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No new bike parking but a car park with 1,065 spaces? National Trust urged to break from "car-dependant business model"

The heritage conservation charity has pledged to be net carbon zero by 2030... but also wants to build the biggest car park in the Peak District

The National Trust has drawn criticism after unveiling plans to build the Peak District's largest car park — at its Lyme Park site — plans which do not include any extra provision for those wishing to visit by bike.

The announcement comes within the wider context of the National Trust having pledged to be net carbon zero by the end of the decade, something critics have said the charity will not achieve if it continues to design sites around cars and fails to move away from a "car-dependent business model".

The plan for a 1,065-space stately home car park, increased from the current 395 spaces, was first reported by the Guardian who note that 300,000 people visit the historic hunting estate each year. Car visitors to the site, which has been home to the Legh family for more than 600 years, have to pay £6 (£3 per child) and it is free to walk or cycle into the park.

However, with Disley station less than a mile from the gates — and most visitors, of which 199,945 arrived by vehicles in 2019, instead using the A6 — some have questioned if enough is being done to encourage visitors out of their cars.

The National Trust admitted that the plans do not include any extra bike parking provision and the new car park would be built next to one of the most popular walking and cycling routes into Lyme, at West Park Gate.

But the charity has insisted it is not adding any new extra spaces, merely repurposing some of its current overflow spaces which can only be used during good weather.

A petition on Change.Org calls for the National Trust to withdraw its "ill-considered application and come up with an alternative, fit-for-purpose plan for access, which truly reduces the impact of motor vehicles on this special place and has sustainable travel at its heart".

> National Trust to trial e-bikes and e-cargo bikes in bid to reach net zero carbon emissions

"No complementary measures whatsoever are included for cycling or sustainable travel and these plans would even make access more difficult for non-car visitors," the petition states.

"In fact, the plan states the pithy four main cycle parking stands will be moved further away from the hall, to the Timber Yard. Versus 1,065 car parking spaces, there would be only eight acceptable public stands to lock a bike to. There will be no new or improved paths for cycling to protect people on bikes, who will have to share narrow roads with increased vehicle traffic right through the park, including coaches, making it a much less pleasant place to cycle."

"Car-dependant business model"

Harry Gray from Walk Ride Greater Manchester said it was "concerning" that the National Trust appears to be "reliant" on a "car-dependant business model".

"It is time to invest in greener transport modes, such as better access for Active Travel, as well as park and ride links to the nearby train station. The National Trust claim they're 'part of the global fight against climate change' – yet their actions on the ground speak otherwise.

The director of policy and communications at national walking charity Living Streets, Tanya Braun, added: "We need to stop designing places around cars and start thinking about what people want and need. It's disappointing that there are no accompanying plans to improve access for people walking.

"Adding in safe and accessible walking routes will enable more people to choose to walk, helping to cut congestion and air pollution. Without improving options for more sustainable transport modes, it will force people into their cars and exclude those without access to one from enjoying National Trust properties."

The deadline for objections on the planning application has been extended to 9 May, with more than 150 already in.

A National Trust spokesperson said the changes are all about making the site "more resilient" to extreme weather.

Lyme currently has a total of 1,000 car parking spaces, but many cannot be used during wet weather. We are not increasing the overall number of spaces but we are upgrading facilities and infrastructure to make it more resilient to extreme weather events.

We've carried out preliminary ecological surveys to minimise any impact and will be reverting the existing car park to rich grassland habitat. In previous trials, park and ride hasn't reduced the overall number of visitors arriving by car, but we will continue working with groups and individuals to find more sustainable ways that people can travel to Lyme.

Dan is the road.cc news editor and has spent the past four years writing stories and features, as well as (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. Having previously written about nearly every other sport under the sun for the Express, and the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for the Non-League Paper, Dan joined road.cc in 2020. Come the weekend you'll find him labouring up a hill, probably with a mouth full of jelly babies, or making a bonk-induced trip to a south of England petrol station... in search of more jelly babies.

