Influencing planning and development

Influencing planning and development

We aim to ensure that the AONB’s special qualities are recognised in relevant strategies and plans, and will be conserved or enhanced through decisions on development and other activities.

Planning in the Chilterns AONB

Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty are outstanding landscapes whose distinctive character and natural beauty are so precious that it is in the nation’s interest to safeguard them. Special planning controls apply in the AONB. The planning system protects AONBs to conserve and enhance their natural beauty.

In the AONB the planning priorities are conservation and enhancement of landscape and scenic beauty, and the conservation of wildlife and cultural heritage. Whilst there is a need for development, there is also a need to protect the most special places, the finest and most beautiful parts of the countryside. This is particularly true for the Chilterns, an irreplaceable green lung for London and the south east.

The Chilterns AONB is split across nine local planning authorities (two county councils, containing four district councils, and three unitary authorities). These have the responsibility for housing allocations and development decisions through planning policy and development management functions. Like all public bodies, local authorities have a legal duty to have regard in their decisions to conserving and enhancing the natural beauty of the AONB. They also have the power to take all such action as appears to them expedient to accomplish this.

However, it is not only local planning authorities that make decisions on development and the construction of infrastructure across the AONB. Some decisions can be made by central government departments and its agencies, and some development can be undertaken by certain infrastructure providers under statutory powers granted to them. Indeed, much development can take place at varying scales, by farmers, businesses and homeowners without needing to apply for planning permission.

The Chilterns Conservation Board is well placed to work with local planning authorities, government agencies, infrastructure providers and individual property owners in an advisory role. We bring understanding of local landscape character, sensitivities and capacity for accommodating change. We comment as consultees on all emerging plans and major planning applications and we prepare guidance for householders, architects and developers. We bring together those who make plans and determine planning applications in the Chilterns to encourage cross-boundary thinking and cooperation over the AONB.

Our role

The Board does not have any direct powers over planning and development: we do not write plans and we do not make decisions on planning applications. What we can do is try to influence the people who do write rules and plans or make decisions. The influence we have varies between different regimes, and we rely on working constructively with development promoters, landowners, businesses, policy makers and the authorities that ultimately make decisions.

You can read all our our detailed policies and objectives and full background information in the Chilterns AONB Management Plan. The Management Plan sets out the vision, policies and actions for the management of the AONB from 2019 to 2024. The Chilterns Conservation Board is responsible for putting together the AONB Management Plan in consultation with local communities, public bodies, partners and agencies. The Board promotes the implementation of the Plan by a wide range of organisations and individuals with an interest in the area.

On our pages here you can find out more information about how the Board tries to influence planning and development, including our published guidance and advice and how we work with communities and local councils, and what sorts of policies and decisions we try to influence, from national legislation to individual planning applications.

How we influence

  • We have published advice and guidance, which can assist councils and others who are writing plans or making decisions on the practical ways in which development can be managed to conserve or enhance the Chilterns. This guidance is also essential reading for property owners and developers in preparing their schemes, and to communities who might want to offer their observations on development proposals.
  • We work constructively with stakeholders including national government and its agencies (especially Natural England), and our county, district, town and parish councils (including those that adjoin but don’t overlap with the AONB). We aim to support communities who are participating in the planning system, especially those producing neighbourhood plans.
  • Working with the Chiltern Society, we celebrate good practice in and around the Chilterns through the Chilterns Buildings Design Awards.
  • Most of our work on influencing planning rules, policies and decisions is achieved by responding to consultations, sometimes with other organisations, and engaging with similar decision-making processes. See the next section for the types of consultations we respond to.

What we influence

  • National legislation and policy: reforms of the planning system and other relevant legislation, changes to the National Planning Policy Framework, updates to government’s good practice guidance.
  • Regional strategies for housing, transport and infrastructure: some plans and strategies are made on a larger-than-local scale, such as regional transport strategies and one-off plans like the Oxford-Cambridge Arc.
  • Local plans: local planning authorities produce statutory plans for general development, minerals extraction, waste recycling/disposal and transport provision.
  • Neighbourhood plans: plans produced by individual communities – as well as responding to consultations, we also support communities who want to make a difference in their neighbourhood.
  • Development proposals and planning applications and other site-specific proposals: we respond to consultations on proposals to develop specific sites, mostly through planning applications, but also other forms of consent from listed buildings and advertisements to major infrastructure projects, including HS2.

You can read our responses to major planning-related consultations on our consultations page or by browsing our news stories.

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Chalk, Cherries and Chairs Neighbourhood Plans Toolkit

Coming soon: Chalk, Cherries and Chairs Neighbourhood Plans Toolkit

Related news

HS2 Update, March 2022

The Chilterns Conservation Board is working to hold HS2 to account and to minimise the effects of its construction works on the Chilterns landscape.

HS2 Update, December 2021

Read about how we're holding HS2 to account

Sable House named Chilterns Building of the Year 2021

Sable House in Buckinghamshire has been named as the Chilterns Building Design Award winners for 2021.

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Getting help with planning

We are sadly unable to respond to all queries we receive on planning matters from members of the public.  Here you can find out how we work and who might be able to help you.
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Chilterns AONB Management Plan

The Chilterns AONB Management Plan 2019-24: Caring for the Chilterns forever and for everyone contains a comprehensive summary of the key issues facing the AONB and the management policies and actions needed to conserve this special place.
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Chilterns ANOB

Chilterns AONB Boundary Review

We are are working closely with Natural England to explore the case for and against extending the boundary of the protected area of the Chilterns AONB. Find out about the project, and how this could benefit people and the landscape on our Boundary Review page.
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Published advice and guidance

The Board publishes guidance to help stakeholders draft plans and make decisions on developments in and around the AONB. The guidance can also help people prepare proposals for development, whether or not they need to apply for planning permission.
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