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What is an AONB?

AONB stands for ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’. It signifies that an area of countryside is of national importance for its natural beauty.

What is the difference between an AONB and a National Park?

National Parks and AONBs were born from the same piece of legislation. One main difference is that National Parks are managed by National Park Authorities which are planning authorities in their own right, whereas in AONBs land-use planning is the responsibility of local authorities. By law, National Park Authorities must also promote opportunities for the public to understand and enjoy the area. No such primary duty exists in AONBs.

How many AONBs are in the West Midlands?

There are four AONBs in the West Midlands Region: Cannock Chase, Shropshire Hills, Malvern Hills and Wye Valley. The Wye Valley AONB also straddles the South West Government Region.

Who owns the Malvern Hills?

The main hills and Commons constitute around 11% of the AONB and are owned and managed by the Malvern Hills Trust, a statutory, public body established through its own Acts of Parliament.

How old are the Malvern Hills?

The oldest rocks in the Malvern Hills are over 600 million years old, making them amongst the oldest rocks in England.

What are the differences between the Malvern Hills AONB, Malvern Hills Trust and Malvern Hills District Council?

The Malvern Hills AONB is a nationally important, designated area of land, the management of which is overseen by a Partnership of public, private and voluntary bodies. The Malvern Hills Trust is a statutory public body constituted by Acts of Parliament to manage the Malvern Hills and Commons. They have been doing this since 1884. Malvern Hills District Council is the local planning authority for the area. It also provides a wide range of additional services to the people of the area.

Can the AONB Unit stop new developments within the AONB?

No. The AONB designation confers a high level of planning protection on the area. It is the responsibility of individual planning authorities to consider potential developments in the light of this designation. The AONB Unit is a consultee on issues of planning, but does not have powers to make or overrule planning decisions. Planning decisions are firmly in the hands of local planning authorities.

Where can I do voluntary conservation work within the AONB?

The main groups to ask would be the Malvern Hills Trust, Worcestershire Wildlife Trust and Herefordshire Nature Trust. For a wider range of volunteer work, try contacting Community First.

Which Ordnance Survey maps cover the AONB?

OS Explorer maps 190 (Malvern Hills & Bredon Hill) and 204 (Worcester & Droitwich Spa). OS Landranger maps 149 (Hereford, Leominster & Surrounding Area) and 150 (Worcester, The Malverns & Surrounding Area).