A CHAMPION of making the Cotswolds into the UK's newest protected area has said the region is 'too large' to be a manageable national park.

The Cotswolds was named as a leading candidate to become the UK's newest national park in a report to the government published last month.

The current Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty covers approximately 2,401 sq km (927 sq miles) across Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Somerset, Worcestershire and Warwickshire.

David Drew, Labour MP for Stroud, has championed the new park but said the whole Cotswolds AONB was too large for a national park to be sustainable.

Mr Drew said: "The boundaries of the AONBs are probably so widespread that you are taking in a huge area.

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"We would be by far the biggest national park so I do think we need to look sensibly about what should be in it and what shouldn't be in it, but again that should be open to discussion.

"The main thing is the Cotswolds should be accessible to people from all manner of large urban spaces, Birmingham, Bristol, Bath, and so on."

Oxford Mail:

David Drew MP. Picture: Simon Pizzey.

He added there should be a public debate about which areas of the current Cotswolds AONB should be included in the new park.

The Glover report, which is currently being considered by Defra, is a review into protected landscapes across the UK, including national parks and AONBs.

National park status would allow the Cotswolds access to more funding and resources than it currently has as an AONB.

The combined Dorset and East Devon AONBs were also named in the Glover report as leading candidates to become a national park.

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Plans for a Cotswolds National Park were set out in the Cotswolds Conservation Board’s management report 2018-23.

One of four key ambitions listed in the report is "to promote the case for the Cotswolds being designated as England’s next National Park."

In January, West Oxfordshire district council's cabinet rejected the Cotswolds Conservation Board’s proposal to upgrade the area from an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Oxford Mail:

The Cotswold Hills.

At the time, council leader James Mills said: “Heritage, the environment and the visitor economy are all hugely important to West Oxfordshire.

Read the full report from the council meeting here

“But the Cotswolds is a living, breathing community of people that actually live there, and not just tourists.

“There are key areas where they haven’t spoken to as many people as they could have. I don’t think it fits in with the aspirations of local people.”

The West Oxfordshire Cotswolds span north of the A40 to Chipping Norton, with parts stretching to Woodstock.