Currently, the Tamar Valley AONB team has a Planning Advice Officer who works with us one day a week.

Please email for any planning enquiries.

Planning in the Tamar Valley AONB

The rich heritage and scenic qualities of the Tamar Valley draw people to live here. Therein lies a need for achieving a balance between sustaining the landscape character and a vibrant living countryside. Due to the challenges expected with increased population growth, along with the consequences of a changing climate, wise choices and informed decisions about future development must be made in order to sustain the integrity of this unique area for the benefit of future changes.

The Tamar Valley AONB is a non-statutory consultee and we regularly respond to consultations on a variety of planning applications within both Devon and Cornwall.

The revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) sets out the government’s planning policies for England and how these are to be applied. The revised NPPF through paragraph 172 reaffirms that “Great weight should be given to conserving and enhancing landscape and scenic beauty” in AONBs and that designation has “the highest status of protection in relation to these issues”.

This is not to say that development cannot take place within the AONB.

The Planning Practice Guidance (NPPG) notes that “All development in National Parks, the Broads and Areas of Outstanding Beauty will need to be located and designed in a way that reflects their status as landscapes of the highest quality.” (Paragraph: 041 Reference ID: 8-041-20190721)

A Green Future – the government’s 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment also states that “while development is not prohibited in National Parks or AONBs, major development should take place in exceptional circumstances”.

The NPPF confirms that “whether a proposal is ‘major development’ is a matter for the decision maker, taking into account its nature, scale and setting, and whether it could have a significant adverse impact on the purposes for which the area has been designated or defined.”(Footnote 55)

Finally it is important to remember that the non-designated landscape that surrounds the AONB can still be vitally important and contribute to the quality and perception of the designated landscape.

The NPPG notes that “Land within the setting of these areas often makes an important contribution to maintaining their natural beauty, and where poorly located or designed development can do significant harm. This is especially the case where long views from or to the designated landscape are identified as important, or where the landscape character of land within and adjoining the designated area is complementary. Development within the settings of these areas will therefore need sensitive handling that takes these potential impacts into account.”(Paragraph: 042 Reference ID: 8-042-20190721)

Further information on planning in the Tamar Valley AONB can be found in our current Management Plan 2019-2024 and the supporting Annex on Planning Guidance.


Pre-application Advice Service

1.0 Background

1.1 The pre-application advice service provides the opportunity for engagement with the Tamar Valley AONB (TVAONB) directly prior to the submission of formal planning proposals to the Local Planning Authority (LPA). The scope of the pre-application service provided by the TVAONB is limited to technical advice in relation to the impacts upon the AONB as a designated landscape and not the full range of planning issues as would be considered by the Local Planning Authority.

It should be noted that the TVAONB pre-application service is a standalone service and is not part of the pre-application services offered by either Cornwall Council or West Devon Borough Council as LPAs.

1.2 Due to limitations in the resources available to the TVAONB to cover all aspects of planning in relation to the AONB, it is not possible to provide formal input on all schemes seeking pre-application advice. The TVAONB formal pre-application service is therefore intended for schemes that are deemed to be significant/substantial and normally this will be in relation to schemes that can be regarded as major.

1.3 The formal pre-application advice service is aimed at major/substantial developments as the potential impacts upon the AONB are likely to be greater.

1.4 The formalisation of the process ensures that the costs in officer time can be recouped and that a formal and consistent response mechanism is in place for advising on proposals prior to any application being made to the LPA.

1.5 This process provides greater clarity for developers in that it enables the advice of the TVAONB to be given prior to a formal application in order to avoid issues being identified at the planning application stage when there are greater time constraints and costs involved in identifying issues that are required to be resolved or those that are not capable of being mitigated.

1.6 The process also ensures that there is a consistent approach to applying the policies of the TVAONB Management Plan in relation to advising on development proposals to ensure that these are in keeping with the policies and objectives of the Management Plan.

2.0 What is required?

2.1 At the initial point of contact, the TVAONB will require sufficient information to ensure that it can scope the level of work required to provide an informed response and whether this can be desk based or require additional site visits and meetings to clarify certain aspects of a proposed scheme.

2.2 The list below is a guide to the type information that can be provided to the TVAONB;

  • A location plan of the site, including an outline denoting its extent
  • A statement/ letter confirming the proposed development including a full description of all works (proposed buildings, roads, uses and any associated infrastructure such as a sustainable urban drainage system [SUDS], hard and soft landscaping)
  • Any initial elevations, layouts and street scenes
  • Any visual analysis work (photographs, Landscape & Visual Impact Assessment (LVIA) or desk studies in relation to the site and highlighting any intervisibility with other areas within the AONB and its landscape setting.
  • Confirmation of the proposed timeline for submission of an application to the relevant LPA and confirmation as to whether pre-application advice has been sought from the LPA and whether this is subject to a Planning Performance Agreement (PPA).

3.0 What action is to be undertaken by TVAONB?

3.1 The TVAONB will review the level of information submitted and acknowledge receipt. If there is insufficient information to begin an initial assessment, then the TVAONB shall request further information from the enquirer.

3.2 The initial assessment will confirm what level of work will be required to provide a response and what timeframe that response will be likely to be provided in. This will then be confirmed to the developer along with a request to provide full contact details for the purposes of invoicing for the work based upon the relevant fee to be charged (see 5.0 – Fee schedule).

4.0 Concluding the process

4.1 At the end of the assessment the TVAONB Planning Advice Officer will provide their opinion on the proposal via formal letter (this includes email where appropriate).

4.2 The letter shall itemise what information was submitted and reviewed.

4.3 Confirmation of the impacts upon the AONB and any mitigation will be clearly identified within the standard response template and a conclusion of the schemes overall acceptability will be given.

4.4 Given the nature of pre-application advice and that it is based upon information available at the time the pre-application is made the following should be noted;

The advice given in response to a formal pre-application enquiry is provided on the basis of the information submitted and on the basis of existing policy. The advice is officer opinion only and is provided without prejudice to any future consultation response made by the TVAONB on planning applications for the proposed development or others differing in nature on the site.

5.0 Fee Schedule

A fixed fee of £500 (+ VAT) equating to 10 hours of work. Further work is charged at a rate of £50 p/hour.

The total amount of work will be scoped by the Planning Advice Officer and agreed with the enquirer prior to the work being undertaken.