A MAJOR milestone has been reached in the journey towards establishing a transformational new gateway for the Lake District.

Windermere Gateway's long-term vision is to unlock opportunities for new homes, jobs, and sustainable transport connections.

It is led by a partnership between the National Trust, the Lake District National Park Authority, Westmorland and Furness Council and housing developer Urban Splash.

Part of the programme is a housing-allocation site at Orrest Head Farm and the first stage to unlocking that development will be improving accessibility, including upgrades to the A591, Thwaites Lane and new pedestrian and cycle links between the site and Windermere train station.

Funding to support the delivery of these works is being sought through Homes England's Brownfield Infrastructure and Land fund but is still subject to a formal grant funding agreement.

READ MORE: Public debate to take place on multi-million pound project

Urban Splash have now submitted a highways and access planning application to the Lake District National Park Authority.

The highways and access application, which will open up the land for housing, includes visibility and safety measures, surface material changes to better highlight the presence of the junction and encourage drivers to reduce speed and pedestrian and cyclist priority.

Urban Splash are finalising the details of a further planning application for the Orrest Head Farm housing and employment site and they will be in a position to share them with the community very soon.

Joe Woolley of Urban Splash said: “Following consultation with the community we are pleased to have submitted this application. We now look forward to working through the planning process with local people, the local authority, and our partners as we seek to realise our shared vision for the future of Orrest Head Farm.”

Cllr Peter Thornton, Westmorland and Furness Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways and Assets, said: "It’s important that highways and infrastructure improvements are made in order to facilitate the future development of the site. Funding to support the delivery of these works is being sought through Homes England's Brownfield Infrastructure and Land fund. Subject to funding being secured and the Urban Splash planning application being approved, it is proposed that Westmorland and Furness would appoint a contractor to deliver the necessary highways works.

“We will talk to residents and businesses as the highway scheme is developed, and we will do our best to minimise disruption to local residents, businesses, and visitors.”

Cllr Jonathan Brook, Leader of Westmorland and Furness Council, said: "The long-term ambition for this exciting project is to create a world-class welcome for visitors arriving in Windermere, sensitively creating an enhanced gateway to the Lake District World Heritage Site through a redeveloped station, housing and employment site and transport hub. This important first stage, if approved, will support our ambition to work with developers to enable land to be brought forward for housing development, creating more, affordable, quality housing so that local families can build a life here and young people can stay in the area. The road works will be necessary to provide the much-needed affordable housing but we also recognise that they can cause inconvenience in the short term and will work with any contractor and partners to minimise the impacts on our local community."

As part of the proposals for Orrest Head Farm, the National Trust plan to move here to a new purpose-built headquarters from its current Grasmere office.

The other projects are improvements to the existing railway station and better facilities for rail and bus passengers to the town, a new transport interchange, public realm interventions and improved wayfinding.