Planning and the Quantock Hills

Find out how the AONB is involved in the planning process. You can also see our planning consultation comments, and download guidance documents and position statements.


To download the guidance on keeping horses in the AONB 'Horses, The Landscape and You' click here

To download the Quantock Hills AONB Position Statement on Solar PV panels click here


How is the AONB involved in the planning process?

The Quantock Hills, like all AONBs in England and Wales, is not a Planning Authority. Although afforded the same level of protection as National Parks, AONBs do not share the same planning control powers (they do not have the authority to make planning decisions) and are involved in the planning process in a completely different way. The responsibility for planning within AONBs (both the development of policy and the day to day dealing with planning applications) falls to the constituent Local Planning Authorities that cross them. In the case of the Quantock Hills these authorities are: Sedgemoor District Council   Taunton Deane Borough Council  West Somerset Council  (in respect of County matters – minerals and waste planning)

How is the AONB Service involved in the planning process?

Although not having any decision-making powers, it is essential that the AONB Service plays an active role in planning issues affecting the Quantock Hills. It is important that the AONB Service does not repeat the work of the Local Authority Planning Officers. Instead our aim is to add value to their work – providing useful information about the Quantock Hills and their surroundings that will aid the Planning Officers in making decisions on planning application cases and in developing policy and guidance.

The AONB Service therefore seeks in its work to make a positive contribution to the planning process by heightening awareness of the special qualities of the Quantock Hills AONB and of the need to protect the landscape from inappropriate development. This is always done in the context of the AONB’s primary purpose – to conserve and enhance the natural beauty of the landscape.

If it can’t make planning decisions how does the AONB Service engage with and have an influence on Planning?

The Quantock Hills AONB Service currently employs a part-time Landscape Planning Officer who works two days a week. The Landscape Planner’s main purpose is to meet one of Natural England’s Core Functions. This is outlined below. Core Function K: Providing landscape related planning advice which is “influencing planning policies (e.g. spatial strategies, local development frameworks, local development documents) and supplementary guidance such as design guides and development control decisions in line with AONB purposes”. Natural England guidance, supported by the Quantock Hills JAC, is that the limited resources of an AONB Service are best spent by influencing policy and guidance (strategic planning work). Involvement in development control cases has to be selective and should not account for the majority of the Landscape Planning Officer’s workload.

What actually are AONBs?

AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) is a statutory designation. AONBs are areas of high scenic quality that are protected through legislation. They are designated solely for their landscape qualities - for the purpose of conserving and enhancing their natural beauty (which includes landform and geology, plants and animals, landscape features and the rich history of human settlement over the centuries).

What does the AONB designation mean and how does it influence planning?

Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) are protected under the provisions of the 1949 National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act, in order to secure their permanent protection against development that would damage their special qualities, thus conserving a number of the finest landscapes in England for the nation’s benefit. To find out more about AONBs, click on this link for Natural England’s website. The Countryside and Rights of Way (CROW) Act 2000 bought in new measures to help protect AONBs further - by clarifying the role of local authorities, Natural England and other organisations in respect of AONBs. This includes a statutory requirement for local authorities to produce a Management Plan (section 89). and places a duty on all public bodies and statutory undertakers to have regard for the purposes of the designation when carrying out their function. Put simply, in terms of planning, this means that the planning decisions and policy development made by the Local Planning Authorities should respect the AONB’s purpose of conserving and enhancing the natural beauty of the landscape. Click here to see full copy of Management Plan 2009 – 2014

Katy Coate - November 2012


Stay in the loop

Annual Reports

View Annual reports from the Quantock AONB Service

Greater Quantock Landscape Development Fund

The Quantock Hills AONB Service now has a Greater Quantock Landscape Development Fund providing grants of up to £20,000 to local communities, farmers, landowners and individuals. The fund has been provided by EDF Energy and is part of the mitigation measures associated with the Hinkley Point C development.

Information leaflets

Find out more about the geology of the Quantock Hills AONB, why the heathland is so important for birds, the red deer on the Quantocks and why the history of the landscape is so special.

Other organisations and activities in the Quantocks

A few things you might find interesting from organisations we work with in the Quantocks

Photography Competition Entry Form

Please down load and return with your fabulous entries

Policys and Codes of Conduct

Everyone enjoys spending their time on the hills doing different activities. Below are some guidance and policy documents to ensure they are carried out safely and that wider regulations are followed.

Quantock Deer Count Results

Annual deer count results for 2010 to 2017

Quantock Hills and Planning

Downloadable documents for you to better understand the Quantock AONB and planning processes

Quantock Hills Joint Advisory Committee (JAC) Papers 2014 - 2017

Papers from the partnership committee the Joint Advisory Committee

Quantock Hills Management Plan 2014 - 2019

This is the the Quantock Hills Management Plan 2014 - 2019. It will guide work carried out to protect and enhance the Quantock Hills by the AONB team and all our partners. It has been agreed by the Secretary of State for the Environment and adopted by Somerset County Council, West Somerset Council, Sedgemoor District Council and Taunton Deane Borough Council.

Quantock Hills Visitor Guide

Quantock Hills Visitor Guide

Recreation Leaflets

a full range of leaflets from circular walks to event guides and leaflets to allow you to enjoy the best of the hills

Terms and Conditions for Quantock Hills Facebook page

Terms and Conditions for

Tick Leaflet

Ticks are becoming more common and a bite from this spider-like parasite could lead to Lyme Disease. This is a treatable infection caused by bacterium transmitted by ticks when they bite. Not every tick carries Lyme Disease and it is important to realise that the disease is relatively rare.


Useful Contacts

Quantock AONB Service
Tel: 01823 451 884

Somerset Wildlife Trust
Tel: 01823 652 400

National Trust
Tel: 01823 451 814

Forestry Commission
Tel: 01278 732 319