Regional strategies for housing, planning 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.

Although statutory integrated Regional Strategies were only abolished as recently as 2015, this left a vacuum in how decisions on economic development, housing, transport, other infrastructure and environmental conservation could be co-ordinated on a strategic scale. Since then, over a relatively short period, a surfeit of largely unconnected initiatives have attempted to fill this vacuum – none entirely successfully. That is not to say that old-style regional planning was necessarily good for the Chilterns AONB, which was split between two different government regions (the South-East and East of England), and strongly impacted by plans for Greater London.

Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) took on the economic development functions of the old Regional Development Agencies when the latter were abolished in 2012. The Chilterns AONB overlaps with five LEPs (Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, South East Midlands, Hertfordshire and Cambridge & Peterborough). While the strategies prepared by LEPs are non-statutory, they are highly influential, but – problematically – LEPs and their strategies are solely focused on economic growth and are not required to consider their environmental impacts.

There is no overall strategy co-ordinating infrastructure provision across the Chilterns AONB. Large-scale infrastructure provision is determined through separate National Policy Statements prepared for each different type of infrastructure by the relevant government department. Other infrastructure provision is planned disjointedly by a bewildering variety of different councils, agencies and statutory undertakers.

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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.