Malvern Hills AONB Proposed Boundary Change
A proposed extension to the Malvern Hills AONB (to include the Abberley Hills) – Statement from the Malvern Hills AONB Unit
Suggestions that the Malvern Hills AONB be extended to the north to include an area running up to and including the Abberley Hills are not new. In 2015 the Abberley Hills Preservation Society wrote to Natural England – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) – the government agency responsible for designating National Parks and AONBs – asking it to consider including this area within the Malvern Hills AONB. The proposal was included on a list of stakeholder proposals submitted to Natural England for further landscape designations which appeared in Annex 4 of the national landscapes review DEFRA – Landscapes Review – Final Report 2019 (publishing.service.gov.uk). In 2021 Natural England wrote to the AONB Partnership asking whether it supported the retention of this variation proposal on the register of potential future designations.
A decision made by the Malvern Hills AONB Joint Advisory Committee
On Friday 28th April 2023 the Malvern Hills AONB Joint Advisory Committee received a presentation from the Abberley Hills Preservation Society on the proposal to extend the AONB. At that meeting the committee decided to support this proposal and agreed to be the applicant for the extension moving forward. Here are the minutes from that meeting: Agenda item – A proposal to extend the Malvern Hills AONB Boundary – Worcestershire County Council (moderngov.co.uk)
What happens next?
The Chair of the Malvern Hills AONB Joint Advisory Committee wrote to Natural England on 22 May 2023 notifying them of the Committee’s decision. Natural England is the responsible body for designations and it will decide on next steps. However, there is a current Natural England’s designations programme – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) which includes consideration of 2 new AONBs and 2 boundary variations to existing AONBs. The proposal to include the Abberley Hills area within the Malvern Hills AONB is not included in the current designations programme. It is unlikely, therefore, that Natural England will be considering this proposal for some time to come.
What is the area that has been proposed for inclusion in an expanded Malvern Hills AONB?
A rough map of the area proposed for inclusion is shown below.
The area covers approximately 34km2 and includes land in the parishes of Abberley, Dunley, Great Witley & Hillhampton, The Shelsleys, Martley, Clifton upon Teme, Doddenham and Alfrick & Lulsley.
Will there be an opportunity to consider other areas for inclusion in the Malvern Hills AONB?
This is for Natural England to decide but it is likely that there will be a consideration of other areas of search around the existing boundary. This would happen when Natural England consider the Abberley Hills proposal.
How will Natural England decide which areas to consider next for AONB or National Park designation?
This is for Natural England to decide but it is likely that it will make use of the All England Strategic Landscape Mapping Hub (arcgis.com) (produced in October 2022) as part of this process. Natural England is currently working with consultants to undertake additional analysis which will help identify the best options for prioritisation and for potential/future landscape engagement.
How will Natural England consider whether the Abberley Hills area should be included in the Malvern Hills AONB?
There is a set of natural beauty criterion which must be met before Natural England will consider proposing an area to be an AONB. Further information is available at: Areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONBs): designation and management – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).
Will there be consultation at the local level?
The Abberley Hills Preservation Society has already consulted with a number of bodies and local interest groups on the principle of a possible boundary variation to include the Abberley Hills area. However, more significant local consultation will take place at the time when Natural England consider the proposal in detail.
Who do I contact if I have any concerns or wish to voice my support?
One or two stakeholder bodies may progress a discussion with their members about this proposal in the short term. However, the best time to make your views known is when Natural England examines this proposal and when detailed consultation begins. There is no timetable for this but it may well be some years away.
Any questions specific to the Malvern Hills AONB Partnership’s involvement in this process should be addressed to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Any questions specific to Natural England’s role should be addressed to: email@example.com