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Planning in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty

There are a few things you need to know to prepare for a renovation or an extension if you live in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Read on.

3 min read

Figuring out whether or not you need planning permission and following the steps to obtain it can be testing at the best of times. If you’re looking to renovate or extend your property and find that it falls into an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, you’ll have even more to consider. We explain what exactly an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is, how it could impact your renovation plans and how to give your build the best chance of going forward.

What is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty?

Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty are designated by Natural England and, as the name suggests, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty are distinctive landscapes whose natural beauty are considered worthy of protection under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (CROW Act).

Natural England proposes areas that meet specific criterion to be classed as AONBs. Once designated, an area will enjoy protection in order to maintain and nourish the environment, and prevent any actions that could have a negative impact.

There are 46 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. However, the specific rules and regulations for each area differ slightly. This article is going to be turning a lens solely on some of the guidelines for English Areas of Natural Beauty. But even within those rules, there will be variations for each and every AONB. For advice that’s tailored to your property, get in touch with your Local Planning Authority to discuss the specific rules in more detail.

Building in an area of outstanding natural beauty

Can you build in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty?

The short answer to this is yes, it is possible to build, renovate and extend in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. That being said, there will be certain restrictions in place that limit the size, scale or style of the renovations that you’d like to carry out. It’s the responsibility of Natural England to review proposed building or renovation plans alongside Local Planning Authorities, offering advice and considering whether the proposals are either beneficial or neutral to the environment.

If you’re looking to build an extension and your property falls within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, you may be able to carry out your plans under Permitted Development. This means that you can proceed with a build without the need for Planning Permission, as long as your proposed plans fall within certain limitations.

Rear extensions that extend 4 metres or less on a detached property – and 3 metres on other properties – are acceptable under Permitted Development. However, it’s important to note that side extensions aren’t allowed under Permitted Developments in AONBs. There are also strict rules around converting agricultural buildings into livable or commercial spaces.

If you’re looking at larger development plans, such as building a house or flats, building proposals could be escalated to be assessed by the Secretary of State as well as Natural England and your Local Planning Authority.

How to give your plans the best opportunity of going ahead:

If your extension or renovation plans don’t fall under Permitted Development, you may need to seek Planning Permission from your Local Planning Authority. Make sure that you’re prepared with detailed architectural drawings and a good sense of what potential disruption your plans could cause (the best way to do this is to enlist an experienced architect or designer).

For anyone unfamiliar with planning rules, or anyone looking to simply take the time and hassle out of the application process, book a free advice call with our fantastic in-house Planning team. With years of experience under their belts, they’re poised to offer your plans the best opportunity possible.

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