The combined history of the North and South Devon AONBs, reproduced below with his permission, was written by Ray Woolmore, who was a Senior Planning Officer with the Countryside Commission/Agency from 1968-99. He is currently a National Association of Areas of Outstanding Beauty (NAAONB) Board Member, and also acts as a consultant to Natural England, CPRE Gloucestershire and The Friends of the Lake District.


Ray Woolmore BA(Hons), MRTPI, FRGS | March 2003

1. Proposals for a national designation (at that time a National Park) on the North and South Devon coastlines were first put forward in evidence, by the National Trust, as witnesses (Ref 1) to the National Park Committee established by the Ramsay MacDonald Government in 1929, chaired by the Rt Hon Christopher Addison MP, MD.

2. The National Park Committee presented its report (popularly known as the “Addison” Report) to Government in 1931. Neither the Central Government National Park Authority proposed, nor any of the National Parks (including the North and South Devon coastlines) suggested by witnesses, were created as a result of the Report (the Government was preoccupied with dealing with the effects of the Great Depression). Importantly, however, the lack of Government action led to the setting-up of the Standing Committee on National Parks (SCNP) by the Council for the Preservation of Rural England (CPRE), which advanced well-argued proposals on National Parks (2) (“The Case for National Parks in Great Britain”) to Government in 1938. Significantly, for the future, John Dower, an architect/planner was the Drafting Secretary of SCNP’s publication. War intervened, but Government and its Committee on Land Utilisation in Rural Areas (1942), chaired by Lord Justice Scott, were clearly influenced by SCNP’s campaign, requesting John Dower to prepare an official report on National Parks in England and Wales. Dower’s Report, published in 1945 (3) included “Exmoor and the North Devon Coast” in his Division A list of ten Suggested National Parks, and “the South Devon Coast” in his Division C list of “Other Amenity Areas not suggested as National Parks”. Dower’s “Other Amenity Areas -” were put forward as areas of landscape beauty which merited some form of national protection in the future, and many of these provided the basis for the 52 conservation areas of high landscape quality, scientific interest and recreational value (as apart from twelve national parks), listed in the July 1947 Report of the National Park Committee (see also Map 1), chaired by Sir Arthur Hobhouse (4), set up by Government following from the Dower Report. (See 1947 map)

3. Hobhouse’s “Bideford Bay” conservation area (Map 1) covered 51 square miles of the Cornwall and Devon coastline, running from north of Bude to just west of Ilfracombe, including the extensive sand-dune systems of Bideford Bay as well as the spectacular coastal cliffs. Hobhouse, unlike Dower, had separated the North Devon coast (and a short section of the adjoining Cornwall coast), from an Exmoor National Park. For South Devon, the Hobhouse “South Devon Coast” conservation area, covering 85 square miles of fine cliffed coast, estuaries (rias), dunes and marshland stretching from east of Plymouth to Berry Head, just east of Brixham, was similar in extent to Dower’s Amenity Area of the same name.
Designation History

4. Although the first priority of the National Parks Commission (the NPC) established under the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 (the 1949 Act) (The Central National Park Authority proposed by Addison, and subsequently by Dower and Hobhouse, had come into being at last!) was to designate the National Parks in its programme, by 1955 (5) that programme was so well advanced that the NPC was able to announce its intent to start the designation of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs). During the passage of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Bill through Parliament in 1949 it had been made clear that AONBs would be largely based (though not entirely) on the list of conservation areas contained in the 1947 Hobhouse Report.

5. Preliminary Steps and the Drawing of Boundaries. Consideration of AONB proposals for the North and South Devon Coasts, as well as for the Cornish Peninsula were given early priority because of Cornwall County Council’s rejection of the NPC’s proposed Cornwall National Park in July 1953, and the consequent need for this fine coastline to be given an alternative form of national landscape protection. Consideration of the finest sections of Cornwall’s coastline as an AONB by the NPC led quite logically to the consideration of the adjoining Devon coastlines as AONBs. Indeed, the files show that the Director of Planning for Devon County Council, Geoffrey Clark, was informally discussing the question of AONB designation, for the coastal areas of his County with Lord Strang, the NPC Chairman, as early as December 1954 (6), and had suggested that the Areas of Special Landscape Value (ASLV) in the County Development Plan (7) would provide a starting point (see Map 2).

