith Road, Castlerigg Brow and Ambleside Road. These are very desirable areas in a high quality environment. Much of the area enjoys extensive views west over the Lake District landscape; substantial areas of green space between housing areas create a very pleasant low density character. This pattern of built and un-built – of solid and void – is in a very delicate balance. It may seem as if substantial areas of un-built land could be developed in this area but this is not desirable – or possible – due to slopes, run-off and environmental issues. Visually, the area is unlikely to be able to accept anything more than a few new houses on accessible sites. Our summary assessment for this area is: • Strengths: desirable well located housing in a high quality environment • Weaknesses: prone to development pressure • Need and capacity for change: may be able to absorb a small number of new houses but not large scale developments


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high quality shared surface

Public Realm and Footpath Network Public Realm Assessment A high quality core The Market Place and Lake Road streetscape schemes have undoubtedly proven to be successful in improving conditions for pedestrians in the town centre. The introduction of an extensive pedestrian priority zone has increased the carrying capacity of the area substantially and has allowed people to treat the streets as social as well as functional places. Visitors enjoy the quality of this environment, and it is a good place for locals to shop, but also to wander, sit or meet friends. The materials selected and the underlying simplicity of the design has been well judged. The quality and appearance of the materials is generally complementary to the surrounding architecture; unusually (but appropriately) the ground plane has been given a visually subservient role in the street scene. The use of a flush shared surface has been largely successful in accommodating the needs of both pedestrians and vehicles, although there are reports of drivers entering the pedestrian priority area at inappropriate places and times. Fortunately, the inherent flexibility of the design means that these issues can be resolved through management measures. K e s w i c k T o w n C e n t r e M a s t e r p l a n | 55

high quality materials

In Market Place the use of low kerbs to channel rainwater has caused some people to trip. In Lake Road, the absence of an upstand has reportedly resulted in inadequate channelling of surface water. These matters may need attention in the future. Beyond the core Unfortunately, the high quality of the streetscape in the urban core serves to highlight the much poorer quality of the routes and spaces in adjacent areas. This is especially true of the yards, where an ad hoc collection of materials have been used and maintenance has been perfunctory. The yards are of particular historical interest and provide important connections to and from the retail core, yet they are shabby and unwelcoming places to be. The important role they perform in the town centre should place them near the top of the hierarchy of streets and the quality of the streetscape should match that of the Market Place. Beyond the upgraded core, the quality of the public realm is highly variable. In some areas, a utilitarian approach with simple materials and adequate maintenance has provided simple but effective street environments that are ‘fit for purpose’. In other places, attempts to add more interest to the street scene have created a confusion of different materials and introduced design styles that are alien to Keswick. Some schemes have used manmade unit paviors which are too small and the wrong colour for Keswick and bring an inappropriate suburban character to the town centre. 56

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clutter detracts from quality and character

Decorative touches There is a strong theme throughout the town of ‘decorating’ buildings and spaces, with hanging baskets, ornamental lamps, strings of lights, decorative signs and so on. This, combined with the clutter of A-signs, bollards, bins, fingerpost signs and patches of shrubbery makes the street scene look fussy, and distracts from the quality and character of the buildings. The number of obstacles in the street is also an issue, especially given the very high volumes of pedestrians moving through the town centre during peak times. Signage - managing people and movement The need to deal with the influx of large numbers of visitors during the warmer months has resulted in a proliferation of signs directing people what to do and what not to do. This, along with aggressive policing of the parking regime, creates a slightly authoritarian tone which is at odds with the charm and pleasant rural character of the town. Key goals for future improvements to the public realm should focus on: • hospitability: assessing the potential to extend the more convivial pedestrian-orientated environments of the core area into other parts of the town centre • consistency: reducing the number of design approaches and having a more selective palette of materials; a combination K e s w i c k T o w n C e n t r e M a s t e r p l a n | 57

poor quality streetscape beyond the core area

of functional and high quality materials and designs will help avoid unsatisfactory “suburban” compromises clutter: minimising the number of objects in public spaces; developing an ethos where the goal is to reduce the number of permanent objects in streets and spaces to an absolute minimum workmanship and maintenance: focusing on the very highest standards of detailing, construction and ongoing maintenance, regardless of whether it is in the pouring of asphalt or the laying of stone flags management: being prepared to fine-tune the management of streets and spaces, recognising the need for flexibility to deal with change over time (and at different times of year) first impressions: ensuring that the town welcomes visitors reducing the emphasis on warnings and penalties, and encouraging a climate of cooperation between visitors, businesses and town managers programming spaces: ensuring that where appropriate, urban spaces have functions and events associated with them all year round – this would apply to major spaces, yards, secondary streets and car parks

Network of footpaths The core of the town is very permeable with a fishbone arrangement of lanes (‘yards’) leading away from the spine of the Market Place. This core is a pedestrian priority zone and is generally safe and pleasant to walk around. The yards link the town’s key arrival points - the car 58

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“fast and slow” Keswick

parks - to the retail heart of the town. Outside this core however, the continuity of the pedestrian network is broken by the encircling heavily-trafficked roads. This effect is less pronounced to the east, but to the north, west and south, pedestrians moving beyond the core must negotiate their way through difficult and often hostile territory. To the north there are layers of severance created by Bell Close car park, the heavily trafficked Victoria Street and the River Greta. To the south, Central car park and Heads Road are significant barriers to movement on foot. In both cases, pedestrian connections exist but are restricted to one or two, indirect routes. The town centre resembles a fortification surrounded by a moat; to reach outlying areas it is necessary to cross a bridge or go through an underpass. As a consequence, links between the town centre and Fitz Park, Hope Park and the lake are tenuous. Key goals for future improvements to the pedestrian network should focus on: • opportunities to make the environment of the car parks more accommodating to pedestrians • assessing the potential to alter Victoria Street and Heads Road – or parts of them – to allow pedestrians to cross safely at grade • the potential to create another, more direct link northwards across the Greta • developing stronger visual links southwards to make more direct connections to Hope Park and the Lake K e s w i c k T o w n C e n t r e M a s t e r p l a n | 59

detailed land use


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TRAFFIC AND MOVEMENT The impact of traffic and pressure on parking space loom large in local people’s views of Keswick, and are a source of some tension between the needs of residents and visitors. Our consultations suggest that, at peak times: • •

the heavy flow of traffic through Keswick results in congestion and delays which are an irritation and can disrupt daily life there is severe competition for town centre parking which deters people from using local shops and facilities, and parking spills over into residential areas close to the centre

This study has been carried out from winter to late summer. While the town is generally lively and busy, we have seen nothing to suggest that traffic or parking is a particular problem. Indeed, during the winter and early spring, the town sometimes appeared to be overprovided with parking, creating a rather bleak environment in some places. However, we recognise that the town is substantially busier from Easter to the late summer, especially on bank holidays and during the summer peak especially during the three weeks of the Convention. This highlights a challenge for Keswick: how to cater adequately for peak times, without fatally compromising the quality and character of the town. Information gathered by Martin Stockley Associates suggests that access and movement are not major problems, and 64

that traffic volumes are acceptable even in mid-summer. However, the main routes through the town are certainly busy and small events (for example, carriageways blocked by delivery vehicles) can trigger delays and congestion. What is lacking is any sense that vehicular movement is being managed. When delays and congestion do occur, those who are caught up in the delay are left completely uninformed about alternative routes or progress. Vehicular Movements

almost half of those using the car parks found it difficult to park and a similar proportion said it was expensive. Around 90% thought that “pay as you leave” machines or machines that gave change would be an improvement. Advance signage would also be helpful, showing drivers if car parks are full or have spaces. On street parking is provided on a number of roads outside the central area. Parking is free for 1-2 hours with a disc. On-street parking is not used to its full capacity, suggesting that visitors want to stay for longer than 1-2 hours. It is also situated slightly further away from the main shopping area than the off street car parks.

The main vehicular links to Keswick are the A66 from Penrith, Cockermouth and Workington, the A591 from Ambleside and Windermere, and the B5289 from Seatoller. Traffic counts for these roads show a steady stream of traffic travelling through Keswick. There are no extreme peaks and the traffic increases and decreases relatively smoothly during the day. The August count at the A66 site shows an increase in volume of between 20-30 % compared with the spring.

The car park environment could also be improved. Although one or two establishments have attempted to provide some signage and indicate entrances, most shops back on to the car parks. Consequently, the sight that greets visitors is the unattractive rear of buildings with little welcoming signage or indication of directions to the town centre and shops.

Car Parking

There is no rail link to Keswick, although proposals to re-open the old railway between Keswick and Penrith have been mooted. The nearest stations are at Penrith, Windermere and Workington.

The main off-street car parks are positioned just outside the immediate core shopping area and existing provision is described earlier in this section. The pay and display time limit varies between 3 hours and 24 hours. The mruk market research report found that

Public Transport

Keswick is a hub for many of the Lake District’s bus routes. The services are typical for rural communities. Other than at peak

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vehicle movement

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walking distances


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existing public transport

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periods (e.g. school drop-off and pick-up times, morning and evening work travel peaks, etc.) it is never going to be financially viable or sustainable to run large vehicles - virtually empty - at very frequent intervals. In these circumstances, improved provision requires an approach more finely tuned to the needs of the specific community concerned. This could involve a combination of large volume public transport for peaks supplemented at off-peak hours by smaller private/semi-public vehicles. Keswick has some of this infrastructure already in place but consideration needs to be given to its further development and financing. KESWICK AREA PARTNERSHIP: TOWN PERCEPTIONS STUDY

come to Keswick to enjoy themselves and many older people are loyal returners; local people like the town as well, but they see it “warts and all” and they have different needs and expectations. Four out of 5 respondents said they were satisfied with the character and quality of the environment in Keswick. 97% of visitors and 95% of businesses were satisfied, but only 52% of residents. 94% of visitors rated their visit as enjoyable (61% very enjoyable); one in four of this group had not visited Keswick before, but three quarters said they would visit again 98% of respondents would recommend Keswick as a place to visit – including all business respondents and 96% of residents

Across the board, businesses express a high level of interest in events of all kinds, presumably because they are seen to offer opportunities. Visitors have a high interest (65%) in town trails; interest in other cultural festivals and fairs is about the same among visitors and residents (around 50%), although residents are more positive than visitors about the beer festival and literary events. The survey also provides useful insights into the reasons why people visit Keswick: • • •

Keswick Area Partnership Ltd commissioned market research to gather feedback from local residents, businesses and visitors on proposed developments within the town. 300 interviews were undertaken in August 2005, with 100 in each of the three groups of respondents – visitors; local businesses and residents. The report provides an invaluable insight into the town and how it is perceived. The key findings are summarised below.

The survey explored some specific aspects of the Keswick experience. It found that:

The report reveals a very high level of satisfaction with the Keswick experience among visitors, but a much more mixed report card from residents. It should be said that this is not in itself surprising: visitors

• • • •

94% of visitors (53% residents) were satisfied with signposting 84% of visitors (48% residents) were satisfied with the condition of alleyways 56% of visitors (57% residents) were satisfied with the town’s festivals and events strikingly 88% of visitors were satisfied with the range and quality of Keswick’s shops, but only 38% of businesses and 22% of residents.

local residents come to the town centre to shop (72%) or work (23%) visitors surveyed were divided evenly between people on holiday (45%) and day trippers (42%) Most local residents (54%) travelled to town on foot, 38% arrived by car, and 14% on a bus. 74% of visitors came by car and only 6% by bus; 11% were walkers Parking is clearly the most problematic issue for residents and businesses. 79% and 77% said that parking was difficult (50%/53% very difficult). Given that only 24% of visitors took the same view (and 64% said it was easy) we are clearly dealing with community perceptions and – presumably - memories of particularly busy days

Similarly, 86% of local residents (82% of businesses) consider parking to be too expensive, but only 14% of visitors. However, while businesses and visitors would strongly welcome measures like ticket

Town Perceptions Study. mruk. September 2005 K e s w i c k T o w n C e n t r e M a s t e r p l a n | 69

machines that give change or pay as you leave parking, residents are more lukewarm, although a majority would support them. Half of the residents interviewed would welcome a park and ride scheme, presumably because it would relieve pressure on town centre car parks, but this is of less interest to visitors (28%).

