Issue details

21/00027 - Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Management Plan (2020-2025)

Proposed decision:


To request the formal adoption of the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Management Plan (2020-2025).


Reason for the decision:


Formal adoption of the reviewed and revised Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Management Plan 2020-2025. 




The Countryside and Rights of Way (CRoW) Act 2000 requires local authorities within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) to act collaboratively 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 Kent Downs AONB Management Plan has been prepared by the Kent Downs AONB Unit and the Kent Downs AONB Joint Advisory Committee for, and on behalf of, the twelve local authorities that have land within the Kent Downs AONB. Council member Matthew Balfour and Stephanie Holt-Castle, Interim Director for Environment, Planning and Enforcement, represent KCC on the Kent Downs AONB Joint Advisory Committee.


The Kent Downs AONB Management Plan sets out the vision for the future of the landscape. It seeks to address key issues and threats and sets out aims, policies and actions for the positive management of the Kent Downs for a five-year period, overseen by a 20-year vision. The vision seeks that by 2034, the qualities and distinctive features of the landscape will be valued and strengthened. Responses to climate change and development pressures are to have enhanced the landscape character of the area and allowed the landscape to be enjoyed and cherished, securing its future conservation and enhancement.  Positive partnerships will have acted together to conserve, enhance and promote the nationally and internationally recognised and valued landscape.


The Kent Downs AONB Management Plan was originally adopted by the County Council and all other relevant local authorities in April 2004 and set out a 20 year vision for the AONB. Revisions to the Management Plan were adopted in 2009 and 2014. This is the third revision.


The overall vision for the AONB remains unchanged. This revision seeks to respond to the changing context in which the 20 year vision operates – including the level of housing growth expected in Kent and climate and biodiversity challenges and opportunities - by refocusing elements of the Plan.


KCC submitted a range of technical comments during the formal consultation in September 2020 and further comments were recently provided in January 2021.  KCC is satisfied that matters it has raised have been adequately addressed. Following stakeholder engagement and formal consultation, the Management Plan is now at its finalised stage, ready for adoption by the relevant local authorities.


The review is supported by an Environment Report, a Sustainability Appraisal and an Equality Impact Assessment.


It is considered that the Kent Downs AONB Management Plan 2020-2025, 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. Relevant areas of the County Council will need to consider the revised Management Plan in relation to their operations, as they are already bound to do.


How the proposed decision meets the priority actions of Setting the Course: Kent County Council’s Interim Strategic Plan (December 2020)


Priority actions to help address the economic challenge – Champion the rural and green economy.


Priority actions to help address the environmental challenge – build sustainable, liveable homes and communities.


The Management Plan supports the County Council’s priority actions by supporting the economic and social wellbeing of local communities in ways which contribute to the conservation and enhancement of natural beauty. The Management Plan also promotes the enjoyment of the AONB landscapes and the health and wellbeing opportunities it offers.


Decision type: Key

Reason Key: Affects more than two Electoral Divisions;

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Division affected: (All Division);

Notice of proposed decision first published: 16/02/2021

Decision due: 19 Mar 2021 by Cabinet Member for Environment

Lead member: Cabinet Member for Environment

Lead director: Stephanie Holt-Castle

Department: Growth, Environment & Transport

Contact: Sarah Platts, Strategic Planning and Infrastructure Manager 03000 419225 Email:

Financial implications: The County Council makes an annual contribution of £26,200 to the Kent Downs AONB Unit. The implementation of the revised Management Plan will not place any additional financial burden on the County Council. For relevant areas of the County Council, the Management Plan may influence the delivery of services – including where resources and investment are directed in the future.

Legal implications: The Kent Downs AONB is recognised and protected nationally and internationally for its natural beauty. A statutory requirement in the CRoW Act is placed on the County Council to act jointly with the other local authorities to prepare and review a management plan for the landscape.

Equalities implications: The Equality Impact Assessment (EqIA) Screening for the statutory review of the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Management Plan was carried out by the Kent Downs AONB Unit, using the KCC standard template. The screening concluded that no adverse impacts were found. This was tested as part of the 2020 public consultation that also explored if there are any other inclusive practices which could be included in the Management Plan.


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