6. Consideration of parts of the Devon coastline as AONB was formally addressed by the NPC when they considered Lord Strang’s paper (NPC/255) which he presented to the NPC at their September 1955 meeting (8), setting out the discussions he had with Cornwall County Council on the Council’s rejection of the National Park proposal and the possibilities, instead, of AONB designation. While the NPC agreed that the time was opportune to consider the designation of much of the Cornish Coast as an AONB and authorised the opening of discussions to achieve this, they also decided that parallel discussions should also be started with Devon and Dorset County Councils relating to the similar designation of coastal areas of Devon (and Dorset) as AONBs. Their objective was to safeguard, simultaneously, the fine coastlines of the South-West Peninsula. It was agreed that the NPC should be represented in discussions with the County Councils by Francis Ritchie, a Commissioner, and Harold Abrahams, the Secretary. Following from this, a meeting between the NPC representatives and Mr Clark, the Devon Director of Planning took place at Exeter on 17 January 1956, to discuss the possible AONB proposals in Devon. Mr Ritchie reported the outcome of that meeting to the NPC at their meeting on 25 January 1956 (9), relating that the proposals were welcomed by the County, and that Mr Clark had agreed that parts of the North and South Coasts of Devon should be considered first. The NPC agreed that Mr Ritchie and Mr Watson (the NPC’s Senior Landscape Adviser who, significantly, had also been the Hobhouse Committee’s adviser on boundaries) should draw up a proposed boundary for the AONB covering the North and South Coasts of the County, and that this should be sent to Mr Clark for informal consultation with the District Councils concerned.

7. Mr Watson, taking account of the Hobhouse Conservation Area boundaries (Map 1) and the ASLV shown on the County Development Plan (Map 2), surveyed the coastal areas of North and South Devon in March 1956. His views on the possible boundaries are set out in a note (10) contained in the NPC file AB/30 (COU 1/330), reproduced in this history as Folio 10. In preparing this note he also took account of Mr Ritchie’s general views on the boundaries set out in a letter (11) to him on 30 January 1956.

8. For North Devon, Watson’s preferred boundary followed a similar line in its western section to that followed for Hobhouse, and including rather more territory inland than the Devon ASLV. The whole of Saunton Down was included as was the village of Georgeham. Watson’s boundary then followed roads in a north-easterly direction to the western outskirts of the holiday resort of Ilfracombe, which he excluded, apart from Hillsborough and Beacon Point near the Harbour. He believed the coast between Ilfracombe and Combe Martin to be of generally good quality and worthy of inclusion in the AONB, including Berrynarbour and the unspoiled Storridge Valley, but wanted the straggling village of Combe Martin itself excluded because of bad disfigurement by electricity and telephone lines. He believed that only the seaward end of the village, joining the Exmoor National Park boundary, should be included, despite the ASLV covering the whole of Combe Martin village.

9. For South Devon Watson’s preferred boundary was virtually coincident, in the western section, to the boundaries for both the Hobhouse Conservation Area and the ASLV. However, in this western section he also added Staddon Heights, overlooking Plymouth Sound.

10. He admitted that finding a generally acceptable boundary for the middle and eastern sections was not so straightforward. The Hobhouse Conservation Area did not include the inland section of the Avon Valley north of Kingsbridge, nor the Dart Valley beyond Totnes, both areas shown as ASLV in the County Development Plan; and Watson, though finding parts of the Mid-Avon valley very attractive, first excluded that area (according to his note Folio 10), and the Upper Dart Valley from the proposed AONB. In the eastern section (apart from the Upper Dart Valley referred to above) he broadly followed the ASLV boundary as far north as Torbay, though excluded the Churston Ferrers area west of Brixham.

