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Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty ('AONB') were brought into being by the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act of 1949. The designation provides special protection for the Dedham Vale AONB because of its outstanding natural beauty.
Sites 091 and 243 are within the Dedham Vale AONB.
Paragraph 115 of the National Planning Policy Framework ('NPPF') states: 'Great weight should be given to conserving landscape and scenic beauty in National Parks, the Broads and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which have the highest status of protection in relation to landscape and scenic beauty'.
Paragraph 116 of the NPPF states that planning permission should be refused for major developments in these designated areas except in exceptional circumstances and where it can be demonstrated they are in the public interest. Consideration of an application to develop sites 091 and 243 should include an assessment of:
● the need for the development, including in terms of any national considerations, and the impact of permitting it, or refusing it, upon the local economy;
● the cost of, and scope for, developing elsewhere outside the designated area, or meeting the need for it in some other way; and
● any detrimental effect on the environment, the landscape and recreational opportunities, and the extent to which that could be moderated
Colchester Borough Council's existing Local Plan states its support for the ongoing protection of the Dedham Vale AONB and notes (Policy ENV4) 'that applications for major development within or in close proximity to the Dedham Vale AONB will be refused unless in exceptional circumstances and there is can be demonstrated that the development is 'in the public interest'.
Colchester Borough Council has failed to adequately apply the guidance set out in paragraphs 115 and 116 of the NPPF and specifically has failed to give adequate consideration to the alternative sites which were put forward in other areas of the village (not within the AONB as a result of the 'call for sites'. Furthermore, Colchester Borough Council has not had adequate regard to the High Court's interpretation of government policy contained in paragraph 49 of the NPPF.
Paragraph 49 of the NPPF states:
"Housing applications should be considered in the context of the presumption in favour of sustainable development. Relevant policies for the supply of housing should not be considered up-to-date if the local planning authority cannot demonstrate a five-year supply of deliverable housing sites."
In the case of Suffolk Coastal District Council v Hopkins Homes & another  (EWCA Civ 168), the court held that the interpretation of the NPPF does not confine the concept of "policies for the supply of housing" merely to policies in the development plan that provide positively for the delivery of new housing in terms of numbers and distribution or the allocation of sites. It recognises that the concept extends to plan policies whose effect is to influence the supply of housing land by restricting the locations where new housing may be developed, including policies:
* For the green belt.
* For the general protection of the countryside.
* For conserving the landscape of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and National Parks.
* For the conservation of wildlife or cultural heritage.
whose purpose is to protect the local environment in one way or another by preventing or limiting development. It reflects the reality that policies may serve to form the supply of housing land either by creating it or by constraining it and that policies of both kinds make the supply what it is.
The proposed local plan should include a policy which constrains development of the Dedham Vale AONB, and sets out details of the special protection to be afforded to preserve its outstanding natural beauty. Colchester Borough Council will be aware that the Secretary of State has previously refused consent for development of site 243 on the basis that the application would irrevocably harm the open character and appearance of the site and this part of Dedham Vale AONB. The position has not changed and there remains within the government Guidance set out in the NPPF, as supported by the interpretation High Court, an expectation that areas of AONB should be protected by local authority policy.
For the reasons set out above I object to the proposed development of sites 091 and 243 and would request within the Local Plan a policy which constrains all future development within the Dedham Vale AONB.