Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty

by terence walsh -

What a wonderful part of the country the North East is. Rich and outstanding architecture can be found in our major towns and cities from Durham Cathedral to the Georgian splendour of Grey Street in Newcastle and we are similarly blessed by the beauty of the landscapes in which our towns and cities sit. Most people are aware of the Northumberland National Park and the Lake District National Park in Cumbria. And most people are also aware that these areas enjoy a protected status when it comes to new developments and extensions. As the planning section of the Northumberland National Park website states, ‘Development Management is about maintaining a balance between the need for new development such as housing, employment, tourism, leisure and local services with the need to protect both the natural and built environment and the quality of life within the National Park. At an individual level, it can be about considering your need to extend your house against the impact that an extension may have on your neighbour’s property or the local area.’

The North East is also home to two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The Northumberland Coast AONB, covering 100 miles of coastline from Berwick to the river Coquet, was the first area to receive the designation in 1958; the North Pennines AONB, covering an area of 770 square miles, was designated thirty years later.

Permitted developments within AONBs

Whilst many of us know about National Parks, the profile of AONBs is lower. Indeed, one of the aims of the National Association of AONBs is to raise awareness of them.

National Parks and AONBs differ in that the Parks have their own planning departments and new developments within these areas have to meet the criteria set down by each National Park. Planning applications in AONBs are processed, like most other applications, through the appropriate local authority. However, and just like National Parks, new developments and extensions are subject to stricter guidelines than those outside AONBs. Indeed, AONBs were given the same level of planning protection as National Parks in the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework (March 2012).

This doesn’t mean that new homes and extensions can’t be built in these areas. It means that certain standards, which may include location and types of materials that can be used, will have to be met. In addition, there are restrictions on permitted developments within AONBs.

Just as new developments in our cities fit well and work with the existing townscape so new developments in AONBs and other parts of the countryside can be sympathetic to their surroundings.

If you have a project in mind, do give us a ring on 0800 3118 321 – the call is free and we’ll be happy to discuss your plans with you.