What is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty?  Malvern Hills area of outstanding natural beauty

An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is an area whose distinctive character and natural beauty is so outstanding, that it is in the nation's interest to safeguard it.

The main purpose of an AONB designation is to conserve and enhance the natural beauty of the area.

An area's ‘natural beauty' includes its geology, climate, soils, animals, communities, archaeology, buildings, the people who live in it (past and present) and the perceptions of those who visit it.

The landscapes of AONBs are equal in value to those of our National Parks and command the same levels of planning protection.

There are 40 AONBs in England and Wales covering approximately 15% of their combined land area.

The Malvern Hills AONB – facts and figures

  • The Malvern Hills were designated as an AONB in 1959.
  • The Malvern Hills AONB covers 105 square kilometres. It is 20 kilometres long and 9 kilometres across at its widest part.
  • 58.52% of the Malvern Hills AONB is in Herefordshire.
  • The AONB receives roughly 1.25 million visits every year.
  • Ten different landscape types have been identified within the AONB. These range from the flat, sandy estate lands in the south to the high hills and slopes of the Malvern Hills themselves.
  • The area contains 14 Sites of Special Scientific Interest accounting for 10.9% of the AONB.
  • The AONB is rich with history including Iron Age hill forts, castles, listed parks and gardens and ancient boundary features.
  • The geology of the AONB is internationally recognised through the European Geopark designation.

Caring for the Malvern Hills AONB

There are representatives from local authorities, government bodies, parish councils, landowners, community and voluntary groups on what is called the Malvern Hills AONB Partnership.

The Partnership is the only body that has responsibility for the AONB as a whole.

The Partnership does not own or manage any land but supports those who do, and provides strategic direction and co-ordination for the area as a whole.

Malvern Hills District Council and the Malvern Hills AONB

  • Malvern Hills District Council helps with the prepare, publish and review a management plan for the Malvern Hills AONB.
  • In accordance with the Countryside and Rights of Way Act (2000) this management plan formulates the Council's policy for the management of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and for the carrying out of their functions in relation to it.
  • The Council has a legal duty to have regard to the purposes of conserving and enhancing the Malvern Hills AONB.
  • The Council makes a financial contribution to the operation of the AONB Partnership each year.
  • The AONB Partnership is financially supported by Natural England, Herefordshire Council, Worcestershire County Council, Gloucestershire County Council and Forest of Dean District Council.

Malvern Hills AONB Management Plan Review

The new Malvern Hills AONB Management Plan (2014-19) is currently subject to public consultation.

At this time you are invited to submit your views on the first draft through an online feedback form.  

Malvern Hills AONB Guidance Documents

The Malvern Hills AONB produces a range of guidance documents with the support of the AONB partnership.

These can be found on the Malvern Hills AONB publications pages.

Further Information on the Malvern Hills AONB

For more information on the Malvern Hills AONB and the AONB Partnership please have a look at the Malvern Hills AONB web pages, or get in touch using the address or telephone number below.

Malvern Hills AONB Partnership
Manor House
Grange Road
WR14 3EY

Tel: 01684 560616