THE Cotswolds should be given National Park status, says its recently-knighted MP. Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown said there is a ‘clear case’ for the move following a visit to the South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA).
He was joined on the visit by members of the Cotswolds Conservation Board.
The Cotswolds – already an Area of Natural Beauty (AONB) that begins in Ilmington in Stratford district – is marginally bigger than the South Downs at just over 2,000 square kilometres.
They each have a National Trail running from end-to-end and both cover 15 local authorities.
National Park status offers areas another layer of protection to its landscape and wildlife, specifically on planning matters. There are currently 15 across the UK.
And Sir Geoffrey said now was the time to begin what he described as ‘extensive discussion and consultation’ that would be required.
“Having gathered evidence on how well the National Park works in the South Downs, in my view there is a clear case for at least considering if the Cotswolds could be conserved and enhanced further by designating the area as a National Park by the Secretary of State,” he said.
Mr Lane added: “The visit to the South Downs was highly informative. It demonstrated how the Park Authority had introduced a new and successful planning arrangement, which worked for differing partners with differing needs, across the whole Park area.
“We agree that the time is right to explore whether a National Park for the Cotswolds would be good for local communities, the environment and the economy.”
A report was published just before Christmas by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) and National Association for Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) which highlighted the pressure that the Cotswolds AONB was facing from housing developments.
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