Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)
AONBs were first introduced in the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act (1949) to protect areas of great natural beauty. (This legislation also introduced National Parks.) There are now 41 AONBs in England and Wales, covering about 18% of the country.
The main purposes of AONB designation are:
- to conserve and enhance the natural beauty of the landscape
- to meet the need for quiet enjoyment of the countryside
- to have regard for the interests of those who live and work there
The Cotswolds AONB
The Cotswolds AONB was designated in 1966 and is the largest AONB in England, with an area of 790 sq. miles (2,038 sq. km). It stretches from Chipping Campden in the north to Bath in the south – a distance of nearly 80 miles.
The area is given its unified character by limestone – the underlying geology and the main building stone. Within the area there is considerable scenic diversity from the wooded escarpment to the west and the open high Wolds to the deep valleys and gentler rolling hills and vales to the east. Distinctive vernacular architecture, using the local building stone that varies markedly in colour across the AONB, contributes a wonderful sense of harmony between the landscape and its towns and villages. A Landscape Character Assessment and other linked documents have been prepared for the AONB.
More detailed information on the Cotswolds AONB is available from the Cotswolds Conservation Board.
The importance of AONBs was further emphasised in the Countryside and Rights of Way Act (2000), which confirmed that AONBs have the same status as National Parks in terms of landscape and scenic beauty. The Act places responsibility on local authorities to ensure protection for designated landscapes.
CROW Act 2000 section 85 - General duty of public bodies etc
(1) In exercising or performing any functions in relation to, or so as to affect, land in an area of outstanding natural beauty, a relevant authority shall have regard to the purpose of conserving and enhancing the natural beauty of the area of outstanding natural beauty.
The Cotswolds Conservation Board
The Cotswolds Conservation Board (CCB) was established in 2004, replacing the previous AONB partnership arrangement.
The purposes of the CCB are:
- to conserve and enhance the natural beauty of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)
- to increase the understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of the AONB
In fulfilling these purposes the Board seeks to foster the social and economic wellbeing of local communities in the AONB.
The Board carries out a wide range of work, for example co-ordinating the Cotswold Wardens, publicity for the AONB, policy development, training programmes etc. It is also responsible for the production of the AONB Management Plan (which has been endorsed by the Council).
The funding for the Board comes principally from Natural England, local authorities and various grant giving bodies, for example Heritage Lottery Fund.