Planning & Development
The Suffolk Coast & Heaths AONB is an attractive place to live, work and visit. It is under increasing development pressure for new housing, economic development and transport schemes. The Suffolk Coast is also recognised as a key location for the delivery of a number of Nationally Significant Infrastructure Schemes, including large scale offshore wind projects and a 3rd nuclear power station at Sizewell.
The AONB covers part of Babergh District and the coastal parts of East Suffolk’s Local Planning Authority areas. On 7 July 2020, an additional 38km2 became part of the AONB increasing the size to 441km2. The extended AONB now includes the Stour Estuary and land on the south side of the Stour bringing parts of Tendring District and another small part of Essex County into the AONB. Information about the AONB Variation Order and maps showing the areas now included can be seen on the government’s website.
The need for new development must be carefully balanced against the requirement to conserve and enhance the Natural Beauty of the AONB. Any planning applications coming forward within the AONB must pay due regard, in accordance with Section 85 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, to the statutory purpose of AONB designation. They must also satisfy the objectives of paragraphs 170(a) and 172 of the National Planning Policy Framework, relevant policies in Local Plans covering the AONB and objectives in the Suffolk Coast & Heaths Management Plan 2018-2023.
Each of the Planning Authorities operating within the AONB prepare Local Plans to help guide development across their administrative areas, including within the AONB. As well as Local Plans we also comment on Waste and Mineral Plans, Supplementary Planning Documents and Neighbourhood Plans. The AONB team comment on these various documents, on behalf of the AONB Partnership, to ensure that the conservation and enhancement of the area’s Natural Beauty is properly considered at the plan making stage.
The AONB team also comment on individual planning applications which have the potential to positively or negatively impact on the primary purpose of the Suffolk Coast & Heaths AONB (to conserve and enhance the area’s natural beauty).
Applications that frequently draw comments from the AONB team include:
- Those of sufficient scale, e.g. of a footprint and/or height that could detract from the landscape qualities of the area.
- Those that could significantly reduce the tranquillity of the area, through increased levels of noise and light.
- Those that could lead to a notable increase in disturbance, e.g. an increased number of visitors.
- Those that could lead to a change in landscape character, urbanisation of the countryside or an inappropriate change of use.
- Those that relate to changes to public rights of way or areas of public access.
- Those that seek to establish a precedent, move away from Development Plan policy or exception sites.