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Guidance for Planning in the AONB

Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty were designated under Section 87 of the National Parks & Access to the Countryside Act 1949.

Any area of land being considered for designation as AONB, is assessed against a set of defined Natural Beauty indicators.

The full designation process is set out in Natural England’s 201 document (PDF), “Guidance for assessing landscapes for designation as National Park or Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in England”.

The AONB Team/Partnership has commissioned a number of reports to ensure that the primary purpose of designation, the conservation and enhancement of the AONB’s natural beauty, is properly considered in the planning process.

The Survey document illustrates the naturally occurring colours that can be observed within the various Landscape Character Types across the AONB.

The developed colour palette included in the Guide demonstrates the range of colours that can be used harmoniously in new development within the Suffolk Coast & Heaths AONB to help integrate appropriate new development more sympathetically into the nationally designated landscapes thereby helping to conserve and enhance it’s natural beauty.

Driftwood on a beach

The Natural Beauty indicators cover Landscape Quality, Scenic Quality, Relative Wildness, Relative Tranquillity. Natural Heritage Features and Cultural Heritage Features.

These define natural beauty of the Suffolk Coast & Heaths AONB.

The additional project area extends approximately 44 km2 but does not benefit from the same statutory protection as the AONB. It is however, considered to exhibit similar qualifying characteristics as the nationally designated AONB and it is therefore considered a Valued Landscape.

The AONB team commissioned Alison Farmer Associates to undertake a Valued Landscape Assessment of the Additional Project Area. This is to ensure that the Additional Project Area, as a Valued Landscape, is properly considered at the plan making and planning application stages.

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and Localism Act 2011 gave new powers to local communities to prepare Neighbourhood Plans. Neighbourhood Plans can be prepared by local town or parish councils or by a Neighbourhood Plan Forum within non-parished areas.

They provide an opportunity for local people to guide how their local areas change and develop over a 10-15-year period. Neighbourhood Plans include policies that reflect local priorities including the right type of development for their community or the protection of locally valued open spaces.

Neighbourhood Plans can promote development and some of the Neighbourhood Plans already made or under preparation in Suffolk fall within the Suffolk Coast & Heaths AONB. Landscape will be an important consideration for local councils preparing Neighbourhood Plans that fall within the AONB. The following guidance explains how the landscape should be considered as part of the Neighbourhood Plan process.

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