Photo: Chris Gilbert.
Generations of life are reflected in the diversity of the Peak District National Park’s buildings, whether agricultural or industrial, religious or social, domestic or educational. Together, these create the characteristic settlements typical of the area, with manor houses, churches, schools, farmhouses, inns, shops and industrial buildings of all sizes, from large mills and factories to small smithies and workshops. The settlements range from loose, linear communities of farmsteads and paddocks to nineteenth century planned estate villages. They have a rich history, with many mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086.
The settlements and communities have evolved alongside industry. The area has been farmed for thousands of years and many farmsteads have medieval origins, with some dating back to former royal and private forests. Industries have shaped the character of settlements through weavers’ cottages, terraced workers’ houses, mills, smithies and workshops. Large landowning families have also given some communities their iconic character, such as the Chatsworth Estate and Edensor village.
Today’s surviving historic places are a rare connection to a unique past; painting a picture of people’s lives in the Peak District National Park. These traditional settlements built by communities to meet local needs create the unique character of the place, with their distinctive grouping and use of locally available stone – limestone in the White Peak and gritstone in the Dark Peak. Walk through scattered medieval farmsteads in Abney or discover ancient villages of labourer’s cottages like Bradwell and feel connected to the lives of those who lived and worked here in the past. Explore Bakewell with its Anglo-Saxon church founded in 920 and famous five arched bridge from 1200 and marvel at the ingenuity of our ancestors.
These distinctive historic places have a sense of community with local people feeling pride in the area and connected to its history. Today’s communities are involved in everything from conservation projects and producing future village plans to providing community transport. Community initiatives like Bamford’s community-owned Anglers Rest and the community-led Calver Weir Restoration Project show how local communities continue to shape the area. Many cultural traditions continue today, with crowds of local people and visitors attending events like Tissington well-dressing, Edale fell race, Castleton Garland Day and Winster Pancake Run. Such traditions link together local communities, past and present.
Many stories and products are associated with Peak District National Park settlements. Visit Eyam to learn how seventeenth century locals isolated themselves to stop the Bubonic Plague spreading. Go sightseeing in Castleton and explore its caves, including the Blue John and Treak Cliff caverns where the famous Blue John gemstone is found. Try a Bakewell pudding, which local legend attributes to an inexperienced cook’s attempt at a jam tart.
# Key data trends
The Park is in a unique position, at the heart of the nation surrounded by major urban areas. The resident population remains at around 37,905 living in Bakewell and more than 140 villages and hamlets. Surveys show that residents have a strong connection with their local environment and landscape, high levels of community activity and awareness around Peak District cultural traditions reflect this. Some of the challenges for people living within the National Park are to maintain balanced and vibrant communities when faced with high house prices, low wages, an aging population and inconsistent access to services. A high priority for most resident communities and constituent local authorities is the provision of affordable housing.
People who visit, live or work in the Peak District National Park directly benefit from it. Yet many of its benefits go beyond its boundary. Many businesses within the Peak District National Park derive direct and indirect economic benefits from their unique location and relationship with its landscapes. Economic output comes from a diversity of sectors with potential for growth and development. It is this relationship that we seek to foster and build upon in order to deliver National Park purposes. To further this relationship, we will encourage businesses to embrace the landscape, and the enhancement of it, as part of their business model.
The Landscape is valuable to business:
- Almost two-thirds (65%) of all Peak District businesses surveyed stated that they depended on the quality of the landscape and environment.
- Across the Peak District, more than half (53%) of all businesses surveyed stated that National Park designation had a positive impact on their business.
Economic Output is increasing before Covid-19:
- The Peak District National Park generates between £616m and £758m total gross value added per annum.
- The 3,210 business enterprises within the Peak District generated an estimated combined annual turnover of more than £1.66 billion in 2019. This equated to 11% of all English National Park turnover (£15.5bn).
