Agenda item

AONB Position Statements


We received a report in which the Joint Advisory Committee was asked to formally endorse two Position Statements, which intend to establish the position of the Wye Valley AONB Partnership on key issues affecting the area, helping guide the Partnership and relevant plan-making and decision-making bodies to articulate how the AONB designation should be protected, conserved and enhanced. To be made aware of intended upcoming position statements, which seek to aid all interested parties to uphold and deliver the vision and priorities contained within the Wye Valley AONB Management Plan.


In doing so, the following information was noted:


·         Currently, the AONB Partnership does not have Position Statements. Position Statements provide further context, guidance and recommendations in relation to the specific Wye Valley AONB Management Plan Strategic Objectives and associated issues.


·         The ‘Housing in the Wye Valley AONB and its Setting’ Position Statement advises housing development to be based on robust evidence of need arising from within the Protected Landscape. Currently, assessment of housing need and housing requirements are based on local authority boundaries, not the AONB boundary. This could be avoided if ‘housing need’ and ‘housing requirements’ are clearly differentiated.


·         The Landscape-led Position Statement advises that development within the Wye Valley AONB and, where relevant, in its setting, should be ‘landscape-led’. Ideally, there should not have to be a binary choice between conserving and enhancing the natural beauty of the Wye Valley AONB and planning for and permitting new development. The aspiration should be to deliver new development in a way that is compatible with and positively contributes to the AONB as a nationally designated protected landscape.


·         The Position Statements have had formal public consultation between 4th August and 29th September 2023 (inclusive), following which comments submitted have been considered and amendments made, with the revised version being brought to the Joint Advisory Committee for endorsement.


·         Shared experience from the similar Position Statements for the Malvern Hills AONB has helped inform, revise and strengthen both sets of Position Statements.


·         It is intended that guidance and associated Position Statements on Renewables and Dark Skies for the Wye Valley AONB will be prepared and presented at a future Joint Advisory Committee meeting. These will aim to promote good practice and assist those proposing new development in the AONB and its setting.


Having received the report, the following points were noted:


·         Training will commence at the end of November 2023, with a proposed session for Herefordshire Council Planning officers.  


·         Training will be extended to Forest of Dean District Council officers. This will also be provided for Malvern Hills and Monmouthshire County Council Officers, going forward.


·         Online training will be provided to town, community and parish councils in due course.


·         The position statements are being prepared while a number of local authorities are reviewing their local plans. It is hoped that the position statements will be incorporated into the local plans, going forward.


·         Via the NAAONB, AONB planning officers meet several times a year to exchange information.  The AONB Planning Officer is able to gain feedback from these meetings.


We resolved to:


(i)            note the public consultation undertaken by Wye Valley AONB Unit Staff on the ‘Housing in the Wye Valley AONB and its Setting’ Position Statement and ‘Landscape-led’ Position Statement, which took place between 4th  August and 29th September 2023.


(ii)          formally endorse the ‘Housing in the Wye Valley AONB and its Setting’ Position Statement, and its associated Appendices.


(iii)         formally endorse the ‘Landscape-led Development’ Position Statement, and its associated Appendices.


(iv)         note that Position Statements on Renewables and Dark Skies intend to be presented at a future Joint Advisory Committee meeting.


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