The Cotswolds could become home to a new National Park, as the government announces a package of nature pledges to improve access to green space for the British public.
As part of ambitious plans announced by the environment secretary ahead of COP28 on Wednesday 29 November 2023, the hunt for England's 11th National Park will begin in the new year, with Natural England leading the search.
And the Cotswolds has already been tipped as one of the locations in the running.
Easily one of the country's most beautiful nature spots, with its rolling hills, distinctive honey-coloured houses and vast open spaces, it's already one of England's 34 National Landscapes (the new term for Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty), making it a strong contender for National Park status.
Natural England will consider a list of sites — which could also include the Chilterns, Dorset and Cornwall — evaluating each landscape's natural beauty; opportunities for 'quiet enjoyment'; and environmental and community needs, too.
The new National Park will help nature recover, creating wildlife rich habitats for Britain's important species, while providing people with greater access to green space and more opportunities to spend time outdoors and enjoy nature's benefits.
The government's promising package also includes £15 million funding for the country's existing National Parks and National Landscapes to help protect special landscapes like the Cotswolds for future generations; as well as the promise of new forests, 34 new landscape recovery projects and £2.5 million more funding to help more children and disadvantaged people experience the great British countryside.
Natural England begins the process to identify an area for designation as England's 11th National Park in the new year, with proposals being considered by its board in summer 2024 and the secretary of state making the final decision.