Whitchurch and Ganarew Parish is situated in a spectacular part of the Wye Valley around the area of the Wye Gorge renowned for its outstanding natural beauty, its sites of Special Scientific Interest and, of course, the beautiful river Wye itself, designated a Special Area of Conservation. The southern and eastern boundaries of the Parish are formed by the meandering Wye which at times cuts through the cliff-sided rock, notably at Symonds Yat. There are also several nature reserves and sites of protected woodlands within the Parish, some with flora and fauna recognised as unique to our locality.
The beauty of our views and vistas has attracted tourists for over 200 years and as a consequence tourism has had a significant impact on the structure of our Parish and its settlements, together with the traditional rural activities of farming, horticulture and forestry.
Most of the 1200 or so people in our Parish, in around 500 households, live in the village of Whitchurch or the settlements of Symonds Yat West and Great Doward, with smaller settlements at Ganarew, Crocker’s Ash, Little Doward and Lewstone. Despite our rural location we have a vibrant business environment with more than 150 local enterprises well served by a major road network. More recently, the increasing expansion of internet services and other technological advances has offered opportunities for home workers and small enterprises to combine work with the pleasure of a beautiful environment.
We have ancient archeological sites dating back to prehistoric times including an Iron Age hill fort and ancient charcoal burning sites located on the banks of the river. The Wye has been a major communication highway for centuries and with locally available energy sources from coal, wood, and water power, together with limestone and iron ore, the area played a major role in the early days of the industrial revolution. There are several nature reserves and sites of protected woodlands within the parish, some with flora and fauna unique to our locality.
The challenge we face in drafting our Neighbourhood Plan is to encourage development and local enterprise enough to sustain a vibrant community well into the future while ensuring that we, as the present custodians of the precious assets we are fortunate to have inherited, protect and enhance them for the benefit of the environment and future generations.
If you would like more information about our local history, the Whitchurch and Ganarew Local History Society website contains some fascinating and informative articles. Click on the button below to go to the Societies website.