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The Cotswold Area of
Outstanding Natural Beauty

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Saintbury Church in background

Most of Willersey is within the Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).


Cotswold AONB Map

The Cotswolds is one of the most beautiful areas of England, known and loved by people across the world. It is the largest of the 38 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in England and Wales. It's an area with stone walls and buildings, open skies, rolling grasslands, beech woods and captivating villages, making it an outstanding English landscape - a landscape once experienced, never forgotten. Willersey is at the north of this AONB map just to the left of the “Chip” of Chipping Campden. You can see that Willersey is in Gloucestershire and the the Cotswold Way passes nearby.
If you enlarge the top portion of this interactive map you will see that in Willersey, Collin Lane is the North Western boundary of the AONB (in green).

A farmer will define the Cotswolds as an area of gently sloping hills good for arable and sheep farming, a geologist would enthuse over our oolitic limestone and an estate agent will name it as one of the most 'affluent' and 'desirable' addresses in Britain.

The meaning of the Cotswolds as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is that it is a special landscape safeguarded for future generations. The enabling legislation was the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act of 1949. The Cotswolds was designated as an AONB in 1966. Over the years the pressures on the countryside have increased and in 2000 the Countryside Rights of Way Act, (CROW) addressed that challenge. The act confirmed that AONBs, shared with National Parks the highest status of protection in relation to landscape and scenic beauty. The government also placed new responsibilities on local authorities to ensure further protection for designated landscapes.

The 2000 act allowed the establishment of Conservation Boards to oversee all AONBs. The Cotswolds Conservation Board has been carrying out that duty since December 2004.




Areas of Outstanding National Beauty are part of a family of protected areas recognised and classified by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) throughout the world. AONBs and National Parks in England and Wales fall into Category V - Protected Landscapes. There are 46 AONBs in Britain (38 in England and Wales and eight in Northern Ireland) and these together with the 15 National Parks cover around 25% of our countryside. AONBs are designated in recognition of their national importance and to ensure that their character and qualities are protected for all to enjoy. The primary purpose of the AONB designation is to conserve and enhance the natural beauty of the area, now and for future generations. The designation gives a formal recognition to an area’s landscape importance and allows for the development of communities and economic activity. However development is only permitted in ways that enhance the landscape character of the AONB. The enabling legislation for AONBs was the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act of 1949 which came about shortly after the Second World War and in response to the increasing pressure of new development. The government of the day decided to formally recognise the fact that the countryside of England and Wales has a rich diversity of scenery, which is of great value and worthy of protection. Established in 2004, the Cotswold AONB Board is the only organisation to look after the AONB as a whole and is a statutory body created as a result of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000.

The two key purposes of the Board are to conserve and enhance the natural beauty of the Cotswolds AONB and to increase understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of the AONB, ensuring that these complement the conservation and enhancement of the are.a In fulfilling these roles, the board seeks to foster the social and economic well-being of local communities within the AONB. The board works to the Cotswolds AONB Management Plan 2013-18, which sets out its aims and objectives over this five year period.




Flower field in Willersey      Bluebells in Willersey

Cotswold AONB video.


    CPRE is calling for political parties and local candidates to make the following commitments:
     Stronger protection for Green Belts, National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
     Further investment in urban regeneration.
     Continued public funding for farming focused on the benefits beyond food.
     Overhaul transport policy and focus on sustainable alternatives to new major roads, such as investing in public transport, walking and cycling and re-opening rural railways.
     Reduce waste and pollution by committing to resource efficiency schemes, such as deposit return systems.
     Transpose all EU environmental protections into domestic law and introduce an ambitious new Environment Act.


Although most of Willersey is in the AONB, two planning permissions have been granted which are within the AONB. At least one has been given in the AONB in neightbouring Broadway (after a court case). Here is a link to yet another controversial recent permission in Chipping Campden. What protection does the AONB really have? It is a one way decision, once developed that part of the AONB will never be recovered. What will future generations make of the cumulative effect of these and other decisions?



distant view from escarpment      Winter trees in Willersey



Stream in the Cotswolds      Saintbury Church spire in the Cotswolds

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