11. Following the preparation of Watson’s maps showing preliminary boundaries for the two proposed AONBs, Watson and Ritchie met with Mr Clark, the Devon Director of Planning in early June to give him early sight of these boundaries, and the opportunity to sound out the Devon District authorities. Committee B of the NPC first considered the two maps showing the basis of the AONB boundaries at their meeting on 26 June 1956 (12), but a decision on the boundaries was deferred until the July meeting, and Brigadier Acland, a NPC member living in Devon suggested that East Devon also merited inspection for early designation as an AONB. At the full NPC meeting (13) on the following day (27 June’56) the Commission decided that formal consultation on the proposed North and South Devon AONBs should follow designation of the Cornwall AONB; and also agreed that the possibility of designating part of East Devon at the same time should be investigated.

12. Brigadier Acland put his comments on the boundaries in paper B/G/227 (14), in which he criticised Watson’s North Devon boundary at Combe Martin, requesting the inclusion of the whole village of Combe Martin (despite disfigurement) and the adjacent area because of the landscape quality of the surrounding slopes. He also argued strongly for East Devon to be designated as an AONB at the same time as North and South Devon. In the meantime Watson and Ritchie changed the boundaries of the South Devon area to include the Mid-Avon Valley from Kingsbridge to Avon Wick. No reason for this change has been discovered in the files by the author, but given the Mid-Avon Valley ASLV status in the County Development Plan, it seems likely that the Director of Planning, Geoffrey Clark, persuaded them to add the area.

13. Committee B of the NPC duly considered the Ritchie/Watson boundaries for the North and South Devon AONBs, and Brigadier Acland’s paper at their meeting (15) on 24 July 1956, and the NPC, on the following day (25 July 1956) (16) approved the Committee’s recommendations, that the South Devon boundary should be approved unchanged, and that the North Devon Boundary should also be approved, but with the addition of the area proposed by Brigadier Acland at Combe Martin and also an area at Croyde Bay (no reason has been discovered by the author for the addition at Croyde Bay). An NPC party consisting of Brigadier Acland, Mr Ritchie and Mr Watson were requested to visit East Devon and draw up boundaries, with the view to simultaneous consultation on all three proposed Devon AONBs. The NPC party visited East Devon on 10 October 1956, and at the NPC meeting on 24 October 1956 (17), the NPC agreed to designate East Devon, with part of the Blackdown Hills in Somerset, but to await further action, which involved another County, until North and South Devon AONBs had been designated.

14. Formal Consultation. Despite the NPC’s decision to proceed towards designation of the proposed AONBs in October 1956 (17), other priorities in the AONB designation programme meant that work on formal consultations with Devon County Council and the Districts did not start until 1958, following an NPC decision on 18 December 1957 (18) for staff to proceed with this work. Formal consultation with the County Council and the Districts affected opened on 28 April 1958. For North Devon the Districts formally consulted were – Ilfracombe UDC, Northam UDC, Barnstaple RDC, and Bideford RDC; and for South Devon – Dartmouth MBC, Brixham UDC, Kingsbridge UDC, Salcombe UDC, Kingsbridge RDC, Plympton St Mary RDC and Totnes RDC.

15. As was normal practice (though not required by statute) interested Government Departments, public bodies and other organisations were also consulted at this stage for their views on the boundaries, and these were – Ministry of Housing and Local Government (MHLG), Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF), Nature Conservancy (NC), Forestry Commission (FC), Crown Estate Commissioners, National Trust (NT) and the Council for the Preservation of Rural England (CPRE).

