National park status for the Cotswolds would take power away from local people and deepen the housing affordability crisis, district council leaders have warned. The Cotswold District Council Cabinet has discussed its official response to the Government’s consultation on the Glover Protected Landscapes Review.
The Cotswolds currently enjoys Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty status, and councilors fear that any potential decision to grant it national park status will bring more problems than benefits to the region. Council leader Joe Harris (LD, St Michael’s) said national park status would take power away from local people and planning decisions would be made by unelected bureaucrats.
He said: “The truth is that we would probably give planning powers in our district to an unelected quango. We want to retain as much planning power as possible.
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“Although the planning system is far from perfect and far from democratic, those who are elected and accountable make planning decisions and policies for our region and that is how it should be and not bureaucrats unelected from a council no one has ever heard of.”
Cllr Lisa Spivey (LD, The Ampneys & Hampton) said 80% of the district is in the AONB and it is extremely difficult to provide social housing programs because of this. She said: ‘We have a housing affordability crisis in the Cotswolds. It’s already a very pleasant place to live and visit without national park status.
“For the people who live and work here. For teachers in our community, nurses and those who work in hospitality, it is very important that we continue to stand up for these people, defend them and fight against national park status.
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“Because it will mean that these people will have to be bused or driven from other places because they can no longer afford to live in the Cotswolds.”
Cllr Juliet Layton (LD, South Cerney Village) said council had passed several motions saying they would not support plans for national park status in the Cotswolds. She said the council was very supportive of many initiatives in the review, but the questions and the government report were not very clear.
She said: “A key issue for the Cotswolds has been the suggestion in 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 scheme) are silent on this issue; it would be useful for the government to specify that this suggestion is not being followed.
Council leaders agreed to respond to the government’s consultation.
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