Surrey Hills Boundary Review

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The Surrey Hills AONB boundary has not been reviewed since its original designation in 1958 and there have been repeated calls by local campaigners to reconsider the boundary.  Following a series of landscape evaluation studies and a formal request by the Surrey Hills AONB Board, Natural England has now started the AONB boundary review process.

These proposed extension areas have been identified as a result of detailed technical assessments by Natural England following a period of Public Engagement to investigate which landscapes meet the statutory requirements for inclusion in the Surrey Hills AONB.

Please click here for the Natural England maps and resources on the proposed extension areas.


Update early 2024: 

Following an exchange of letters with our Chair of the Surrey Hills Board and Natural England, the work to extend the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is confirmed as a priority. Natural England is committed to publishing the report of public consultation in May which should confirm the Candidate Areas and whether they will research further areas for extension.

Click here to read the Surrey Hills Board letter to Natural England

Click here to read Natural England’s response.

The public consultation portal is now closed. Thank you to all those who submitted their feedback to Natural England on the proposed extension areas to the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Find out more about the Boundary Review process including maps here.

Latest update from Natural England:

“The consultation on the proposed extension to the Surrey Hills AONB has now closed. We’ve had approximately 1500 responses, and we’d like to thank everyone who submitted a response. This level of engagement is really positive, and will inform the next steps of the project. These responses are now being analysed, and will help inform the designation process, including any changes to the area of the proposed boundary extension. Once complete, Natural England will publish its response to the consultation in Consultation Analysis Report, likely in early 2024.

As a result of consultation, any new area to be added to the proposed extension would require further consultation. The finalised proposals would then be subject to a formal Notice Period prior to submission to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for their confirmation”

The Surrey Hills Board at its meeting at the Epsom Downs on Wednesday 7 June considered the AONB Team’s draft response to the consultation. The team fully supports the desirability of including the Candidate Areas and proposes that further areas should be considered given its location within Surrey and London’s Green Belt, see the draft report here.

“Whether you are a resident or a visitor to the Surrey Hills, you will know just what an incredible landscape this is.

By extending the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty we will be protecting it by law for the future, and it could unlock additional resources to help the Surrey Hills thrive, in a way that is good for nature and for people.

This is – literally – a once in a lifetime opportunity to tell the government how important this area is for all of us, and to ensure as much of it as possible is protected for future generations.

I would encourage anyone who cares about this precious natural environment to get involved in the consultation and make their voice count.”

– Kathy Atkinson, Chair of the Surrey Hills Board

Click here to visit Natural England’s Surrey Hills Boundary Review website.

Natural England seeks your views on extending the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Tuesday 7 March

Natural England has launched a statutory and public consultation for proposed Surrey Hills AONB extensions. It will remain open for 14 weeks.

This will be the formal consultation phase, where local authorities and other interested groups and individuals can comment on the proposed extensions and the evidence which supports them. The proposals are to increase the size of the AONB by 25%, over 100 square kilometers.

Click here to read Natural England’s press release.

Statutory Consultation

The next step for the boundary review project is for a statutory consultation on the proposed extension to the Surrey Hills AONB. The consultation is statutory with relevant local authorities however Natural England has decided that it should be extended to other stakeholders and the public. Other stakeholders include National bodies, Parish Councils in the existing AONB and in and adjacent to the proposed extension, AONB Partnership members, local businesses and landowning groups, community organisations, recreational interests and the wider public. 

The consultation will start on Tuesday 7th March, and will continue for a 14 week period ending on 13th June. 

To help people prepare for the consultation, we are running a series of  briefing webinars. The purpose of these is help you prepare for the upcoming consultation, with background project information, details of how you can respond, and details of engagement events throughout the consultation period. [NOW CLOSED]

Following the study by Alison Farmer Associates, the AONB Partnership commissioned landscape consultants Hankinson Duckett Associates (HDA), through Surrey County Council. They were asked to conduct a search for areas that might be considered for re-designation as AONB. In November 2013, the Surrey Hills AONB Board formally submitted a request that Natural England (NE) to consider a modification to the AONB boundary based on 38 candidate areas as recommended by HDA. The conclusions and recommendations of HDA are described in the following reports.

Click here to view the Surrey Interactive Map which shows the new Surrey landscape character areas that formed the basis of the reports from HAD.

The Surrey Hills AONB was only the second landscape to be designated in England in 1958, and the boundary has not been reviewed since its original designation. In 2011 Natural England’s Board commissioned a study carried out by consultants Alison Farmer Associates to review the evidence for a boundary review. The decision by Natural England’s Board followed a long campaign by the Surrey Hills Board and other interested parties to re-consider the boundary. Significant parts of the adjacent countryside outside the AONB had been designated at a local county level as Areas of Great Landscape Value (AGLV). It was felt by the Surrey Hills Board that the AGLV area was now worthy of review.

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