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Planning policies and decisions

This page aims to provide pointers to the most relevant planning policies regarding the AONB designation in local and national planning documents.

Because the Area includes many other designations for nature conservation and heritage assets, there are also many other local and national policies that may also be relevant for planning proposals.

Decisions on major infrastructure projects may be made at national level, as are decisions in the marine environment that may have an effect on the Area. Otherwise, Local Plans and policies are developed and planning decisions within the Area are normally made by the local planning authorities.

Role of the Norfolk Coast Partnership

The Norfolk Coast Partnership is a non-statutory consultee with regards to planning policies and decisions – that is to say there is no statutory requirement for planning authorities to consult with us. In practice most planning applications that may affect the Area are sent to the staff team by the Local Authority for a response.

The NCP team aims to provide advice to planning authorities on proposals in or affecting the Area in order to assist them to meet their statutory duties.

Individual partner organisations may also provide a response on planning applications from their particular perspective.

National Planning policy

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) came into being in March 2012, replacing a large number of national planning guidance documents. The National Planning Policy Framework “must be taken into account in the preparation of local and neighbourhood plans, and is a material consideration in planning decisions” (paragraph 2 of NPPF).

The NPPF aims to promote ‘sustainable development’ and describes what this means in paragraphs 6 to 10. It then goes on to state a ‘presumption in favour of sustainable development’ in paragraphs 7 to 14, which is often misunderstood or misinterpreted.

Sections 15 and 16 are the most relevant in terms the natural and historic environment but all parts of the guidance are important and it states that “… These objectives should be delivered through the preparation and implementation of plans and the application of the policies in this Framework; they are not criteria against which every decision can or should be judged. Planning policies and decisions should play an active role in guiding development towards sustainable solutions, but in doing so should take local circumstances into account, to reflect the character, needs and opportunities of each area.”

There are a relatively small number of paragraphs/policies in the NPPF that relate directly to National Landscapes, although there are many parts of the guidance that may be relevant for a particular planning application, because of other designations or other circumstances of the site. The most relevant paragraphs are paragraph 172 and 173 presented below, with comments.

National Planning Policy Framework – key paragraphs/policies of most direct relevance to the Area >

Local Planning Policies

Different local policies will apply depending on which part of the Area (i.e. which district/borough) you are in. The four local planning authorities covering the Area are listed below. We’ve mentioned the most relevant policies for the Area for each local planning authority.

However, it’s worth looking at all policies which may be relevant for a particular planning application if you are responding. These are often quoted in the documents provided in support of a planning application (often a Planning Statement or a Design and Access Statement), although there may also be other relevant policies not identified by the developers.

King’s Lynn & West Norfolk Borough Council

The Core Strategy was adopted in July 2011 and contains most of the Local Plan policies. There are also some policies in the Site Allocation and Development Management Policy documents.

The key current core policies for the Area is CS07 Development in Coastal Areas (page 28 in the Core Strategy). This is the only core policy that specifically mentions the Area, amongst many other designations. It seeks to balance the sensitive nature of the coastal area with its national and international designations for wildlife, landscape and heritage with the need for economic and social development and the effects of climate change.

Part of the policy is to support the recommendations of our Management Plan and continue to play a role as a key partner in the Norfolk Coast Partnership.

However, the Area is mentioned in the supporting text for policies CS12 Environmental Assets and CS13 Community and Culture, and several other policies may also be relevant for specific applications in conserving and enhancing natural beauty.

North Norfolk District Council

The full range of planning documents can be found on the North Norfolk District Council website. These include the main policy documents as well as associated guidance e.g. design guide, landscape character assessment, coastal erosion development control guidance.

The policies for the current Local Plan are contained in the Core Strategy which was adopted in 2010 and updated in February 2011 to reflect newly adopted Policy HO9 (Conversion & Re-use of Rural Buildings as Dwellings).

The development sites allocated under the current Local Plan can be found in the Site Allocations Plan which was adopted in February 2011. It contains a number of housing allocations in the AONB, primarily around Wells-next-the-Sea, Sheringham, Cromer and Holt.

A review of the Local Plan is now in progress, information on the review and consultation stages can be found on the Norfolk Norfolk District Council website.

The key current policy for the AONB is Policy EN 1 Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and The Broads, in the Core Strategy page 67 although there are several other policies that are relevant to conserving and enhancing natural beauty that apply either to the whole of the district or specified parts of it e.g. the undeveloped coast.