16. For both proposed AONBs, no record of the comments received from the local authorities apart from Ilfracombe UDC and Bideford RDC, has been found on the files, but the minutes of the NPC meeting of 24 September 1958 indicate that the NPC did make changes resulting from local authority comments; and a letter from the NPC to MHLG dated 29 October 1958 (19) (in file AB/30A COU 1/334) does give a good idea of the nature of these changes. For North Devon, the large area of sand-dunes known as Northam Burrows was added to the designation at the suggestion of Devon CC and Northam UDC while in South Devon, both Devon CC and Kingsbridge RDC suggested the inclusion within the AONB of the beautiful River Gara Valley, to the north of Slapton. Also in South Devon, Devon CC and Brixham UDC sought the inclusion of land between Churston and Brixham and over, via Lupton Park, to Hillhead. The NPC supported this extension as they believed the extension over to Hillhead formed the high background to the southern arm of Torbay and was much frequented by visitors for the fine views. Finally, in South Devon, the NPC also agreed another extension, at the suggestion of the County Council and Kingsbridge RDC, namely the inland area immediately south of the A379 between Modbury and Aveton Gifford, land which the NPC believed to be fully in character with other inland areas already in the proposed AONB. The local authorities also considered that this extension provided a more logical northern boundary for the proposed AONB between the river valleys of the Erme and Avon.

17. The comments received from most of the Government Departments and the other government and non-government bodies consulted at the same time as the local authorities, do, however, appear on file AB/30A (COU1/334). MHLG pointed out the remaining inconsistencies between the extent of the ASLV on the County Development Plan and the extent of the AONB, and, in particular, requested the NPC to look again at the open stretch between Paignton and Brixham (in effect much the same area – Churston, Lupton Park and over Hillhead – which the NPC added to the AONB at the suggestion of the CC and Brixham UDC). The Local Government Section (LG4) of MHLG replied that the Department had no current proposal for altering local government boundaries in the area affected by the proposed AONBs, while MAFF had no comments whatsoever on the proposals. The Crown Estate Commissioners, although noting that some stretches of Crown Estate foreshore were within both proposed AONBs, had no objections to the proposals. Neither the FC nor the NC had any comments to make, and similarly the NT had no comments, apart from criticising the inclusion of the resort of Woolacombe in the North Devon AONB. No response from the CPRE was contained on the file, though maps attached to file AB/30/B (COU1/1135) make it clear that CPRE had pressed for the inclusion of Northam Burrows, Appledore Village and Instow Sands. In the event only Northam Burrows was added by the NPC, an extension also (see para 15 above) supported by Devon CC and Northam UDC.

18. Public Advertisement of the Proposed North and South Devon AONBs. With the NPC agreeing the boundary changes (as described in paras 15 and 16 above) following consultation with local authorities and other bodies, at their meeting on 24 September 1958, they then went forward to preparing amended maps for the purpose of public advertisement. The formal notices (20 & 21) of the NPC’s intention to submit the Designation Orders for the two AONBs to the Minister were dated 16 March 1959, and were advertised nationally, and locally, in accordance with the requirements of Section 87 of the 1949 Act. Copies of the two designation maps and orders were placed in the offices of Devon CC, the four DC’s affected by the 66 square mile designation in North Devon, and the one MB, and seven DC’s affected by the 128 square mile designation in South Devon. Copies were also placed for inspection in the Offices of the NPC in London. Representations on the Orders and the Maps were invited to be sent to the NPC to arrive not later than 20 April 1959.

19. Representations. Five representations against the designations were received, one in North Devon, and four in South Devon, and these were summarised in paper B/G/539 (22) , which was considered by the NPC’s Committee B at their meeting on 23 June 1959 (23).

20. In North Devon, a resident of Torrs Park, Ilfracombe had contemplated developing a small chalet or caravan holiday camp at Watermouth, between Ilfracombe and Combe Martin, and had been concerned about the effect of designation on this possible development. Explanatory material was sent to him, and no further representation was made.

