Scepticism over national park plans for the Cotswolds

By Carmelo Garcia.

National park status for the Cotswolds would be “absolutely crackers” as it would hike house prices and take planning decisions away from local people, according to civic leaders.

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

And the Cotswolds, which currently benefits from Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty status, is among those areas which could be designated as a national park.

However, Cotswold District Council leader Joe Harris (Lib Dem, St Michael’s) said the designation for the district would only exacerbate the housing affordability crisis affecting the area.

“Where are the hordes or residents in the Cotswolds saying we want a national park?,” he asked during a council meeting on Wednesday.

“More often than not in national park areas planning powers are handed over to unelected bureaucrats.

“I don’t want people who are unelected making planning decisions for the Cotswolds.

“I want to keep 100% of our planning powers and ensure decisions are made by local people.

“The Cotswolds are so much more than the natural landscape. Wherever there is a national park designation going forward, house prices increase.

“The national park model isn’t for us.”

Councillor Tony Berry (Con, Kemble) said the Landscapes review: National Parks and AONBs report opens up all sorts of possibilities as to what could be done as a national park.

“I can’t support it without knowing what it is that’s being suggested.”

And Cllr Ray Theodoulou (Con, Coln Valley) said there would be no public accountability with a national park.

He said there may be enormous benefits but he could not see them.

“We’re not going to get a pile of money thrown at us.

“Before I support a national park in this area I want to know exactly what the proposal is.”

The council will write to Natural England, the local MP and the Secretary of State for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs expressing their opposition to national park designation.

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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