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 AONB. 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 on planning policy formulation 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.
We only provide pre-application advice on development proposals that have the potential to impact on the AONB.
Local authorities, along with other public bodies and statutory undertakers, have a legal duty under Section 85 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 to have regard to the purposes of the National Landscape in carrying out their planning and other functions.
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 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 policies on the management of the AONB. It is adopted by all the local authorities in the Kent Downs National Landscape.