A VISION to create a South Pennines ‘regional park’ – taking in areas on the edge of the Bradford district – has moved a step closer to reality with the award of a £183,500 grant from the National Lottery.

The money, which has been awarded to the area’s regeneration agency Pennine Prospects from the Heritage Lottery Fund resilient heritage programme, will last 18 months.

It will be used to improve sustainable management and build capacity in what would be the country’s first designated park of its kind, including areas such as the Worth Valley and South Craven.

Helen Noble, Pennine Prospects chief executive, said: “This National Lottery support, with partnership funding of £11,000, will build on our enviable track record of collaborative partnerships.

“We want to nurture a vibrant South Pennines Regional Park – a people’s park for the 21st century.”

The South Pennines embraces parts of Yorkshire, including Skipton and South Craven and the moorland above Haworth and Oxenhope, as well as parts of Lancashire and Greater Manchester. It borders the Yorkshire Dales National Park and is close to the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

The landscape has inspired artists and writers over the centuries, from the Brontes to Angela Smyth. The region is also home to internationally-important wildlife species and includes a significant percentage of the country’s blanket bog resource. But it is the only upland landscape in England not to have statutory protection.

A new five-year delivery and business plan will be developed and a framework to progress a ten-year management strategy.

In addition, training will be given to staff members and volunteers. Ms Noble said: “It is fantastic news to secure the long-term sustainable future and viability of the organisation. Distinctive landscapes such as the South Pennines are facing many management, development and funding pressures. With the support from HLF and our partners, we want to co-create, demonstrate and give confidence on how investment can be aligned to deliver environmental, social and economic benefits.”