Last edited 21 Apr 2022

Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty AONB


[edit] Introduction

An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is an area of the countryside with high scenic value of national importance that has statutory protection to conserve and enhance the natural beauty of its landscape.

There are currently 46 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, with 33 wholly in England, four in Wales, one which crosses the English/Welsh border and eight in Northern Ireland (ref. National Association Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty).

Natural England, the Countryside Council for Wales and the Environment Agency Northern Ireland are responsible for formally designating AONBs and advising on policy.

[edit] Designation

AONBs are designated under the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 with further protection provided by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 also clarifies that local authorities are required to prepare management plans for their AONBs.

The National Planning Policy Framework (2012) states that AONBs and national parks have equal status in relation to planning consents and other sensitive issues.

[edit] Managing AONBs

AONBs are managed by the relevant local authorities, and to assist the local authorities, local advisory committees have been set up which involve all the authorities within the AONB area. Conservation Boards have also been established for the larger Cotswolds AONB and Chilterns AONB.

In September 2015, the National Trust published a report recommending better protection of AONB's. (Ref. Protecting England's Special Countryside.)

[edit] Reform

On 27 May 2018, Nearly 70 years after National Parks and AONBs were first established, Environment Secretary Michael Gove announced a review to ensure designated landscapes are fit for the future. Led by writer Julian Glover, the review will look at how these landscapes meet our needs – including whether there is scope for the current network of 34 AONBs and 10 National Parks to expand. It will also explore how access to these landscapes can be improved, how those who live and work in them can be better supported, and their role in growing the rural economy.


In October 2018, a called for evidence was launched to support the review of national parks and AONBs. Ref

In November 2020, the government announced plans to create more national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty as part of the government’s 25-year environment plan.

[edit] Related articles on Designing Buildings

[edit] External references

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