The prime purpose of the Area of Outstanding Beauty (AONB) designation is to conserve and enhance the natural and scenic beauty of the landscape. However, the Surrey Hills is not a museum, and development may need to take place from time to time in response to the needs of society, both local and wider.
A fundamental role of the local planning authorities is to ensure that the very features that make the Surrey Hills special and worthy of its designation are protected. This is achieved by strict development plan policies and through the vigilant exercise of development management powers. The Surrey Hills Management Plan seeks to ensure that both are applied in a consistent manner across the National Landscape. Development proposals should take into account any Landscape Character Assessments for the locality and the Surrey Hills publication.
London and the South East’s economic success, combined with the attractive environment of the Surrey Hills, creates substantial demand for development that is constrained by environmental restrictions. These pressures are expected to increase and justify especially stringent controls of development. The cumulative effects of many, often small, developments over decades and centuries would reduce the landscape and scenic beauty of the Surrey Hills and spoil it for future generations. These and other pressures and threats are considered to justify the AONB Management Plan policies for strict controls of development in this most sensitive of landscapes. The most relevant sections of the National Planning policy are paragraphs 174 – 177.
The Surrey Hills Planning advisor, Clive Smith works part-time for the Surrey Hills Board. Clive works with the 5 borough and district councils within the AONB, offering AONB planning advice on the more significant planning applications. He helps on all planning issues affecting the AONB.