SUMMARY Keswick is at an important point in its history - the town has managed to retain most of its essential urban qualities over three centuries of change and recent streetscape works in the town centre have consolidated the urban experience. At the same time, the impact of the car has resulted in some degradation of the urban fabric, and the quality of development in the modern era has generally been poor. There is a constant tension between development pressures and the need to protect the landscape context that is a central part of the town’s appeal. On balance, arrival in Keswick is a decidedly positive experience, thanks to the town’s extraordinary landscape setting rather than its architectural or townscape quality. The best of urban Keswick – the market place and the parks – have to be experienced on foot. Improvements are required to the west and north approaches, and especially on Main Street, which is a ragged and unsatisfactory point of entry. The heart of the town is ringed by car parks, and there is also parking for the popular Lakeside area. These inevitably have some negative impact on the town centre, but there is potential to upgrade them to make them more comfortable, sociable and attractive places.

and opportunity for change in response to economic and social factors as well as urban design and environmental considerations. The key messages are: • the town’s capacity to provide opportunities for change through development of green field sites is very limited • the best opportunities for change may lie within the existing built envelope of the town on sites already in use • there are potential development opportunities associated with the town centre car parks • there is an identifiable need for additional streetscape projects, design guidance and improvements to the footpath network that connects the town centre to the surrounding countryside • planned landscape and facility improvements in Fitz, Hope and Crow Park as well as around the Derwentwater shore would be beneficial • there should be a reassessment of the use of the caravan parks to the west of the town • recognition of the limited scope for development in established residential areas We have identified a number of opportunities for improvements to current provision for access and movement. These include: •

In the character assessment, we focused on the positive aspects of Keswick – of which there are many. At the same time there is need 70

measures to manage the peak seasonal movements by visitors in a more sustainable manner; these might include a good quality Park-and-Ride service from the A66 to the centre of town

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• •

smart signage at the main entrance routes into town indicating the nearest car park where spaces are available: this would assist visitors and local people, reducing unnecessary movements and frustration (thereby improving perceptions of the town) the quality of the environment in the car parks could be improved by intelligent townscape works; this would mean treating them as public open spaces where parking is allowed rather than as car parks with some token public furniture and planting applied a more flexible approach to payment for car parking would be worth considering so that there is not an underlying perception that the system is unfair; in the high season it is worth considering employing meet-and-greet staff to offer help and advice on where to park and provide change for machines; this will add to the perception that the town cares about its visitors and residents public realm schemes for the town centre fringes should be less dominated by traditional highways engineering concerns consideration could be given to exploring the feasibility of innovative community based transport solutions to augment existing provision, perhaps drawing on experience from Rural Transport Partnerships

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5 the visitor experience Derwentwater

Introduction Tourism is Keswick’s key industry, and it has been the town’s principal raison d’être for at least 150 years. At one time, traditional crafts, quarrying, mining and land-based industries all played an important part in the local economy, but these activities have withered away over many decades. Tourism drives the town’s economy but, as in many resort towns, Keswick’s relationship with the industry is ambivalent. By its very nature, tourism has a powerful impact on the life of the host community. Living with tourism is not always easy, especially in a small town: at peak times, the town may feel as if it has been invaded by tourists; it gets congested and it is hard to find a place to park. The town centre is a leisure shopping destination for visitors, with the prime retail locations claimed increasingly by outdoor clothing and fashion shops, galleries and cafes. There is a perception that local shops have been forced out of business or driven into less favourable locations. Keswick Tourism Association Keswick Tourism Association (KTA) Ltd is the local delivery body for the accommodation and tourism sector in Keswick and the Northern Lakes. KTA is a member run, self financing organisation with over 470 trade members, including accommodation providers, retailers, restaurants and visitor attractions. The Keswick Tourism Association is funded almost totally by the members through subscriptions and K e s w i c k T o w n C e n t r e M a s t e r p l a n | 73

Gallery at Bell Close car park

advertising. It is a voluntary and independent trade association, electing its own volunteer Directors and employing one member of staff. The aim of the Association is to publicise and further the interests of Keswick and the North Lakes, and to assist members and visitors wherever possible. The KTA: • • • • • • • •

publishes the annual Keswick and North Lakes Visitor and Information Guide produces the web site prints a town map in conjunction with two other organisations promotes and advertises the area nationally and internationally attends relevant holiday exhibitions publishes member newsletters provides business and marketing advice to members works in co-operation with local and national organisations whose objectives are the advancement of tourism and tourist amenities

In this section we consider the Keswick experience from the visitor’s perspective. We return to the crucial relationship between the town and tourists in later sections. MARKET TRENDS Tourism in Cumbria has made a strong recovery since the Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) outbreak in 2001. The industry contributed an estimated £1,069m to the local economy in 2003, up 13% since 74

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Market Place on market day

2000. In 2003, 15.5 million tourist trips were made to Cumbria, comprising around 5m overnight visitors and 10m day visitors. These trips generated an estimated 28.9m tourism days, a 9% increase since 2000. The industry supported more than 25,000 full-time equivalent jobs in 2003, an 8% increase. In 2003 the Keswick Tourist Information Centre (TIC) dealt with nearly 444,000 enquiries making it the busiest TIC in Cumbria and accounting for 11% of all enquiries made through the TIC network in the county. On the basis that actual visitor numbers exceed TIC enquiries by a factor of 3-4, it is probable that Keswick has well over 1.5m visitors a year. At peak times the number of people visiting the town each day far exceeds the resident population. These positive trends - combined with anecdotal evidence of good occupancy levels in the town’s hotels and guest houses and the results of the visitor survey described in section 5 - suggest that tourism in Keswick is in good heart and performing strongly. There is no doubt that Keswick is a popular and attractive place with a loyal customer base, but we believe that there are some warning signs for the future. CUMBRIA TOURIST BOARD DESTINATION MANAGEMENT PLAN The Cumbria Tourist Board’s (CTB) vision for the Lake District in 2015 is of an area which will have an unrivalled reputation for its high

Tourist Information Centres: Best Practice Report. The Winning Company. March 2004. K e s w i c k T o w n C e n t r e M a s t e r p l a n | 75

quality landscape, accommodation, attractions, public realm, heritage and cultural offer, excellent customer care and a year-round programme of activities and events centred on the area’s unique culture. The destination management plan (DMP) sets some ambitious industry targets for Cumbria, including: • doubling visitor spend in real terms by 2012 • increasing tourism supported jobs by more than 40% in the same period • increasing average room occupancy from 56% to 66% The DMP acknowledges that achieving these targets will be “a considerable challenge”, and will require a significant improvement in the performance of the private sector and the public realm. Table 6.1, reproduced from the plan, shows CTB prospects in different market segments.

Table 6.1: Cumbria tourism market segment trends

Market segment Visiting friends and relatives

Overall Trend Strong growth

main activities Retail, food and beverage and nights out

Corporate Business Conference and Exhibitions

Steady growth

Budget and 4 star hotels

Steady growth

Hotels and conference centres

Long Holidays (7+ nights) Medium Breaks (3-7 nights) Short Breaks (1-3 nights)

Steady decline Stable Steady growth

Character self catering and farm stay Character self catering and farm stay Character self catering + quality hotels

Day Trips

Steady growth

Retail, food and beverage and nights out

CTB notes that growth will only be achieved by improving the Cumbria tourism product. Based on earlier research by Locum they conclude that the priorities for action include: • • • • •

specific accommodation sectors experiential tourism, including outdoor activities retail food and beverage urban public realm, transport infrastructure and visitor facilities

Despite recovery post-FMD, the Lake District – which is Cumbria’s leading tourism brand – has a “faded” reputation, and there is a need “to lift the visitor experience to a new and dynamic level”. 76

main locations Carlisle and market towns M6 Corridor Near M6 and Central Lakes Scenic rural areas Scenic rural areas Central Lakes and M6 Corridor Carlisle, market towns & resorts

Among others things, this will involve: • the creation of a new and contemporary Lake District offer, and • a brand image improvement programme, with an improved visitor centre, gateway projects and attractive public transport underpinned by quality assurance The plan identifies a long list of investment proposals, some generic and some location specific. The following appear to be of particular relevance to Keswick (Table 6.2):

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Table 6.2: Cumbria Destination Management Plan – selected major tourism investment proposals

THEME Star Brands Winning themes

Signature projects Excellent events

Celebrating & growing excellence Making it easy Other projects

PROJECT Lake District Keswick & Western Lakes Outdoor activities Gardens, landscape, wildlife Food and drink Camping and caravanning Cultural tourism Lake District Renaissance World Mountain Running Championships Keswick Jazz Festival Sustainable tourism Quality through training Hospitality and tourism skills TIC quality agenda Whinlatter Mountain Biking Centre

THE LAKE DISTRICT AND THE KESWICK OFFER The clear implication of the CTB plan is that the Lake District has been “getting away with it” as a visitor destination, but that it is now facing new and potentially serious competitive threats. The area has traded on its undoubted landscape and environmental assets, but other aspects of the visitor offer have been lagging behind.

We support this broad diagnosis, and the judgement that the Lake District brand is somewhat faded. Consumers are becoming increasingly discerning and sophisticated, and they are looking for holiday and short break destinations that offer quality, choice, distinctiveness and authenticity. They are also increasing sensitised to environmental concerns and the need for sustainable tourism. The Lake District has some enduring strengths and attributes: a superb landscape setting; outstanding walking, outdoor and adventure activities; wildlife; and a rich and distinctive cultural heritage. In some places, these are complemented by quality visitor attractions, cultural facilities, events and speciality shopping. However, these are not always matched by other aspects of the visitor offer. For example: • overcrowding and congestion at peak times undermine the visitor experience • the negative impact of traffic and parking on the towns and villages • some disappointing, car-dominated town centres • indifferent quality of much of the food, drink and accommodation offer • poor quality and badly managed public realm Our consultations suggest that:

• this analysis commands broad support, and • Keswick, though it exhibits some of these shortcomings, is a key asset for the National Park There is general agreement that recent investment in the public realm has given Keswick a big lift. The results of the survey confirm that visitors find it an attractive and appealing place, and the evidence appears to be that it has had a positive impact on trade and stimulated investment in properties in and around the Market Place. The benefits of excluding traffic from the pedestrianised heart of the town are in marked contrast to the uncomfortable and hostile environment of Ambleside and Windermere. The 2005 survey shows that visitors are overwhelmingly positive about the town centre environment. Leisure shopping clearly plays a key part in the town’s appeal: outdoor clothing stores dominate, but there is also a good range of fashion, craft, gift and other speciality shops and an improving choice of restaurants and cafes. The visitor experience revolves around the twin poles of the town centre and the lakeshore. In Section 4 we noted that the latter is in urgent need of investment, but it is still a huge asset, with superb scenery, walking and boat trips. The appeal of Keswick is, of course, inseparable from its landscape setting and the town offers a good range of outdoor activities, with the lake, the parks and a network of footpaths and cycle tracks.