Great Yarmouth Borough Council

The Core Strategy was adopted in December 2015.

The site allocations document(s) are currently in development. In the meantime, there is an Interim Housing Land Supply Policy.

The key policies for the AONB in the Core Strategy are:

  • Strategic policy SO6, page 27 of the Core Strategy which seeks to protect and enhance the quality of the local environment, specifically including the Norfolk Coast AONB and where appropriate improving or managing access.
  • Policy CS11 Enhancing the natural environment, page 79 of the Core Strategy which includes ensuring that the AONB and its setting is protected and enhanced where possible. CS11 also includes a target of no new development (excluding domestic applications) in the Norfolk Coast AONB.
  • Policy CS5 Meeting the needs of gypsies, travellers and travelling show people also contains a specific reference to the AONB.

Norfolk County Council

Norfolk County Council is the planning authority for minerals and waste development in the county.
The key Minerals and Waste Development documents are:

The Core Strategy for Minerals and Waste Development 2010-26 (adopted in September 2011).

The Minerals and Waste Site Specific Allocations Development Plans (both adopted in October 2013).

The key policy in the Core Strategy relating to the AONB is CS14 Environmental protection (page 61 in the Core Strategy, see link above), which aims to ensure that there are no unacceptable adverse impacts on, and ideally improvements to a range of environmental assets including the Norfolk Coast AONB.

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.

More about the West Norfolk Habitats Monitoring and Mitigation Fund >

How to comment on plans and proposals

Members of the public, as well as town and parish councils and other organisations, are entitled to make comments on consultation drafts of plans and on planning applications. Views from local people are important and local authorities take such comments seriously as long as they focus on planning reasons.

For Local Plans and planning applications, your first point of contact should be the local planning authority (this will vary depending on which local authority covers the area in question and the type of application). You will be able to see details and plans for the application on their website or otherwise at their offices. You should also be able to find out what other comments have been made about the application.

Comments from the Norfolk Coast Partnership, and the decisions made by the planning authority, will usually be linked closely to relevant policies or planning guidance. If you wish to object to an application, this will carry much greater weight if you can refer to approved policies or guidance.

To find out if you are within the Area check the Designation Map or use the Parishes category within the Active Map, or the Parish Boundaries page.

10 Tips for Effective Involvement in Local Planning

1) Get involved in Local Plan development from outset – both the strategy development and site allocations phases: This takes time as the documents are often large and complex, but planning policies and allocations of sites for development are set at these stages and can’t be changed when individual planning applications are made. If you miss these stages, you may be faced with a planning application that you can’t contest, it may be just the details that you can comment on. Think about what draft policies and allocations mean for you/your community

2) Understand the planning system: The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and Local Plans contain policies and guidance which are used to determine planning applications. Being familiar with relevant parts of these and understanding how the system works is important

3) Respond to Local Plan and planning application consultations: You could perhaps form a small group to consider consultations and advise your Parish/Town Council as it is often not possible to do this effectively in the limited time available in meetings

4) Use the AONB: The statutory purpose of designation of the Area is simply the conservation and enhancement of its natural beauty. AONBs have strong protection in the NPPF (equal to national parks) with a few paragraphs being of particular relevance. Local planning authorities have a statutory duty to have regard to this purpose when making decisions, and Local Plans usually contain strong policies for the Area.

5) Make your concerns known to your local councillors – and ask for their support: They are your representatives on local councils (and they need your vote!)

6) Run a campaign: Encourage people in your community to object to poor applications. Several individual letters are better than a petition, and planning committees take local representations very seriously (again, you are their voters). BUT…

7) Be careful and considered: If you object to everything, especially for flimsy or contrived reasons, this is less likely to carry much weight

8) Be positive: You may want to support an application in principle but suggest ways of improving it rather than just objecting

9) Make comments/objections based on planning reasons primarily – but expressions of local feelings and associations that would be affected can also be important

10) Attend planning meetings: You can arrange to attend planning committee meetings and have a time limit to state your case, which may allow more than one person to present different points and perspectives. You can also arrange to attend and speak at public hearings on Local Plans, public inquiries on planning appeals. Planning Inspectors are usually keen to see local people involved in planning and helpful to those who want to take part.

For further help in responding to planning consultations, and in developing plans for your own community, see our Neighbourhood Planning page.

Further information

Light pollution

You can find suggested clauses for lighting in response to planning applications in our Dark Skies section.

See also our dark skies project for further information.

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