21. In South Devon, the Berry Head Lime and Stone Co Ltd, a subsidiary of English China Clays Company (ECC) objected to inclusion of their land at Berry Head on the grounds of its proposed working for minerals. The Company had also appealed to MHLG against a recent decision of the local planning authority to refuse permission to quarry the headland.

22. Also in South Devon, the South Hams Quarry and Concrete Co Ltd (a subsidiary of English China Clays) objected to the inclusion of land at Torr Quarry, in the Parish of Buckland-tout-Saints, right on the eastern boundary of the Mid-Avon Valley section of the proposed AONB, on the grounds it was being, and would continue to be, worked for the winning and processing of minerals. The paper made it clear that an inspection would be arranged, and that the officers concerned would report back to the NPC’s Committee B meeting on 23 June 1959.

23. A landowner objected against the inclusion of two fields he owned, within Brixham UD, in the AONB on the grounds that AONB status would prevent “satisfactory and desirable” development of the land. Explanatory material about the purpose and effects of AONBs was sent to the landowner, and it was hoped that the landowner would consider withdrawing his objection.

24. The owner of Moor Farm, East Portlemouth, near Salcombe, objected to the proposed designation on the grounds that the AONB designation would “impoverish the countryside” and affect the building development value of his land. This landowner was also sent explanatory material, again with the hope that the objection would, after consideration of the material, be withdrawn.

25. After consideration of Paper B/G/539 (22), and the representations against the orders, the NPC’s Committee B recommended (23), following a site inspection, that with regard to the South Hams Quarry and Concrete Co Ltd’s objection, the boundary should be amended to remove land in the leasehold ownership of the Company at Torr Quarry from the AONB. However, with regard to the other amendments suggested by objectors they considered that there were insufficient grounds for changing the boundary.

26. With the one small amendment recommended on the boundary at Torr Quarry, near Woodleigh, in the mid-Avon Valley, Committee B (23), then recommended the NPC to resolve “that the Commission approve the making of the North and South Devon AONB Designation Orders 1959, and authorise the fixing of the Commission’s Seal thereto”. The NPC, at their meeting on 24 June 1959 (24), agreed their Committee B’s recommendation, excluding only the land at Torr Quarry from the South Devon designation, and then authorised the making of the designation orders for the North and South Devon AONBs.

27. Submission of Designation Orders to Minister September 1959. Following the NPC decision at their June 1959 meeting the Orders for the North and South Devon AONBs were sealed and signed by the NPC Chairman, Lord Strang, and the Deputy Chairman, Mrs Dower, on 10 September 1959, and sent to the Minister with the supporting documents, on the same day.

28. Confirmation of the North and South Devon AONB Designation Orders by the Minister of Housing and Local Government on 25 May 1960 (North Devon) and 2 August 1960 (South Devon). Less than a year elapsed before the Minister, the Rt Hon Henry Brooke MP, confirmed the two Orders (25); first, the 66 square miles (171 sq km) of the North Devon AONB (Map 3) on 25 May 1960 (26), and second, the 128 square miles (332 sq km) of the South Devon AONB (Map 3), on 2 August 1960 (27). It is interesting to note that the Order for Cornwall AONB had been confirmed by the same Minister, only a few months before, on 25 November 1959, so the NPC’s original intention to get the Devon and Cornwall Coasts designated at the same time had been achieved. The North Devon AONB and the adjoining section of the Cornwall AONB (the southern part of the wild and spectacular Hartland Coast) had, importantly, the national protection of AONB status at virtually the same time.

29. The North Devon AONB was broadly coincident with the Devon section of Hobhouse Conservation Area of Bideford Bay plus the extreme western section of the Hobhouse Exmoor National Park (from Ilfracombe eastwards to Combe Martin), which had not been included in the Exmoor National Park, as designated and confirmed, in 1954. The AONB thus included some of the finest and well-known coastal scenery in England, covering the whole of the Devon section of the rugged Hartland Coast, the extensive areas of dunes and burrows at Westward Ho and Braunton, the fine mainly cliffed coastline from Croyde Bay round to Combe Martin, and small coastal settlements like the picturesque village of Clovelly, and the resorts of Croyde, Woolacombe and Combe Martin.