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45 comments

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The Larger Cyclist | 1 year ago
1 like

My first thought was this picture - blue is the tank for the Orca at SeaWorld, red is the boating lake and guess which bit is the car park

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brooksby replied to The Larger Cyclist | 1 year ago
2 likes

https://slate.com/business/2023/05/parking-spots-cities-paved-paradise-c...

Quote:

In 2013 the lead designer of SimCity was asked what, in his team’s measurements of real-world cities, produced the biggest surprise. “Parking lots,” he responded. “We were originally just going to model real cities, but we quickly realized there were way too many parking lots in the real world and that our game was going to be really boring if it was proportional in terms of parking lots.”

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Awavey replied to The Larger Cyclist | 1 year ago
1 like

That's just normal US/Orlando craziness though, I once stayed in a hotel there not more than 2miles walk from one of the theme parks, the only legitimately recognised way to get there, because walking along a road without a sidewalk makes you a vagrant apparently, was to go by vehicle on a highway and park in the 4th largest car park in the whole world, number 5 is just down the road, and it has shuttle buses because its so big, to drive you to the entrance. I didn't check if they had cycle parking, I very much doubt it.

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chrisonabike replied to Awavey | 1 year ago
1 like

Awavey wrote:

That's just normal US/Orlando craziness though...

Actually it's just more visible because it's in one place.

More than a third of Scottish city space is taken up by motor vehicle infra.

Many UK cities ("our streets are too narrow"...) have football-pitch-sized junctions.

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David9694 | 1 year ago
2 likes

North Norfolk is still relatively well serviced by bus and Sheringham Park is a nice visit at this time of year for the azaleas.  

We last went in 2011 and we caught a bus from Sheringham through Upper Sheringham to outside the park entrance - I distinctly remember the driver saying he wasn't meant to stop there - perhaps it was a no 5.  As mentioned by the NT, the no 9 to Fakenham goes that way with 3 or 4 departures in each direction Mon-Sat.The NT don't mention the bus stops on the access guide, but lots of parking information. 

The 44  operating 7 days passes along the A148, but there is no stop.  Wouldn't you make it your business to get one if you were serious about inclusivity?  The NT are not even doing the basics.  

Mr 18 posts can put his obstacles in the way with children and animals, but the fact remains that if they don't have a car they barely stand a chance of accessing this as things are.

https://nt.global.ssl.fastly.net/binaries/content/assets/website/nationa...

https://bustimes.org/services/9-fakenham-little-snoring-melton-constable...

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Awavey replied to David9694 | 1 year ago
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North Norfolk was served well by buses and arguably better than Suffolk is, not sure its quite that good now, but its just as easy to get the train to Sheringham and to the park for the rhododendrons.

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Ride On | 1 year ago
7 likes

Took a ferry to the Isle of Wight for a day out during the easter holidays and cycled down to the National Trust place (name escapes me) on arrival we were told where to park the bikes but found the bike racks had been removed to make way for a mobile toilet block.

Staff were very helpful but arriving by cycle is clearly an afterthought for the National Trust.

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wtjs | 1 year ago
4 likes

Even I don't think that the NT can succeed at present time by ignoring the fact that most people will visit by car- and I cycle everywhere I can. There is as yet no possibility that people will be penalised for not travelling by bike- after all, flying remains encouraged, plane fuel is not taxed, nutter motorsports still carry on etc. etc. However, NT has to show willing by taking not very expensive steps to help people arriving by bike, and to even reward them for climate-friendliness in some way.

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David9694 | 1 year ago
2 likes

Lanhydrock House has a parking area big enough to show up on the OS map, and it's a half mile walk to the house from there. Being so close to the A30 at least they aren't inducing cars down miles of county roads.  But it's 1.75 miles walk to Bodmin Parkway station along very nice made-up pedestrian and cycle paths. They make very little of this feature. 

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quiff replied to David9694 | 1 year ago
2 likes

David9694 wrote:

But it's 1.75 miles walk to Bodmin Parkway station along very nice made-up pedestrian and cycle paths. They make very little of this feature. 

To be fair, this features prominently in the 'getting there' information, where arrival by foot, train and cycle all feature before road. But perhaps you meant they could capitalise on it better on site?  

