Land use and planning – The National Trust

One of the beliefs that The South Hams Society shares with the National Trust is that places matter to people. That’s why we both take part in the land-use planning system to help protect our land and to help ensure that all land is used for the greatest long term benefit.

Land-use planning is key to helping us look after the South Hams special places. It can also help us to create great places for people to live, work and play, and deliver a healthier, more beautiful natural environment. That’s why we take part in the planning system and support a plan-led system to deliver good development which meets our communities long term needs.

An effective planning system guides good, necessary development to the right places, making an important contribution to prosperity and growth. It ensures that poorly designed developments or those in the wrong place don’t get built. It delivers the new homes, shops and services that our communities want, where they want them. And it protects the things that matter to us all; from much-loved open spaces and green fields to our historic city centres, towns and villages.

The South Hams Society agrees with the National Trust that a planning system should:

Be balanced – to integrate environmental, social and economic concerns

Safeguard the public’s interest – protect countryside, heritage and nature

Start from what people value about their place

Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs)

When the National Trust campaigned over Government planning reforms (the National Planning Policy Framework or NPPF) in 2013 they committed to keeping an eye on what the final reforms would mean in practice. Since then they have been commissioning regular research reports on particular aspects of the how the planning system is working. The latest of these looks at what’s happening in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) in England.

The distinctive character and natural beauty of AONBs make them some of the most special and loved places in England – whether the ‘blue remembered hills’ of Shropshire depicted by A.E. Housman, the dramatic Cornish coasts and moorland or the varied landscapes and famously beautiful stone buildings of the Cotswolds.

Safeguarding AONBs from inappropriate development

The Government’s commitment to protect AONBs is clear, but our new research found some problems with how safeguards to prevent inappropriate development are being implemented in some places. The policy may be fine but it’s the practice where the problem lies. And practice matters – the planning system is supposed to steer development towards where it’s most appropriate and can provide most value while protecting other areas for their landscape or wildlife. But with local planning authorities losing staff and expertise and being pressured to make decisions in favour of development, that practice is sometimes falling below what it should be.

Working together to protect the countryside

The National Trust, and South Hams Society both look for ways that planning practice can be improved. We work with AONB partnerships and local councils to make sure that these highly protected landscapes continue to inspire us and fulfil the ambitions set out almost 60 years ago when the first AONB (the Gower Peninsula in South Wales) was created.

Read the NT report on Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and development (PDF / 1.51953125MB) download

Share This