Planning and development
The High Weald National Landscape team works on behalf of its Joint Advisory Committee (or Partnership) to provide advice on how to conserve and enhance the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
UPDATE: National landscapes rebrand
You may have noticed that the High Weald AONB has been renamed the High Weald National Landscape, and we have a new logo on our website. This came into effect on 22 November as part of a national rebrand of all Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in England and Wales to become National Landscapes.
However, the High Weald National Landscape remains an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty insofar as all policy, legislation and guidance applies to the designated landscape. The statutory purpose of the designated landscape “to conserve and enhance the natural beauty of the designated landscape” remains unchanged and the High Weald AONB Management Plan 2019-2023 remains valid. This change is endorsed by Natural England.
Our role in Planning
The High Weald is split across 15 local planning authorities (LPAs) – four county councils, and eleven district or borough councils.
These LPAs have the responsibility for planning policy and development management functions. Like all public bodies, local authorities have a legal duty to have regard in their decisions to conserving and enhancing the natural beauty of the AONB.
So, unlike National Park authorities, the High Weald Joint Advisory Committee (or Partnership) is not a local planning authority and the responsibility for determining planning applications remains with the 15 local authorities.
The advice provided by the High Weald National Landscape team assists local authorities and other organisations to meet their duty as set out in Section 85 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 to have regard to the purpose of conserving and enhancing the natural beauty of AONBs in making decisions that affect it.
What does the AONB designation mean and how does it influence planning?
Local authorities, along with other public bodies and statutory undertakers, have a legal duty under Section 85 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 to have regard to the purposes of the AONB designation in carrying out their planning and other functions.
In terms of planning, this means that the planning decisions and planning policy made by the Local Planning Authorities should have regard to the AONB’s purpose of conserving and enhancing the natural beauty of the landscape.
This is confirmed in national planning policy, set out in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). This contains specific reference to AONBs, setting out that great weight should be given to conserving and enhancing landscape and scenic beauty in AONBs.
The High Weald AONB Management Plan defines what we mean by natural beauty in the High Weald and sets out objectives for the management of the area. The Plan has been adopted by all 15 councils with land in the High Weald and is a ‘material consideration’ in planning applications.
Responsibility for Local Plans and planning applications
The 11 local district or borough councils are responsible for preparing the Local Plan for their area and for taking decisions about most planning applications.
Minerals and Waste Local Plans are prepared by the four county councils, and they will also determine any planning applications for this type of development.
Town or parish councils may also prepare a neighbourhood plan for their parish – the website of the relevant district or borough council will include information regarding any neighbourhood plans in their area, and the status of these.
The policies in Local Plans and Neighbourhood Plans, together with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and the National Planning Practice Guidance (NPPG), will be used to inform planning .
Any comments or objections regarding a planning application affecting the AONB that a member of the public wishes to make, must be made direct to the relevant Local Planning Authority.
Planning : What we DO
Planning: What we DON’T DO
High Weald Planning Advice Note
High Weald Housing Design Guide
High Weald Colour Study
High Weald Parish Maps
You can use our Parish Information Maps to refer to information about the AONB landscape character in your specific area – including ancient woodland, sandstone outcrops, historic field boundaries, historic routeways, and wildflower meadows.
Our publications library holds a set of maps for each of the 99 parishes in the AONB.
Click the button to find and download information for your parish.
The Planning Portal – navigating the planning system
The planning process can seem overwhelming, but the national Planning Portal website provides lots of information on how you can get involved, from finding out about planning applications to getting involved with Local Plans.
Get in touch
Can’t find the information you need? Find details for the High Weald AONB team and every planning authority in the AONB on our Contacts page.