National Landscapes have the same level of protection in planning terms as National Parks.

The Kent Downs National Landscape team acts in an advisory role to the local planning authorities on decisions that may impact on the National Landscape. We are not a local planning authority and the responsibility for preparing development plans and determining planning applications lies with the local authorities. Priority is given to providing advice and input on planning policy but we also advise local planning authorities on planning applications, where these fall within the remit of an agreed Planning Protocol. In accordance with the Protocol, we generally only comment on planning applications which would have a significant effect on the National Landscape or when advice is requested by a local planning authority. We also advise Parish Councils on the preparation of Neighbourhood Plans.

The Kent Downs National Landscape team produces a number of publications which provide guidance on conserving and enhancing the landscape. These can be found here.

Local authorities, along with other public bodies and statutory undertakers, have a statutory duty under Section 85 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act (amended by the Levelling Up and Regeneration Act 2023) to seek to further the purposes of conserving and enhancing the natural beauty of the National Landscape in carrying out their planning and other functions.

Duty to further advice note to local planning authorities

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) sets out the Government’s planning policies and local authorities must have regard to this in reaching planning decisions. The NPPF confirms that National Landscapes are equivalent to National Parks in terms of their landscape quality, scenic beauty and planning status.

The Kent Downs AONB (National Landscape) Management Plan is also a material consideration in planning decisions.  The Management Plan sets out the special characteristics and qualities of the Kent Downs National Landscape and provides the local authorities policy for the management of the National Landscape in a series of aims, objectives and principles.  It is adopted by all the local authorities in the Kent Downs National Landscape. 

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