Residents of a Yorkshire Dales parish which featured in a Harry Potter blockbuster movie and Netflix fantasy series The Witcher have urged custodians of the national park to help improve their quality of life as the area is becoming increasingly overwhelmed with visitors and “abandoned” vehicles.
Malhamdale residents said as a result of exposure on hit television shows and films, which also include All Creatures Great and Small and Monty Python’s Holy Grail, the area’s lanes are frequently gridlocked by inconsiderately parked cars, exacerbating safety concerns and making it impossible for emergency vehicles to pass.
The appeals to the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority come just weeks after Kirby Malhamdale Parish Council approved moving ahead with a multi-pronged traffic management plan for Malham, which will see a permanent traffic calming gateway close to the National Park Visitor Centre in the coming months.
The move follows six years’ of consultations with residents about ways that it would be possible to improve the long-standing traffic and safety problems created for Malham village because of the huge numbers of visitors.
In a statement, the council’s chairman, Councillor Chris Wildman, said: “The visitor numbers have certainly shown no signs of diminishing, and in fact over the past five-plus years, and particularly post-Covid-19, the visitor numbers have increased significantly.”
The programme includes renewing double yellow lines across a more extensive area in Malham and on Malham Brow and working with local landowners to achieve a greater amount of parking in fields near the village and the Pennine Way.
Coun Wildman said: “This will also be done as sensitively as possible from an aesthetic viewpoint.”
However, the traffic management plan will depend on the approval of Malhamdale Agricultural Society’s planning application to use its highly visible showfield for parking for 56 days a year.
The park authority has a primary purpose to protect the landscapes and its planning committee has previously taken a dim view of developments in prominent sites and particularly when close to the Pennine Way.
Nevertheless, one of the authority’s leading objectives is to “promote the national park as a leading sustainable tourism destination”.
In planning papers Malham Show chair Garry Schofield stated: “Off-road car parking is necessary because otherwise the roads and village of Malham become gridlocked due to the high volume of cars arriving simultaneously.
“The development will have a very limited temporary impact on the landscape
character of the area.”
In letters of support for the move, residents said village was suffering from the “ugliness of endless rows of parked cars on busy days” as well as the “inconsiderate abandonment of cars on the roadside”, which made it impossible for large vehicles to pass and bringing traffic to a complete standstill.
One resident stated: “The need to increase parking facilities is understandable but we must remember that this increase is due to massive media exposure about the delights of Malhamdale which encourages very large numbers of day-trippers.”
Another resident added: “The village is getting more like Blackpool. Visitor numbers have increased to such an extent that the sewage workings cannot cope and are overflowing into the river. It was not intended to cope with the amount of visitors that come on a regular basis. The rubbish that is left everywhere is disgusting and locals are having to remove it.”
Other residents have called for more action to prevent excessive numbers of visitors, arguing that “you don’t see fields full of cars” in the Lake District where parking is restricted by “proper yellow lines”.