The prime purpose of the AONB designation is to conserve and enhance the natural and scenic
beauty of the landscape. However, the Surrey Hills is not a museum, and development may need to
take place from time to time in response to the needs of society, both local and wider. A
fundamental role of the local planning authorities is to ensure that the very features that make the
Surrey Hills special and worthy of its AONB designation are protected. This is achieved by strict
development plan policies and through the vigilant exercise of development management powers.
The Surrey Hills Management Plan seeks to ensure that both are applied in a consistent manner across the AONB. Development proposals should take into account any Landscape Character Assessments for the locality and the Surrey Hills publication “Building in Design”.
Being so close to London and other urban areas means there are significant development pressures
on the Surrey Hills landscape. These pressures are expected to increase and justify especially
stringent controls of development. The cumulative effects of many, often small, developments over
decades and centuries would reduce the landscape and scenic beauty of the Surrey Hills and spoil
it for future generations. These and other pressures and threats outlined in Section 1.8 are
considered to justify the policies below for strict controls of development in this most sensitive of
landscapes. The increasing impact of replacement buildings in parts of the Surrey Hills is an issue.
Special care needs to be taken over their siting, volume and design to ensure that their impact on
the landscape does not become progressively greater over the years and takes into account any
previous building enlargement.
It will be for each constituent Planning Authority to determine whether a proposed development
constitutes major development for the purposes of applying paragraph 116 of the National
Planning Policy Framework, taking into account the proposal in question, the local context and any
Government definition of major development. Where appropriate, the need for a major
development should be demonstrated and any overriding public benefit arising from it. In seeking to identify in development plans sufficient land to meet Councils’ future housing requirements,
any proposed housing land allocations directly, or possibly indirectly, impacting upon the AONB should
be avoided and be shown to be a last resort. Any such proposals will need to demonstrate that other
sites have been investigated but would have greater adverse effects on the public interest.