Cotswolds tourist hotspot to be without visitor information centre as site to be sold for £240k

One of the most popular tourist destinations in the Cotswolds will be without a visitor information centre for the foreseeable future as council chiefs voted to sell it for £240,000. The visitor and information centre in Bourton-on-the-Water closed after local government funding for the service came to an end.

The former public toilets in Victoria Street were turned into a visitor information centre in 1996 and had run as one ever since. However, in July 2023, Cotswold District Council leaders said funding for such centres would cease later that year - this is due to the increasing financial pressures the local government sector is facing.

The council considered options for the building’s future which included retaining it to let commercially or to sell it on the open market. Consultants said retaining the property, which has been vacant since February, would hold no strategic benefit for the authority as it does not own any adjacent land or buildings and therefore the recommended option is to sell the property on the open market.

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This would return a capital receipt in the region of £240,000 minus agents' costs of around £5,000. The option of keeping the property to let as a shop would generate an income in the region of £14,000 per year.

Councillor Len Wilkins (C, Bourton Vale) said he was disappointed by the move to sell the visitor information centre. “They could have continued with it but it’s no longer there,” he said.

“We had a visitor information centre, we need a visitor information centre but it’s being sold for £240,000. I don’t suppose they can do anything other than sell it now.

“It’s a converted gents’. It’s not very big, it’s single storey but a kiosk or small sweet store could go there.”

The visitor information centre in Victoria Street, Bourton, was also used by residents
The visitor information centre in Victoria Street, Bourton, was also used by residents -Credit:Google Street View

He said tourists visiting the village now have to go on the internet to find information about Bourton. “The Bourton Business Network tried to set up a visitor information centre, they asked the members if anyone could let them have some space in their shops and nobody would.”

Councillor Jon Wareing (LD, Bourton Village) said the council grant for the visitor information centre was in lieu of support from local businesses that benefit from tourism.

“It’s a bit of a shame,” he said. “Cotswold District Council is between a rock and a hard place.

“It’s not something they had to provide. They have to provide statutory services.

"It’s a shame all round. It was also an information centre for local people.

“Note everyone is digital and it was a fountain of knowledge.”

Cotswold District Council’s cabinet agreed last night (May 9) to go ahead and sell the former visitor information centre.