AONBs are areas of countryside that include villages and small towns. They have the same legal protection for their landscapes as National Parks but unlike National Parks which have their own National Park Authorities planning matters remain the responsibility of local planning authorities. They are looked after by partnerships between local communities and local authorities. The main purpose of the AONB designation is to conserve and enhance the natural beauty of the landscape, with two secondary aims: meeting the need for quiet enjoyment of the countryside and having regard for the interests of those who live and work there. To achieve these aims, AONBs rely on planning controls and practical countryside management.
In AONBs there are tighter restrictions on permitted development rights under the General Permitted Development Order, but there is no overall prohibition on development.