POLICY 97 CHILTERNS AREA OF OUTSTANDING NATURAL BEAUTY In the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty the prime planning consideration will be the conservation of the beauty of the area; the economic and social well-being of the area and its communities will also be taken into account. Any development proposal which would seriously detract from this will be refused. Wherever development is permitted it will be on the basis of its satisfactory assimilation into the landscape. Every effort will be made to discourage development and operations that would adversely affect the beauty of the area. Landowners are encouraged to adopt the following planning guidelines which will contribute to the preservation and enhancement of the area. The Council will adhere to the guidelines whenever considering planning applications: (a) New Buildings and Other Development • Development must not be intrusive in terms of noise, disturbance, light pollution, traffic generation and parking. • Building, plant and structures must be sympathetically sited and designed, having regard to natural contours, landscape, planting and other buildings; there should be no adverse effect on skyline views. • Colours and materials used for a development must fit in with the traditional character of the area. (b) Open Air Recreation • Large urban-style parks and sports facilities are not acceptable. • Extensive recreational facilities such as golf courses (see Policy 78) and country parks must be carefully integrated with the landscape, natural vegetation and natural ground contours. • Intrusive fencing and illumination are not acceptable. • Informal outdoor recreation allowing the quiet enjoyment of the countryside is encouraged, but careful attention will be paid to the provision of associated ancillary facilities such as car parks and toilets in order to minimise their impact on the local scene. (c) Mineral Extraction • No further chalk quarrying will be supported, with the exception of registered Interim Development Order (IDO) sites which have the benefit of consent from the County Council as mineral planning authority for the area. Other mineral extraction may be supported if justified in the national interest, if there are no other reasonable sites and if the impact on the area is kept to a minimum. (d) Agriculture • The intensity of farming practices should not be detrimental to landscape quality and nature conservation interests. • Activities requiring new building should be avoided if possible. Where new building is necessary, it should be sited unobtrusively and designed to maintain the character and quality of the countryside: siting close to, and integrated with, existing complexes of farm buildings is normally preferred. • Land filling is not acceptable. • Individual trees, copses and hedgerows should be retained and new planting carried out in appropriate locations (in co- operation with relevant agencies and groups) in order to enhance the landscape quality and nature conservation interests of the area (Policy 100). (e) Forestry and Landscaping • The retention of existing, and planting of new woodlands on hill tops and ridges, other than on chalk downland or other grassland of nature conservation interest, is encouraged. • The active management of woodlands is encouraged (Policy 101). • Broad-leaved tree species which are native to the particular soil and location should be used in all planting and landscaping schemes. • Conifers should only be used as a nurse crop in forestry. (f) Nature Conservation • High priority should be given to maintaining and enhancing the interests of nature conservation and, in particular, acknowledged sites of importance to nature conservation (Policy 102). • Changes in land use or farming practices which would adversely affect the interests of nature conservation should not be pursued. (g) Redundant Buildings • Redundant buildings which are considered to be detrimental to the high landscape value of the area and are not suitable for appropriate reuse under Policy 110 should be removed. Reasons 97.1 The Chilterns are of national landscape importance, being designated by the Countryside Commission as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in 1964. The designation affords special status in the control of development and establishes the primary aim as the conservation of the scenic beauty of its countryside and settlements. AONB policy overlies policies controlling development in the Green Belt and the Rural Area, and thus further constrains the type of change and development that can be allowed. Background 97.2 Government guidance in Planning Policy Guidance Note 7: ‘The Countryside - Environmental Quality and Economic and Social Development’ states that the primary objective of conserving the natural beauty of the landscape must be reflected in the development plan and in development control decisions. Consequently the environmental effects of development proposals are the major consideration, but the social and economic well-being of the AONB and the communities it supports must also be taken into account. 97.3 The Government endorses the establishment of the Chilterns Conference (now the Shadow Chilterns Conservation Board), a partnership of local authorities and other organisations, whose purpose is to promote good practice and co-ordination of effort in the management of the AONB. The Council is a partner and supports the work of the Conservation Board. Positive actions to conserve and enhance the landscape are encouraged through the Board’s partnership approach. 97.4 Planning powers to direct or control changes in the landscape are constrained, particularly in agriculture and forestry, but nonetheless they still have an important role. 97.5 Policies and guidelines in the Local Plan: (a) reflect the principles in the ‘Statement of Intent’ issued by the Chilterns Conference in 1991 and Policy 42 of the County Structure Plan Review (1991-2011) (which essentially restates those principles); and (b) are consistent with the guidance in the Management Plan for the Chilterns AONB issued in 2002. 97.6 In assessing planning applications or other proposals, the Council will have regard to: (a) the supplementary information and context given by the Management Plan for the Chilterns AONB, and the associated Action Plan; and (b) supplementary advice produced by the Chilterns Conference: ‘Environmental Guidelines for the Management of Roads in the Chilterns AONB’ ‘Chilterns Buildings Design Guide’ and a ‘Farm Buildings Guide’ (under preparation). 97.7 Some changes in the landscape are not normally considered to be development (e.g. ploughing up grassland, planting or felling trees). Other changes (e.g. fencing and buildings in gardens) and developments for agricultural and forestry purposes are permitted by the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order. A separate procedure applies to some types of permitted development for agriculture and forestry: for example, the siting, design and external appearance of buildings may be controlled (but not the principle of the buildings themselves). The Council will expect the siting, design and external appearance of such buildings to accord with principles in the ‘Farm Buildings Design Guide’. 97.8 Control of mineral extraction and waste disposal and management (including landfilling) is exercised by the County Council, but the Borough Council is consulted on all proposals. The boundary of the Chilterns AONB was reviewed by the Countryside Commission in the late 1980’s and revisions approved by the Secretary of State for the Environment on March 14 1990.
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