National legislation and policy
Working with other AONBs and our National Association we help to advise national government on changes to planning rules that affect development in the Chilterns AONB.
Governments often reform the way planning is done to ensure that development is considered in ways that address new challenges, such as the mitigation of and adaptation to climate change. We work in partnership with the wider family of AONBs, and other organisations where appropriate, to advise government officials and parliamentarians on how planning (and other environmental) reforms can work best for protected landscapes like the Chilterns.
We also support local authorities, landowners and members of the public in understanding and working with new planning rules. This page outlines some of the current national reforms of relevance to planning and development.
The Landscapes Review 2019
The independent Landscapes Review (also known as the Glover Review), published in 2019, was a wide-ranging assessment of whether the protections for National Parks and AONBs are still fit for purpose. You can read more about the Review here, including our response to the government’s consultation on its proposals. These included possible changes to planning rules, and we are continuing to engage with Defra and with other AONBs to consider how those changes might be implemented.
Natural England's designations programme 2021
In June 2021, Natural England announced its new designations programme, which included two projects in the Chilterns:
- Consideration of an extension to the boundaries of the Chilterns AONB (read more here); and
- Exploration of enhanced management and governance arrangements for the AONB (coming soon).
We are advising Natural England of the planning implications of both projects, and also keeping existing and potential future local planning authorities informed.
Ongoing reforms of planning
The provisions in the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, currently progressing through Parliament, are less radical than originally heralded in 2020’s Planning White Paper, but will still be significant. We are currently working with the National Association of AONBs to assess the potential impacts of the proposals on planning in protected landscapes. Our initial assessment is one of disappointment that the Bill is a missed opportunity to implement the proposals of the Landscapes Review. Some of its detailed reforms may make planning in protected landscapes harder.
The update to the National Planning Policy Framework in July 2021 introduced a new policy clarifying that development in the setting of AONBs “should be sensitively located and designed to avoid or minimise adverse impacts on the designated areas” (para 176), and at the same time introduced other new policies on design, including a national model design code and greater emphasis on design guidance like the Chilterns Buildings Design Guide.
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, who are responsible for the planning system, are understood to be preparing for another overhaul of the national planning rulebook, including adding to it a set of ‘national development management policies’, in line with provisions of the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill.
STOP PRESS: On 23 September 2022, the government announced a new Growth Plan and outlined further reforms to the planning system, including a new Planning and Infrastructure Bill. The general thrust of the proposals seems to be focused on further deregulation, which may be problematic for the conservation and enhancement of protected landscapes like the Chilterns. Watch this space for more details.
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Chilterns AONB Boundary Review Update January 2023
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