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Physical Tourist Resources


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Keswick does not have any major visitor attractions, although the Cumberland Pencil Factory continues to be popular and there are a number of other attractions in the town. It has a growing reputation in the arts and culture: • the Theatre by the Lake offers a good quality year-round programme • the Alhambra Cinema shows mainstream and art house films, the latter through Keswick Film Club • the Museum and Art Gallery is currently the subject of a separate study • there are a number of good quality private galleries, and • the town’s events programme has a strong cultural focus, with annual film, literary, music and performance festivals All this fits well with the themes and priorities of the CTB strategy and the DMP. Keswick is particularly well placed to lead on some of the winning themes identified in Table 6.2, notably outdoor activities and culture, but it also needs to focus on quality by celebrating and growing quality. Keswick also reflects some of the weaknesses noted by the Tourist Board. For example: • at busy times, traffic dominates the “inner-ring” encircling the town centre conflicting with easy pedestrian links to the parks, the river and the lake

• the quality of the urban fabric falls away in the area immediately adjoining the town centre, with its tracts of surface parking and fragmented and scruffy yards and lanes • although the new streetscape scheme is a success there are still shabby and neglected buildings, even in the heart of town • similarly, though Keswick has some very well presented shops and restaurants, other businesses look cheap and tacky • also there is a perceived lack of wet weather facilities, a lack of offer for families and children focused attractions

generally indifferent. It is certainly not a “food town”, despite the presence of some good food shops, and there is not much evidence of local distinctiveness. Keswick is a town waiting for more quality in its restaurant sector. dated accommodation

The quality of accommodation, food and drink is critical if Keswick is to adjust successfully to the high value tourism model set out by the CTB. We have not carried out a detailed review and the following comments are therefore anecdotal, but we believe that Keswick is lagging behind in these areas. The accommodation market is dominated by budget bed and breakfast establishments. The external appearance of many of these businesses is unprepossessing, although they clearly cater for important markets including walkers. The town’s traditional hotels have an unmistakably faded appearance, and there is little evidence yet of style-conscious hotels. The market is changing and we are confident that the product will evolve, but accelerating the process and setting a standard that meets the needs and expectations of the next generation of visitors will be key. Keswick has some good places to eat and drink, but the standard is K e s w i c k T o w n C e n t r e M a s t e r p l a n | 79

cafe in St John Street

CONCLUSION Like the rest of the Lake District, Keswick has recovered well from the effects of the FMD outbreak. Investment in recent years – notably in the theatre and the town centre public realm – has improved the town, helped trade and stimulated investment. Keswick appears to have a winning formula, but – as the Tourist Board strategy makes clear – it cannot afford to be complacent. Despite a rich endowment of natural assets, too many things and places are shabby, tacky and neglected. As we suggest in section 4, the background is often much better than the foreground. The public sector has made a big contribution, and proposals to improve the lakeshore and the pedestrian links between the town and lake will confer additional benefits. An encouraging number of shops and private galleries have taken their cue from this investment and have upgraded their premises; the number of new businesses is a cause for optimism. A prominent minority of businesses fall short of the new benchmark, but competitive pressures – perhaps complemented by enforcement - can be expected to drive up standards throughout the town. Our impression is that it has taken longer for these positive trends to reach the town’s eating places and, especially, the accommodation sector. As far as the latter is concerned this may reflect the fact that many bed & breakfasts and guest houses are run by retired people, while the cost of major investment in larger establishments may be prohibitive for private owners. Change 80

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a cross-section of Keswick shopfronts

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the Cumberland Pencil Museum and Shop

is inevitable but Keswick needs to move quickly to establish its reputation as a high quality lakeside town and to shed the residual image of a 1950s resort. The clear implication of CTB’s destination management plan is that the Lake District needs to change to meet the needs and aspirations of a highly competitive market in which consumers have an unprecedented range of choices. The natural environment does not disappoint, but too often other aspects of the visitor experience fall short of the mark. Keswick is doing well and improving, and visitors enjoy the town. But our candid view is that it still has a long way to go. There is a risk that, if it fails to respond to the competitive challenge, it will become increasing dependent on declining, low spending markets. Keswick has undoubted appeal as a traditional – and very English - resort; but it must be careful that it does not become an unfashionable anachronism. It needs to add style to tradition and develop quality to match the natural setting.


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6 the keswick community CONTEXT Keswick Youth Centre near Greta Bridge

To those who visit, Keswick’s spectacular setting and characterful Market Square might appear to be the very epitome of the English rural idyll. But as we have already identified (see section 2), Keswick’s popularity and attractiveness are at the root of some fundamental tensions and conflicts. The relationship between the Keswick community, in-migrants and visitors is complex, and new residents and visitors are the sources of undoubted benefits for local people as well as some perceived conflicts. The other side of the rural idyll that Keswick presents is difficulty of access to services and facilities for local residents. The retail offering is increasingly focused on serving tourists, and access to services such as health care often involve substantial trips to Whitehaven, Carlisle or even Newcastle. For those who live in the surrounding parishes, for young people, the elderly, or those without access to a car, the problems are compounded by inconvenient and expensive public transport connections.

activity and relatively high levels of personal wealth on the one hand, and the lack of opportunity related to the low wage economy on the other. This section of the report identifies some of the issues faced by the local community that are relevant to this masterplanning study. As well as our own observations, we have spoken in confidence with a number of volunteers in community groups and with those who work in the public and voluntary sectors to support community groups. We also look at community facilities, levels of community activity and issues of common concern, and draw some key conclusions for the next phase of this study. The information contained in this section focuses on Keswick itself, as that is the hub of community activity. Mention is made of local community facilities and issues outwith Keswick where appropriate. COMMUNITY FACILITIES

Taken in combination with the employment and housing markets, the result is that a significant number of local people can become trapped in an isolated rural economy, without the opportunities for personal growth and income generation that many of us take for granted in Britain today. Similar issues can be seen in other similar sized rural towns elsewhere in the UK and abroad. But what sets Keswick apart is the dichotomy it experiences between tourism-related economic

Compared to other English towns of its size, Keswick is relatively well-endowed with community facilities. However, this undoubtedly reflects the town’s relative inaccessibility from other service centres, approximately 20 miles from Penrith and Workington and 35 miles from the larger sub-regional centre of Carlisle. Local facilities include:

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Fig. 6.1 Community organisations in Keswick

Secondary school – Keswick School has been designated as a “Leading Edge” school



Age / lifestyle

Out of School Club, Play Group

Primary schools – in Keswick and surrounding parishes

Business & tourism

Tourism Association Business Improvement District

Health – Keswick has its own hospital with limited facilities, although there is local concern about possible reduction in services

Charitable & campaigning

Fair Trade, Calvert Trust, Road Safety Action, Flood Action Group, Political clubs

Cultural and amenity

Theatre Trust, Civic Society, Keswick in Bloom

Swimming pool and fitness centre


Library and mobile library

Town Council, Parish Councils Keswick Area Partnership Neighbouring Forum, Youth Forum

Churches – Keswick has a number of churches for different religious groups, and there are also parish churches in the wider study area


Bridge Club, Beekeepers Association Choral Society, Film Club


Parish Church of Keswick St John Keswick Methodist Church Our Lady of the Lakes and St Charles RC Bethesda Free Chapel Congregational Church Religious Society of Friends Kings Church, Rawnsley Centre Outlying parish centres

Theatre – a dynamic focus for local arts activity

Citizens Advice Bureau

Parks with formal and informal recreational facilities

Museum and Art Gallery – primarily for visitors, but with interest for the local community too


Sports (*indicating junior sections)

Football*, Rugby*, Cricket*, Hockey* Athletics, Tennis, Bowling

Young people

Keswick Youth Club, JCs Youth Club Scouts/Club/Beavers/Explorers Guides/Brownies, Cadets

COMMUNITY ORGANISATIONS Keswick has a particularly active community sector, with active groups covering a range of sectors and issues. Figure 6.1 illustrates a variety of community organisations in the town but is not a fully comprehensive list. A number of these groups have demonstrated what can be achieved through targeted local action. The following examples demonstrate how a self-help attitude has helped two of Keswick’s community-based organisations: •

Keswick Rugby Club employs a full-time development worker through income it raises through its own commercial activities. This has helped the Club develop a large and successful junior rugby section which attracts large numbers of both boys and girls from a large hinterland.

Keswick Area Partnership has supported business people to spearhead a successful campaign to implement England’s first rural Business Improvement District (BID), with the intention of raising additional revenue locally to invest in the business environment.

In addition to locally-based groups, there are also a number of public and voluntary sector organisations who support the community sector, including: •

Allerdale Borough Council

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Cumbria County Council

Young Cumbria

West Cumbria CVS

Cumbria Community Foundation

The variety of community groups operating in Keswick indicates an active local community and voluntary sector, with a number of people giving much time and energy to help their local community. This is characterised by a strong spirit of self-help – which can be a remarkable force for change, as the examples of the Rugby Club and the Tourism Association demonstrate. Inevitably, the health and vitality of the community sector depends largely on a relatively small number of volunteers, with many individuals taking great responsibility and working across a number of organisations. We have heard comment that some volunteers are overstretched. This is obviously a cause for concern. We would however stress that this issue is not unique to Keswick – most communities across the UK struggle with the same challenge, and there are no easy solutions at either the local or strategic levels. The strength and success of community groups depends largely on the people involved. This is not simply an issue of personality – it is also a matter of the amount of time that volunteers can devote, their

the Theatre by the Lake cafe

qualifications and their contact networks. People, however, are not the only reason for the relative success of some community groups compared to others: there are other important factors, such as how closely a community group’s aims “fit” with public sector priorities. The nature of Keswick’s community sector appears to have a particular emphasis on sport, business and pastimes. Other types of community group find it more difficult to achieve sustainability, and are constrained by volunteers being over-stretched or by a lack of funding. Of potential relevance to this particular study is the noticeable absence of any environmental group which might take an interest in implementing practical projects such as woodland or footpath schemes or community land ownership/management. Our discussions have led us to believe that those working in the community sector in Keswick could build on the high level of community activity to achieve even more for the town in a number of ways: •

Harnessing the spirit of self-help that is already evident in the town and extending it to other sectors of the local community.

Greater co-operation between community groups, particularly those working in apparently unrelated sectors, to share the benefits of their knowledge and successes more widely.

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Keswick Museum and Art Gallery

Increased willingness for community groups to work in partnership with funders and service providers such as local authorities. There are many examples of communities across the UK who have found that closer co-operation with the public sector has helped them to achieve their goals, for example through accessing additional sources of funding and training support.

local community and the public sector share a desire for positive progress, and there are potentially substantial resources to be won for community groups which could help transform Keswick. Helping community groups to increase their effectiveness would also help to achieve greater integration in the community, tackling some of the tensions and conflicts identified in section 2 and at the start of this section.

Greater focus on community capacity building and support from the public sector – for example, provision of advice and training on organisational management and governance.


Subject to there being sufficient interest and capacity locally, there may be an opportunity to support the creation of a community group or groups with a focus on practical environmental or land management projects. Such a group could complement the existing range of groups by providing an opportunity for community involvement of a different quality or nature – and one which could potentially have a role in implementing proposals that emerge from this study. There is perhaps potential to link with the Lake District Voluntary Ranger Service.

A degree of attitudinal change to ensure that increased cooperation and trust become embedded in the various sectors involved.

The time is right for all involved to focus on these changes. The 86

At any point in time, every local community faces changes that cause concern. Keswick is no different. What concerns people in Keswick and surrounding parishes at the moment? Judging from the subjects discussed at Neighbourhood Forum meetings over the last year and local Parish Plans, “civic” issues that cause local concern include: •

Poor and expensive public transport.

Lack of investment in youth workers and development.

Need to prioritise local housing.

Lack of public investment in the town generally.

Rationalisation proposals for Keswick Hospital which may close

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A&E and reduce the number of beds. •

Concerns about overly-restrictive town centre parking regulations and localised lack of parking elsewhere.

