In November 2018 the Government called for evidence to be submitted to the independent review of England’s National Parks (NPs) and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs). This is a brief summary of some of the key points SPS has made. The full submission can be found on the SPS website by selecting this link.
The Solent Protection Society is primarily concerned with the shoreline and the view from the sea as it affects the National Parks, AONBs and the tidal river estuaries that make up the Solent from the Needles to Selsey Bill. We are concerned with the economic, social, leisure and environmental well-being of the Solent not just its appearance. Many of these aspects are interdependent and sometimes in conflict. The New Forest National Park and the AONBs on the north shore of the Isle of Wight and in Chichester Harbour play a crucial role in safeguarding this special place and seascape.
The AONBs, however, hold less clout in the planning system than the National Park and in our view need strengthening to offset the pressure from development, particularly housing targets. The view from the sea is often not appreciated as much as it should be, particularly when this may be the only view that is easily gained of a densely wooded AONB, such as the north east shore of the Isle of Wight .
We have a concern that incremental enlargement of small scale houses and chalets or new builds which individually my not be great but cumulatively start to change the landscape is not sufficiently appreciated or controlled by local planning authorities. The effect on the AONB should have a greater priority in considering such applications.
In addition we would like to see the introduction of smaller area AONBs associated with river valleys when viewed from the river or the opposite bank before such areas of important natural landscape are lost such as on the Hamble or the western shore of Southampton Water.
Finally Marine Plans in particular deliberately overlap land based plans and have a number of policies that have to be taken into account when considering changes to the landscape. The difficulty with Marine Plans is deciding what weight to give to each policy in a particular circumstance. SPS considers that where NPs and AONBs are concerned the protection of the landscape and seascape should be of a higher weighting and this needs to be endorsed by land based planning authorities and the Marine Management Organization.