30. The South Devon AONB, as confirmed, covered a wider area than the Hobhouse Conservation Area of the South Devon Coast, bringing in not only the fine cliffed scenery and river estuaries (the classic drowned valleys or rias of the Kingsbridge-Salcombe Estuary, the Yealm, Erme, Avon and Dart) of this well-known and popular coast, but also the deep wooded valley of the mid-Avon extending almost to the Dartmoor National Park at South Brent, and the similarly wooded valley of the River Gara, deeply incised into the coastal plateau from the coast at Strete Gate. A detailed description and assessment of the landscape of the South Devon AONB is contained in “The South Devon Landscape” (CCP 404) (28) published by the Countryside Commission in 1993.

31. It is interesting to note that the seaward boundary for both AONBs generally followed the mean high water line, and that this excluded the extensive wave-cut platforms and tidal rocks, so much features of these spectacular and rugged coasts. In South Devon, the tidal island of Burgh Island, at the entry of the Avon Estuary, and the large rocky islet of the Great Mew Stone, in Wembury Bay, were also excluded from the designation. However, for North Devon, the seaward boundary for the AONB for Braunton Burrows, Saunton Burrows and Woolacombe Sands was drawn along the mean low water line, rather than the mean high water line used for the rest of the seaward boundary.

32. AONB Administration. For many years in North Devon there was no special management service for the AONB, the area was administered and managed by the appropriate departments of both the County Council and the District Councils. The complete definition on Development Plans of the coastal strip of the AONB in the early nineties as part of two Heritage Coasts (HC), Hartland (Devon) HC, and North Devon HC first brought management services to the Coast then under the direction of two Heritage Coast officers and HC Steering Groups; but in 1998 the whole of the AONB was brought under unified management through the Northern Devon Coast and Countryside Service, run by Devon CC and North Devon and Torridge DCs, and headed by the first AONB Officer, Andy Bell.

33. As in North Devon, no special management service existed in South Devon for many years after the designation of the AONB. The area was administered and managed by Devon CC and the District Councils. Again, as in North Devon, the definition of the coastal strip of the AONB as a Heritage Coast (in 1986) eventually introduced a special management service to the coast of South Devon, run by Devon CC and South Hams DC, with a South Devon HC Officer based at the DC Offices in Totnes. In 1997 the Heritage Coast Service was amalgamated within a wider Coast and Countryside Service (still based in Totnes) which looked after not only the Coast and the AONB but also the rest of the countryside within the South Hams District. Robin Toogood became the first AONB Officer.

34. AONB Boundary Review. No work was undertaken in the North and South Devon AONBs in relation to the Countryside Commission’s national AONB boundary review which took place in the nineteen eighties. Unfortunately, two of the four AONB boundary reviews which did take place, for the Chilterns and the Cotswolds, proved to be particularly costly in the use of staff and other resources, and with the agreement of the Government of the day, the planned programme of AONB boundary reviews was discontinued. Despite no changes being made to the boundaries of the two AONBs, a re-measurement of the areas using modern methods in 1992 increased the area of South Devon to 337 sq kms (from 332 sq kms). The area of North Devon remained unchanged at 171 sq kms.

35. Future Changes. Although the national AONB Boundary Review was abandoned, the Countryside Agency (which replaced the Countryside Commission in 1999) and Government still have the powers, now under Section 83(7) of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, to vary AONB boundaries, and official policy is that where there is consensus or where need is established, local variations of boundaries will be considered.

36. Given the general use of the mean high water line as the boundary (see para 30 above) some may argue that if the coastline is to be fully protected in the future then the mean low water line should be used as a boundary, thus bringing the wave-cut platforms and tidal rocks into both AONBs. In the case of South Devon this would mean that Burgh Island would become part of the AONB. The Great Mew Stone would, however, still be excluded, and many may also argue that this distinctive rock island should be protected by AONB status. Finally, for North Devon, there may be strong arguments for giving the large and more distant offshore island of Lundy the protection of AONB status (either as part of North Devon or in its own right), the Island having achieved HC status on Development plans in 1990.

