National Park for the Cotswolds?

8th January 2018

Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP recently visited the South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA) in Midhurst, West Sussex with Chairman Liz Eyre and Director Martin Lane of the Cotswolds Conservation Board.

They met with Tim Slaney, Director of Planning, and had a detailed discussion on how the SDNPA operates. The SDNPA was created in 2011 and has remarkable similarities with the Cotswolds AONB. The Cotswolds is marginally bigger than the South Downs - just over 2,000 square kilometres.

They each have National Trail running from end-to-end and they both cover 15 local authorities.

The SDNPA ensures that there is a high degree of cooperative working between the three county councils and 12 district councils, which is extremely helpful in matters such as planning and transport. Planning matters are sub-contracted by the SDNPA to the district councils who carry out the work. One clear advantage is that the SDNPA win a high percentage of planning cases on appeal.

The SDNPA maintain a watching brief and are able to call in individual planning cases, however this is extremely rare - amounting to only one or two a year.

The Cotswolds is in the very nascent stages of any debate on the possibility of National Park status. This will require extensive discussion and consultation with all interested authorities and people living in the Cotswolds, however Sir Geoffrey believes that this is a debate that should begin.

Commenting after the meeting the MP said:
"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."

Director of the Cotswolds Conservative Board, Martin Lane said:
"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 with Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown 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."

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