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eburtthebike | 1 year ago
3 likes

I was idly googling for the NT transport policy and couldn't find anything, but I did come across this from 2001 "Journeys to heritage attractions in the UK: a case study of National Trust property visitors in the south west"

which includes this:

"The National Trust recognises that most journeys to properties are by car and has a strong commitment to reducing car-dependent travel to its properties. In a number of documents it sets out its views on promoting alternatives to the car The National Trust, 2001a, The National Trust, 2001b, The National Trust, 2001c, The National Trust, 2002b. At the 1995 Annual General Meeting a member resolution on green transport aimed `to reduce the proportion of car-borne visitors to its properties from....."

Something seems to have happened between 2001 and 2023, and they don't seem to care about reducing car-dependent travel to their properties any more.

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chrisonabike | 1 year ago
2 likes

Shurely many National Trust properties are literally designed for access with renewable-fuel- using transport - by coach ... and horses?

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chrisonabike replied to chrisonabike | 1 year ago
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Also - I find the most culturally appropriate way of viewing the properties* of existing or former aristocrats or the "nouveau riche" seeking to emulate them is to cycle there and jump over the fence. It's what they wouldn't have wanted...

* Or indeed areas of natural beauty they once owned.

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David9694 | 1 year ago
5 likes

Like the wider world, the NT continues to follow a car centric policy that has no future. No future means it's not if it needs a re-think, but when. How much demand are they going to induce down unsuitable country lanes, how much of the site gets sacrificed to cars?  If you're all about inclusivity (ok so that probably translates as mass membership), this is a no brainer. 

My message to the NT is that they need to be thought leaders on this issue. 

The solution will be different for each site, but I think it involves minimal on-site parking for visitors and high capacity, sustainable links to nearby railheads and bus-heads.  It could include e / bike trails to/from centres of population - many sites are within a (theoretically) rideable distance of nearby towns/railheads. 

The Vyne near Basingstoke 
By train

Basingstoke 4 miles - taxi rank available outside of train station. Bramley 2½ miles - requires a walk of 2½ miles from this station. Note: Vyne Road has no foot paths.

Quite how there comes to be an existing country bus on a 15 minute headway (Aldermaston?) travelling up the A340 through Sherborne St John, I don't know, but Morgaston Wood is part of The Vyne estate so you're 90% there - but no mention of this on the website. Clearly in cycling in terms it's no distance at all from either train station - if people felt safe, if the NT wasn't inducing demand by expanding its car parking. 

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/visit/hampshire/the-vyne
https://tiscon-maps-

stagecoachbus.s3.amazonaws.com/Timetables/South/Basingstoke/Basingstoke%20Route%202%20__16-04-23_.pdf

Basildon Park, west of Reading

A meagre twice-daily bus service, however a main train line (I won't be the first to have said this) passes the front door, but there is no station. It's Tantalisingly close to Pangbourne (2 miles), but the only direct route is along a horrid "A" road, or by boat (?). There's a 4.5 mile cycle ride from Pangbourne.

Cragside, Northumberland 

My non car owning brother in law went a few months ago - it's on my list to do. I was interested in how they managed to do it - he said arriving quite early in the nearby town they got talking to someone who worked at Cragside who showed them the way.  On the map, it looks like a 3/4 mile walk from Rothbury along a B road with no footway, or maybe the 471 bus to Alnwick (not Sundays). 

It seems genuinely new this year that the X14 from Morpeth now makes a couple of visits to where you drive in to the Cragside estate from the public roads - there is a free NT minibus around the estate (I had to read the accessibility guide to confirm), but it sounds like you need to be a driver or cyclist to do the 6 mile carriage ride.  

https://api.arrivabus.co.uk/routes/services/NMS_AN_X14/230416-230727/X14...

https://bustimes.org/services/471-alnwick-thropton?calendar=3917394

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/visit/north-east/cragside

 

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davebinks | 1 year ago
5 likes

At Calke Abbey, a National Trust house and huge estate, in Derbyshire, cars have had to pay to drive through the estate road for as long as I can remember, but bikes WERE free. Not any more.

Bikes now have to pay just to ride through on the estate road (unless you are a NT member). Entry to the house, is of course, extra.