1. “Report of the National Park Committee”, (Chairman, The Rt Hon Christopher Addison MP), The Treasury, Cmd 3851, HMSO, London, 1931.

2. The Standing Committee on National Parks, “The Case for National Parks in Great Britain”, July 1938.

3. John Dower, “National Parks in England and Wales”, Cmd 6628, HMSO, London, May 1945.

4. The National Parks Committee (Chairman Sir Arthur Hobhouse), “Report of the National Parks Committee (England and Wales)”, HMSO, London 1947.

5. National Parks Commission, “Sixth Report of the National Parks Commission for the Year ending 30 September 1955”, HMSO, London, December 1955.

6. Letter from Geoffrey Clark, Director of Planning, Devon County Council dated 5 January 1955, to Lord Strang, Chairman of the National Parks Commission, on the possibility of designating AONBs based on the Devon Areas of Special Landscape Value (ASLV), folio 1 on the NPC file AB/30, North Devon, County of Devon (North & South), PRO File COU 1/330.

7. Devon County Council “Development Plan – Analysis of the Survey”, County Planning Department, Exeter, March 1952.

8. National Parks Commission, “Minutes of the 61st meeting of the National Parks Commission (812) held on 13 September, 1955”.

9. National Parks Commission, “Minutes of the 65th meeting of the National Parks Commission (907) held on 25 January, 1956”.

10. L J Watson, “North and South Devon AONBs – Note on inspection – 13 & 14 March 1956”, dated 19 March 1956, folio 16 on NPC file AB/30, North Devon, County of Devon (North and South), PRO file COU 1/330.

11. Letter from F E Ritchie, National Parks Commissioner, dated 30 January 1956, to L J Watson, NPC Landscape Adviser, on North and South Devon AONB boundaries, folio 14 on NPC file AB/30, North Devon, County of Devon (North and South), PRO file COU 1/330.

12. National Parks Commission, “Minutes of the 38th meeting of Committee B of the National Parks Commission (966) held on 26 June, 1956”.

13. National Parks Commission, “Minutes of the 70th meeting of the National Parks Commission (995) held on 27 June, 1956”.

14. National Parks Commission, Paper B/G/227 “Proposed Devon AONBs. Comments by Brigadier Acland on proposed boundary”. HFD 23.7.56.

15. National Parks Commission, “Minutes of the 39th meeting of Committee B of the National Parks Commission (983) held on 24 July, 1956”.

16. National Parks Commission, “Minutes of the 71st meeting of the National Parks Commission (1006), held on 25 July, 1956”.

17. National Parks Commission, “Minutes of the 73rd meeting of the National Parks Commission (1032) held on 24 October 1956”.

18. National Parks Commission, “Minutes of the 86th meeting of the National Parks Commission (1236) held on 18 December 1957”.

19. Letter from N H Calvert, NPC Administrative Officer, dated 29 October 1958, to Mrs M M Ward, MHLG, on North and South Devon Proposed AONBs, folio 49 on NPC file AB/30/A, North Devon-Formal Consultation with Local Authorities, PRO file COU 1/334.

20. National Parks Commission – Advertisement of North Devon AONB (Designation) Order, 1959 in the London Gazette, 17 March 1959, Harold M Abrahams, Secretary, National Parks Commission.

21. National Parks Commission – Advertisement of South Devon AONB (Designation) Order 1959, in the London Gazette, 17 March 1959, Harold M Abrahams, Secretary, National Parks Commission.

22. National Parks Commission Paper B/G/539 – North and South Devon AONBs (Representations following advertisement of Orders), M W 16/6/59 – Paper considered by NPC’s Committee B at their meeting on 23 June 1959.

