In 2020 AMION completed an evaluation of the Optimising Connectivity programme for Cumbria County Council. The programme was approved for Local Growth Fund support in 2014 and had a total funding package of £2.6 million, with £2 million coming from the Local Growth Fund.
The Optimising Connectivity programme sought to unlock tourism development and growth along the A591 Kendal to Keswick corridor by providing public realm and connectivity improvements at The Glebe in Bowness and at Dove Cottage in Grasmere, along with the development of a cycleway at Thirlmere. The cycleway was developed as a response to Storm Desmond (2015) which washed away part of the A591, with the cycleway providing connectivity while the road was closed and beyond.
The evaluation included surveys of businesses in each location and consultations with programme staff from the Council and with other stakeholders.
The evaluation found that the programme had been very well managed, with strong partnership working with organisations such as South Lakeland District Council, Cumbria Tourism, Wordsworth Trust and the Lake District National Park Authority. The evaluation also found that the programme had increased visitor numbers to Bowness and Grasmere, with consequential impacts on visitor spend, employment and GVA.