Development in the Chiltern Beechwoods Special Area of Conservation

The Chiltern Beechwoods Special Area of Conservation includes 9 separate sites in the Chiltern Hills and spreads across 3 counties.

The Special Area of Conservation is an internationally recognised designation with habitats and species of significant ecological importance.

The relevant sites to Buckinghamshire are:

  • the Ashridge Commons and Woods Sites of Special Scientific Interest
  • the Tring Woodlands Site of Special Scientific Interest

Limits to residential development

As part of its emerging local plan, Dacorum Borough Council has found evidence that additional residential development in Chiltern Beechwoods Special Area of Conservation will lead to more visitors and an increase in adverse activities such as trampling, mountain biking and dog fouling.

To limit this impact, a habitat regulations assessment (HRA) is now needed for any development that results in an additional home within the 'zone of influence' of the Special Area of Conservation.

You can see the affected areas by viewing the zones of influence on

How these restrictions could affect your planning application

We'll carry out an initial screening assessment of your application. This helps us decide if the development is likely to have a significant effect on the Chiltern Beeches Special Area of Conservation.

The assessment will consider the nature, scale and location of the development and we will carry out any relevant reviews.

The new restrictions will affect applications:

  • for full planning permission
  • for outline planning permission
  • for reserved matters
  • for prior approval / permitted development rights
  • that are subject to appeal
  • under section 73 of The Town & Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended)
  • where there is a resolution to grant planning permission but where a formal decision has not been issued (eg subject to satisfactory completion of a legal agreement)

While we work with our partner organisations to create a mitigation strategy, there will be delays to some planning application decisions.

Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace guidelines

Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace is the name given to the provision of recreational space that enables residents of new homes to avoid additional ecological disturbance to Special Areas of Conservation.

For more information read the guideline document (PDF, 281 KB)

Further information and FAQs

For further detail and guidance we've published a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) (PDF, 605 KB)

You can contact our planning service by emailing [email protected]