Ongoing concerns about quality of service provision maintenance of roads, lack of recycling facilities and public toilets.

Town Cass: a potential focus for community involvement in the environment

Some of these reflect deeper concerns about changing public investment priorities over time and perceived greater allocation of regeneration funds to coastal towns with higher absolute levels of deprivation. There are however a number of community issues which are worthy of greater analysis for this study. Concern over youth issues attracts much attention in Keswick. It could be argued that the town’s “youth problem” is more perceived than real: Keswick is a quiet place, so any noisy behaviour is likely to attract attention, and levels of criminal or truly antisocial behaviour appear to be relatively low. That is not to say there is not an issue to tackle. We understand that the relevant bodies (including Cumbria County Council, its youth work service provider Youth Cumbria, the Police and the local community) are communicating to address the issues that exist. We also understand that research is ongoing with young people to identify what they need and want. Whilst the solutions ultimately adopted to address youth issues are likely to be pursued through other mechanisms rather than this K e s w i c k T o w n C e n t r e M a s t e r p l a n | 87

masterplanning study, we are aware of a number of issues that are contextually relevant: •

Public transport is a key issue – not only for young people but for others without access to vehicles, such as elderly or disabled people.

Providing certainty and delivering promises - young people, even more than adults, need to see that their participation is rewarded with tangible results. There is a general feeling that young people are willing and keen to be involved in projects: but if they are involved and their efforts do not bear fruit, their support will melt away for future initiatives if that project does not deliver.


Longevity and sustainability of projects and interventions. In terms of youth issues, part of the answer to this is to integrate youth projects with wider community projects wherever possible, for example where there are common concerns that unite age generations such as public transport links.

CONCLUSIONS This section has sought to give an insight into issues faced by the local community. Our discussion of community groups does not pretend to be an exhaustive scientific audit: rather, it is an educated but brief snapshot of the vitality of the local community at this point in time, identifying steps that could help to support the local community in achieving its ambitions as the masterplan progresses. The local community has plenty of positive assets to build on. The analysis contained in this section will inform both the spatial form and, equally importantly, the deliverability of the emerging masterplan. above: Keswick Swimming Pool and Fitness Centre below: Keswick Hospital (Mary Hewetson Cottage Hospital)

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7 issues and directions Fig 7.1 The Keswick SWOT




Landscape setting: lake, river, hills Local employment/service centre Successful tourism industry Strong customer loyalty Strong residential & retail property markets Destination retail Pedestrianised historic core Parks and open spaces Theatre by the Lake Events programme Active retired residents Keswick Area Partnership Ltd Keswick Tourism Association Ltd Quality Parish Status

Accommodation sector Food and drink offer Tacky shops and tired buildings Vacant units in secondary locations Yards and alleys Seasonal congestion and parking Lack of affordable housing Narrow employment base: lack of opportunity for local residents Poor quality of recent architecture and design

This report has presented a portrait of Keswick in 2006, assessing the town’s strengths and weaknesses, and identifying some key issues for the future. The SWOT analysis in Figure 7.1 is not comprehensive, but it captures some of the key messages from this analysis.



Pencil Factory site Outdoor and activity holidays Cultural tourism Entrepreneurial spirit Economic diversification Robust urban form Planned investment in lakeshore public realm and links to town Reopen Keswick-Penrith railway Positive policy environment Environmental stewardship Embracing change Win-win for residents, incomers and visitors

Complacency Rising consumer expectations Becoming unfashionable and out of date Ageing customer base Lack of business space Flood risks Ageing population and talent drain Other towns treated as investment priorities Risk aversion and resistance to change Tension between residents, incomers and visitors

The SWOT analysis reflects our view that, despite the town’s many assets and attributes, the future of Keswick is in the balance. Keswick is a prosperous and privileged town, but there is a real danger that this will breed a climate of complacency. There are some signs of this already: we have observed that in some ways the Keswick experience fails to live up to its wonderful natural setting. The good news is that a new generation of businesses appears to recognise the need for excellence in product, presentation and service, but these coexist with some shops, guest houses and eating places that are a throwback to an earlier – and unlamented – era of British tourism. Our town centre strategy proceeds from the assumption that tourism will continue to be the dominant industry in the town for the foreseeable future. The question is: which Keswick will prevail, the old or the new? We have described other threats and risks. Tourism dominates the local economy, and is the key driver of employment in retail, leisure and services as well as the hospitality industry. Although the Tourist Board and its partners are working hard to raise the quality and K e s w i c k T o w n C e n t r e M a s t e r p l a n | 89

status of these jobs, tourism remains a low-wage (and relatively lowskill) sector which is not much sought-after by local people. Pressure on an already constrained supply has driven up house prices to levels that are beyond the reach of local people seeking to enter the housing market. Many buyers are purchasing second homes or investing in properties for the self-catering market. The recent housing needs survey has confirmed the growing requirement for affordable housing. The lack of well paid employment for skilled and qualified workers and the shortage of affordable housing are sources of tension in the local community. Increasingly, only high net worth individuals can afford buy property in Keswick and many of these people are retired or semiretired. Meanwhile, local residents of working age may be forced to leave the area to find good quality jobs, or to move to other parts of Cumbria to find an affordable home. The result is reflected in Keswick’s distinctive demographic profile: an ageing population, absentee home owners, and a shortage of children and young people. Keswick is fortunate that many of its retirement age residents continue to work and contribute to economic and community life, but ultimately this is not a sustainable situation. Our conclusion is that the Keswick community needs to be refreshed by:


• regenerating and diversifying the local economy to create new jobs in sectors other than tourism, and • attracting and retaining working age adults and their families This is not a choice between tourism and diversification. Tourism is Keswick’s staple industry and the competitiveness and profitability of the industry are a precondition for future prosperity. But a modern tourism product needs to be complemented by a more diverse, knowledge-based economy, encouraging enterprise and creating opportunities for talented individuals. Refreshing the economic and community life of Keswick means that the town will need to accommodate change and development. This will be a big challenge: for obvious reasons, Keswick has a very restrictive planning regime, in which any form of development has to be justified and the conservation of the town and its natural environment are paramount. When flood risks are added into the equation, Keswick is a town in which it is particularly difficult to introduce new development. We understand the concerns that underlie these policies, and we would not want to see Keswick’s special qualities compromised. However, there are real dangers for the community if the planning regime is so restrictive that it becomes a barrier to change. The implication is that Keswick has already achieved some sort of “ideal state”, but this is clearly not the case: beyond the historic core and some other attractive enclaves, much of Keswick’s urban

environment is banal and undistinguished. Much of the town’s late 20th century expansion took the form of bland suburban sprawl which should not be repeated, but the corollary of this is that quality development and good architecture and urban design have the potential to improve Keswick, strengthen the town’s identity and reconnect it to its landscape and cultural heritage. DEALING WITH UNCERTAINTY We will use this analysis, together with the ideas generated by the community and stakeholder workshops, as the platform for the development of a long-term vision for the town centre and an urban design strategy. One of the key features of our approach is the need to acknowledge uncertainty. No one knows what the future will be like, but we can be sure that Keswick’s future will be shaped by unpredictable events (such as, in recent years, the impact of terrorism on global tourism, or the impact of FMD on Cumbria) and by driving forces, such as: • changing social aspirations and consumer behaviour • climate change and its impact on the frequency and severity of flooding • possible future taxes/restrictions on international air travel • new generations of information and communications technology These forces could play out in ways that present opportunities and/or

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threats to Keswick in the next 10 years. The purpose of a good place making strategy is not to predict the inherently unpredictable, but to future-proof the town by enhancing its competitiveness and its adaptability to change. The Keswick partners cannot stop the world changing, but they can improve their town’s capacity to respond to change and turn it to advantage.

A WIN-WIN APPROACH At several points in this report we have noted the reported tensions in Keswick, between: • residents and visitors, and • established residents and incomers

ROBUST ASSUMPTIONS Despite these uncertainties, we believe that the Keswick strategy can be based on some robust assumptions, certainly for the next 5-10 years. For example, we will assume that: • even if economic diversification is achieved, tourism will continue to be town’s most important industry • the scenery and landscape of the Lake District will continue to the main reasons people visit Keswick • …but quality of food, accommodation and service will be an increasingly important part of the package • Keswick will continue to be subject to significant flood risks • even if the town is able to attract and retain more working age people, it will still have an above average elderly population for the foreseeable future • there will still be a high level of car dependency among local residents, and most visitors will arrive by car

Such tensions are inevitable from time to time, but if the sources of conflict are not addressed they will have a corrosive effect on the quality of life in Keswick and, over time, on the visitor experience. We were very struck by the big gap between visitor and resident perceptions recorded in the 2005 survey. Visitors expressed high levels of satisfaction, but residents appeared to be disappointed and frustrated with some aspects of the town, especially parking and convenience shopping. We therefore believe that it is essential that the strategy should address these issues directly and look for a balanced, win-win approach that will improve the quality of life of local people and enhance the experience of visitors. The strategy development process began with the 30th March 2006 workshop, which started the ball rolling by addressing some urban myths and encouraged participants to focus on the benefits that new residents and visitors bring to the town.

For example, it is a myth to suggest that tourism has driven independent traders out of business; demand from the multiples may have excluded local shops from the prime retail pitch, but it is the expenditure of visitors that has enabled Keswick to maintain a level and quality of convenience shopping on a par with much larger towns. This helped to raise awareness and improve understanding, but it still left substantive challenges to be addressed, for example: • • • •

encouraging enterprise and employment creation accelerating the provision of affordable housing creating an equitable parking regime for local people managing demand on major roads at peak times

Lessons were also learned from the existing evidence base which confirmed that all the stakeholders had common needs and aspirations. For example: • high quality streets, spaces and parks are popular with visitors, but they also create (year-round) attractive and sociable places for local people to walk and meet • the survey showed that visitors enjoy Keswick’s cultural assets and its events and festivals, but these also contribute to the quality of life of local people: how many towns of 5,000 people have a quality theatre and a cinema?

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STRATEGIC CHOICES This analysis has highlighted a number of key choices facing policy makers and the community in Keswick. For example, the public sector agencies need to take a view on their strategic and spending priorities, and establish the strategic rationale for investment in Keswick in the context of the regeneration needs of less favoured communities in West Cumbria. While we understand and endorse the need for regeneration in Workington, Whitehaven and other towns, we believe it would be perverse and self-defeating to give a lower priority to Keswick. The facts are that tourism is the life-blood of the economy of rural Cumbria; the Lake District is (to quote the CTB) the county’s attack brand; and Keswick has a key role to play in welcoming and accommodating visitors to the area. The partners must build on the region’s distinctive competitive strengths as well as tackling poverty and exclusion. SCENARIOS A number of strategic choices may be considered – for example:  should Keswick continue to resist development pressure, or should it adopt a more positive attitude to change and development?  should Keswick continue to focus on tourism as the town’s 92

Fig 7.2 Keswick Scenarios

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key industry, or should it set out proactively to diversify the economy?

We have used the diagram and the framework to explore and examine the implications of these and other scenarios within the consultant team, with the client and in a workshop.

