Giving Cotswolds national park status would be ‘bonkers’

Giving national park status to the Cotswolds is “bonkers” and would worsen the local housing crisis, according to district council leader Joe Harris.

The Government is reportedly considering a review of the UK’s network of protected landscapes.

The Cotswolds, which currently benefits from Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty status, would be designated as a national park according to the The Telegraph.

And this new status would mean the area would be subject to more stringent planning regulations.

But Cotswold District Council leader Joe Harris (Lib Dem, St Michael’s) says this would lead to an increase in house prices and exacerbate the local housing crisis.

“We have a housing affordability crisis in the Cotswolds and this will only make matters worse,” he said.

“A national park designation as we’ve seen elsewhere adds a premium to house prices and rents, in the Cotswolds, this will make the dream of homeownership or even just renting somewhere to live even more difficult for ordinary people.

“It will also mean that thousands of new homes could be built in Cirencester and Moreton-in-Marsh which have already seen hundreds built or given permission without adequate infrastructure to support them.

“These plans are bonkers and I hope the Conservative Government will think again, Cotswold District Council will never support these plans as long as the Lib Dems are running the Council.”

However, Conservative Party group leader on the district council Richard Morgan (Con, Grumbolds Ash with Avening) believes the time is right to seriously consider this proposal.

He says the benefits of the Cotswolds becoming a national park include protecting the area from large scale opportunistic housebuilding and it would give local people more say over planning decisions.

Cllr Morgan also says it will also provide extra protections for nature and wildlife habitats and more environmental controls and would boost the local economy which is heavily dependent on tourism and recreation.

“With the Conservatives, Lib Dems and Labour all committed to massive house building over the next 10 to 15 years, and the Cotswolds being one of the most desirable locations for developers, this proposal could help moderate this,” he said.

There are currently 15 national parks in Britain and each one has been designated as a protected landscape because of its special qualities. Each national park is administered by its own authority.

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