Planning in the Mendips

The Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) does not have any statutory planning powers as these are held by the local planning authorities – Somerset County Council, Mendip and Sedgemoor District Councils and the Unitary Authorities of North Somerset and Bath and North East Somerset. These Councils make decisions on planning applications for development and adopt policies relating to local development and conservation of the Mendip Hills AONB within their local authority areas.

The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (the CRoW Act) confirmed the significance of AONBs and Section 85 places a statutory duty on all relevant authorities to have regard to the purpose of conserving and enhancing natural beauty when discharging any function in relation to or affecting land within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The primary purpose of the AONB designation is to conserve and enhance natural beauty.

The Mendip Hills AONB Partnership produced the AONB Mendip Hills Management Plan 2019-24 as required by the Act on behalf of the joint local authorities and is a material planning consideration. Within the Management Plan, paragraph 1.4 sets out a Statement of Significance on the special qualities that create the Mendip Hills AONB sense of place and identity. Click here for the Mendip Hills AONB Management Plan page.

The Mendip Hills AONB Unit provides comments on some planning consultations where proposals are likely to have an impact on the characteristics that make the AONB special, where our unique cross-border position means that we see issues that straddle district boundaries and where we can provide advice to help inform decision-making.  Due to limited resources we have to strike a balance between strategic planning work and our involvement in development management cases is limited.  Comments from the AONB can be found on the relevant local authorities planning application pages.

Local Planning Authorities

Sedgemoor District Council
North Somerset Council
Mendip District Council
Bath and North East Somerset Council
Somerset County Council

Other relevant national and local policy and guidance includes

National Planning Policy Framework
Horse Related Development Guidelines (PDF Download 1.6MB)
Agricultural Building Design – Guidelines for the Mendip Hills AONB (PDF Download 3MB)
Dark Skies Guidelines (PDF Download 23KB)

Other Supporting Information

National Character Areas (NCA) 141 Mendip Hills and 118 Bristol, Avon Valleys and Ridges.

Landscape Character Assessments

Sedgemoor District Council
North Somerset Council
Mendip District Council
Bath and North East Somerset Council

A copy of the Landscape Assessment of the Mendip Hills (May 1996) can be found here.

Where is the AONB Boundary?

To determine if a specific building or site is in the AONB have a look at this Magic web site.

For advice on planning issues please see our Planning FAQ’s