…and related to this: TOWARDS A STRATEGIC FRAMEWORK  should Keswick aim to do lots of small things within the existing town boundary and/or aim for high quality large-scale development in one or two new locations? These two choices (others could be proposed) would provide a framework for the development of scenarios for the future of Keswick. For example, figure 7.2 suggests that:  a more permissive planning regime combined with a renewed focus on tourism could deliver new visitor attractions, luxury housing and leisure development, driving a lakeside renaissance  maintaining the present tight controls and the focus on tourism might be characterised as a return to Keswick’s traditional values  diversifying the economy within a constrained planning regime may preclude some more ambitious schemes; business space will have to be achieved largely through small-scale conversions, making Keswick a centre for modern cottage industries  diversification combined with a more flexible planning regime would enable larger scale (by local standards) office/workspace development, creating the conditions for a micro knowledge

In response to these discussions about the future of the town, we have developed six key themes for Keswick. These are: Living in Keswick: building a sustainable community Working in Keswick: creating a more diverse and dynamic community Changing Keswick: transformational projects for a special place Keswick: the creative hub of the Lake District Keswick: the active community Accessible and Connected Keswick


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8 themes and proposals

Fig 8.1 Themes and Proposals theme 1 housing

theme 2 business

theme 3 place

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theme 4 theme 5 theme 6 creative community access

We have developed a strategy for Keswick which is based on six themes:

MIXED USE SITES pencil factory bell close/otley road central car park lakeside caravan/camping

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HOUSING SITES convention centre lake road/heads road timeshare

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town cass amphitheatre


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station street/st john street main street/luchini's lake road to boat landings lane improvements central car park edges network connections design guidance for shopfronts public art strategy

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SUPPORT PROGRAMMES roads/parking information support for market water management plan support for reopening the railway support for Keswick Museum

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Theme 1: living in Keswick: building a sustainable community: the objective is to provide a choice of new residential developments ranging from affordable housing, through town centre apartments to high quality high value developments in excellent locations. This theme includes proposals for new housing developments at seven locations namely: • • • • • •

Pencil Factory – 80 units Bell Close and Otley Road – 32 units Keswick Convention Centre – 28 units Lake Road / Heads Road – 20 units Timeshare Extension Area – 12 units Lakeside Caravan and Camping Site – 100 units

These proposals range from those that seem reasonably achievable in the short term – for example the Pencil Factory – to proposals that are contrary to Local Plan designations and complicated by other factors such as occupancy and technical issues, particularly flooding. Theme 2: working in Keswick: creating a more diverse and dynamic community: our objective is to increase knowledge-based private sector employment in the town centre by providing modern workspace. This will be achieved as part of mixed use developments at four locations namely:

• • • •

Pencil Factory – 10,000 sqft Bell Close Car Park – 5,000 sqft Central Car Park – 5,000 sqft Lakeside – 5,000 sqft

Theme 3: changing Keswick: transformational projects for a special place: our objective is to enhance the built environment of the town through a range of place-making interventions. The main developments are four mixed use projects at: • • • •

Pencil Factory, Southey Hill Trading Estate and at Rawnsley Centre Bell Close and Otley Road Car Parks Central Car Park Lakeside

In addition to this there are two landscape and community open space projects at Town Cass and Crow Park as well as eight public realm projects types. Finally there are four support projects covering access and parking, the market, a water management plan and support for reopening the Keswick to Penrith railway. Theme 4: Keswick: the creative hub of the Lake District: our objectives are to enhance the quality of Keswick’s cultural offer, to encourage cultural production and grow the creative industries. We propose that accommodation should be developed for creative industries at:

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Fig 8.2 Location of proposals

• • •

Pencil Factory – potentially related to the Keswick School of Industrial Arts/University of Cumbria proposal Bell Close – conversion of the Court building to gallery, managed workspace and a retail outlet for locally produced work Lakeside

In addition to this, we propose Performance Spaces at Crow Park and Bell Close Car Park, and support for the Keswick Museum and Art gallery upgrade. Theme 5: Keswick: the active community: the objective is to provide a focus for community involvement in the environment of the town by developing specific environmental projects. The main effort could be the creation of a community nature conservation project at Town Cass but support for parallel projects at St Herbert’s School (Children and Family Centre) and the Youth Club Project at the Old Mill at Greta Bridge are important components. Theme 6: accessible and connected Keswick: our objectives are to make Keswick a more accessible place and welcoming place, to improve parking arrangements and to improve the quality, convenience and extent of pedestrian networks throughout the town and the connections to the countryside. A total of 22 major project headings and related measures support these themes. These are described individually below. The projects are grouped under five headings, namely: 96

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Fig 8.3 Pencil Factory and associated developments

• • • • •

transformational mixed use projects embodying a range of the above themes housing sites related primarily to theme 1 but also to theme 3 open space, landscape or green projects relating to themes 3 – 6 public realm proposals supporting theme 3 as well as theme 6 support programmes covering a broad range of issues

The relationships between the themes and the individual projects are shown on Fig 8.1 and their locations are shown on Fig 8.2.

A: TRANSFORMATIONAL PROJECTS A1 THE PENCIL FACTORY including Southey Hill Trading Park, the Rawnsley Centre and related land This proposal takes a comprehensive approach to three related sites around the Pencil Factory. The Pencil Factory is likely to relocate to Workington in the next few years creating a major development opportunity on a prime site close to the town centre. The site lies next to the Rawnsley Centre which is an underused range of buildings owned by the Keswick Convention and a large area of land also in the Convention’s ownership which is used for annual events and car parking. It is possible that the Convention will seek other premises in the medium term. To the north of the Pencil Factory is Southey Hill Trading Park which is occupied by a number of companies. K e s w i c k T o w n C e n t r e M a s t e r p l a n | 97

Exemplar: interiors of converted industrial buildings

The opportunity exists to create a substantial new mixed use development which could secure the future of the Pencil Factory building for a variety of uses, potentially including: • • • •

the Pencil Museum to be relocated to a ground floor former production environment luxury flats commanding excellent views of the River Greta and the hills beyond workspace utilising the high ceilings and good natural lighting of the former factory building affordable housing on part of the Pencil factory site

The Rawnsley Centre seems well suited for conversion to: • • •

a luxury hotel (we have already identified the need for this in Keswick) other parts of the Rawnsley Centre buildings suitable for office accommodation the remaining land suitable for a mixed use development of residential, business space and a small amount of retail

Southey Hill could undergo some change and refocusing. It may be that housing would be a better use for such a prestigious riverside location and it would be possible to relocate some of the businesses to more appropriate parts of the overall site.


Pencil Factory area - land parcels

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It is envisaged that the layout of the three part development would be based on setting out a street system with distinct ‘places’, creating a new and desirable urban riverside quarter. Care should be taken to undertake the development in sensible construction phases that ensure the eventual completion of the overall concept.

Exemplar: potential view from the Pencil Factory to the River Greta

The parameters of the proposed development are shown on Fig 8.3

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perspectives of Pencil Factory development and the River Greta


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A2 BELL CLOSE CAR PARK and Otley Road Car Park This proposal targets the Bell Close and Otley Road car parks as principal town arrival spaces. We have developed two approaches to the future of the sites: a limited development and public realm option, and a more intensive development option. It is worth noting that in most towns and cities on the European mainland that have a historic or high quality environment, Bell Close Options A (left) and B (right)

underground or multi-storey car parks are commonplace and the normal means of accommodating the motor vehicle in sensitive locations. Multi-storey car parks are typically integrated with other uses and are often seamlessly integrated in the urban fabric. Most new development will include one or more floors of underground parking. We recommend that consideration should be given to underground parking at Bell Close and Otley Road.

few years, some businesses have orientated themselves to face the car park. This is particularly the case with some cafes, a pub and a gallery. There is considerable potential to develop this initiative to give the car park an active edge of shops, cafes and galleries, through new development which frames and encloses the car park. At the same time, upgrading the quality of design, layout and materials within the car park itself would be beneficial.

Bell Close is a social space as well as a car park and over the last

Option A: The proposed strategy is to evolve the current car park into an urban plaza with enclosing development and active frontages on four sides. The main components of the proposal are: • •

• • • • •

the conversion of the Crown Court building into a gallery, retail and workspace the construction of underground car parking (approximately 250 spaces) in addition to a revised surface level provision of approximately 135 spaces the removal of all fencing, railings, signage and other impedimenta to create an elegant space provision for additional businesses to develop facing the new urban space a small mixed use development along the east side of the current car park for retail and residential a larger mixed use development on the north side of the new space for retail, residential and office start-up space reduction in the visual importance and scale of Victoria Street and Bank Street as they pass through the site with shared surfaces Keswick Town Centre Masterplan | 101

provision for occasional use of the new space for performances, cultural events or commercial promotions

Option B: The proposed strategy is similar to ‘A’ above, but will include more development and less surface car parking. Otherwise the proposals are the same although they effectively produce three new urban spaces rather than one. The main components are: • •

• • • • •

the conversion of the Crown Court building into a gallery, retail and workspace the construction of underground car parking (approximately 250 spaces) in addition to a revised surface level provision of approximately 70 spaces the removal of all fencing, railings, signage and other impedimenta to create an elegant space provision for additional businesses to develop facing the new urban space a mixed use development along the east and north sides of the current car park for retail and residential a larger mixed use development on the north side of Victoria Street for retail, residential and office start-up space reduction in the visual importance and scale of Victoria Street and Bank Street as they pass through the site with shared surfaces provision for occasional use of the new spaces for performances, cultural events or commercial promotions

The proposals are shown on Fig 8.4 and 8.5 102

Fig 8.4 Bell Close Framework - Option A

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Fig 8.5 Bell Close Framework - Option B

Exemplars - elegant urban spaces

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Central Car Park Development Framework

A3 CENTRAL CAR PARK This proposal targets the Central car park to the south of Market Square. Like Bell Close, it is a principal town arrival space. It is an important car park but it also has development potential. Our comments about underground and multi-storey car parking in connection with Bell Close apply equally here. Although the car park may have a reasonable environmental quality during the summer months it is a bleak and empty place during autumn and winter Although this car park is a less social space than Bell Close it still has the potential to make a larger contribution to the series of spaces and places that make up Keswick town centre. It should also assist in the diversification of the town by accommodating more positive uses than simply car parking. The main components of the proposals are: •

the provision of two blocks of mixed use development at the east and west ends of the car park each containing a mix of retail, leisure, space for micro-businesses and residential the construction of underground and/or concealed car parking using the natural level differences across the site (north to south) a central pedestrian priority space or square for performances, events and commercial promotions which can also be used for car parking the retention of the mature trees on the site

We regard this as a longer term proposal than Bell Close. 104

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A4 LAKESIDE CARAVAN AND CAMPING SITE This proposal is for a 5 hectare development stretching from Crow Park Road at the entrance to the Rugby Football Ground to Derwentwater at the Lakeside Caravan Site adjacent to Town Cass. The purpose of this large development is: • • • • • •

great deal of discussion and negotiation. However we consider that it is a direct and sensible response to many of the issues raised in the earlier sections of this report.

Lakeside Development Framework

to create a new connection between the town centre and Derwentwater to make better use of land and allow improved public access to the lakeside to support a lakeside renaissance to provide new opportunities for high quality residential and recreational development to develop alternative lakeside facilities to those at the end of Lake Road to promote development required by the town on a site which is visually less intrusive or sensitive than many others and replacing an unattractive use with high quality contemporary interventions to address flooding issues as an integral part of the development

It is acknowledged at the outset that the proposed development is long term and likely to be controversial. It is contrary to the policies of the current Local Plan and also runs against the recommendations of the Environment Agency with regard to development in areas prone to flooding. This is a highly aspirational proposal and will require a Keswick Town Centre Masterplan | 105

Skiddaw Street site area and exemplar

B-HOUSING SITES B1 CONVENTION CENTRE, SKIDDAW STREET This proposal has arisen from a range of separate discussions and meetings with the Keswick Convention, the Town Council and the client group. Keswick Convention owns a site at Skiddaw Street which is the administrative centre and headquarters for the annual religious event. The site extends to 0.70 hectares and it is surrounded by residential properties. The Convention also owns the Rawnsley Centre on Main Street and has been considering relocating to a single site rather than running the annual event on two separate locations. Skiddaw Street would seem to be an excellent housing site; subject of course to services capacity, ground stability and other necessary consultations and enquiries. Housing densities in the surrounding area are generally high (30 – 50 dwellings / hectare) and it would be reasonable to assume that 28 – 30 new units could be constructed on the site. A design brief would be required to ensure that the development respected neighbouring houses and should cover: • • • •


building height – 2 – 2.5 storeys materials – render/stone/slate build to lines/not beyond lines – generally to retain a traditional street form cross-sections to show heights in relation to surrounding development

• • • •

treatment of adjacent public realm/front garden dimensions/ paved areas fencing and railings if relevant position and amount of car parking (internal courtyard/ underground) access point to car parking

This could and should be a high quality development that sets a new standard of design for other new housing in the town.

