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Planning & Development

The Chilterns Conservation Board has a duty to advise on all planning matters, and comments on all relevant aspects of the development process. The Board’s focus is on ensuring that the special qualities of the AONB are recognised and protected in all plans relating to development and the use of land.

The Board prepares its own Chilterns Buildings Design Guidance and Technical notes, which local planning authorities are invited to adopt as Supplementary Planning Documents. To promote this guidance, the Board, in conjunction with the Chiltern Society, organises an annual Chilterns Buildings Design Awards competition.

The Board does not prepare statutory planning documents and does not determine planning applications.

Parts of nine local planning authorities are within the Chilterns AONB: Oxfordshire and Hertfordshire County Council (for highways, minerals and waste planning in those counties), South Oxfordshire, North Hertfordshire, Dacorum and Three Rivers (for town and country planning in those areas), and Buckinghamshire, Luton and Central Bedfordshire (unitary authorities that deal with all planning issues). Buckinghamshire Council was created in April 2020, and many of its planning functions continue to operate using the former district council areas. You can find your local planning authority here. Each of these Councils prepares Development Plans. In addition, there are over a hundred parish councils in the Chilterns, many of which have or are preparing Neighbourhood Plans. The Board comments on all emerging plans where there is potential for impact on the AONB.

We also comment on individual planning applications, and proposals for other forms of consent, such as infrastructure development and tree management. These vary enormously in scale, type and location, but have a common thread – if approved there would be an impact on the AONB (either positive or negative). Planning applications are examined from all angles and those with the potential for positive impacts will be supported. Most responses are formal objections, which includes seeking improvements to proposals where this would make them acceptable. Note that the Board's views carry no special legal standing. You can read the responses the Board makes on planning applications and development plan consultations in the Planning Committee meeting papers available here.

The applications that we respond to neither fit into a single category, nor are they all the same size. However, there are certain types of application that do seem to occur more frequently than others which often result in comments being submitted. These are:

  • major housing developments in the AONB
  • significant infrastructure proposals within the AONB or its setting
  • major developments in the setting of the AONB or which could impact the area as a result of traffic
  • single, large isolated houses (new or replacement)
  • applications that involve intrusive lighting (especially floodlights)
  • development involving horses (particularly larger in scale and in prominent locations)
  • large scale agricultural or employment development

We often get contacted by people worried about proposed developments or current building work they have seen going on in the Chilterns. Sadly, we don't have the resources to get involved in every single application in the Chilterns and we recommend that people use our documents to inform their own comments on planning applications: 

Reform of planning

Governments often reform the way planning is done in order to ensure that development happens in a way that addresses new challenges, such as the affordability of housing or the impact of development on climate change. The Chilterns Conservation Board works in partnership with other AONBs to advise government officials and MPs on how planning (and other environmental) reforms can work best for protected landscapes like the Chilterns, and we also support local authorities, landowners and members of the public in understanding and working with new planning rules. You can find out more about recent changes and proposals for new reforms under "News and updates" below.

More information

If we haven’t covered the issue that interests you, or having visited the pages you feel you need further information on an AONB planning matter please contact us at planning@chilternsaonb.org.

News and updates

In this section you can download responses we have submitted on major planning consultations issued by national government and local authorities in and around the Chilterns. The text also includes links to the original consultation proposals and other relevant information. 

  • 12 October 2021: DLUHC (formerly MHCLG) consulted on Creating a Vision for the Oxford-Cambridge Arc. CCB's response.
  • 20 August 2021: Consultation on the new draft Three Rivers Local Plan and site allocations closed. We are generally supportive of the plan and our comments focus on enhancing the approach taken in the Plan to the conservation and enhancement of the Chilterns AONB, its setting, and the globally significant chalk streams that give the District its name. CCB's response
  • 5 May 2021: Central Bedfordshire local plan main modifications consultation closed. The main issue is with development to the north of Luton, and the associated bypass, known as the M1-A6 link. CCB's response.
  • 28 February 2021: Dacorum Local Plan (2020-2038) Emerging Strategy for Growth consultation closed. CCB's response.
  • 27 March 2021: The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) consulted on a national "model design code" and changes to the National Planning Policy Framework to account for new approaches to the design of new development. CCB's response.
  • 28 January 2021: MHCLG consulted on changes to planning rules support the conversion of commercial premises to housing and the expansion of existing social infrastructure (schools, hospitals, etc.). CCB's response.
  • 10 December 2020: South Oxfordshire District Council adopted its new Local Plan to 2035.
  • 2 November 2020: South Oxfordshire District Council Local Plan to 2035 – main modifications consultation. The modifications recommended by the examination Inspector would remove the opportunity for neighbourhood plans in Henley and Wallingford to limit development affecting the AONB, contrary to national planning policy. CCB's response.
  • 29 October 2020: MHCLG's Planning White Paper consultation, “Planning for the Future”, proposed radical changes to the planning system in England which, well-intentioned, would undermine the protection intended for AONBs.  CCB’s response. The National Association of AONBs (NAAONB) also submitted a response
  • 6 October 2020: The England’s Economic Heartland (EEH) sub-region consulted on a draft Transport Strategy and sought views on the organisation becoming a “sub-national transport body”. The opportunity for a strategic approach to transport planning covering the whole of the Chilterns AONB (and a wider area from Swindon to Peterborough) failed to recognise the value of the AONB and promote its protection and enhancement; the strategy failed to integrate transport planning with wider development needs. CCB’s response
  • 1 October 2020: MHCLG’s “Changes to the current planning system” consultation proposed a variety of short- and medium-term measures to promote economic recovery in the context of Covid-19, with mixed outcomes for the AONB; significant proposals included changes to the standard method of assessing local housing need, which would most likely cause harm to the AONB. CCB’s response
  • 27 August 2020: Reading Borough Council’s draft Reading Transport Strategy included proposals that would require new infrastructure in South Oxfordshire district, including in and having impacts on the Chilterns AONB as a result of generating new traffic. Reading is outside the Chilterns AONB, but a small part of the district boundary aligns with the AONB boundary at Caversham. CCB’s response
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