- Wholesale businesses contributed the largest industry share of turnover in the Peak District with a turnover of £330m in 2019 – two fifths of the Peak District economy.
Most Businesses in the PDNP are SME:
- There were 3,505 active local business units located within the Peak District National Park in 2019. An increase of 2% or an extra 80 local business units between 2016 and 2019.
- The business enterprise start-up rate of the wider Peak District was 8.7% in 2018, below that of the UK as whole (12.9%).
- A total of 890 enterprises went out of business across the wider Peak District during 2018. This equated to a ‘death’ rate of businesses within the wider Peak District of 7.7%.
- At least 1 in 3 businesses are agricultural, forestry and fishing.
- The largest annual employment growth occurred in the arts, entertainment, recreation & other services industry where employment grew by nearly a quarter (23%) between 2016 and 2019, providing an extra 409 jobs. *Nearly all business (99%) are classed as Small or Medium Businesses
The majority of residents are in employment or retired:
- Out of an economically active resident population of 19,805 within the Peak District, 46% are employed in full-time positions.
- An ageing and declining population will have a big impact on the future size and structure of the labour force, which is projected to decline.
- Peak District residents are most likely to work in wholesale & retail (13%), with a high proportion of residents in professional occupations.
- Rural areas such as the Peak District National Park have the highest rates of home working, 21.5%, compared with just 13% in urban areas.
Unemployment rate is low but tracks the national trend:
- 67% of economic inactivity is made up of retired residents
- As of early 2020, there were 600 people unemployed within the Peak District, equating to an unemployment rate of 1.1% of the economically active population. This is the first time since 2014 the unemployment rate has gone above 1%.
- Income deprivation indicators show that the Peak District, ranking as one of the least income deprived areas in the country in 2019, it is in the 8th decile of income deprivation
Resident population has largely remained stable:
- The population within the Peak District has remained stable from 2001 to 2011; this is well below the national increase of 7.1 % but is consistent with other National Parks .
- In 2011 there were an estimated 37,905 people living in the Peak District National Park compared with 37, 937 in 2001. Unlike national and regional trends, the population has remained stable within the Peak District and is not expected to rise over the coming years .
The PDNP has an ageing population:
- National Parks have a much older age structure when compared to other areas. In comparison to the national average the Peak District has a smaller proportion of under 45s and larger proportion of over 45s. This trend is increasing with time when compared with Mid-Year Estimates for detailed age bands .
- In 2011 approximately 33% of the population of the Peak District was over 60 (an increase of approximately 8% since 2001). Data also shows that the 15-24 age group declined between 2001 and 2011. The mean age of residents within the Peak District is 45.8 years old compared with 39.3 for England. This is in line with other National Parks .
- Levels of self-employment amongst National Park residents were recorded at over one in four (>25%) of the economically active population. This is almost double the national level, whilst levels of employment amongst the economically active population are higher than the national average.
- Crime statistics show that the National Park had a significantly lower total recorded crime rate compared to Derbyshire as a whole. Staffordshire has the lowest level of all recorded crimes, is the most rural and least densely populated part of the National Park.
Standard of Living
- None of the National Park’s communities are in the top 30% most deprived areas of England and only one constituent area (Sheffield) has a monitoring area overlapping the Peak District with deprivation falling into this category. In this case, most of the population reside outside the National Park part of the area. This has remained the same since 2004 .
Access to Services in in decline:
- There has been a decline in community services over the last ten years, particularly of shops, post offices, healthcare facilities and public houses .
- Many Peak District villages retain a range of well-used, thriving local services and amenities. However, a combination of online services along with changing behaviours such as combined trips for work and shopping and the longer term trend increase in the use of private transport all contribute to a steady loss of facilities such as pubs, post offices and village shops, particularly as several larger centres on the fringes of the National Park (e.g. Buxton, Glossop, Leek and Chesterfield) offer an excellent range of goods and services in close proximity.
