Conversions at Thurlestone

Independent research into housing in England’s AONBs

Today sees the publication of an independent review of housing in England’s AONBs by Dave Dixon, Neil Sinden and Tim Crabtree. The review is based on data collected by Glenigan covering planning applications and approvals for housing development in and near to AONBs between 2012-2017.

National policy for AONBs centres on the need to conserve and enhance natural beauty, particularly in the execution of planning functions by public bodies. However, the Review shows that AONBs, particularly in the South East and South West, are facing unprecedented pressure from large-scale housing development.

The National Association for AONBs (NAAONB) welcomes the publication of the Review and sees it as an opportunity for AONB Partnerships and Conservation Boards to work more collaboratively with developers, architects, government, local communities and Local Planning Authorities to help address local housing need in AONBs creatively.

Whilst agreeing that maintaining vibrant and diverse local communities is essential to the future of AONBs, NAAONB Chief Executive, Howard Davies suggests that housing provision can’t be considered in isolation. He says,

“AONBs are nationally important landscapes. However, they should not be set in aspic. They are living, working landscapes and as such appropriate sustainable development is essential. We can help with this. We are keen to support LPAs so that they can effectively consider the purpose of designation. Effective AONB planning and management provides a framework for meeting local housing needs without compromising landscape quality. We would like to see LPAs encouraged to develop strong AONB specific policies in their Local Plans which are upheld in decision making.

“We can help further. AONBs, using their power to convene, often bring together appropriate parties and individuals to engage in meaningful conversation when considering development in AONBs. We will continue to do this. We will also continue to offer support at all stages of planning in AONBs by exploring better provision of business membership schemes, directories and design guidance references for architects and builders, advice and guidance for Planning Officers, and assistance to local communities with support for Community Led Housing schemes.

“We believe that, together, we can achieve the Secretary of State’s ambition to halt the deterioration of our environment and restore and enhance the UK’s outstanding natural beauty.”

Roger English Manager of the South Devon AONB Unit commented "We published our Planning Guidance erlier this year and hope that it will help all parties understand what best practice development looks like in the AONB. It is anticipated that sections of it will become supplementary planning documents of the Local Plan next year.   We laise with all parties from developers to neighbourhood planning groups in aiming to provide solutions to housing need. "






The National Association for AONBs (NAAONB) is a charity that provides a strong collective voice for the UK’s 46 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs). Its objectives are to promote the conservation and enhancement of AONBs, advance the education, understanding and appreciation by the public of AONBs, and promote the efficiency and effectiveness of those promoting or representing AONBs, other Protected Areas and those areas for which designation might be pursued. It does this by taking a collaborative and partnership based approach to working with our membership and

other organisations at a national level to achieve shared goals. For more information see Web: Twitter:@naaonb @AONBFamily


An independent review of housing in England’s AONBs by Dave Dixon, Neil Sinden and Tim Crabtree can be read here.



Contacts for further information

Jill Smith - Communications Manager National Association for AONBs 07969 888823


Howard Davies – Chief Executive National Association for AONBs 07576 321614