OSS Opposes Access Track Across Historic Cumbrian Common


The Open Spaces Society,(1) Britain’s leading national pressure-group for common land,(2) has objected to plans for an access track across common land at Newbiggin, near Penrith in Cumbria. The common is known as ‘public watering place’ and has a number of springs with a series of ancient stone troughs and culverts.

The common was featured in the Friends of the Lake District’s Our Green Space project which was also a runner-up for the Open Spaces Society’s 2012 open space award.

Thomas Armstrong (Construction) Ltd wants to build affordable housing adjacent to the common and has applied to the Planning Inspectorate, under section 38 of the Commons Act 2006, for an access track across the common. The housing does not have planning consent, nor is the site allocated in the Eden Local Plan.

Says Kate Ashbrook, general secretary of the Open Spaces Society which is notified of all applications for works on common land:

‘We object most strongly to this proposed degradation of the common. It is a unique area with its historic springs and troughs, and its wet meadow habitats have great ecological value. The area has been uncultivated through history and is now a lovely wild place where people can enjoy nature.

‘An access track will suburbanise the land and will probably set a precedent for others. It may not take up much space but it will have a disproportionately adverse effect on the common.

‘In the unlikely event that the proposed housing gets consent, the applicant can arrange matters so that the access track avoids the common. It is in any case regrettable that the applicant did not discuss this with us before charging ahead with the application.’

Dacre Parish Council and the Friends of the Lake District are also objecting.

Notes for editors

1 The Open Spaces Society was founded in 1865 and is Britain’s oldest national conservation body. It campaigns to protect common land, village greens, open spaces and public paths, and people’s right to enjoy them. This year it celebrates its 150th anniversary with the hashtag #saveopenspaces150.

2 Common is land subject to rights of common, to graze animals or collect wood for instance, or waste land of the manor not subject to rights. The public has the right to walk on all commons and to ride on some. Before any works can be constructed on common land the applicant must obtain the consent of the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (via the Planning Inspectorate) under section 38 of the Commons Act 2006, in addition to any planning permission.


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