There are increasing pressures for new development in and around the AONB to meet demands for housing, and factors such as tranquillity, traditional setting and degradation of views all must be balanced against those demands for growth. Development is inevitable and necessary to the AONB. It maintains economic viability, sustains those who live here and supports those who manage the land.
It is the responsibility of the individual Local Planning Authorities to determine planning applications, not the AONB team or Partnership. However, the Planning Authorities are under a duty to give due regard of the designation of the area as an AONB.
We are consulted when planning applications are made, but we do not have the power to overrule planning decisions.
To maintain the area’s special qualities, it is vital that a framework exists to manage this change effectively and sympathetically. The principal elements of this are the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF)85 and the Local Development Plans.
Applications for planning permission are determined in accordance with the Local Development Plan, unless material considerations indicate otherwise. The National Planning Policy Framework does not change the legal status of the development plan as the starting point for decision-making. At the heart of the framework is a presumption in favour of sustainable development.
Local planning authorities are also tasked to take a strategic approach to maintaining and enhancing networks of habitats and green infrastructure; and to plan for the enhancement of natural capital at a catchment or landscape scale across local authority boundaries. The NPPF requires that great weight be given to conserving and enhancing landscape and scenic beauty in AONBs, which have the highest status of protection in relation to these issues.
Care must be taken to minimise the adverse impact on the purposes for which the area has been designated or defined. The AONB Management Plan is a material consideration in Planning.
A number of parish councils in the AONB have either prepared or are preparing Neighbourhood Development Plans, and we often work closely with councils in the preparation of these plans to ensure that they help to conserve and enhance the natural beauty of the AONB.
We have created a range of guidance for developers and decision makers to understand best practice and fully consider the special qualities of the designated landscape.