Lake District 'must change' to attract more young people and ethnic minorities, warns chief executive

The Lake District is often seen as an area mainly for older, middle-class and able-bodied white people (Picture: Getty)

The Lake District needs to become more inclusive to attract a greater mix of people, according to its chief executive. 

The head of the Lake District National Park Authority Richard Leafe has warned the area may ‘lose its relevance’ if it becomes ‘exclusive to one single use group’.

Mr Leafe told Sky News: "We are deficient in terms of young people, we are deficient in terms of black and minority ethnic communities and we are not particularly well-visited by those who are less able in terms of their mobility.

"Our challenge is to see what we can do to reverse that, to encourage people from broader backgrounds and a wider range of personal mobilities into the national park to be able to benefit in the same way that those other groups do."

Lake District chief executive Richard Leafe wants to make the area more accessible (Picture: Getty)

Mr Leafe risks angering conservationists who are reluctant to see a change to the “beauty and tranquillity” of the Unesco World Heritage site and are already annoyed he hasn’t banned 4x4 vehicles from certain trails.

The Lake District National Park Authority is facing a High Court judicial review early in 2020 over its decision to keep allowing 4x4s and motorcycles in certain areas.

A crowdfunder set up to support the review has raised more than £30,000.


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The authority’s creation of an £8m tarmac path through woodland also angered Keswick Town Council, which passed a vote of no confidence in the district as a result.

A report commissioned by the government looking into the future of protected landscapes in the UK criticised national park authorities for not making areas more welcoming to visitors.

Mr Leafe added he the discontent had formed part of the discussion over who the parks were for.