Councils win planning prize for work on Arnside and Silverdale AONB

16 September 2019

South Lakeland District Council (SLDC) and Lancaster City Council (LCC) have been praised for their cross-border work aimed at protecting a nationally important landscape, having worked alongside the Arnside & Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Partnership, and local communities.

The prize for the Development Plan Document (DPD) covering the Arnside and Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which is geographically split by the two district planning authorities, has been made by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) as part of its annual regional awards.

The plan puts the conservation of the special characteristics of the area – characterised by its coastal location, its limestone pavements and wooded hills and historic villages – at its heart and makes sure that planning decisions are consistent on both sides of the County boundary.

Development is needed to meet the needs of communities in this special area. The AONB plan seeks to make sure that the right development takes place in the right places in the right way – so that it conserves and enhances this unique landscape.

The plan allocates sites for new housing and contains special policies on the design of development in the AONB, affordable housing (including on small sites), camping, caravanning and visitor accommodation.

This is the first time ever that two councils have co-operated across a County border to prepare a plan for an AONB.

The joint approach involving two local authorities is the first in the country for an AONB and was particularly praised by the RTPI.  The RTPI also praised the innovative approach that ensures that the landscape qualities of the area are protected and at the same time helps meet local development needs.  In its citation the RTPI said: “The plan is an excellent example of joint working and positive planning, which has successfully addressed competing policy objectives at the national and local level.  It is an innovative and ground-breaking plan, which showcases a wide range of skills and the high quality of planning work involved in its preparation.”

Councillor Jonathan Brook, SLDC's Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Housing and Innovation, and Councillor John Reynolds, cabinet member with responsibility for planning policy at LCC, said: “The two local authorities are delighted to receive this award for Spatial Planning and wish to thank the Royal Town Planning Institute for recognising the level of expertise shown by both authorities and the benefits that joint working can bring.  The innovative and ground breaking approach set out in the document will help secure a special and unique part of the district for future generations, whilst at the same time contribute to meeting future development needs of the area.”

Lucy Barron, Arnside & Silverdale AONB Manager, said: “We are absolutely thrilled that the AONB Development Plan has been recognised in this way. The plan is the first of its kind, covering an entire AONB, in the country. The award is testament to the hard work of the staff from Lancaster City Council, South Lakeland District Council and the AONB Partnership, and to the commitment of the two councils to their shared protected landscape.”

The award will be made next month at the RTPI’s annual dinner in Manchester and will then be considered as an overall regional winner and go forward for an award at the national level.


  • The DPD has been adopted into the councils’ Local Plan and says that, within the Arnside & Silverdale AONB, housing, employment, services, infrastructure and other development will be managed to contribute towards meeting the needs of those who live in, work in and visit the area in a way that: conserves and enhances the landscape, the natural beauty, and the special qualities of the AONB; creates vibrant, diverse and sustainable communities with a strong sense of place; and maintains a thriving local economy.
  • It includes a principle that 50 per cent of all new housing in the AONB on sites of two or more dwellings should be affordable, as well as principles relating to development strategy; Open Space and Key Settlement Landscapes; camping, caravanning and visitor accommodation; and water quality, sewerage and sustainable drainage in areas where there is no mains drainage.
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