23. National Parks Commission, “Minutes of the 69th meeting of Committee B of the National Parks Commission (1799) held on 23 June 1959”.

24. National Parks Commission, “Minutes of the 103rd meeting of the National Parks Commission (1606) held on 24 June 1959”.

25. National Parks Commission, “Eleventh Report of the National Parks Commission for the year ended 30 September 1960”, HMSO, London, December 1960.

26. “National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act, 1949, North Devon Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (Designation) Order, 1959” ie Order as confirmed by the Minister of Housing and Local Government on 25 May 1960.

27. “National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act, 1949, South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (Designation) Order, 1959” ie Order as confirmed by the Minister of Housing and Local Government on 2 August 1960.

28. The Derek Lovejoy Partnership for the Countryside Commission, “The South Devon Landscape”, CCP 404, Countryside Commission 1993.

All the references above are included as FOLIOS in the three hardback black-bound copies (one in the Countryside Agency’s Resource Centre in Cheltenham, one in the Northern Devon Coast and Countryside Services’ Office at Bideford and the other in the South Devon AONB Office, at the South Hams District Council’s Offices in Totnes), and in the comb-bound copies, including one in the Countryside Agency’s Office at Bristol. Shorter comb-bound copies of the history do not include the folios.

Map 1 Extract from map contained inside the back cover of the Hobouse Report (reference 4 above) showing, amongst other areas in the South-West, the South Devon Coast and Bideford Bay “Hobhouse” conservation areas, and the “Hobhouse” Exmoor National Park.

Map 2 Extracts from Map 1 inside the back cover of the Devon County Council Development Plan, Analysis of Survey (March, 1952) showing the extent of Areas of Special Landscape Value (ASLV) in the North and South Devon areas.

Map 3 North Devon Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, from maps between pages 34 and 35 of the Eleventh Report of the National Parks Commission for the year ended 30 September 1960 (Reference 25 above).

The following files have been consulted in the writing of this report:

North Devon AB/30 COU 1/330
County of Devon (North & South)
North Devon Formal Consultation with Local Authorities AB/30/A COU 1/334
North Devon Preparation of Notice and Submission of Order to Minister AB/30/B COU 1/1135
South Devon Preparation of Notice and Submission of Order to Minister AB/26/B  COU 1/1254

In September 2012 Natural England published its 2012 Designations Strategy, with which it was to take forward the recommendations of the 2010 Making Space for Nature report and the objectives of the Government’s Natural Environment White Paper, both of which focused on the need to join up England’s wildlife habitats and to create more coherent ecological networks which would help wildlife adapt better to a changing climate and provide opportunities for isolated populations of threatened species to expand. The Designations Strategy also reaffirmed commitments made under the England Biodiversity Strategy and the European Landscape Convention. It covered National Parks, AONBs, Special Protection Areas, Special Areas of Conservation, Ramsar sites, Marine Conservation Zones and SSSIs.

The SDAONB coastline and Dartmoor were already one of NE’s ‘Special Focus’ areas, on which it would concentrate in order to achieve its biodiversity, landscape, access, engagement and other land management objectives. There were thought to be opportunities for connectivity between the AONB and Dartmoor National Park through the Avon Valley.

The Designations Strategy made it clear that any revocation or diminutive variation of the designation of an AONB would be virtually unthinkable except where land was being redesignated as a National Park. It was not necessary for every parcel of land within an AONB or National Park to satisfy the designation criteria as a designation could “wash over” (i.e. include) a tract of land that did not itself meet the designation criteria. If part of the landscape of an existing AONB or National Park were so degraded that the designation criteria were no longer met NE would look into the causes and seek remedial solutions with the relevant AONB Partnership or National Park authority. It would also investigate possible breaches of the duty of regard to the purposes of designation placed on relevant authorities.

To the best of our knowledge none of this has so far resulted in any change to the SDAONB, but some of the intentions are interesting.


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