Council leaders oppose National Park status for the Cotswolds

Bibury cotswolds
The Cotswolds is known for its beauty - but councillors say they are against it becoming an official national park Credit: PA

Councillors have warned giving the Cotswolds official National Park status would take away power from people living in the district and make the housing crisis worse.

Cotswold District Council’s cabinet discussed their official response to the Government’s consultation on the Glover Review of protected landscapes on Monday 7 March.

Council leader Joe Harris said local people would have less power and planning decisions would be made by unelected bureaucrats under National Park status.

He said: “The truth is we’d probably be handing planning powers in our district to an unelected quango. We want to retain as many planning powers as we can.

“While the planning system is far from perfect and far from democratic, those who are elected and accountable make some planning decisions and policy for our area and that’s how it should be and not unelected bureaucrats on some board who nobody’s ever heard of.”

The Cotswolds are home a number of picturesque towns and villages

The Cotswolds is already designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Cllr Lisa Spivey said 80% of the district lies within the AONB and it is extremely difficult to bring forward social housing schemes because of this.

She said: “We have a housing affordability crisis in the Cotswolds. It’s already a very desirable place to live and visit without National Park status.

“For the people that live and work here. For those teachers in our community, nurses and those working in hospitality, it’s very important that we continue to defend these people and stand up for them and fight against National Park status.

“Because it will mean that those people would have to be bussed in or drive in from other places because they will no longer be able to afford to live in the Cotswolds.”

Cllr Juliet Layton said the council has passed several motions saying they would not support plans for National Park status in the Cotswolds.

She said the council is very supportive of a lot of the initiatives in the review but the questions and the report from the government were not very clear.

She said: “A key issue for the Cotswolds has been the suggestion in the Glover Review and previously that the Cotswolds could become a National Park.“

“The government’s response to the Glover Review, (and Natural England’s announcements under the new landscape designation programme) are silent on this issue; it would be helpful if the government could provide clarity that this suggestion is not being pursued.”

Council leaders agreed to respond to the Government’s consultation.

Credit: Carmelo Garcia, Local Democracy Reporter