Planning and the AONB

An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is a national designation recognised in the planning system, and in government policy AONBs are deemed to have the same level of landscape quality and protection as National Parks. The planning system has an important role in preventing inappropriate development from harming the special qualities of the AONB, while also having a role in facilitating appropriate and sustainable forms of development.

The responsibility for planning policy and decisions within the Shropshire Hills AONB rests with two unitary authorities:

The local authorities have a legal duty under S85 Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 to have regard to the purposes of the AONB in carrying out planning and other functions. In addition, the statutory AONB Management Plan, though not part of the Local Development Framework, contains policies on many issues and is a material consideration in planning decisions.

The Government’s Planning Portal website can be accessed for general information about all aspects of planning.

The AONB Partnership works to a Planning Protocol agreed with the local authorities, outlining the roles of the planning authorities and the Partnership in relation to planning matters in the AONB.

Planning Consultation Responses

To see responses made by the AONB Partnership to planning consultations, please click below:

A summary of current planning policies relevant to the AONB cam be downloaded below. (The AONB Partnership will endeavour to update this summary as necessary).

Frequently asked Questions

What is the role of the Shropshire Hills AONB Partnership in respect of planning matters?

  • The Shropshire Hills AONB Partnership is a non-statutory consultee with regard to planning policies and decisions. Principally through its staff team, the AONB Partnership will provide expert advice to the local authorities on the development of policy and guidance affecting the AONB, and on the impact of selected planning applications on the Shropshire Hills landscape.Clee Hill Quarry
  • Whilst both aspects of this work are important, priority is given to policy formulation and the development of supplementary guidance. Comments on planning applications will be limited to significant developments which are likely to have an effect on the natural beauty of the AONB, eg. tourism, industrial or transport developments, housing, energy generation or telecommunications.
  • Our policy and pro-active work is focussed on input to Local Development Framework Documents, development of additional guidance eg. on design and support for Parish Plans and Village or Town Design Statements.
  • The AONB Partnership’s Planning Protocol outlines in detail the roles of the Partnership in relation to planning matters.

Is the AONB likely to affect my proposed development?

  • If the proposed development might damage or harm the natural beauty and special qualities of the AONB, it may not be allowed, or it may need to be adapted. To find out more about policies and guidance relevant to your proposal and the likelihood of it being approved, contact the relevant local planning authority.
  • To find out if you are within the AONB check the map on our website. The AONB may be a consideration in larger development proposals outside the AONB boundary, if the proposals might have a significant impact on the AONB.

I’m upset about a planning application in the AONB. What should I do?

  • Your first point of contact should be the local planning authority. You will be able to see details and plans for the application on their website or otherwise at their offices. You will also be able to find out what other comments have been made about the application. Comments from the AONB Partnership, and indeed the decisions made by the planning authority, will usually be linked closely to relevant policies or planning guidance, so you may want to find out more about these. See our summary of relevant policies.
  • If you wish to object to an application, this will carry much greater weight if you can refer to approved policies or guidance. You are perfectly entitled to make comments yourself to the local authority on any effect you feel a proposed development may have on the AONB. Views from local people are important and local authorities take such comments seriously.

Why does the AONB Partnership not object to more planning applications?

  • There are approximately 500 planning applications per year in the AONB, and the staff team’s capacity is limited. The local planning authorities themselves will consider the impact of proposed development on the AONB, and this remains the principal means of informing decisions. National experience from among AONB Partnerships shows that the limited time of the staff teams is best spent at the proactive end of planning (ie. in the development of policy and guidance).
  • AONBs have a secondary purpose to promote sustainable forms of development which in themselves support the conservation and enhancement of natural beauty.

How does the AONB designation affect development within a town?

  • Church Stretton Town Design Statement LaunchThe only market town within the Shropshire Hills AONB is Church Stretton (Clun is a much smaller settlement, but now also has a town council). The landscape setting and character of towns within an AONB is usually important, and Church Stretton is certainly no exception. Other designations such as Conservation Areas and Listed Buildings may also be relevant.
  • A Town Design Statement was published for Church Stretton in January 2008 with the support of the AONB Partnership. This provides an excellent account of the existing character of the town and how new development can be sensitively designed to fit in.

Agricultural Buildings Design Guide

A Design Guide for Agricultural Buildings (5.8Mb) was published by the AONB Partnership in December 2010. This focuses mainly on design aspects for new agricultural buildings, but encourages consideration of existing buildings and those of historic value.

Pre-application Advice

For pre-application advice, the Council’s Development Management Team should be your first point of contact. The AONB Partnership is not currently able to offer advice on development proposals at a pre-application stage. The AONB Partnership will not generally provide any endorsement which may be cited in a planning application as giving our support.

Shropshire Council may require for certain types of development a Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment (LVIA), sometimes as part of a wider Environmental Statement. This is to help inform the determination of the application by the Council, including in relation to the AONB designation. The AONB Partnership may choose to comment to the Council on scoping consultations or on LVIA reports, but will not provide routine guidance on the LVIA process, which is established nationally in the accepted methodologies set out in the Landscape Institute and Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment’s third edition “Guidelines for Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment (2013)”. Note that this requires consideration of landscape impacts (recognising landscape as a valuable resource in its own right) in addition to visual impacts.

The AONB designation should be considered not just in relation to visual amenity. The natural beauty remit of the AONB includes considerations of biodiversity, heritage, tranquillity and the way in which the many natural and human elements of landscape combine, and these aspects should all be taken into account in relation to decisions affecting the AONB. Applicants are recommended to look at relevant policies and sections of the AONB Management Plan.