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Gloucestershire Business News

Could the Cotswolds become a National Park?

Members of Cotswold District Council are to look into the benefits of designating the area as a National Park.

A cross-party motion requesting officers carry out an evaluation of the potential benefits and disadvantages of becoming a National Park was agreed yesterday.

Working with counterparts from other local authorities that would probably fall within the footprint of a Cotswolds National Park, CDC will aim to gain a better understanding of the implications for residents, including possible increases in housing costs.

The motion, proposed by Liberal Democrat group leader Cllr Joe Harris and seconded by Cllr Stephen Hirst, cabinet member for housing, health and leisure, was given unanimous support.

Cllr Harris said: "We know that local MPs have generated interest in this issue and it is important that we now gain a full understanding of all of the issues involved in designating a new National Park area. While it is clear that there are benefits for the tourism sector, we are concerned about the possible impact on future affordable housing provision, and local responsibility for planning matters. Setting up this evaluation with other affected authorities means that we should be well placed to respond to any possible consultation process and hopefully it will provide us with a significant body of evidence to inform our views."

Cllr Hirst said: "About 80 per cent of the district comprises Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, so there is already a good level of protection afforded to our landscape and communities. However, National Park designation is a significant step further and raises the prospect of key decision-making powers being taken away from democratically elected councillors working on behalf of local residents."

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