Nearly half of all households are owned outright in the PDNP:
- National housing related issues such as quality are not as prevalent in the Peak District. However, issues such as availability and affordability are big issues for many residents.
- 28% of households in the Peak District comprise people over 65 and this has not changed since 2001.
- The average household size in the Peak District is 2.3 persons with an average of 3 bedrooms per house.
- A large number of houses in the Peak District are occupied by a single resident aged 65+. As population increases, under occupation of houses could impact on housing availability for other age groups
- The number of households owned outright has been increasing since 1991 in the Peak District. Approximately 75% of houses in the National Park were owned by the occupier, with 46% owned outright and 27% owned with a mortgage. This is higher than other National Parks and the regional and national average.
- In 2001 4% of household spaces in the Peak District were classed as second residence or holiday accommodation. Although higher than the national average at the time (1%), this is not as high as some parts of the country or other desirable rural areas outside national parks and without restrictive housing policies. This average figure does however recognise higher rates in some villages
- Most properties within the Peak District are connected to the internet through the existing copper phone line network linked to telephone exchanges in and around the national park. There are 19 exchanges within the National Park boundary with an additional 21 exchanges covering fringe communities .
- Almost all of these exchanges provide 8MB speeds via ADSL (Advanced Digital Subscriber Line), although generally these speeds reduce with distance from the exchange.
- However, this situation is quickly improving as a number of towns and villages in the Peak District are likely to receive Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) network upgrades in the next two years as part of the government's Broadband Delivery UK project. Larger towns of Matlock, Leek, Buxton and Bakewell are now upgraded with smaller towns and villages expected to benefit during 2016.
The 2015/16 Residents’ Survey shows that:
- Nine in ten respondents (92%) have an internet connection at home.
- Of the remaining 8% that do not have an internet connection one third (36%) state they ‘have no need for broadband’, 24% are ‘unconfident with new technology’ and 22% say due to the connections speeds ‘it’s not worth it’.
# Drivers for change
# Climate change & Increased risk of flooding
There are a large number of communities at risk of flooding both within and immediately downstream of the PDNP, with major cities (Derby, Manchester, and Sheffield) affected by flood waters originating in the PDNP.
Living in the area of the Peak District National Park had a positive impact for the majority of residents on how they coped during lockdown. Also, a strong sense of attachment to the area was clear from the results with several people involved in volunteering activities to support the National Park.
The most negative impacts of the national COVID-19 restrictions were people being unable to socialise as before and many shops being closed. The most positive impacts were less traffic on the roads and fewer visitors in the Peak District.
The lower number of visitors due to the strict lockdown restrictions during the first wave of COVID-19 had positive impacts for locals especially with regards to the improvement of social relations with other locals and the feeling of connectedness to nature. However, those whose household income relies on tourism experienced a negative impact on their economic situation.
# Impacts of tourism demands
The impact of tourism can be negative for those living in a place where tourists gather or travel through in numbers. While the Park has taken great strides in adapting and innovating to better provide for changing tourism demands, a significant opportunity remains to make more of the Park’s rich special qualities to attract longer staying visitors or in different peak times.
There is a need to work with communities through strategic visitor management forums and strategies. There is potential to share experiences of good/innovative practice in how we manage visitor pressure in key ‘honey pot’ sites.
Many stakeholders have suggested that visitors need to be encouraged to make contributions to the upkeep of the National Park.
There is also a need to manage expectations for residents and visitors alike and strike a balance in outlooks.
Communities feel there is a need to get the right infrastructure in place if we are to encourage greater recreational use of the National Park i.e. responsible and sustainable tourism. Is there a need to quantify the benefits and build data on the value of visitors to the local economy and the impact they have on the special qualities of the park.
# Lack of affordable Housing
Many residents and partners see availability and affordability of housing as big issues. The perceived lack of affordable housing is seen as a serious problem, despite relatively good provision in some areas.