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B2 LAKE ROAD / HEADS ROAD The objectives for this development are three-fold: • • • •

to provide up to 20 new homes to reduce the impact of traffic and excessive road width on Heads Road to reinstate the form of Lake Road – an uninterrupted street from George Fisher’s shop to the entrance to Hope Park to eliminate the underpass

This proposal will reintroduce one of Keswick’s strongest visual features – the original line of Lake Road, framed by new development on its east side. However it is not simply a townscape proposal – it is a constructive intervention aimed at reducing the impact of traffic in the area and overcoming one of the unnecessary road alterations of the 20th century. It will also provide new homes and therefore meets a range of the themes identified earlier.

Lake Road housing sites

• • •

• • • • • •

building height – 3 – 3.5 storeys materials – render/stone/slate build to lines/not beyond lines – to retain a traditional street form and the Lake Road building line but also to ensure that all sides of the development present a good frontage to the surrounding areas cross-sections to show heights in relation to surrounding development treatment of front garden dimensions/paved areas public realm and road treatments to reduce traffic speeds garden fencing and railings position and amount of car parking (internal courtyard/ underground) access points to car parking Lake Road

The development will need clarification of ownership and ultimately negotiation over the extent of the development. It is important that consultation is carried out on the proposal at an early stage, so that the community understand why this is being done. This may well be a controversial development. The development will require a design brief and the principle features of this should be: Keswick Town Centre Masterplan | 107

Lake Road housing site perspectives


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Timeshare housing site

B3 TIMESHARE EXTENSION AREA, BRUNDHOLME ROAD/KESWICK BRIDGE This proposal is simply an extension of the existing time-share development at Brundholme Road. It is surprising that this development has never been completed as it seems less complicated to develop than many other proposed housing sites in the Keswick area. The site extends to 0.60 hectares and could realistically accommodate 12 units if the existing low density configuration was continued. The design brief for this site should be heavily based on the standards of the existing development and should specify: • • • • • • • •

building height – 2 storeys materials – render/stone/slate/timber build to lines/not beyond lines cross-sections to show heights in relation to surrounding development treatment of common landscaped areas public realm and road treatments to reduce traffic speeds position and amount of car parking access points to car parking

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C - OPEN SPACE/GREEN/COMMUNITY/LANDSCAPE PROJECTS C1 TOWN CASS We have referred to Town Cass on a number of occasions earlier in the report. Clearly there is considerable community feeling that this area should be retained as a valuable piece of informal open space. At the same time, it is a former rubbish dump which may or may not have been sealed properly – some have described it as “a swamp”. There is speculation that material from the dump is leaching into Derwentwater. However there seems to be little certainty over the condition of the land, the dumped material or how it was sealed. Town Cass is an undistinguished area of land - a slightly domed area with a cover of grass traversed by a rough track. It is clearly a restored rather than natural landform. It does not seem to have any particular ecological or wildlife qualities that would make it special although the woodland surrounding it maybe a rich habitat and certainly of landscape value. The prospect of contaminated land in a public area close to Keswick’s premier attraction seems to us to be a matter of great concern and it would be sensible and responsible to investigate the matter and formulate a plan of action. Such an investigation is outwith the scope of this study but we would suggest the following steps: 1. 110

contact with the National Trust, the Environment Agency

exemplars - community nature conservation

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and Cumbria County Council to try to establish an accurate picture of the history of waste disposal in that locale and also the methods used to seal and restore the site after it ceased to be used for waste disposal depending on the findings of (1) to agree site investigations with the National Trust to confirm the present condition of the area and what it could be used for in the future if the site is considered to be safe and if it presents no risk to the public or to Derwentwater it is proposed that part or all of the area should become a community woodland and nature conservation project run by a local community group if extensive remedial work is required, there will have to be discussion about responsibility for this work and if the costs are high, consideration could be given to cross-funding the remedial work through development of adjacent land at Lakeside Caravan and Camping site (Project A4)

just a field – whereas it could be something more positive. We have discussed the possibility of open air performances with a range of people involved in cultural activities in Keswick and also with the Keswick Film Festival. We are aware that Crow Park is already used to a limited extent for outdoor performances but we think it would help if there was slightly more infrastructure available to help this happen on a more regular basis. For example, some of the following items could be considered: • • • •

Whatever emerges from this, we think there is an opportunity to do more with Town Cass which would be of more positive benefit to Keswick than the current position.

Exemplars - open air performance spaces

regrading the south face of Crow Park to form subtle well-drained grass covered terraces…or carrying out minimal works to improve drainage and relay footpaths providing a location for a temporary stage – either water-borne, or on the shore line providing power outlets and non-intrusive ground level lighting

We think that a combination of elements of the above list could be worthwhile but that given the sensitivity of Crow Park, the proposal should be subject to extensive consultation.

C2 LAKESIDE PERFORMANCE SPACE The condition of the Derwentwater shoreline at Crow Park and some of the recent attempts to construct informal surfaced paths across the Park detract from the overall appearance of this prestigious area. We have targeted a separate group of proposals at the footpath and connectivity issues but there remains a sense that Crow Park is really K e s w i c k T o w n C e n t r e M a s t e r p l a n | 111

St John Street / Station Street - local exemplar (left) and extent of proposed works (right)

D – PUBLIC REALM PROJECTS D1 STATION STREET / ST JOHN STREET SHARED SURFACE A priority public realm project is the establishment of a shared surface on St John Street and Station Street – from the area outside the Alhambra Cinema to the junction of Station Street and Southey Street. The difference in street quality between the upgraded areas of Market Place/Market Square/Lake Road and the original footpath and carraigeway environment of St John Street/Station Street is very marked. It is effectively a two speed/two quality town and this is reflected in the different levels of pedestrian activity between the two areas as well as in the quality of shopping. We are aware that owners of shops in St John Street have expressed concern about their relative invisibility and the apparent unwillingness of pedestrians to venture out of the existing pedestrian priority areas. We think that their concerns are justified. Slowing down traffic, letting pedestrians dominate the street and encouraging exploration from Market Square would be entirely beneficial. At the same time we recognise that Station Street / St John Street is a through route to other parts of Keswick as well as a shopping street and is therefore slightly different from Market Street / Market Square. The design standard and exemplar for St John Street/Station Street is the Lake Road section of the existing pedestrian priority area – natural materials are the accepted sustainable choice for this type of work, though care will need to be taken that the materials can 112

cope with heavy vehicles without cracking. The area involved is approximately 2,620 sqm and current rates for this type of work could lie between £200 and £300/sqm giving an estimated cost of up to £750,000 depending on the precise extent of the area treated.

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Main Street - local exemplar from Lake Road (left and below) - extent of proposed works (bottom)

D2 MAIN STREET SHARED SURFACE (BANK STREET TO LUCHINI’S) The second priority public realm project is the establishment of a shared surface on Main Street between Bank Street and Luchini’s corner at Tithebarn Street. The priority here is different from the St John Street proposal. There is no issue here with pedestrian flows; the issue is the impact of traffic on the pedestrian environment. Slowing down traffic and letting pedestrians dominate the street would be very beneficial and would greatly improve the shopping environment in this part of the town centre. Again, the design standard and exemplar for Main Street is the Lake Road section of the adjacent pedestrian priority area – natural materials are the accepted sustainable choice for this type of work, though care will need to be taken that the materials can cope with heavy vehicles without cracking. The surface area involved in this project extends to 2030 sqm and if current rates for this type of work lie between £200 and £300/sqm the estimated cost of the scheme could be around £600,000 depending on the precise extent of the area treated.

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D3 LAKE ROAD TO BOAT LANDINGS UPGRADING This project is already the subject of grant applications to the Heritage Lottery Fund. We have included it here for the sake of completeness. It is a very worthwhile project and will be very beneficial to Keswick. It relates to the ‘special place’ and the ‘accessible and connected Keswick’ strategic themes.


National Trust shop and extent of works

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D4 LANE IMPROVEMENTS We have drawn attention to the condition of the lanes and passageways connecting Bell Close car park and Central car park to Market Place and Market Square. They have been the subject of piecemeal improvements over the years but not to a single plan or with a unifying approach. The high quality finishes in Market Square now highlight the poor condition of the lanes and passageways. Also, if both car parks were the subject of development and improvement proposals, the plight of the lanes and passageways would be even more pronounced.

left - typical lane entrance : below - extent of proposal

This is not a particularly easy project to implement as there will be legal issues over ownership and rights of access, and these may well differ from lane to lane. In the case of Bell Close, all of the desired lanes seem to be open and usable by the public. In the case of Central car park, there are some open routes which that seem to be in private ownership and some that are closed but should be opened for public use if possible. Practical negotiation with owners and relevant authorities will be required to make this work rather than a complicated plan of physical intentions. There are certain design issues and considerations associated with this work. This is a historic environment and there needs to be a high degree of respect for the surrounding environment. Here are some guidelines: • try to retain original stone paving surfaces wherever possible or carefully lift and relay in more appropriate places K e s w i c k T o w n C e n t r e M a s t e r p l a n | 115

• •

• • •

Central Car Park edges - extent of works

retain and repair original stone walls wherever possible retain original features such brackets, signs, ironwork, original rainwater goods wherever possible – even if they don’t always seem to have a present day function don’t tidy away eccentric features such as rock outcrops and odd stone foundations do not paint stonework unless it is already painted – even so consider cleaning do not theme the passageways or introduce public art – these are narrow functional areas in which the important things are good surfaces, safety, orientation and lighting try to develop a consistent approach to signs – all shop owners will want to have their own style which can create difficulties – on the other hand it should not be regimented into a single approach across the town centre contemporary lighting schemes can work very well in historic surroundings

We have given this project a separate identity from the lanes and from the car park development because it requires a particular approach which will probably be a mixture of maintenance, minor improvements by owners, larger scale works possibly in association with lane improvements, and may also include development. Where development has taken place at the interface between the car park and the properties to the north it has generally been successful and we would encourage more of this. Where this is not possible or desirable, new walls, railings, gateways and surface treatments will be required. A budget figure of £100,000 could be allocated to this work.

Central Car Park edge

We estimate that using the best quality materials, the average cost of each lane would be around £30,000 and there are 10 lanes that could be upgraded (excluding Packhorse Close, Kings Head Court and New Street). It would be reasonable therefore to budget £300,000 for this work. D5 CENTRAL CAR PARK EDGES Related to D4 above and also to A3, this project aims to create a better edge along the north side of the Central car park. The issue 116

here is the condition of the properties that face on to the car park, the mouths of the lanes, walls fences, broken bollards, and broken kerbs and patched asphalt.


