Broads to be called a National Park

The Norfolk and Suffolk Broads will be known as the Broads National Park following a landmark decision today.

Broads Authority members voted by an overwhelming majority to brand the area as a National Park after 79% of consultees approved the proposal.

Chief Executive of the Broads Authority John Packman led the three-month consultation and said he was "absolutely delighted" that the area would benefit from being clearly identified as a National Park.

"I like to see this as a 25th anniversary gift from the Authority to the Broads which fully deserves to be called a National Park, something all the other parks agree with along with the overwhelming majority of our consultees."

For 25 years the Broads has had equivalent status to a National Park but, in addition to the other parks' two purposes of conservation and promoting enjoyment, it has a third equally weighted purpose of managing the navigation.

As such it was defined under a different act of Parliament to the other parks and, until now, was only known as a member of the National Park family despite having a National Park grant and the same planning protection and first two purposes as the other parks.

The move to call it the Broads National Park came out of a desire to more clearly promote its national park credentials and special qualities.

Dr Packman said the historic decision will benefit all three of its purposes.

"The National Park brand is internationally recognised and hugely appealing to visitors. It is shorthand for a place that is special, is properly looked after and deserves to be valued by everyone who visits and lives there.

"I am delighted that Authority members have approved this move. It means we will be more able to promote the special qualities of the Broads and highlight the importance of conservation plus increased interest in the Broads from visitors will help support the boating industry."

The Authority will now use the name to refer to the Broads with immediate effect and support other organisations in doing so with the development of new branding guidelines and a revised communications strategy. It is also intending to look at possible new signage opportunities in a general review of signage for the area.

Stephen Johnson, Chairman of the Authority, said: "Branding the area rather than seeking a legal change is an eminently pragmatic move which took into account the views of all representative groups during a rigorous consultation process. 

"Members were also given comfort after it was additionally agreed to no longer pursue the long held ambition to become a National Park by law as the branding gives the area all the benefits it needs."

Eleven members voted for the recommendation to brand the area as the Broads National Park, three were against with two abstentions.

The decision comes after a three-month consultation which resulted in 79% of national, regional and local interests groups supporting the proposal.

It also follows discussions with the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) after which Secretary of State Lord de Mauley expressed he was content with the move as it did not involve a change in legal status.

Friday 23 January 2015