Local Plan 2036: Issues and Options Stage

Document Section 1. North Somerset Local Plan 2036: Issues and Options Document North Somerset Issues Q6. Do you agree with these or are there other challenges or issues which we have not included and how might the Local Plan address these? [View all comments on this section]
Comment ID 698049//3
Respondent Mendip Hills AONB unit [View all comments by this respondent]
Response Date 09 Jan 2019

Whilst the central parishes comprising of largely rural areas in the south of the district lie outside the Green Belt, Banwell and Churchill and proposed SDLs of Banwell Garden Village and Mendip Springs Garden Village fall within the setting of the Mendip Hills AONB. This would need to be considered within the Local Plan. 

There is strong concern that the proposed housing quantum and significant infrastructure to support the proposed development in close proximity to the Mendip Hills AONB will have a significantly negative impact on the tranquillity, sense of remoteness and naturalness of the Mendip Hills AONB. There will be a cumulative impact on the road network system; one of the issues impacting on the Mendip Hills

The Issues and Options document identifies some of the key issues applicable to the Mendip Hills AONB.

Further issues to consider would be the impact of cumulative development of the Mendip Hills AONB and consideration of agricultural building conversions.

We would highlight that the duty of regard to ‘conserve and enhance natural beauty’ within the Mendip Hills AONB and that this duty also applies to proposals outside of the boundaries of AONBs that may have an impact within the designated area.

The DEFRA 25 Year Environment Plan sets out under paragraph 2.2.1 that ‘Some of England’s most beautiful landscapes and geodiversity are protected via a range of designations including National Parks and Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs)… Over the next 25 years we want to make sure they are not only conserved but enhanced’. Paragraph 2.2.2 further sets out that ‘In England, a quarter of our landscape is designated in this way, around 10% as National Parks and 15% as AONBs.  We will make sure they continue to be conserved and enhanced, while recognising that they are living landscapes that support rural communities…’.

The Mendip Hills AONB Management Plan 2014-2019 sets out that ‘The primary purpose of the AONB designation is to conserve and enhance natural beauty. In pursuing the primary purpose, account should be taken of the needs of local communities.  Particular regard should be paid to promoting sustainable forms of social and economic development that in themselves conserve and enhance the environment.  Recreation is not an objective of designation, but the demand for recreation should be met so far as this is consistent with the conservation of natural beauty and the needs of agriculture, forestry and other uses’.

The Management Plan under paragraph 1.4 sets out a Statement of Significance on the special qualities of the Mendip Hills AONB that create the Mendip Hills sense of place and identity. A draft of the Mendip Hills AONB Management Plan 2019-2024 

on behalf of the joint local authorities is currently out to consultation with adoption proposed Spring 2019.

Planning Practice Guidance (PPG) sets out that ‘Planning policies and decisions should be based on up-to-date information about the natural environment and other characteristics of the area. As part of this, local planning authorities and neighbourhood planning bodies should have regard to management plans for National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, as these documents underpin partnership working and delivery of designation objectives.  The management plans highlight the value and special qualities of these designations to society and show communities and partners how their activity contributes to protected landscape purposes’. (PPG, Natural Environment (Landscape) section, paragraph reference ID 8-004-20140306).

The Banwell and Churchill SDLs fall within the AoNB setting, this should be considered; strong concern at potential impact on tranquillity, sense of remoteness, naturalness of AoNB, road system, including cumulative impact of development.