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Though much of the activity of the AONB Partnership is aimed at stimulating positive management of the landscape, it is through the land-use planning system that the designation carries regulatory weight.

How does the designation affect planning and development?

The protection of the AONB landscape designation and Heritage Coast status is set out in the National Planning Policy Framework paragraphs 114-116. In addition Section 85 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 dictates that Northumberland County Council has a legal duty to have regard to the conservation and enhancement of the AONB in carrying out its planning and other functions.

The built environment is an integral to the natural beauty and we aim to support development that both enhances and conserves the environment. The Northumberland Coast AONB Management Plan sets out clear policies to ensure the protection of the natural, historic and built environment. The plan is a material consideration for Northumberland County Council when determining planning applications.

Northumberland County Council Planning website

Buildings Design Guide

In addition to our management plan the Design Guide for the Built environment contains useful information in relation to the local vernacular, settlement character, materials and principle of design that are acceptable in the AONB.

Download the Design Guide

Landscape Capacity and Sensitivity Study

In recognition of the increase in development pressure along the whole of the AONB we commissioned an independent Landscape Capacity and Sensitivity Study to help guide our responses to planning applications. The study takes into accounts key views and vistas into and from the AONB together with identification of the sensitive settlement edges and ability of settlements to absorb new development.

Download the Landscape Capacity and Sensitivity Study

Neighbourhood Planning

Neighbourhood planning was introduced through the Localism Act in 2011 and gives communities the opportunity to shape and define how their area should grow and change in the future. In Northumberland, this must be led by parish councils.

More information about Neighbourhhod Planning can be found on Northumberland County Council's website.

North Northumberland Coast Neighbourhood Plan

The parishes of Bamburgh, Beadnell and North Sunderland have developed a neighbourhood plan - The North Northumberland Coast Neighbourhood Plan. The submission version of this plan can be found here. 

The Plan contains 25 planning policies which cover a range of issues including housing, landscape, habitats and species, local green space, and the historic environment. Policy 13 of the Neighbourhood Plan relates to non-designated heritage assets and seeks to identify heritage assets which are of importance locally. Further details relating to these non-designated heritage assets can be found below.

North Northumberland Coastal Neighbourhood Plan Local List

Local listing is a concept that is designed to ensure that the historic and architectural interest of buildings that are of local importance are taken account of during the planning process. Heritage assets are non-renewable resources that intrinsic to the character and ‘sense of place’ and creation of a Local List as part of the Neighbourhood Plan process offers recognition and additional protection to the heritage assets that are considered to the of ‘local importance’.


The Non-designated Heritage Assets of Local Importance List is made up of historic buildings, structures and archaeological sites that have not deemed eligible for protection under Listed Building or Scheduled Monument status but are locally important and distinctive. The sites, monuments and building on the list contribute to the character and sense of place of the Bamburgh, Seahouses and Beadnell  - the North Northumberland Coastal Neighbourhood Plan area and represent the best of the non-statutory designated assets. Adherence to the criteria below has ensured consistency in assessment across the area as well as with government policy and practice guidance on heritage assets, settings and local listing.

The lists for each Parish as well as information on criteria can be found below


North Sunderland


Local Heritage List

Preserving dark skies

Ever-increasing levels of outdoor lighting are constantly diminishing our view of the spectacular sky visible on a clear night, and most people have to travel far from their homes to experience a good view of the night sky. Areas of the Northumberland Coast AONB still retain such dark skies, and these are a special quality of the area, valued by residents and visitors alike.

THE AONB Management Plan sets out our policies to ensure that dark skies are preserved.

The British Astronomical Association’s Campaign for Dark Skies Lighting guidelines

Stargazing in the AONB

List of Native Plant Species for Landscaping Schemes

Using native species in landscaping schemes has many advantages. They are the most likely to support the most wildlife, and avoid the risk of the problems that invasive species bring. Many of them are just as attractive as ornamental varieties, and will bring a sense of local distinctiveness to planting schemes.
Suppliers of these species can easily be found on the internet, but an especially good resource is the Flora Locale website; this provides extensive advice but also has a list of suppliers that have signed up to its code of conduct for the growing and supply of native plants. 
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