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D6 TOWN-WIDE NETWORK CONNECTIONS Keswick’s footpath system is a popular and attractive network taking in the best of the immediate town environment as well as forging links to the countryside beyond. This is very positive for the town but there are breaks in the network, areas where public access should be possible but isn’t, and places where much could be gained by adding new links. There are also areas where upgrading is long overdue. The main proposals are:

proposed location for new footbridge link

Missing linkages • Market Square – Bell Close – Greta Villas/Greta Side to Fitz Park – Bridge Link Required: this would forge a direct link from the town centre to Fitz Park • Fitz Park – Crosthwaite Road – Pencil Factory – Greta Bridge – Bridge Link Required: this would allow a continuous footpath system along the River Greta • Town Cass – Caravan and Camping Sites – Portinscale – new access agreements required to give public access along the lakeside: this would allow a proper link round the north end of Derwentwater Linkages in need of repair and upgrading • Friar’s Crag to the Boat Landings • Theatre by the Lake to Town Cass • Boat Landings to Lake Road

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D7 DESIGN GUIDANCE FOR SHOPFRONTS In general terms, the quality of shopfronts within the retail core of the town centre is reasonably good and there is evidence to suggest that standards are improving as more owners start to appreciate the value of image and design. Layer upon layer of design guidance is rarely much help and is hardly ever a substitute for sensitive treatments of older shopfronts or a light touch with contemporary materials. There are numerous examples of good design of shopfronts in Keswick town centre which can be used as exemplars for others. If there is a problem with shopfronts it is more to do with colour than materials or proportions. It may not be worth embarking on a major programme of design advice or enforcement in the current circumstances. However it may be worthwhile giving some recognition to good shopfront design by recognising the best local examples rather than persecuting the few offenders. We propose that a short leaflet or brochure be produced on a regular basis that draws attention to the best of new design or respect for traditional design in Keswick shopfronts.


Keswick shopfronts

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D8 PUBLIC ART STRATEGY We propose the establishment of an annual Keswick Public Art Festival. Keswick has a great opportunity to raise its cultural profile and decide how it is portrayed to residents and visitors. Giving a coherent cultural identity through events such as a Public Art Festival would not only bring together the diverse social groups in the Keswick community but also attract a broader range of tourists to Keswick. The town has the potential to grow through such an event, bringing business opportunities at a local level through sponsorship, staffing and fabrication or material needs. Keswick has a diverse range of social groups, clubs and businesses that could be central to the process of selecting artists and artworks.

poster and artworks from ‘I am a Dish’ project

A Festival would enable people to participate in, and therefore have some ownership of commissioned Public Art. The inclusion of the public is not only an excellent vehicle in positively influencing attitudes but an asset in applying for additional funding. A Public Art Festival with a community based selection process (rather than selection through the usual vehicles) would be an exciting and interesting concept to bodies such as the Arts Council and the Lottery Fund. Towns and cities all over Britain apply for Public Art project funding and an unusual approach helps in being recognised. This proposal is described in more detail in a separate annex.

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E – SUPPORTING PROGRAMMES E1 MOVEMENT AND PARKING STRATEGY We have integrated analysis and proposals for movement and parking throughout this report rather than dealing with it as a distinct issue. What is set out in the following paragraphs is the underlying philosophy behind the separate proposals described earlier.

For Keswick the question is one of how to deal with the chronic condition that arises as a result of its success in attracting people to visit and live in the area. So the approach here needs to be tuned to mitigating the impact of the chronic symptoms and finding a way of managing the condition which will give an overall improvement in the quality of environment for all users.

with what is left after the highways geometry has been laid out. And yet it is when people are out of their vehicles that they begin to contribute to the economy and culture of a place. So the public realm in Keswick is only in very small part attuned to promoting social, economic and cultural development. A New Philosophy

What is important? – Quality, Management and Capacity Often when looking at movement and access issues in towns and cities the problems are quite marked and relate primarily to post-industrial decline and/or a post-war enthusiasm for road building. A decline in economic power followed by a migration of population leaves buildings and infrastructure to be maintained by the people least able to provide for them. Streets lose all social value and become a liability. Lack of population makes it unviable to provide adequate public transport, local people are unable to afford adequate private transport and the streets are not designed to accommodate this changed nature of the remaining community. Happily this is not at all the case in Keswick. Undoubtedly the town has had to deal with the change from its original Market Town economy to one more rooted in its beautiful rural setting. However, it has largely succeeded in making this transition and its attraction to both visitors and to those wishing to move to Keswick to live is a testament to its successful adaptation. This is not a town in need of some kind of radical physical surgery to overcome the problems of its earlier lifestyle. 120

The key elements of access and movement are quality, management and capacity. Clearly trying to radically increase the capacity for vehicle movement in Keswick would be self defeating since one of the prime attractions of the town is its remoteness and its nature as a historic market town in the adjoining national parklands. However, the message that we are getting from our research is that significant improvements should be made to both the quality of the public realm and in how it is managed.

The first step in changing this is to promote a very different philosophy for the purpose and use of the public realm; to promote a public realm which is primarily for use by local people and visitors investing in the socio-economic and cultural interests of the town. This would necessarily place the highest priority for movement with the least vulnerable; people not in vehicles being significantly more vulnerable than when in the protection of a vehicle would rightly have the priority in all of the local town centre streets. Car Parking is not an end in itself

The town centre has had some good quality work carried out on the fabric of the central spaces but a more fundamental change is needed to the approach to managing the town centre. At present there is no cohesive approach evident. The response appears to be piecemeal and lacks any clear philosophy. Car parks are on the whole adequate in capacity but lack any real spatial quality that would indicate they are anything more than functional depositories for vehicles. Most of the town centre streets are designed to provide the best opportunity for vehicle movement and people not in vehicles are expect to cope

It is all too easy to view car parking as a revenue earning end in itself and thereby miss the greater opportunity that can be gained by a different approach which treats car parking as a service offered by the town to promote the wider economy of the town. A major improvement could be made to the perception of car parking in Keswick by a completely fresh look at the town centre car parks and treating them as important parts of the public realm. The aim

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should be to provide a high quality townscape within which parking is allowed to happen. If it is well designed there is no need to paint lines all over this space. With a different approach to charging for parking the number of machines and signage could be reduced. During the out-of-season period it might actually be more beneficial to provide free parking in order to encourage people to use the town centre facilities. (No major retail developer competing for customers would consider charging for parking until saturation point had been reached and maintained). In-season, when you are not competing for numbers of visitors why not provide free parking outside of the town centre with a small charge for use of the town centre spaces? Retail and other uses should be encouraged to present a frontage to these new public spaces. The result could be to replace the single town centre space with two adjacent car parks by a series of three beautiful town centre spaces, two of which could provide parking capacity when needed. There is a perception that the overspill of parking into residential areas is entirely negative and yet if there is a common interest in promoting the economy of the town why not allow this to happen in high-season in a managed way? The town centre is only sustainable at its present size if you can encourage significant numbers of visitors to continue to spend in Keswick and it is essential that people who live in Keswick and enjoy the facilities appreciate that they are partly paid for by visitors.

Promote good behaviour and interaction Most of Keswick’s town centre streets are designed with vehicle movements as the priority. The shape of many of the junctions has been dictated by vehicle turning circles. Movement within the streets is dictated by highways engineering instructions; you are told where and when to cross a street, where to stop and go, which direction you should move in etc. This third party direction in the public realm requires people to obey signs not to interact with each other. Normal human interaction is virtually removed from the streets. As a result the streets have a poorer quality feel to them and responsibility for what goes on in the street passes from individuals to a faceless third party authority. The town centre streets could be greatly improved by adopting a shared space approach where highways engineering signage is removed and movement through the streets is negotiated between individuals. The most vulnerable are given priority. Vehicle speeds are reduced to below 20 mph, and a safer, higher quality environment results. The onus is placed on the individual vehicle driver to be responsible for their behaviour in these spaces. It encourages positive behaviour and interaction with others in the community rather than abdicating responsibility to an anonymous third party body. Where would the cyclists go?

Keswick are not generous generally; it is not viable to try to separate out cyclists from walkers from cars etc. So we have to make the streets into places where it is safe to cycle anywhere and this works well within the shared space approach referred to above. What about buses? The public transport provision for Keswick appears to be adequate at present in terms of quantity. That is to say that it would be highly unlikely to prove viable or sustainable to provide more bus services. In this kind of small town rural economy a different approach is needed in place of the idea of either providing very little or subsidising the over provision of services. Public bus services can operate viably over the peak movement periods but thought should be given to other ways of covering the out–of-peak periods. There are already some local organised services in place which do this and it would be worth considering whether these are adequate or whether support could be given to providing additional community based services. As well as the obvious commercial advantage of these community organised/based initiatives there is the community benefit that arises from the need for local people to work together to provide for themselves rather than relying on an outside body to decide what they need and then provide it.

In common with many other rural towns, the streets and spaces in K e s w i c k T o w n C e n t r e M a s t e r p l a n | 121

Making connections

of these roads as important.

It is often assumed that connectivity is all about quantity and you will commonly hear people promoting the need for more connections to a particular place. In reality some of the most successful places have quite limited numbers of connections and the critical issue is the quality of the connections and the quality of the places you are connecting. Walled cities like Chester have limited connections but highly successful cores; designers of shopping malls purposely limit the number of connections in order to channel people past the key stores.

Budget figures for a parking information system for Keswick, based on 4 approaches / routes into the town, directing to the 4 main pay+display car parks: 4 signs : 40 - 60k, depending on how much text they need to display. 4 vehicle detectors ; £8k 1 control unit ; £5k Transmitting links : £8k TOTAL = £61,000 - 81,000

The connection to the lake is a good case in point. It is of reasonable quality and the underpass beneath the road is safe and feels reasonably secure. However, the movement from the town centre to the underpass is at best ordinary and has no indications along the route that there might be something of quality at the other end. In fact the visual message you receive is that you are leaving town and only the determined or those who know better would continue on that route. Improving the quality of the streets around the town centre (as noted above) would greatly enhance the route to the lake and result in a much greater likelihood of people moving between the two. Similarly where the edge of the town meets the busier perimeter roads in places, improving the surrounding streets would help allow the town to expand across the road. In addition the provision of generous at-grade crossings would indicate that the town viewed the crossing 122

E2 SUPPORT FOR THE MARKET We support the idea that open markets have an important role to play in the contemporary life, economy and community of towns. They are also essential components of place-making. The Keswick Market is no different to any other market in that it has the potential to: • • • •

provide a diverse range of products and services support local produce, stimulate small businesses and entrepreneurialism offer training and employment opportunities contribute to tourism Market Place

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Keswick Market

There has been a raft of recent research on open markets by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation as well as the New Economics Foundation. Both conclude that markets are very valuable parts of the urban scene and go on to demonstrate ways in which their performance can be improved. We suggest that a separate study be commissioned to investigate ways of making the most of the market and improving its effect on many aspects of town life. E3 SUPPORT FOR A FLOODING AND WATER MANAGEMENT PLAN We are aware that Keswick was particularly badly hit by flooding in January 2005. Many towns throughout the country were also hit by new threats from climate change and many are having to change their entire approach to new development – either by erecting barriers to change or by working constructively with the new circumstances. We are concerned that Keswick becomes a place where nothing new can happen. The plan that we included in the earlier section of this report shows a Keswick increasingly at risk from flooding. The consequences of this are that development – which the town needs – is driven to high ground or to sites that are unsuitable in terms of urban design and town making and expansion. We cannot begin to deal with all the issues here but would suggest that there should be a flooding and water management plan for the town which deals with urban design, landscape and town making issues rather purely with K e s w i c k T o w n C e n t r e M a s t e r p l a n | 123

the technical aspects of development and flooding. This might include investigation of: • • •

the stabilisation of Derwentwater levels by rebuilding the weir at its north end the design of new development that works with the flooding issue patterns of growth for the town that are sustainable and work with the landscape and townscape

We are aware that work is already being carried out on this by the Environment Agency but we think there should be a wider agenda. water town proposal from the Netherlands


E4 SUPPORT FOR REOPENING THE PENRITH-KESWICK RAILWAY As suggested earlier, the proposed reopening of the Penrith to Keswick railway as a contemporary economically viable facility seems to be a worthwhile and welcome initiative. Such a proposal would reflect well on the town and could help to reduce the volume of motor vehicles in the town during the summer months.

