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Housing in the AONB

New National report published

An Independent Review of Housing In England's Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty 2012-2017

Published 15 November 2017

This research report sets out the key aspects of the housing and planning policy context affecting housing development in England and the policies intended to 'conserve and enhance' AONB purpose. It reveals that over the last decade there has been a lack of attention given in national policy to the particular challenges of managing housing pressures in AONB areas.  Findings from our analysis of the Glenigan housing data and survey responses from AONB staff and CPRE branches are set out in detail in the report and associated annexes.

The qualitative survey undertaken with AONB staff and CPRE branches explores the drivers behind the increases in housing pressures on AONB areas.

National Association of AONBs response

The publication of the report 'An independent review of housing in England's AONBs' by Dave Dixon, Neil Sinden and Tim Crabtree took place on 15 November 2017. The review is based on data collected by Glenigan covering planning applications and approvals for housing development in and near to AONBs between 2012-2017.

National policy for AONBs centres on the need to conserve and enhance natural beauty, particularly in the execution of planning functions by public bodies. However, the Review shows that AONBs, particularly in the South East and South West, are facing unprecedented pressure from large-scale housing development.

The National Association for AONBs (NAAONB) welcomes the publication of the Review and sees it as an opportunity for AONB Partnerships and Conservation Boards to work more collaboratively with developers, architects, government, local communities and Local Planning Authorities to help address local housing need in AONBs creatively.

Whilst agreeing that maintaining vibrant and diverse local communities is essential to the future of AONBs, NAAONB Chief Executive, Howard Davies suggests that housing provision can't be considered in isolation. He says,

"AONBs are nationally important landscapes. However, they should not be set in aspic. They are living, working landscapes and as such appropriate sustainable development is essential. We can help with this. We are keen to support LPAs so that they can effectively consider the purpose of designation. Effective AONB planning and management provides a framework for meeting local housing needs without compromising landscape quality. We would like to see LPAs encouraged to develop strong AONB specific policies in their Local Plans which are upheld in decision making.

"We can help further. AONBs, using their power to convene, often bring together appropriate parties and individuals to engage in meaningful conversation when considering development in AONBs. We will continue to do this. We will also continue to offer support at all stages of planning in AONBs by exploring better provision of business membership schemes, directories and design guidance references for architects and builders, advice and guidance for Planning Officers, and assistance to local communities with support for Community Led Housing schemes. We believe that, together, we can achieve the Secretary of State's ambition to halt the deterioration of our environment and restore and enhance the UK's outstanding natural beauty."

Norfolk Coast AONB response

"The Norfolk coast is cherished for its landscape which includes a range of housing including modest vernacular buildings. Our aim is to ensure appropriate development maintains this special character, with enough affordable homes to make sure the area stays a living place, not a museum. We do this through working with all partners through our long term, statutory management plan for the coast.

The Norfolk Coast Partnership, which looks after the 453 sq km area of outstanding natural beauty from King's Lynn to Winterton, is not a planning authority (North Norfolk District Council, King's Lynn and West Norfolk Borough and Great Yarmouth Borough Councils are the planning authorities for the area) or statutory consultee to applications. However we do comment on planning applications – usually around 20 a month at present – and we work closely with planning officers.

We are seeing change – there are bigger homes, and less social housing, and a change in character due to a change in style to some more ostentatious developments, often for second homes. We proactively respond to this challenge – for instance our recent planning conference drew together a wide variety of participants, from parish councillors to planners and developers.

We are working on a programme of support for communities to create their own statutory neighbourhood plans, which offer some level of protection within the overarching local authority plans. We also encourage local people to become involved with their planning authorities in the local plan process, and to make their thoughts clear as early as possible to influence this process.

Above all we work in partnership to retain the very special character of the Norfolk Coast as a place which is nationally protected for its nature and culture for all to enjoy.

Further information

A report The Housing Market and Affordable Housing published in 2005 was a study of affordable housing provision in a Norfolk Coast AONB can be viewed here.