The ride through the eastate is very nice, and many, many cyclists used to ride through and visit the tea room (free entry). But not any more, so it has cost the NT loss of profit from the tea room sales.

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Deeferdonk replied to davebinks | 1 year ago
1 like

I regularly ride through Calke Abbey and visit the tea rooms without paying (except for my cake!) , theres a cycling/shared use trail round the whole park that you can access without going though the estate road. Google "Calke Abbey Tramway Trail". Or if you are driving there and don't mind a bit of a walk - park at Ticknall village hall for free.

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marmotte27 | 1 year ago
0 likes

Does Mrs Darcy know about this?

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quiff replied to marmotte27 | 1 year ago
5 likes

Don't know, but Mr Collins was heard to remark that the car park at Rosings is much larger.

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brooksby replied to quiff | 1 year ago
2 likes

quiff wrote:

Don't know, but Mr Collins was heard to remark that the car park at Rosings is much larger.

laugh Very good.

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muhasib | 1 year ago
2 likes

Let's be fair, without a massive car park there wouldn't be any need to have the National Trust membership sticker showing in the Volvo estate as a public display of civic respectability.

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IanMSpencer | 1 year ago
8 likes

There are a lot of NT places that cause havoc on their peak days. Typically they are quite inaccessible by car, historically because the house owners owned swathes of land and ensured development was far away from them.

This is just one example. NT really need to rethink their whole business model which is based on encouraging people to drive long distances to tick off the NT list. Many retired people seem more interested in the cafes rather than the history. I hate to think what the real food miles are for an NT cafe.

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HoarseMann | 1 year ago
5 likes

Well that's nothing compared to what they did at Waddesdon Manor: created a massive car park so far away from the house, they have a fleet of shuttle buses running around it all day!

To be fair at Waddesdon, there is e-bike hire and a traffic free route to the railway station.

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ITK2012 | 1 year ago
1 like

It is an hours cycle for the average person from the nearest large towns, which also involves a rather significant amount of climbing for said average person. If they want to restrict the number of people visiting each year to a few hundred they should absolutely get rid of the car park. 

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Bmblbzzz replied to ITK2012 | 1 year ago
2 likes

And given the stated proximity of Disley station, they should encourage people to visit by train. Maybe increase the parking charge to at least equal the train fare from the nearest large town, put up signs from the station, etc (maybe they already have signs?). Being realistic, this is more likely to get people out of their cars than cycling. 

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David9694 replied to ITK2012 | 1 year ago
8 likes

The site catering for "the answer is me driving my car, what's the question?" is over thataway. 

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ITK2012 replied to David9694 | 1 year ago
0 likes

Sorry, this must be the site for delusional cycling extremists who think that a family going for a day out with 4 people, a dog and a picnic set are suddenly going to decide to cycle for hours carrying all these things to get to their destination.

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David9694 replied to ITK2012 | 1 year ago
2 likes

How is Fido's eyesight these days? 

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brooksby replied to ITK2012 | 1 year ago
2 likes

ITK2012 wrote:

Sorry, this must be the site for delusional cycling extremists who think that a family going for a day out with 4 people, a dog and a picnic set are suddenly going to decide to cycle for hours carrying all these things to get to their destination.

Not sure about the dog, but surely four people can carry a picnic between them and make the ride a part of the day out?

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Geoff Ingram replied to brooksby | 1 year ago
1 like

Well, if a husky can pull a sled, I'm sure the average dog could be used as an aid to the slowest rider. But no whipping, please, it's cruel.

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quiff replied to brooksby | 1 year ago
0 likes

brooksby wrote:

Not sure about the dog, but surely four people can carry a picnic between them and make the ride a part of the day out?

Obviously I like cycling (I mean, who would come here to post if they didn't like cycling?) and yes, four like minded people could ride to a NT property with a picnic. I'm sure many could also get there through a combination of rail and bus etc. But for most NT visitors, I'd wager that would be a massive put off when we have made the car so convenient. I'm not saying NT can't or shouldn't change, just recognising it's a tough ask when the vast majority of visitors currently arrive by car.            

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