Regional Parks

Gloucestershire is blessed to have a varied topography with landscapes that are of high value environmentally and aesthetically. The Forest of Dean and Severn Vale between them offer diverse landscape features, flora, and fauna that can support a range of activities and attract visitors. With Regional Park designation, the existing protective classifications both enjoy would be enhanced and their status as significant leisure and tourism destinations elevated. The designation of the Severn Vale and Forest of Dean as Regional Parks would form part of an overarching tourism plan for Gloucestershire that maximises the value of the diversity of its landscape and heritage assets. Both parks would be accessible from the Super City, putting them back to centre stage as important environmental, economic, and social assets for the county. The new multi-purpose crossing between Lydney and Sharpness would greatly improve access to each area.

The Severn Vale could be a major attraction in the county, with a range of leisure opportunities and as an important wetland area supporting diverse wildlife. The River Severn has supported the economy of the county for centuries, but has also created problems through flooding. The challenges of flood management and prevention are likely to be exacerbated by climate change. But there is an opportunity to create a managed wetlands area for flood management and to provide habitat for wildlife. With walking and cycling trails accessible from both sides of the river, visitors and local people could access the Vale at strategic points. Enhancing the landscape value with guides related to the natural and built heritage of the Vale would ensure that visitors and local people gain maximum value from their use of the area.

The Forest of Dean already has a reputation as a tourism destination, there are, however, issues that prevent the area from maximising its potential. These include the economic decline of its major towns and related decline of valuable tourism resources, limited access from major transport networks, poor broadband and mobile infrastructure, and lack of awareness of the range of leisure activities. The development of the Lydney-Sharpness crossing would improve access and there would be investment in infrastructure and technology, and physical improvement of towns and tourism facilities. This would provide better facilities for local people and employment opportunities, which would be supported by training and education provision.

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