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

Closed 20 Apr 2018

Opened 26 Jan 2018

Feedback updated 7 Jul 2020

We asked

During 2018, a statutory and public consultation was undertaken by Natural England in relation to the proposed boundary variation to the existing Suffolk Coast and Heaths (SC&H) AONB. The consultation responses were analysed by officers, including on site, and a detailed analysis report was produced.

You said

Of the 113 respondents who responded using the questionnaire: • 89% (101) of respondents were in favour of the Stour estuary extension, with 5% (6 respondents) against it; • 63% (71) were in favour of the Samford valley extension, with 5% (6) against; • 64% (72) were in favour of the Freston Brook Extension, with less than 2% (1) against.

We did

Natural England’s Board approved the Suffolk Coast and Heaths (Designation Variation) Order 2019 on 22 July 2019 and the legal paperwork was submitted to the Secretary of State for confirmation. On 7 July 2020, the Secretary of State confirmed the Order, without making any modifications. The Order takes effect immediately. The Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB has now been extended by around 38 km². This increases the size of the existing AONB by approximately 9.5%. The newly designated areas lie in south Suffolk and north Essex and include: • the Stour Estuary and its southern valley slopes, • the Freston Brook Valley, • the Samford Valley. Further information is available via the following links: Press release – Designation order – 

Results updated 14 Feb 2019

An opportunity to comment: The Notice Period for the proposed SC&H AONB boundary variation started on 12 February 2019 and will run until 22 March 2019. During that time anyone can make representations to Natural England about the proposals. The legislation requires us to publish notice of our intention to ‘make’ (sign and attach the Natural England seal) the variation Order in the London Gazette and a local paper.

Notices were published on the 12th Feb 2019 in the London Gazette and the East Anglia Daily Times. Information is being made available in various locations in the affected areas and on .GOV via the following link: 

A copy of the draft Order, and the associated maps have also been deposited at each of the places mentioned below, and will be open for inspection free of charge, between the hours of 09.30 and 16.30 from Mondays to Fridays, or as shown below:

From the 12th day of February 2019 until 22nd day of March 2019, at:

Natural England Norwich Office,
Dragonfly House,
2 Gilders Way,
Norwich, NR3 1UB.

Natural England Cambridge Office,
Shaftesbury Road,
Cambridge, CB2 8DR

For the above please contact Susannah England, Tel 07900 608 283 to arrange a suitable time .

Manningtree Library,
High St,
Manningtree CO11 1AD
Open Tues-Sat, contact 0345 603 7628, or check their website for opening hours.

Harwich Library,
Upper Kingsway,
Harwich CO12 3JT
Open Thu-Sat, Mon-Tues, contact 0345 603 7628, or check their website for opening hours.

Ipswich County Library,
Northgate Street,
Ipswich, IP1 3DE
Open Every Day, contact 01473 827 260, or check their website for opening hours.

Capel St Mary Library,
Village Hall,
The Street,
Capel St Mary, IP9 2EP
Open Tues to Sun, contact 01473 311 699, or check their website for opening hours.

Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB Office,
Dock Lane,
Suffolk, IP12 1PE.
Please contact Simon Amstutz, AONB Manager, Tel 01394 445225 to arrange a suitable time.

If you have any queries, please contact Susannah England on 07900 608 283 or via email at


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 your views matter

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

What happens next

Following analysis of consultation responses, the proposals will then be reviewed and where necessary, amended to take account of any further relevant evidence received. Depending on the number of responses received this is likely to take around three months.  A summary of responses will be provided via CitizenSpace.

If no fundamental objections arise which cannot be overcome, and assuming no additional land needs to be included as a result of the consultation, the next stage will be to draw up a draft Order and to publish Notice of the Order in the London Gazette and other papers as required by Section 83(2) of the CRoW Act. Natural England Board approval will then be sought for the draft Order prior to publication of the Notice. 

The Notice period allows anyone who wishes to do so to make representations to Natural England, objecting to, supportive of, or proposing amendments to the Order, and stating the grounds on which they are made. If however as a result of the consultation, additional land needs to be included within the proposed boundary variation, an additional statutory consultation will be required.

Following the Notice period, a further period of response analysis will be required and any further consequent changes made to the draft legal Order.  It is difficult to provide a time estimate for this at this stage. Board approval will then be sought to allow the Order to be ‘made’ and submitted to the Secretary of State for confirmation. If there are any unresolved objections, these will be submitted to the Secretary of State with the Order, who has discretion to call a Public Inquiry to determine them, before deciding whether or not to confirm the Order.

It is important to note that the Secretary of State may or may not confirm the Order, with or without amendment; and has the discretion to subject the Order to Public Inquiry if minded to do so.  This decision is not made to any specific timescale. 


  • 'Drop-in' event, Royal Harwich Yacht Club, Woolverstone

    From 20 Feb 2018 at 10:00 to 20 Feb 2018 at 15:30

    An opportunity to discuss the proposed SC&H AONB boundary revisions with Natural England staff.
    Venue: RHYC, Main Rd, Woolverstone, Ipswich IP9 1AT

  • 'Drop-in'event, Venture Centre, Lawford

    From 21 Feb 2018 at 10:00 to 21 Feb 2018 at 15:30

    An opportunity to discuss the proposed SC&H AONB boundary revisions with Natural England staff.
    Venue: Venture Centre, Bromley Rd, Lawford, Manningtree CO11 2JE


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