The AONB is not a planning authority, however the AONB and the AONB Management Plan are material planning matters.  The Planning Protocol provides the framework for the AONB Partnership to contribute to the evolution of planning policies and the determination of planning applications. This means we provide responses to all relevant policy consultations, at both national and local authority levels.

We normally only comment on major applications that involve 10 or more dwellings or 0.5 hectares or greater of land, and proposals that would have a significant effect on the AONB or create an unwelcome precedent.

The Right Tree, Right Place


Tree planting is being widely promoted as a means of capturing carbon – carbon sequestration – and there is a lot more to it than just putting any young tree into the ground somewhere.

Tree in field

In the sensitive landscapes of the Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and National Parks it is crucial that landscape character is taken into account when considering tree planting, or any other activity to lock up carbon.

This AONB has experienced the unintended adverse impacts of other, earlier, well intended initiatives to increase hedge planting for wildlife. Hedges are not typical of the open downlands of this AONB.

Extensive roadside planting of hedges over the past couple of decades means that some roads (eg B3081, B3078) have now become green tunnels, and the views that drivers and passengers used to enjoy across the open and expansive downlands are blocked by hedges that have little habitat value as they have not been laid or planted thick enough.

Trees at Rushmore
Trees at Rushmore near Tollard Royal

Selecting the right places for trees so that they not only lock up carbon but become an aesthetic and wildlife feature means relating to the AONB’s Landscape Character Assessments. The next step is actually choosing the right species of tree for the particular location and that, of course, should take into account the soil type, aspect, and the adjoining habitats. Of course, one thing to avoid is planting trees on other rare or sensitive habitats.

In order to take this forward with positive guidance the Cranborne Chase AONB has commissioned Fiona Fyfe, an experienced landscape architect, to prepare a ‘Right Tree in the Right Place’ statement for this AONB found at the top of this page and on our planning publications page. Fiona has been doing similar work in Devon and so is very much up to speed on the issue. She previously helped us with our Guidance on Landscape in Neighbourhood Plans, one of our suite of guidance booklets for not just the communities of this AONB but also for agents, developers, and our planning authority colleagues.

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The Planning Protocol

This Protocol sets out how the AONB Partnership and local authorities will consider planning matters affecting the AONB. The document contains the October 2005 document as well as the September 2006 Review and Refinement document.

As it is not a planning authority the AONB is unable to intervene on small applications, and individual planning enquiries should be directed to the relevant local planning authority in the first instance.

The AONB team will, of course, always try to provide advice and information where needed.  With that in mind, the AONB can provide some basic pre-application advice on development proposals free.  However, larger, more sensitive, or more complex development schemes may need greater input and so a supplementary advice system is available.

Planning Seminars

The AONB holds an annual Planning and Transportation Seminar.  This major event provides a valuable forum for highlighting and learning about important issues in the AONB which can only be addressed by bringing together a cross section of agencies, interested parties and local communities.

Details of any new seminars will be provided on our news pages.

Annual Planning Seminar 2019

Two AONB planning seminars took place in September 2019, one in Dinton and one in Sixpenny Handley, entitled:

Planning ‘Demystified’: Getting Your Voice Heard – Understanding the Planning System in an AONB

The seminars were run by Simon Williams of Footprint Futures in conjunction with the AONB planning team. The resulting action plans for both the Wiltshire and Dorset events and both presentations can be downloaded here, as well as the guidance note on material planning considerations: