There are increasing pressures for new development in and around the AONB. Development is inevitable and necessary to the AONB, it maintains economic viability, sustains those who live here and supports those who manage the land but factors such as tranquility, traditional setting and degradation of views all must be balanced against those demands for growth.
It is the responsibility of the individual Local Planning Authorities to make decisions about planning applications, not the AONB team or Partnership. We may be consulted when planning applications are made, but we do not have the power to overrule planning decisions. However, the Planning Authorities are under a duty to give due regard of the designation of the area as an AONB, to make sure its special qualities are respected. So for planning inquiries, your first port of call is your Local Planning Authority, in Herefordshire Council, Forest of Dean District Council or Malvern Hills District Council.
A framework exists to manage change effectively and sympathetically. The main elements of this are the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF)85, providing national guidelines, and Local Development Plans, which set out each local planning authority’s proposals for future development and use of land in their area. At the heart of the framework is a presumption in favour of sustainable development. The NPPF also 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’.
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. Natural Capital is the land, air, water and living organisms that provide us with the goods and. services we need for survival and well-being.
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.
We also have a part-time planning officer, Josh Bailey, who may be able to help with specific queries. Josh works Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays only.