The Malvern Hills Area was designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1959. The designation covers 105 square kilometres and includes parts of Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire. Records show that the Malvern Hills Conservators played a key role in ensuring that the area of the AONB is larger than that originally proposed.
The primary purpose of AONB designation is to conserve and enhance natural beauty. This primary purpose was reaffirmed in a 1991 policy statement on AONBs, (Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty: A Policy Statement 1991, CCP356). The statement also identifies subsidiary purposes which should be taken into account in pursuing the primary purpose.
- Socio-economic purpose: ‘account should be taken of the needs of agriculture, forestry, other rural industries, and the economic and social needs of local communities’.
- Purpose to have regard to the principles of sustainable development: ‘Particular regard should be paid to promoting sustainable forms of social and economic development that in themselves conserve and enhance the environment’.
- Purpose to have regard to the needs of recreation: ‘the demand for recreation should be met insofar as this is consistent with the conservation of natural beauty’.
‘The natural beauty of AONBs encompasses everything – ‘natural’ and human – that makes an area distinctive: geology, climate, soils, plants, animals, communities, archaeology, buildings, the people who live in it, past and present, and the perceptions of those who visit it.’ Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty Management Plans – A Guide (CA 23)