E5 SUPPORT FOR THE KESWICK MUSEUM AND ART GALLERY UPGRADE The Keswick Museum and Art gallery is an important component of the cultural life of the town. A separate study is being carried out into alternative futures and the upgrading of the building. In principle, we would support proposals to secure the future of the facility.

Penrith Keswick Railway Re-opening proposal

performance in Keswick Museum and Art Gallery

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9 stakeholder and community involvement exhibition in the Moot Hall

The study has included an extensive programme of consultations with the client group, stakeholders and the community. The Market Town Initiative (MTI) programme drew on the results of a town health check (2001-02) and the process of establishing the Business Improvement District (BID) also required consultations with the business community. There was therefore some concern about the risks of consultation fatigue in Keswick; it was agreed that, as far as possible, we should draw on the results of these prior consultation exercises and other sources, including visitor surveys commissioned by the Cumbria Tourist Board. Our guiding principle was that the community consultations carried out for this study should build on the work previously undertaken, avoiding repetition as far as possible. We wanted to demonstrate that this study represents a progression, from the earlier diagnostic phase of the MTI towards implementation. The consultant team designed and facilitated three community events: • The first event was a fact finding and issues drop-in session held in the Council Offices in Main Street. The event was not particularly well attended because of bad weather but proved to be immensely valuable in terms of exploring issues. • The second event focused on the consultant team’s interim Keswick Report: we organised a public drop-in session at the Moot Hall, followed by a workshop at the Skiddaw Hotel: the K e s w i c k T o w n C e n t r e M a s t e r p l a n | 125

latter was open to interested members of the community, but representatives of the clients and partner organisations also attended. The event had a dual purpose: to present and test the consultant team’s analysis of the principal challenges facing the town, and to explore the implications for the town centre strategy. • The third event was a half-day workshop held at the Keswick Country House Hotel: once again, the focus was on community consultation, but representatives of the partner organisations also attended. The consultant team presented its draft proposals, showing how these reflected the agreements reached at the first workshop. The process of community engagement focused on the perceived tensions in Keswick between established residents, newcomers to the area and visitors. Our initial consultations had revealed concerns including: • the implications of large numbers of visitors for the quality of life in Keswick, and especially the impact of traffic, difficulties in finding parking space and the replacement of shops serving local residents by multiple stores, especially in the outdoor clothing sector • the lack of high quality, well paid, year-round jobs in sectors other than tourism: this was perceived to be driving outmigration by working age adults; it was suggested that jobs in 126

Drop-in session in March 2006

the tourism sector are not well regarded by local people and that the industry is increasingly dependent on seasonal workers, many of them migrants • the impact of in-migration by retired people and the demand for second homes. there was a concern that demand from these sources was driving up house prices and making it difficult for local people to enter the housing market; some people were also concerned that Keswick’s increasingly elderly population was not sustainable in the long term The consultant team did not attempt to wish away real problems and challenges, but we used the consultations to dispel some myths and to highlight the positive effects of tourism and immigration, including: • the direct and indirect economic benefits of tourism • visitor markets help to sustain convenience shops, the Theatre on the Lake, the cinema and other amenities which would not otherwise be viable in a community with such a small population • new residents boost the town’s income base and help to sustain local services • many of the town’s older residents are still economically active. The workshops help to develop a more balanced picture which

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recognised Keswick’s distinctive strengths and attributes – and the opportunities created by its popularity as a place to live and visit. Despite some anxieties and frustrations, local residents and visitors have a very positive view of the town, even though – predictably – local people are more aware of its negative aspects. The workshops have also played a key role in: • helping the consultants to develop a win-win approach to the town strategy, giving priority to objectives and actions which will confer benefits on local residents and businesses as well as visitors and new residents • developing an appreciation of the need for change in Keswick to ensure that the town continues to meet the needs of residents, and that it will continue to be attractive to a new generation of discerning visitors: there was a general recognition that it is not possible to stop change, but that the challenge is to achieve a change for the better • helping the consultant team to understand the qualities and attributes that people most value in Keswick: change is inevitable and desirable, but it must not be allowed to compromise the special character of the town or its outstanding natural setting. Opinions vary on the best way forward for Keswick, and we do not

Drop-in session issues board

claim that our proposals have the approval of the whole community. Our aim has been to give the community an opportunity to participate in and influence the development of the strategy. In particular, we have aimed: • to provide a robust and authoritative evidence base to challenge some prevailing myths and anecdotal evidence • to put the Keswick experience in context: the challenges facing Keswick are not unique and they reflect the effects of powerful forces of change in Britain • to help the community to feel comfortable with change, and to have the confidence that the right strategy can help to make Keswick an even better place to live, work and visit • to ensure that, even though people may not agree with all our recommendations, they will recognise that they are based on a clear strategic rationale and that they are mutually supportive and consistent. We believe that the study has helped to achieve greater transparency, but this is only the start of the process. The Keswick Area Partnership must use this report as the platform for a continuing dialogue with the community and establish a process which will develop community ownership of (and commitment to) the strategy and individual projects

K e s w i c k T o w n C e n t r e M a s t e r p l a n | 127

as they come on stream. We recommend that the ongoing dialogue with the community should comprise three key elements: • first, a public presentation of the town centre strategy and action plan: unlike the previous events, which were led by the consultant team, this should be introduced by the Keswick Area Partnership to reflect the fact that the report has the in-principle support of the Partnership; we recommend that display panels should be prepared for an accompanying exhibition, and that a concise illustrated summary of the report should be prepared and printed for wider circulation • in addition to feedback on the day, KAP should invite written/ email comments on the strategy, subject to a 3-4 week deadline; the Project Manager should report to the Partnership at the conclusion of this period, when the views of partner and stakeholder organisations will also be taken on board; at this stage, KAP will be in a position to finalise its response to the report and to adopt an agreed action plan, which should the subject of a press release and posted on the website • once an action plan has been adopted by KAP, community 


The report is not a detailed blueprint, and the key proposals will require further detailed development and appraisal. KAP should therefore indicate its support for the strategy set out in the report and the priorities for action, but it will reserve the right to subject individual proposals to further examination before committing to them.

March evening workshop

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consultations should be scheduled at regular intervals, possibly twice a year; the purpose of these events will be two-fold: (i) to report progress on implementation of the action plan, and (ii) to consult the community on site specific proposals and other nonphysical interventions as they come forward for consideration

Moot Hall Exhibition

• the timing of these community consultations will be critically important: they need to be synchronised with the delivery plan so that each event can report tangible progress (which will build confidence in the strategy) as well as seeking reactions and input to forthcoming proposals. The status of these consultations needs to be clearly explained. This report has benefited greatly from the knowledge, insights and ideas of interested residents, some of whom are representatives of community organisations. It is important that these active citizens are able to continue to make a contribution, but Keswick Area Partnership (and its key partners) must reserve the right to make decisions, even if some aspects of the proposals prove controversial. A lowest common denominator action plan that no one objects to runs the risks of ducking the challenges posed in this report. It is proposed that the town strategy should be adopted by the Lake District National Park Authority as an area action plan, and individual site proposals will require planning permission. Individuals and groups will therefore have a further opportunity to comment at this stage, and to register objections. K e s w i c k T o w n C e n t r e M a s t e r p l a n | 129


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10 action plan Lake Road

This section of the report presents a summary of the proposals for Keswick as an action plan for the next five years. The plan is designed to accelerate the process of change in the town and to create a platform for continuing transformational change over the next decade. In framing the action plan we have adhered to the following guiding principles: •

• •

the plan should be ambitious and challenging, but also realistic and practical: the challenges facing Keswick are complex and deep-seated – some issues require bold responses while others are easier to deal with, requiring more subtle processes of adjustment and maintenance the plan should offer a comprehensive package of measures that are fundamentally holistic: narrow single-issue responses will not make a lasting difference to the town the plan should set out clear priorities for action, recognising that resources – financial and organisational – are likely to be under pressure implementing the plan will require long-term commitment and determined leadership from Keswick Area Partnership the plan should be predicated on mobilising private sector investment where possible although a significant investment by the public sector will also be required to implement some projects

Section 8, and embraces a total of 21 recommended priorities for action. The action plan is summarised overleaf. The summary includes nominal cost estimates, which should be treated as indicative only. In total we estimate that the programme will require additional public expenditure in the order of £9.9m over the next 10 years, depending on the rate of progress. The broad breakdown of expenditure is summarised as follows: Transformational Projects Housing Sites Open Space / Green / Community Projects Public Realm Projects Supporting Programmes Total

£4,400,000 £220,000 £1,400,000 £4,090,000 £1,266,000 £11,376,000

The following action plan is based on the six themes highlighted in K e s w i c k T o w n C e n t r e M a s t e r p l a n | 131

A Transformational Projects A1 Pencil Factory A2 Bell Close and Otley Road Car Parks A3 Central Car Park A4 Lakeside Caravan and Camping Area

B B1 B2 B3

Housing Sites Convention Centre, Skiddaw Street Lake Road / Heads Road Timeshare Extension Area

C Open Space/Green/Community C1 Town Cass C2 Lakeside Performance Space


Public Sector Cost 1,000,000.00 800,000.00 800,000.00 1,800,000.00

Public Sector Cost 70,000.00 150,000.00 0.00

Public Sector Cost 800,000.00 600,000.00

Total Lead Partner(s) Private sector NWDA. KAP KAP ABC CCC CABE KAP ABC CCC CABE ABC NWDA CCC £4,400,000.00

Total Lead Partner(s) KCC Private Sector KAP CCC Private Sector KAP Private Sector £220,000.00 Total Lead Partner(s) EA NT(owner) DEFRA NWDA KAP Local Community Theatre by the Lake NT NWDA LDNPA All Festivals Local Community £1,400,000.00

Priority 1 1 2 3

Priority 1 2 3

Priority 1 2

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D Public Realm D1 Station Street/St John Street Surface

Public Sector Cost 750,000.00

D2 Main Street Shared Surface


D3 Lake Road to Boat Landings D4 Lane Improvements

1,400,000.00 300,000.00

D5 Central Car Park Edges


D6 Town -wide Network Connections D7 Design Guidance for Shopfronts D8 Publ;ic Art Strategy

800,000.00 60,000.00 80,000.00

Total Lead Partner(s) KTC ABC CCC KAP BIDS NWDA St John Street Traders Assoc KTC ABC CCC KAP BIDS NWDA St John Street Traders Assoc ongoing CCC KAP Private sector BIDS NWDA ABC CCC KAP Private sector BIDS NWDA ABC KTC KAP ABC EA NT LDNPA EN KAP LDNPA BIDS ABC CCC Arts Council, Arts and Business BIDS RAFS Keswick School

Priority 1 5 1 2 4 3 6 7

£4,090,000.00 E E1 E2 E3 E4

Supporting Programmes Movement and Parking Strategy Support for the Market Flooding and water management Re-opening Penrith Keswick Railway

E5 Support for Keswick Museum

Public Sector Cost 86,000.00 40,000.00 40,000.00 900,000.00 200,000.00


Total Lead Partner(s) ABC CCC LDNPA BIDS KAP KAP BIDS KTC EA Still Water Project LDNPA CCC NWDA ABC LDNPA EDC Private Sector ABC KMAGSG KAP £1,266,000.00

Priority 1 2 3 4 5

£11,376,000.00 K e s w i c k T o w n C e n t r e M a s t e r p l a n | 133


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keswick masterplan  

keswick masterplan, WMUD