Issue details

19/00013 - Kent County Council adoption of High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Management Plan 2019-24

Formal adoption of the reviewed and revised High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Management Plan 2019-24.




The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 requires local authorities within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) to act jointly to prepare and publish an up-to-date plan which ‘formulates their policy for the management of the area and for the carrying out of their functions in relation to it’.  The High Weald AONB Unit leads the development of this plan on the behalf of local authorities, overseen by the Joint Advisory Committee.   


The High Weald AONB Management Plan was originally publish in 2004 as a 20 year strategy and this is reviewed every five years.  Reviews, with minor revisions, have taken place in 2009 and 2014.  In 2017, the third review was instructed.  The review has needed to take account of the potential impact of Brexit on agri-environmental policy and the significant increase in development pressure on the AONB since the last review.  The plan has also required amendments to bring it in line with the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan (published 2018).     


Following stakeholder engagement and a formal consultation process, this plan is now with the relevant local authorities for adoption.  KCC submitted comments to the formal consultation process in July 2018 and we are satisfied that these have been adequately addressed.  The Management Plan supports the Council’s Strategic Outcome of “Kent communities feel the benefits of economic growth by being in-work, healthy and enjoying a good quality of life” by helping to support: rural business and economic growth; a good quality of life; well planned housing growth; and a physical and natural environment that is protected, enhanced and can be enjoyed. 


The review is backed by a Strategic Environmental Assessment, Habitats Regulations Assessment and Equality Impact Assessment. 


It is therefore considered that the High Weald AONB Management Plan 2019-24 as amended can be adopted by KCC.  It is not anticipated that the revised Management Plan will place any additional obligations on the County Council in terms of resources, although relevant units within the County Council will need to consider the revised Management Plan in relation to their operations (as they are already bound to do).  For reference, KCC provides an annual contribution of £9.5k to the High Weald AONB Unit.

Decision type: Key

Reason Key: Affects more than two Electoral Divisions;

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Notice of proposed decision first published: 12/02/2019

Decision due: Not before 19th Mar 2019 by Cabinet Member for Planning, Highways, Transport and Waste
Reason: In order that the proposed decision can be published for a minimum of 28 days, in accordance with statutory requirements

Lead member: Cabinet Member for Planning, Highways, Transport and Waste

Lead director: Stephanie Holt-Castle

Department: Growth, Environment & Transport

Contact: Elizabeth Milne, Flood Risk & Natural Environment Manager 03000 413950 Email: Tel: 01622 221487.

Consultation process

As the authors of the plan, the High Weald AONB Unit have also overseen the consultation.  This included a series of technical workshops based around the key components of the plan in summer 2017; followed by early public engagement through an on-line questionnaire, with nearly 400 people taking part. 


Public Consultation on the Management Plan and its supporting documents was carried out between 13th June and 25th July 2018; this included consultation with all the local authorities. 143 responses were received, 115 from individuals and 28 from organisations; 82% of the respondents ‘strongly agreed’ with the AONB Vision.


Areas of Kent which fall into the HWAONB include Tunbridge Wells, Sevenoaks, Ashford and Tonbridge & Malling.  Matthew Balfour represents KCC on the HWAONB Joint Advisory Committee.


The proposed decision was considered at the Environment and Transport Cabinet Committee on 19 March 2019.

Financial implications: KCC provides an annual contribution of £9.5k to the High Weald AONB Unit.

Equalities implications: The Equality Impact Assessment screening was carried out by the High Weald AONB Unit, using the East Sussex County Council standard template. The screening concluded that the High Weald AONB Management Plan Review 2019-2024 complies with the Equality Duty 2010.


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