To consider the Council’s draft response to the Arnside and Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Draft Management Plan 2019-24 public consultation.
The Housing, People and Innovation Portfolio Holder reported that the current Arnside and Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Management Plan covered the period 2014-19 and had to be reviewed and a new plan adopted by 31 March 2019. The new Plan would cover the period 2019-24.
The Arnside and Silverdale AONB Partnership had committed to undertake the review on behalf of the four principal local authorities in the AONB area – Cumbria County Council, Lancashire County Council, Lancaster City Council and South Lakeland District Council. The Partnership aimed to conserve and enhance the AONB and was made up of the local authorities, statutory agencies, landowners, conservation organisations, local communities and interest groups, working together.
The AONB Management Plan was a statutory plan which set out a shared vision for the next 20 years. It described the broad range of issues and challenges faced in the AONB, and explained how the Partnership would manage them to conserve and enhance the area for future generations. It highlighted the special qualities of the AONB, provided a long term vision for the area, and identified the principal issues and challenges affecting the area. It defined the outcomes that the Partnership would seek to deliver and set out how decisions, land management activity and project delivery in the AONB would help achieve them. The Plan formed a key part of the strategic framework for action by the many organisations working in partnership around the AONB, including the local authorities that were jointly responsible for the area. The Council and the AONB team had worked closely to ensure that both the management and the AONB Development Plan Document (DPD), which was now nearing adoption and would soon form part of the Council’s Local Plan, were complementary and mutually beneficial.
Details of the preparation and consultation processes were detailed within the report. The review had now progressed to a formal six week consultation (22 October to 3 December 2018) on a draft Management Plan which was attached at Appendix 1 to the report. The responses to the consultation would be considered by the AONB Partnership and used to inform the final version of the Plan which would then be subject to a final public consultation period in early 2019. Following the final consultation, the Plan would be finalised and presented to the local authorities for adoption.
Members were asked to consider a proposed response which welcomed the draft Management Plan and acknowledged the engagement that had taken place to date with a broad range of stakeholders. The proposed response also welcomed the alignment between the management plan and the AONB Local Plan and noted that, for the first time, there would be a development plan with the explicit objective of conserving the special character of the AONB and a suite of policies which would ensure a consistent approach to achieving this across the whole AONB. The proposed response supported the vision and objectives of the management plan and the actions that had been identified to deliver the outcomes. It noted that the Council had been engaged in the management plan review from the outset, and had contributed to earlier iterations of the draft plan and objectives. The Council’s response to this formal public consultation, therefore, largely comprised of general expressions of support for the Management Plan and minor comments and suggestions.
Members welcomed the report although it was suggested that the Government should be persuaded to consider the introduction of running management plans instead of the current five year review cycle. Attention was drawn to the potential for individuals to raise this through the consultation on new National Parks and AONBs.
RESOLVED – That
(1) the Arnside and Silverdale AONB Draft Management Plan 2019-24 be welcomed and supported, subject to the minor changes recommended in the Council’s proposed response; and
(2) the draft response to the Arnside and Silverdale AONB Draft Management Plan 2019-24 public consultation, as attached at Appendix 2 to the report, be noted and endorsed.
Reasons for Decision
The AONB makes a significant contribution to making South Lakeland the best place to live, work and explore due to its special qualities including its outstanding landscape and seascape, rare and diverse habitats and species, rich history and distinctive character, and its strong communities and culture.
The refreshed AONB Management Plan, like its predecessor, addresses issues around housing, economy, culture and wellbeing as well as environmental and landscape issues. As such, it will help to deliver on the priorities of the Council Plan, as well as having a mutually beneficial relationship with the AONB DPD which will guide future development in the area.
Alternative Options Considered and Rejected
Alternative options include not submitting a Council response to the draft AONB management plan public consultation, or submitting an amended response. Not submitting a response would mean the Council would miss out on this opportunity to influence the management plan and is not considered to be an appropriate option given that the Council is a principal authority and is in the Review Working Group. The AONB Partnership prepares the AONB management plan on behalf of the principal authorities and the process benefits from co-operation and collaborative working.