Development putting pressure on celebrated landscapes
While there are government assurances to uphold their protected status, over the last five years, an increase if 82% has been seen in the number of homes built in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) have said that since 2012 in the 34 English AONBs, the number of planning applications has more than doubled, and 15,500 dwellings have been built.
There were warnings that evidence suggests developers are using increasing pressure on local authorities to build new homes on AONBs by;
“exploiting poorly defined and conflicting national planning policy”.
An additional 12,741 applications for homes in AONBs are presently pending a decision.
CPRE research shows that the pressure on local authorities is also set to increase.
The 2016 – 2017 housing approval rate was 67%.
Founded on this figure, this could be a signal that since 2012, a further 8,154 homes, resulting in 23,639 homes being approved in AONBs.
In the South East and South West of England, pressure for development within AONBs (outlined by the number of applications, approvals and housing units) is at its highest.
From 2012-2017, in these areas, 8 AONBs comprise 74% of all housing applications, as well as 79% of all approvals.
Under the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF),
“great weight should be given to conserving landscape and scenic beauty in AONBs, which have the highest status of protection in relation to landscape and scenic beauty”.
Excluding “exceptional circumstances”, government policy allows elected areas to lower its housing targets, and suggests that “major developments” are refused.
Having said this, the CPRE have said that both these terms are poorly defined, which generates loopholes that are frequently used by developers.
It requests the government modifies the NPPF to insert a presumption against proposals for large housing developments in AONBs.
It also requests that demand for housing, or the lack of a five-year supply of land, are unlikely to validate said plans.
It was further added by the CPRE that the governments assured 25-year environment plan should contain goals to safeguard that development does not damage the landscape quality.
This would be highlighting the significance of AONBs to the;
“health, wellbeing and prosperity of the nation”.
“While the CPRE advocates the building of right homes in the right places, AONBs are not the right place,” said senior rural policy campaigner Emma Marrington. “On top of this, current development on AONBs shows little evidence that what’s built will actually help solve the housing crisis, which is more to do with affordability than lack of land.”
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