Celebrating AONBs in Outstanding Week

For many people, our outstanding landscapes and beautiful coast and countryside are what make us proud of our country – and one of the biggest draws for overseas visitors too.

Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) help keep these areas special.

And this week these precious landscapes are being celebrated, as Outstanding Week gets underway.

Running from Saturday 17 September to Sunday 25 September, AONBs have organised a programme of activities to help people enjoy and be inspired by Britain’s Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

Visitors walking through fields at Dunstable Downs and Whipsnade Estate, Bedfordshire.

Visitors walking through fields at Dunstable Downs, Bedfordshire. The downs are part of Chilterns AONB. (c) National Trust Images/John Millar

Many of the Outstanding Week events are happening at National Trust places in AONBs, or with the involvement of our local teams – including the co-launch of Outstanding Week at Lodge Park in the Cotswolds, which is hosting the Cotswolds Living Landscapes festival. Find an event near you at www.landscapesforlifeevents.org.uk.

Panoramic view of the parkland from the balcony at Lodge Park, Gloucestershire

Panoramic view of the parkland and deer course from the balcony at Lodge Park. (c) National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

The concept of an AONB is perhaps less well-known than that of a National Park, but the places themselves are often just as well-known – and just as important.

The Cotswolds, the Cornish coastline, the Gower in Wales, and Northern Ireland’s Mourne Mountains are all Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and there are many more besides -46 across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

AONBs enjoy the same protection from insensitive development as our National Parks, and have Management Plans to conserve and enhance them. We all have a great duty of care for these places, and the landscapes, history and environment within them. That means protecting them from eyesore and inappropriate developments, but also ensuring that the needs of local communities for employment, housing and services are met in a sensitive way.

We support the work of the AONB family. More than a quarter of National Trust land sits within AONBs – so our interests closely align.

Last September we published research which showed how some local councils are failing to implement properly policies designed to protect AONBs. The integrity of some AONBs is being challenged by incremental and cumulative development, with one poor development justifying the next.

Our report contains a checklist, clarifying the rules on development in AONBs and how they should be applied.

We have received positive feedback on the checklist, which has also had the support of the National Association of AONBs. We hope that Planning Authorities and AONBs will be able to use our checklist in their own planning guidance.

Find an OUTSTANDING WEEK event near you and enjoy Britain’s Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty for yourself


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