Windermere Gateway

Plans to establish a transformational new gateway for Windermere.

Our vision

Windermere Gateway is a partnership project that we are involved in along with different landowners and stakeholders including; Lake District National Park Authority (LDNPA), Network Rail, Windermere Town Council, the National Trust and their development partner, Urban Splash, as well as key landowners/local businesses.

The project will unlock opportunities for a mix of new homes, jobs, sustainable transport connections and create a real sense of arrival for residents and visitors alike. Proposals will be progressive, yet sensitive to its world class landscape and natural beauty. It is an ambitious and considered plan for a prosperous future.

Our vision is to establish a transformational new gateway for Windermere which sustainably connects to the onward travel network and significantly contributes to the vibrancy of the town by delivering affordable and local needs housing, employment opportunities, and improved sustainable travel opportunities for residents and visitors. The intervention will deliver design excellence, sensitive to the world class landscape in which it is situated.

Our role in the scheme

We believe the project provides a fantastic opportunity to create a world-class welcome for everyone arriving in Windermere, sensitively creating an enhanced gateway to the Lake District World Heritage Site, through a redeveloped station and transport hub, as well as providing a significant amount of much-needed affordable housing for local people.

The developer (Urban Splash) is working on a scheme for the Orrest Head Farm site, a housing development planning application is to be submitted to the LDNPA as the local planning authority. A transport assessment will accompany the planning application for highway improvements which will outline and consider the impact of the likely traffic movements from the housing and employment schemes. The highway and transport aspects of this infrastructure improvement work will be considered by us as the highway authority.  If the application is approved, we may have future input into the design and construction of the highway and transport improvements that are needed for the new development.

Work undertaken to inform the access and infrastructure improvements

When the Windermere Gateway Transport Infrastructure Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) was adopted in 2021, solutions were explored by the former Cumbria County Council Highways team and their design consultant to address the existing highways and traffic challenges within the area. Early options, including roundabouts, were put forward but remained subject to design review. Further engineering and safety assessments determined that these options were not feasible due to insufficient space in the highway, as well as very steep gradients which would be unsuitable for larger vehicles using the road. Since then, numerous options have been explored looking at how the ambitions in the SPD can be met and these will be further refined through the planning process.

As the local highways authority we undertook a junction assessment to consider the potential impact of Urban Splash’s proposed highway changes as part of the Windermere Gateway proposals. The assessment combined existing traffic data, assumptions on future traffic growth, and estimates of traffic generation from the development to forecast traffic flows. These flows were used with junction modelling software to estimate the highway performance of the A591 with the future development traffic and proposed highways changes. The main access to the housing and employment site (Orrest Head Farm) proposes an improved junction from the A591 into Thwaites Lane and a slowing of traffic along the A591.

Also, the A591 is currently part of the Sustrans national walking and cycle network. The proposals will seek to align with the aspirations set out in the SPD, i.e. to improve cycling and walking connections linking the housing site to the station, bus stops and cycle network.

Plans to improve the High Street junction

Solutions at the top of High Street and onward pedestrian/cycle connections through Windermere remain a priority of the programme and will be explored as part of future studies.

How the proposed housing development and highways changes could increase journey times 

Traffic data has been obtained through surveys, providing data on turning flows and vehicle types, on the A591 and Thwaites Lane. Allowance has been made for future traffic growth, using the government’s National Road Traffic Projections. These projections suggested traffic could grow by around four per cent by 2028.

We have also considered the potential traffic generation of the development proposals at Orrest Head Farm. The traffic generation was estimated using evidence from existing similar development sites.

The results of the junction assessment and traffic modelling show that the development is expected to increase delays on Thwaites Lane, but not significantly. The model results estimate an increase in average delay in exiting Thwaites Lane from 27 seconds to 41 seconds. The model does not forecast significant queuing or delays on the A591 due to the relatively low flows turning right into Thwaites Lane – around 10–25 trips in any peak hour.

Plans for improvements to the Railway Station interchange

Ambitions to create a new transport interchange at the station continue to be central to the vision for the Windermere Gateway. An initial feasibility study to explore options in this area was commissioned on behalf of the partnership by us in 2023. Partners are working to secure funding to develop options further and see how these works may be brought forward.

The feasibility study provided concept designs which identify potential improvement options for the area surrounding Windermere Railway Station. Continuous engagement has also been undertaken with the LDNPA throughout the commission.

It is expected that the preferred option to be progressed will be decided based on further study and the availability of funding, however it is considered that each option shortlisted in the report has the potential to deliver meaningful improvements to the station area which will contribute towards achieving the intended aims of the wider Windermere Gateway programme.

Read more about the Windermere Gateway programme.

The local housing need in Westmorland and Furness area

Our Council Plan states that we need more affordable, quality housing so that local families can build a life here and new people can be attracted to relocate. Evidence suggests a notable need for affordable housing, especially in the Lake District National Park. These challenges have consequences for young people and families being able to buy a home. Housing is also under pressure from second homes and holiday lets, with consequences for small rural communities. We are committed to building affordable, high specification energy efficient homes. We will support the provision of housing and create employment opportunities to encourage the young to stay and to attract young families and skilled people; welcoming people from all communities to build their lives here.

According to our Council Plan Delivery Framework, supply, availability, and affordability of housing needs to be addressed to help create thriving places and drive economic growth where needed. It is both new forms of housing and renewal of existing stock that are required to address our local challenges. There are variations in housing affordability across the area, from an affordability ratio of 3.74 in Barrow, 8.39 in Eden, and 10.12 in South Lakeland (Source: ONS 2022). In addition, housing availability is impacted by second-home ownership, empty properties and insufficient social housing stock, with over 6,655 households were on our waiting lists.

The LDNPA adopted its Local Plan in May 2021, which covers the area of South Lakeland within the National Park. The Plan identifies a housing need for 1,200 dwellings over the 2020 to 2035 period (an annual housing need of 80 dpa).

Data provided by Cumbria Choice Based Lettings, December 2022, in conjunction with the latest Strategic Housing and Economic Needs Assessment, February 2023 should be used to determine how the scheme will appropriately meet local needs. The evidence suggests a notable need for affordable housing, especially in the Lake District National Park, and that this should be maximised at every opportunity. It also suggests a mix of housing needs between ownership and rented, and house sizes across the spectrum, with a requirement for a focus on smaller properties/flats in particular, i.e. 1/2/3 bedrooms are still supported by the up to date CBL evidence. The majority of applicants citing Windermere/Bowness on Windermere as their preferred area to live require 1, 2 or 3 bedroom properties. Additionally, the applicants have stated they would consider the following tenures: Housing Association/Local Authority Rent, Discounted Sale, Shared Ownership/Equity, Help to Buy and Low Cost Home Ownership (ie a mix of ownership and rented).