Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty

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What is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)?

AONBs represent some of Britain's finest countryside. They are designated by Natural England. Priority is to be given to the protection and enhancement of these nationally important landscapes. The protection and enhancement of AONB landscapes is considered by the Government to be as important as in National Parks. If you wish to visit the Natural England website for more information about AONB's nationally.

Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Part of the Kent Downs AONB falls within Tonbridge and Malling Borough. This includes the following parishes: Plaxtol, Shipbourne, Borough Green, Trottiscliffe, Birling, Wouldham, Aylesford, Hildenborough, Ightham, Wrotham, Ryarsh, Snodland and Burham.

Old Chalk New Downs Project

The Old Chalk New Downs Project (The Project) is a new £1.4m Heritage Lottery Funded partnership project hosted by Kent County Council which aims to improve, restore and reconnect threatened fragments of precious chalk downland habitats over a period of 4 years. For the benefit of the rare species who depend on them, people who love them and for future generations.

The Project area will cover almost 10,000 hectares along the Downs from Kemsing Down across to Detling Hill, and includes that part of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) between Wrotham and Walderslade.

Further information can be found on the Old Chalk New Downs website

High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

A very small part of this AONB falls within the borough of Tonbridge and Malling to the south of Tonbridge. The borough council provides financial assistance to the High Weald AONB Unit for the preparation and implementation of the High Weald Management Plan.

High Weald AONB Design Guide

The High Weald AONB Partnership, which includes Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council, has drafted a design guide for new housing development in the High Weald. Once adopted, the Guide may become a material consideration in the determining of planning applications within the High Weald AONB. The Design Guide is the subject of an eight-week period of formal public consultation from the 19th June to the 14th August 2019. Further details can be found at

How is the AONB protected?

The landscape has been influenced by the activities of man for many centuries. A policy to protect the landscape character of the AONB from harmful development is contained in the Borough Council's Core Strategy Development Plan Document (DPD). For more information, use the link Local Development Framework. The policies in the Core Strategy DPD provide the starting point for the Borough Council when it considers planning applications.

Many changes that occur in the AONB are the result of actions that are not controlled by Planning Legislation such as the removal of hedgerows and the ploughing of pastures. Some elements of the landscape require continuing management for their existence, such as chalk grassland that requires regular grazing to prevent the growth of scrub.

How is it managed?

The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 requires Local Authorities whose area contains part of an AONB to prepare and implement a Management Plan. This sets out the policies of the local authorities for management and enhancement of the AONB over a set timeframe. The Management Plans for both AONBs covering parts of Tonbridge and Malling were reviewed by the Joint Advisory Committees in 2013 and adopted as a material consideration by the Council in 2014.

Kent Downs AONB Management Plan

The Management Plan for the Kent Downs AONB sets out the vision of the future of the landscape, seeks to address key issues and threats and sets out aims, objectives and policies for the positive management of the Kent Downs for the next 20 years. The Management Plan is available to view online and has been adopted as a material planning consideration.

If you would like to read more information about management initiatives in the AONB, visit the Kent Downs AONB website.

High Weald AONB Management Plan

The High Weald Management Plan is also available to view online and has also been adopted as a material planning consideration.