Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Boundary Variation Project

Closes 20 Apr 2018

Opened 26 Jan 2018


Natural England is the public body responsible for conserving and enhancing the natural environment in England. One of Natural England’s responsibilities is to decide whether an area should be given special status and protection by designating it as a National Park or Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).  The purpose of AONB designation is to conserve and enhance an area’s natural beauty. AONBs are designated by Natural England using statutory powers in the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000.

For many years there has been a local desire to extend the Suffolk Coast & Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (SC&H AONB) southwards into Essex, which has been supported by the AONB Partnership and local authorities.  A formal request was put to Natural England by the AONB Partnership proposing a variation to the AONB boundary to extend the designation across the Stour estuary including the southern shore. Natural England’s Board subsequently approved a partial review of the AONB boundary in the area of the Stour Estuary ‘to determine for itself whether it should be varied’.

All the relevant technical assessments and consultation documents can be downloaded via the links in this consultation.  It is recommended that you read these documents before completing the on-line response form.  These comprise:

  • SC&H AONB Consultation documents: covering letter; factsheet and consultation document
  • Guidance for Assessing Landscapes for Designation as a National Park or Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
  • Natural Beauty Assessment and accompanying figures
  • Desirability Assessment
  • Boundary Justification
  • Maps indicating the proposed revision to the boundary

Please note that some of these documents are large and may take some time to download

Why We Are Consulting

The purpose of this consultation is to seek your views on whether you agree that specific areas have the qualities required for inclusion within an AONB, whether they should be designated and whether the proposed new boundaries are appropriate.  The proposed AONB extensions are:

  • the Stour Estuary including the estuary itself, northern estuary valley slopes at Brantham and the majority of the southern estuary valley slopes;
  • The Freston Brook Valley, a tributary of the Orwell Estuary which extends inland from the existing AONB boundary westwards and includes surrounding plateau woodlands; and
  • The Samford Valley, a tributary of the Stour Estuary, which extends further inland from the existing AONB boundary at Stutton Bridge and includes some areas of neighbouring Shotley Peninsula Plateau.

These areas have been identified as a result of detailed technical assessments by Natural England to investigate which landscapes meet the statutory requirements for inclusion in the SC&H AONB.  The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 requires that Natural England next undertakes a statutory Local Authority consultation prior to reaching a final decision. This is the current stage reached by the project and we have decided that we would also like to give everybody with an interest in the proposed extensions the opportunity to express their views on whether these areas should be designated.

The on line response form has been divided into three parts.

Part A is for recording information about you.

Part B is for recording comments about whether the proposed designations should go ahead.

Part C is for recording more detailed comments about the proposed designation areas. This includes comments about how well they meet the natural beauty criterion, whether it is desirable that the proposed extensions are designated and comments on the proposed boundaries.

Please feel free to complete as many or as few parts of the response form as you wish.

If you need more space to add your comments, please use the additional Information pages at the end.

If you have any questions or require further assistance or copies of the consultation pack you can:

 E-mail us at: sc&haonbdesignationproject@

 Phone 0208 0265 774. If no one is available, please leave a message and contact details and we will return your call.

 Write to us at: Suffolk Coast & Heaths AONB Boundary Review Project, Natural England, Eastbrook, Shaftesbury Road, Cambridge, CB2 8DR



  • Anyone from any background


  • Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty