AONB Boundary Review

Natural England is currently considering a variation to the southern boundary of the Suffolk Coast & Heaths AONB. Natural England, a government agency, has special responsibility for AONBs and National Parks, and for the natural environment, promoting projects such as the England Coast Path and agri-environment schemes.

June 24 2019 - Natural England letter sent confirming the NE "Board approved the making of the Order, without modification. The areas affected are the same as those shown on the maps made available at the time of the publication of the Notice. The designation variation Order will not however take effect unless and until confirmed by the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs."

22 March 2019 - the public inspection of the draft variation Order is now closed.

February 2019 
Natural England have published a Notice that it proposes to make an Order designating land as Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in both the London Gazette and the East Anglian Daily Times, as required by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000.
If subsequently confirmed by the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Order would vary the boundary of the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty to include an additional area of approximately 38 square kilometres in the counties of Essex and Suffolk in and around:
• the Stour Estuary (in Tendring and Babergh Districts)
• the Samford Valley (in Babergh District)
• the Freston Brook (in Babergh District).
A copy of the draft variation Order and associated maps was deposited for public inspection for a period of 28 working days at several locations. They were open for inspection free of charge between the hours of 09.30 and 16.30 from Mondays to Fridays, from 12 February to 22 March 2019:
Copies of the draft Orders and maps are also available for download online from .GOV and at:

2018 December - see Natural England's letter and the AONB Press Release welcoming the news of NE Board approval of area for next stage of consultation.

2018 July - read Natural England's update to the AONB Partnerhship meeting.

2018 April - this is the response of the AONB Partnership to the consultation.

2018 January - the AONB boundary review consultation run by Natural England is open until Friday 20 April 2018.
You can respond to the consultation online via:, where you can also see a range of helpful background documents, including this Fact Sheet

    Click to see the MAP of the consultation area.
    Read the East Anglian Daily Times coverage on 26 Jan 2018 by John Grant, and the Natural England press release of 26 Jan 2018.

    2017 December - Natural England provided a briefing note for the AONB Partnership meeting and an Update on the Review. Includes notice of consultation meetings in February 2018.

    2017 August
    The Combined Advisory Committee and Dedham Vale and Suffolk Coast & Heaths Partnerships have sent a letter and produced a paper on the process of Boundary Review. This was following discussion with Lord Gardiner at the Dedham Vale AONB Forum in June 2017 and further discussion at National Association for AONBs conference at Winchester in July 2017. 

    See the letter here. 
    See the discussion paper here.

    2017 June - Natural England update briefing for the AONB Partnership meeting 

    2017 March - Natural England update briefing for the combined Suffolk Coast & Heaths & Dedham Vale AONB Joint Advisory Committee.

    2016 December - update re consultation

    2016 August - update re consultation

    2016 April - at the AONB Partnership meeting on 21 April Natural England provided a briefing nore and update on the Boundary Extension project.

    2015 Dec - Following the Suffolk Coast & Heaths AONB Partnership meeting on 16 Dec 2015 Natural England has updated the briefing note on where the Boundary Extension project stands.

    2015 July - update from Natural England

    2014 September - David Vose of Natural England gave a presentation (see it here) to the Suffolk Coast & Heaths AONB Partnership on 24 September 2014.

    News Item December 2013: AONB boundary extension considered

    For many years there has been a desire amongst a partnership of organisations to extend the Suffolk Coast & Heaths AONB boundary to include the southern shore of the Stour Estuary. On 4th December 2013 Natural England’s Board agreed to start a formal process to consider the request.

    Suffolk Coast & Heaths AONB Chairman Cllr David Wood said: ‘This is great news for the special landscape and economy of the south side of the Stour estuary. We started the process to designate the area as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty some 20 years ago. This process will include full consultation with the many interests in the area. The current AONB is worth £234m per annum to the local economy. If the area does achieve AONB status it will ensure that the special landscape and its wildlife are protected for all.’

    The decision by Natural England’s board follows evidence submitted to them over many years culminating in an Evidence and Evaluation study submitted earlier this year. The report noted the quality of the landscape on the southern shore of the Stour estuary and its links to the existing AONB.

    A candidate area has been identified of 36 km2 comprising tidal estuary, coastal farmland and woodland along the southern edge of the Stour estuary.

    If designated the area would be conserved for the nation as a special place. It would not mean the end of development or farming practices but ensure that all development in the area met the AONB criteria of conserving and enhancing a special place.

    Howard Davies, CEO of the National Association for AONBs (NAAONB) said: “The NAAONB welcomes Natural England’s interest in boundary reviews and is mindful of the value the AONB designation can bring, both locally and nationally”

    The formal process will include an assessment to determine if the area meets the statutory criteria of an AONB; undertake regulatory assessments; a full consultation and identifying an AONB boundary before a variation order is submitted to the Secretary of State for confirmation.

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