AONBs to be rebranded as National Landscapes

The government has announced that Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) in England will be rebranded. CLA Planning Adviser Shannon Fuller explains the reasoning and the possible consequences
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In 2019, an extensive review of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) and National Parks in England was published by Julian Glover. The review included the recommendation that AONBs were rebranded as National Landscapes to strengthen them with new ‘purposes, powers and resources’.

In 2022, the government responded to the Glover Landscapes Review and agreed that the national significance of AONBs should be ‘reflected in their name’. As such, work has been undertaken with the National Association for AONBs which, going forward, shall be known as ‘National Landscapes’. The rebranding was launched on the 22 November 2023.

Rebrand reasoning

The rebranding of the AONBs in England as National Landscapes shall strengthen their purpose, bringing them in line with National Parks. The shift should also enable additional funding sources and an increase in the profile of AONBs nationally.

AONBs will not become planning bodies as National Parks are, but it is likely that we could see the introduction of additional powers. This will enable the AONBs to provide comments that carry a further weight in the assessment of planning applications than existing. It could ultimately lead to further difficulty for those wishing to undertake development within these designated areas, bringing constraints in line with those already experienced by members living within National Parks. Going forward, the designation of AONBs shall still be recognised in planning legislation as Article 2(3) land.

Possible consequences

A planning survey undertaken earlier this year identified that 58.4% of CLA members that live within National Parks and AONBs have buildings that they wish to convert but are unable to due to current planning rules and restrictions. The risk of the rebranding of AONBs and additional emphasis on their purpose further highlights the need for the government to amend the existing permitted development regime to enable the conversion of suitable agricultural buildings to homes.

Change must not be stifled within these designated areas. It is important that diversification is allowed to inject additional financial resources that conserves and enhances landscapes in line with their purpose.

The CLA has been lobbying for the introduction of the Part 3, Class Q permitted development rights within Article 2(3) land, most recently within our response to the Department of Levelling-Up, Housing and Communities consultation on permitted development rights. This consultation ended on 25 September 2023 and our response can be found here. We are still currently awaiting a response from the government regarding this.