New hope Old Hunstanton could be included in Norfolk coast’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

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More of Norfolk's coastline could gain extra protection from development after a 12-year battle.

Beautiful Blakeney - part of the AONB. Picture: Sheila Denny

Beautiful Blakeney - part of the AONB. Picture: Sheila Denny

Parish councillors at Old Hunstanton want their community included in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) covering the north of the county.

Currently part of the village's eastern outskirts is included in the AONB, launched in 1968, which stretches east along the coast to Bacton, while the rest is excluded.

But Natural England, which administers the AONB, has said it does not regard the boundary change as a priority and the work would cost £100,000.

Now parish council chairman John Dobson and North West Norfolk MP Sir Henry Bellingham have met with Natural England officials and Lord Gardiner, parliamentary under secretary of state for the environment in a bid to break the deadlock.

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Mr Dobson said he had been assured by the minister that the council's request would continue to be dealt with.

He added: 'A good outcome in my view because it keeps it alive and in the interim we will attempt to get the true cost - excluding all the in house work which is the daily bread and butter task of Natural England officials.'

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No development can take place in any of Britain's 44 AONBs without Natural England being consulted.

Sir Henry, who organised the meeting, said: 'The whole essence of an AONB is to protect a community from unwanted development. Old Hunstanton Parish Council have had a long-running altercation with Natural England regarding extending their AONB. Natural England have been quite unreasonable, they've given priority to other cases.'

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Tim Venes, manager of the Norfolk Coast Partnership, which manages the AONB, said: 'Reviews of the boundaries of AONBs and national parks are uncommon but not unknown. The extension of the Lake District and North Yorkshire Moors is a recent example.

'Old Hunstanton Parish Council has been promoting a minor extension of the AONB boundary to include the whole of the parish for some years. At its meeting on 14 December 2016, the core management group of the Norfolk Coast Partnership agreed to support Old Hunstanton Parish Council's case and proposals for review of the AONB boundary, subject to prohibitive cost not being involved.'

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