The AONB Management Plan

The AONB Management Plan 2015-2020

The AONB Management Plan sets out the vision for the designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and the priorities for its management over a 5 year period. It is a statutory document of the four local authorities who have adopted it under Section 89 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000.

The Management Plan formulates Local Authority policy “for the carrying out of their functions in relation to” the management of the AONB. The Plan is a material consideration in the respective Core Strategies and Local Development Plans / Local Development Frameworks of the constituent local planning authorities and for the emerging Neighbourhood Development Plans.  The Plan also provides objectives and support for positive landscape change, particularly to those bodies that make up the Wye Valley AONB Joint Advisory Committee and the wider AONB Partnership. 

It also provides guidance to the local communities and many landowners, residents and visitors in the area.  There is even a Residents’ Charter to follow. The Management Plan is thus for all the bodies and individuals whose actions affect the AONB and who can play an important part in helping to conserve and enhance the outstanding landscape of the lower Wye Valley, for the benefit of both current and future generations.  The Management Plan emphasises the value of the outstanding landscape and the added value brought by the designation and the role of the partners in the AONB in supporting society’s needs through the integrated approach to land management.

You can download a copy The Wye Valley AONB Management Plan 2015-2020 below.


Draft AONB Management Plan 2020 – 2025

Sections 89-90 of the Countryside & Rights of Way (CRoW) Act 2000 require local authorities to review adopted and published AONB Management Plans at intervals of not more than five years. The CRoW Act also requires local authorities to ‘act jointly’ in the preparation and review of AONB Management Plans.

Herefordshire Council, Forest of Dean District Council, Gloucestershire County Council and Monmouthshire County Council have formally delegated the publishing, reviewing and monitoring of the AONB Management Plan to the AONB Partnership. The Wye Valley AONB Joint Advisory Committee (JAC) and Technical Officers Working Party (TOWP) will oversee the review conducted by the AONB Unit.

The initial stage of the Management Plan review (see SWOT below) has identified that the existing Management Plan remains a sound foundation on which to base the next Plan. The JAC has confirmed that the core of the Plan is still robust and the timetable difference with other strategies & legislation would seem to make a ‘full review’ more applicable to the preparation of the subsequent Plan (2025-2030). The intention is therefore for a proportionate and balanced review which modifies, updates and simplifies the existing Plan, but retains tried and tested policies and content as appropriate.

The draft Management Plan 2020-2025 is published for a 10 week public consultation period until 6th January 2020. The Draft Plan and consultation details are on the ‘2020-2025 consultation’ page. The comments and responses to the consultation draft and the post-consultation draft Management Plan will be presented to the Wye Valley AONB Joint Advisory Committee (JAC) in due course and will be published on this website.

When the Plan is formally endorsed by the JAC and adopted by the 4 local authorities, it will replace the current AONB Management Plan 2015-20

SWOT analysis

Key local authority staff from Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Monmouthshire met in July 2018 to discuss the format of the AONB Management Plan Review. The following SWOT was endorsed by the JAC in November 2018 as the foundation for the Management Plan Review:


  • The AONB Management Plan Plan ‘adds value’ to funding bids and grant applications.
  • The Management Plan has many tried and tested policies which do not need changing.
  • The Management Plan ‘adds value’ to local planning authority decisions and is useful for problematic applications &/or evidence in Public Inquiries.
  • Linkages between Special Qualities, Landscape Management Zones and constraints (Activities & Pressures) are useful.


  • The Plan relies on county Landscape Character Assessments (LCAs) some of which are now 20 years old.
  • Needs to look forward in context of climate change and future land use.
  • Document is lengthy, can appear overly complex with lengthy tables, and repetitive in places.
  • No obligation on the local authorities to deliver the Plan (although that allows it to be aspirational).


  • Make next Plan fully digital, therefore rationalised (and simplified) for on-line viewing.
  • the ‘Strategic Objectives’ could be referred to as ‘Policies’ (under section 89 of the CRoW Act).
  • Framing needed in context of Climate Change and Well-being.
  • Clear ‘strategy’ on “What is not acceptable”.
  • More pictures, especially of Special Qualities, and value judgement of ‘good practice’.
  • Strengthened proposals/context for AONB Management Plans may be outcome from Review of Designated Landscapes in England & Wales.


  • Being out of step with other legislation and strategic documents such as Well-being Plans, Area Statements and post
  • Brexit agri-environment schemes.
  • Getting bogged down in full-blown Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA).
  • Divergent proposals and outcomes from Review of Designated Landscapes in England & Wales.

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