The question is not whether we want a National Park for The Cotswolds but could National Park status help us achieve what we do want for The Cotswolds. There has been no meaningful study and we need to know more before we come to a conclusion. The Glover Report states: we are developing a flexible package of statutory and non-statutory measures to achieve improvements, which we will develop in consultation with board members.
National Parks receive £6.5m pa of Government support on average, the Cotswold National Landscape receives just £1.5m. It is incorrect that NP Planning Committees are made up of unelected Members. The most recent National Park adopted in July 2019 is The South Downs National Park Authority. It has 27 comprising:
- 14 Councillors from Local Authorities within the South Downs National Park. There are 15 local authorities within the Park, and each is entitled to a seat on the Park Authority. Two councils have decided to share a seat.
- 6 Councillors from Town and Parish Councils within the South Downs National Park. 2 Councillors each are appointed from East Sussex, West Sussex and Hampshire. The appointments follow elections organised by the relevant Associations of Town and Parish Councils.
- 7 Members appointed by the Secretary of State following a national, open competition.
Like the Cotswold Local Plan, the South Downs National Park Local Plan also has robust policies to encourage and enable affordable housing. https://www.southdowns.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Adopted-Affordable-Housing-SPD.html
We know that we want to build housing in the Cotswolds to enable people to stay in their communities. Current planning policy rarely helps the young and the elderly on their journey up or down the housing ladder so that they can stay in the places they know and love. What is needed are affordable one, two and three bedroom properties in the right places, the current developer led model means that mostly four and five bedroom properties are delivered, encouraging people to move into the area.
The Cotswolds will always be expensive, it is heart-achingly beautiful and only about 1hr 30mins to London by road or rail. The Cotswolds are already more expensive than many areas in the South East, nothing is going to change that.
National Park status for the Cotswolds should be explored before a conclusion is reached. It might well be the tool to enable us to protect and enhance, and build the right sort of houses and put a stop to the current developer lead model which is putting unsustainable pressures on infrastructure, communities and landscape which we are powerless to control. It is for this reason that the Conservative Group abstained from voting for the LibDem National Park Motion at the Council Meeting on 15 December 2021, the motion was not researched properly and the conclusions arrived at were based on the 'old style' National Parks.