Recent findings from research including a survey of businesses in the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) have revealed the total value of economic activity within the AONB to be worth around £2billion and that many businesses significantly benefit from being located within the Cotswolds.
Working on behalf of the Cotswolds Conservation Board, Broadway-based firm Cumulus Consultants and economists, ICF-GHK, surveyed businesses across all industry sectors throughout the Cotswolds for their views on how being located in the AONB makes a difference to their business. Responses were received from 140 businesses. The results of the research will be presented at the Board’s Annual Forum on 1 March, which is taking place at Forest Green Rovers, Nailsworth, Gloucestershire.
Among some of the key findings arising from the research include:
· Total business income in the AONB is estimated at £5.3billion and Gross Value Added (a measure of economic contribution) is estimated to be £2billion.
· The proportion of self-employed (16%) is double the national average.
· Over two thirds of businesses surveyed said that the quality of the environment had a positive effect on their business.
· Other positive benefits of being located in the Cotswolds including being centrally located; having access to tourist markets; helping the image and marketing of products and services; and good infrastructure.
· More than 30% of businesses stated that there were no negative effects of being in the Cotswolds.
· Among the negative effects stated were: increased costs; lack of affordable housing; and staff recruitment difficulties
· Over 60% of businesses surveyed use their AONB location a lot for marketing purposes.
· Nearly half of businesses indicated that being located in the Cotswolds and the AONB has a positive impact on turnover; not surprisingly this was higher among tourism-related businesses (61%).
· In terms of the overall impact of being located in the Cotswolds, 86% of all businesses stated that it has a positive impact.
Paul Silcock, Director of Cumulus Consultants Ltd said: “The response to our survey has been much higher than expected and, combined with a number of in-depth interviews carried out with key public and private sector representatives, has helped us gain a better understanding of economic activity within the Cotswolds, as well as assess the value of the AONB to the local economy.”
Cotswolds Conservation Board Director Martin Lane said: “The research findings provide us with a valuable insight into economic activity within the AONB and the associated impacts of the Cotswolds location, which help to build a better picture of the important relationship between a healthy rural economy and a healthy, high quality and accessible natural environment.
We are looking forward to discussing these key findings and potential opportunities with business representatives and other partners at our Annual Forum.”
Further details of the Cotswolds Conservation Board Annual Forum are available by visiting: www.cotswoldsaonb.org.uk/annual-forum-2013
The full report will be available to view on the Board’s website during mid-March.
The Cotswolds was designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in 1966 in recognition of its rich, diverse and high quality landscape.
The Cotswolds AONB is looked after by the Cotswolds Conservation Board – an independent organisation established in 2004 which has 37 members – 15 nominated by local authorities, 8 by parish councils and 14 appointed by the Secretary of State.
The Cotswolds is the second largest protected landscape in England after the Lake District National Park and represents 10% of the total AONB area in the UK. It covers 2,038 square kilometres (790 square miles), stretching from Warwickshire and Worcestershire in the north, through Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, down to Bath and Wiltshire in the south.
Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), along with National Parks, are considered to be the most special landscapes in the country and belong to an international family of protected areas. There are 38 AONBs in England and Wales, and a further eight in Northern Ireland. For further details, visit:
Source: Cotswolds Conservation Board