National Parks (including the Broads) are areas of countryside that are protected by the Government for their beautiful countryside, wildlife and cultural heritage. People live and work in the National Parks and the farms, villages and towns are protected along with the landscape and wildlife. They have their own National Park Authorities and have two statutory purposes:
- to conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and heritage and
- to promote opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of National Parks by the public.
And one duty: to seek to foster the economic and social wellbeing of local communities.
There are ten National Parks in England which are the Broads, Dartmoor, Exmoor, Lake District, New Forest, Northumberland, North York Moors, Peak District, South Downs and the Yorkshire Dales.
A National Park Authority is the planning authority for each National Park and it controls the development of land and buildings within its area. To do this effectively, it has to balance the duty to seek to foster the economic and social wellbeing of local communities with its statutory purposes. National Parks have their own planning policy documents which are taken into account in the determination of planning applications, and planning applications for development in these areas should be made to the National Park Authority instead of the local authority.
National Parks are “designated rural areas” in the NPPF and have a higher level of protection from development. Paragraph 172 in the NPPF states that great weight should be given to conserving and enhancing their landscape and scenic beauty, and that they have the highest status of protection in relation to these issues. It states that the conservation of wildlife and cultural heritage are also important considerations in these areas and should be given great weight in National Parks and the Broads, with the scale and extent of development within these designated areas limited. It states that planning permission should be refused for major development other than in exceptional circumstances and where it can be demonstrated that the development is in the public interest.
Development in National Parks would have to be in accordance with the NPPF as well as the National Park’s planning policy documents.