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What we do

Working together to protect a landscape

The role of the Norfolk Coast Partnership is to manage the Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (the Area) on behalf of the four local authorities who share responsibility for it: Norfolk County Council, North Norfolk District Council, Borough Council of King’s Lynn & West Norfolk, and Great Yarmouth Borough Council.

Having evolved out of a 1991 initiative to manage the impacts of visitor numbers in the Area, the Partnership now fulfils these councils’ statutory duty under the 2000 Countryside and Rights of Way Act to conserve and enhance its natural beauty.

Its duty to manage the Area means the Partnership has to coordinate and lead work involving a broad spectrum of organisations with a stake in it. In addition to the four local authorities and a number of other public bodies responsible for aspects of landscape or heritage (that also have a statutory duty to have ‘due regard’ for conserving and enhancing what makes the area special), the Partnership also features interest groups such as land managers, the academic sector and the tourism industry, and, crucially, the local community.

The work of the Partnership balances the statutory duty of conserving and enhancing natural beauty with non-statutory requirements to meet the Area’s social and economic needs. This means that protecting the landscape of the Area relies on a principle of sensitive management rather than on the attempt to preserve the area entirely unchanged.

In practice, issues are looked at in the round, with goals on wildlife, landscape, water, soil, community and visitor needs, etc., integrated rather than acted on in isolation, yet with work kept at a scale that respects natural systems.

Working in such a multi-faceted context, management can only be achieved through effective collaboration between the organisations in the Norfolk Coast Partnership, and effective collaboration relies on agreeing clear objectives. These clear objectives are the focus of this strategy, which is the fourth that the Partnership has published since it was established. In Section 3 of our Management Plan (‘What We Want To Achieve’) we outline objectives for work in four areas over the next five years, a summary that provides a strategic framework for each of the Partnership’s annual action plans.

All of the organisations and interest groups that belong to the Norfolk Coast Partnership have worked together to produce and agree these objectives, and are committed to their delivery.

How the Partnership Operates

The Norfolk Coast Partnership comprises a staff team and two organisational bodies: the Partnership Forum and the Core Management Group. At least twice a year, representatives from each of the partner organisations and interest groups, including representatives of the local community, attend meetings of the Partnership Forum to help develop policy, and to develop, review and agree programmes to implement the main elements of the management plan: the strategy for the next five years, and the annual action plan.

Each year representatives from the four local authorities, the Broads Authority and Natural England, as well as two community representatives, also attend three to four meetings of the Core Management Group, which agrees the budgets and programmes for the work of the staff team, and provides public and financial accountability. Ensuring community representatives (each elected by the Area’s parish councils) have a role in not only strategic review but also in steering the day-to-day work of the Partnership reflects our commitment to understanding and acting on the needs of local people.

Day-to-day, the work of the Partnership centres on managing projects that focus on topics as diverse as visitor understanding, removal of overhead electricity lines, housing development and coastal defence, as well as setting strategy.

Underpinning this work is an energetic commitment to facilitating productive relationships between the partner organisations, both at strategic level via regular meetings, and via the network of relationships that drive forwards individual projects on the ground.

Funding for the work of the Partnership is provided by Defra and the four local authorities on whose behalf it manages the Area. However, core funds alone are not sufficient to undertake many of the actions in the annual action plan, so one of the functions of the staff team is to source additional funding to enable delivery.

Who is in the Partnership

The Norfolk Coast Partnership brings together representatives from a broad range of partner organisations and interest groups with a stake in the Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty:

Who is in the partnership
The entire circle shows the whole of the Partnership Forum (PF). The centre circle shows the Core Management Group (CMG)

Delivering through effective relationships

In addition to taking the overview on what issues face the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and bringing people together to agree on its management, the staff team plays a central role in realising the strategic objectives of the Norfolk Coast Partnership. This means that alongside their work both championing and facilitating the creation of effective policy, staff members also coordinate or lead individual projects that make things happen on the ground.

Ideas for the collaborative projects run or contributed to by the Partnership come from many sources: partner representatives or members of their wider organisations, the local community, topic experts and members of the staff team themselves, or as a result of national initiatives requiring local interpretation. The Partnership’s five-year strategy is always the filter for what gets the go ahead, with the staff team assessing the viability of each idea on the basis of four factors:

  • its fit with agreed objectives
  • the complexity of delivering
  • its positive impact
  • the duration of the benefit.

The staff team also identifies whether a partner is working independently on something with wider relevance, and helps get other partners involved as a means of enhancing its impact. If a proposed project is deemed a good strategic fit, it is presented to the Core Management Group, which has the final say on the work of the Partnership and its staff team, and how its budget is allocated. If accepted, the project is added to the annual action plan.

The extent to which the staff team is actively involved in projects varies according to their individual requirements. For example, it sometimes secures external funding for as well as project manages an idea that has come from outside of its own membership; sometimes funding has already been secured and there is a pre-existing management framework, so that the staff team offer project management and local expertise to enable delivery on the ground (e.g. undergrounding of overhead lines). In other cases the team offers standalone help in the form of expert input (e.g. planning applications), assistance with gaining the local knowledge and support needed to enable delivery (e.g. Wayfaring), or the creation of a communications strategy (e.g. enhancing public understanding of the Area).

Day to day, this mixture of projects creates a complex timetable of management work that runs over both the short and long term. For each project, the staff team works with contacts from the relevant partner organisations, including the wardens of individual sites, and staff from an organisation’s communications team, and other individuals brought in for expert support and advice.

Creating and supporting dynamic collaborative relationships between individuals both inside and beyond its own membership is what lies at the heart of the effectiveness of the Partnership.

Our Management Plan

The Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Five Year Strategy (2019-24) is a working document which sets out the Norfolk Coast Partnership approach to management of the Area.

The Strategy aims to:

  • Explain the duties of the Norfolk Coast Partnership and how it operates
  • Identify the distinctive landscape character of the Area and its special qualities
  • Identify the key external factors that drive change in the Area
  • Present a vision for the future of the Area
  • Set out agreed objectives which will help secure that vision
  • Outline how progress will be monitored and reviewed

This, the fourth Strategy produced by the Norfolk Coast Partnership, builds on previous iterations and has undergone a thorough review and update over a 2.5 year period. The review process was extended to allow analysis and inclusion of significant new local, national and international information released in 2019 (inc. the Glover Review of Protected Landscapes, the IPPC reports on climate change, the UN Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, local authority prioritisation of climate change issues, etc.) and then by the Covid-19 lockdown.

Download the Management Plan >

An important step in focusing the strategic thinking for this latest version was the summarising of the Statement of Significance into a list of key attributes of the Area’s natural beauty and landscape character expressed as four interwoven strands. You can find out more about each strand using the links below:

Previous Management Plans

Summary of main changes and updates compared to the previous version, the 2014-19 document >

2014 – 2019 Management Plan >

2009 – 2014 Management Plan >

2004 – 2009 Management Plan >

Natural Environment Projects

Farming in Protected Landscapes

Farming in Protected Landscapes

Farming in Protected Landscapes is a grant programme for farmers, land managers and people in National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs). The programme, developed by Defra, and delivered locally through the Broads Authority and Norfolk Coast Partnership supports farmers and land managers in carrying out projects that support the natural environment, mitigate the impacts of climate change, provide public access opportunities or support nature-friendly, sustainable farm businesses…

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