Affordable houses will address one aspect of housing need. However, the development of cheap market housing will not reduce the average market house price. This is because the cheaper houses will become more expensive over time, but the more expensive properties will not become cheaper.
Nationally, government is reducing subsidy for social housing (particularly for renting) and moving to the political aim of home ownership (starter homes). These however do not address the affordability problem across England.
# Size of housing
House prices are too costly for first or second time buyers. Maintaining planning policies which encourage modest, affordable homes helps to address this issue. Therefore there is also a need to continue to influence market housing (approved for conservation and enhancement purposes) towards those of a size and type that are needed by local communities.
There is an opportunity to explore community land trusts so that communities can control the size and type/tenure and occupancy of locally needed homes.
There is an opportunity to assess the success of measures being tested across the country, e.g. through neighbourhood plans to control second or holiday homes through ‘principle residence’ policies.
# Loss of community services
There has been a decline in community services over the last ten years, particularly of shops, post offices, healthcare facilities and public houses. Excluding pubs, primary schools and post offices remain the most common rural service in the Peak District.
The geography of the National Park means most people depend on cars for transport. Increased distances to access services can result in a higher cost of living.
There is a question over whether access to services is problematic in reality or if it is in fact down to perception as most residents have access to private transport for jobs and services. However, life is extremely difficult for those without access due to continuing reductions in public transport.
# Ageing population
The age profile of communities and implications for the future. National parks and rural areas have a much older age structure than the rest of the population. This can impact on communities where services are no longer provided locally, and vulnerable people may struggle as they can’t travel to get them easily.
# Youth unemployment
There are an increasing number of people who have been made redundant from jobs around the Peak District. Unemployment looks likely to remain most prevalent amongst the younger generation. The Peak District may be less affected by continued recession and resulting unemployment due to relative high levels of wealth, and the average age of residents.
# Poor Broadband speeds and patchy connectivity
The Peak District lends itself to working from home but poor broadband speeds make it harder than it should be to work. There remains uncertainty over funding processes, technology and commercial sensitivity of data, and there may be planning considerations as a result of any wireless infrastructure.
The National Park Authority has worked with mobile phone companies in the past to approve over 90% of masts in the Peak District.
National rules on permitted development have recently been relaxed to allow further communications masts in National Parks.
There is also need to ensure rollout progresses at speeds promised by partners.
# Policy and government
Implications of Brexit Value of the pound compared with the euro and the potential impact on small businesses. There will be a review of both business grants and support for a new national rather than European programme ready for when the UK leaves the European Community. This will be particularly relevant for the small and micro businesses typical of the National Park and the wider Peak District.
# Accessing LEP Funding
Despite positive work with LEPs there is still a risk that rural areas such as the Peak District are overlooked in favour of jobs and growth in urban areas, and accessing finance to grow local businesses via LEP funding remains an issue.
Multi LEP coverage of the National Park leading to inconsistency of business support and funding opportunities across the area.
# Data Limitations
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) supply most of the Economic and Demographic data found in this report. ONS provide exact fit data for National Census and some population surveys such as mid-year estimates. However, many economic data sources such as the Inter Departmental Business Register (IDBR) or the Business Register and Employment Survey (BRES) are reliant on annual business surveys. These surveys cover most large businesses with the proportion of businesses sampled decreasing with size, such that only a very small proportion of micro (0-9 employees) businesses are sampled. As most businesses in National Parks tend to be small, the proportion of businesses sampled in these surveys would likely be very low. So, exact cut figures from business surveys would likely be subject to high levels of uncertainty. Moreover, national parks have relatively small populations compared with most local authorities (with the exception of South Downs). So, for household survey data, such as the Annual Population Survey (APS), even if an exact National Park cut could be produced, the figures would again likely be subject to high sampling uncertainty. Most data we source for the IDBR or BRES is therefore created by aggregating the smallest statistical geography available and creating a ‘best fit’.