Bath’s natural setting helps to contextualise the city’s Georgian plan form, whilst remaining a significant area of exceptional natural beauty and biodiversity. The value of this regionalised landscape is recognised through multiple designations, including as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), and part of Bath’s Green Belt.
AONBs are defined as nationally-protected landscapes of natural significance. Protection is intended to either preserve or enhance the existing ecological, aesthetic, historic, and evidential values of the land. The idea of AONBs can potentially be first credited to John Dower in his 1945 Report to the Government on National Parks in England and Wales, and were formally established in The National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949.
Alternatively, Green Belts were only legislatively recognised in 1995 as part of the Planning Policy Guidance Notes, superseded by the National Planning Policy Framework in 2012. However, they were initially conceptualised within The Town and Country Planning Act 1947 in response to the threat of post-war urban expansion and suburban ribbon development. They function as a planning tool to restrict a city’s peripheral growth into defined ‘greenfield’ areas.