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Planning & development

The Town & Country Planning System is one of the most important statutory means of conserving and enhancing natural beauty.

The purpose of this section is to help people understand how planning works in the AONB and how to take part in the planning process.

Information and links in this section include relevant national and local plans and policies which relate to the Norfolk Coast AONB, commenting on plans and proposals, developing suitable planning applications and Neighbourhood Plans.

West Norfolk Habitats Monitoring and Mitigation Fund

Developers within the Borough Council of King's Lynn and West Norfolk boundary are required to pay a small levy of £50 per dwelling to the borough council in order to help monitor and mitigate the adverse effects of increasing visitor numbers to Natura 2000 sites resulting from development. These levies have been drawn together to create the West Norfolk Habitats Monitoring and Mitigation Fund. The fund is being administrated on behalf of the Borough Council of King's Lynn and West Norfolk by the Norfolk Coast Partnership.

For criteria details and fund application form see: wn-hmm-fund  

How are AONB's special in planning terms

AONBs are of national and international importance as well as being a local asset. The quality of the area's natural beauty underpins its attraction for visitors, which supports a major sector of the local economy.

AONBs are designated to ensure that their character and qualities are protected for all to enjoy. They are much loved and valued by both visitors and local residents but they remain living, working landscapes. They are powerful symbols of our national pride: places of motivation, inheritance, excitement and pleasure.

This is reflected in planning policies and guidelines which outline how higher standards in planning terms apply in AONBs to protect their special qualities.

Equal status to national parks
The National Planning Policy Framework (paragraph 115) confirms that AONBs and national parks have equal status in terms of their landscape quality and protection.

Statutory purpose has to be taken into account in planning
The purpose of designating AONBs must be taken into consideration by Local Planning Authorities when developing planning policies and strategies and also when assessing planning applications.

The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (CRoW Act) places a statutory duty on relevant authorities to have 'regard to the purpose of conserving and enhancing the natural beauty of the AONB when exercising or performing any functions affecting land in the AONB'. 'Relevant authorities' are any public bodies including local and statutory authorities, parish councils and statutory regulators.

In practice this should contribute to:

  • Stronger protection than areas that are not designated
  • More careful control / consideration of impacts of development
  • Higher standards of design

Management Plan
The AONB Management Plan is not part of formal planning guidance, but is a 'material consideration' in planning decision and may be specifically referred to in some policies in Local Plans.

Planning for Housing within Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty

The National Association of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (NAAONB) is the collective voice of the AONB Partnerships and Conservation Boards and represents the AONB network on issues of strategic national importance. They have published their key messages and position statement.