Cotswolds will merge with Malvern Hills to become the Calverns

Malvern Hills, soon to be renamed as the Calverns / Photo: Pippa Sanderson

Malvern Hills, soon to be renamed as the Calverns / Photo: Pippa Sanderson - Credit: Archant

Official representatives of the Cotswolds have concluded negotiations with representatives of neighbouring Malvern to unify the two hill ranges into one, to be renamed the Calverns. But what does this mean for the future of Cotswold Life?

A map showing Areas of Natural Beauty in England, with the soon-to-be unified Cotswold and Malvern r

A map showing Areas of Natural Beauty in England, with the soon-to-be unified Cotswold and Malvern regions highlighted - Credit: Archant

Spokesman for The Calvern Hills Project (TCHP), Stuart Piddington, explained: “We discovered that the division between the Cotswolds and the Malvern Hills was based on fairly arbitrary criteria. They are geologically connected, and we all feel it would be a progressive move to break down this barrier by unifying the two hill ranges as one.”

The Malvern Hills were designated as an Area of Natural Beauty (AONB) in 1959. This resulted in groups from the unprotected areas of Gloucestershire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire and Oxfordshire banding together to establish their own AONB – the Cotswolds – which received an official designation in 1966. Stuart Piddington and others from TCHP see this historical rivalry as an obstacle for business and tourism, and are critical of the AONB criteria.

Indeed, various NGOs in the UK have suggested that English councils in the 1960s ‘invented’ Areas Of Natural Beauty in order to gain more governmental funding than their neighbouring districts, and that the fierce Cotswold-Malvern rivalry was a direct result of this money-grab.

Helena Coldcot, spokeswoman for local environmental charity GTF Outdoors said: “If you look at the borders between different AONB, you’ll see they make no real sense. What’s more ridiculous is that some protected hill ranges don’t even include any hills, some protected bodies of water don’t actually include any water, and so on. In one instance during the 70s, the rear garden of a terraced house in Cirencester was given AONB status against the home-owner’s will, so the residents were no longer permitted to cut their own grass!

This kind of greedy bureaucracy has led to a multitude of confusing, faux-medieval names and badly drawn borders.”

A map showing Areas of Natural Beauty in England, with the newly established Calverns region highlig

A map showing Areas of Natural Beauty in England, with the newly established Calverns region highlighted - Credit: Archant

The hope is that by unifying the Cotswolds and the Malverns it will be less confusing for businesses looking to invest in the South West, and to tourists who might want to visit but don’t know what any of the names mean. It will also be easier to manage conservation efforts, especially in regards to protecting at-risk species such as the hurley eel, which resides in the backwaters of the Malvern Hills, and the mistle thrush, often an accidental victim of game shootings across the Cotswolds.

Whilst the Calverns are the first example of this type of unification, this may inspire other AONB to join together and abandon their antiquated borders – and even their names. It’s possible the Calverns will also incorporate the neighbouring Chilterns, Wye Valley and North Wessex Downs AONB in the future, forming a Super Area of Natural Beauty (SANB) – the first in the UK.

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But what does this mean for Cotswold Life?

As a consequence of this merger, Cotswold Life will become Calvern Life from next April 2016, and will incorporate news and events from the Calvern area. Cotswold Life has been covering news and events from far beyond the Cotswold region for many years, so readers should be reassured that the only noticeable change will be in the name. Similarly, it’s expected many companies across the Calvern region will drop the prefixes ‘Cotswold’ and ‘Malvern’, changing instead to ‘Calvern’ in a display of solidarity and forward-thinking business savvy.

What Cotswold Life might look like after the change in 2016

What Cotswold Life might look like after the change in 2016 - Credit: Archant

P.S. April Fools

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