What do you understand by Landscape Character Assessment? How can you help to safeguard Landscape Character? Why Landscape Character is important.Landscape character is defined as the natural and historical characteristics of a landscape, that give it a sense of place and distinctive locality. For instance, the South Downs have a rolling topography. Sheep graze and bleat in fields, scattered trees, sloe thickets and hawthorn hedges rustle in the wind; its a very distinctive landscape character. The National Parks Authority thought so too; recently the South Downs have been granted National Park status.
Another different landscape character area? The Ashdown Forest; open, bracken strewn, heather lowland heathland, nonetheless windswept and wild looking with a certain distinctive “look” within the High Weald landscape character area. One more?
The Norfolk Broads are wetlands, a very different landscape character type to the Downs, but just as important in terms of landscape character, just as distinctive…
So, what elements make these very different,landscape character types distinctive?
When someone mentions the South Downs to me, conjured up in my mind is an image of its intrinsic landscape character. South Downs equals = sheep grazing the slopes of the Downs on a sunny day with blue skies stretching away.
Norfolk Broads? = man rowing a boat, bulrushes, wetland birds settling on dark blue water.. sunsets…
You get the picture.
Why not do a few of these yourself?
You will probably come up with your “favourite” landscapes and its what makes them distinctive that gives them…yes, you’ve guessed it… their “landscape character”!
So, why should we preserve and protect these landscape character areas? How can you make a start?
Look at the area in which you live. If you are lucky enough to live in an SLA (Special Landscape Area) or an AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) then there will be plenty of natural landscape features such as woods, hedges and farmland, old listed buildings.
What makes your area distinctive? What are the historic settlement patterns? There may be listed buildings, old barns, oast houses even, surrounded by fields with empty hop poles..(very distinctive.)
Are there any natural features that derive from the soils and the topography?
What are these? Are you sure? What about escarpments and scarp slopes, dip slopes, valleys and ponds. (Yes, I knew your O level geography would come in useful.)What about the landscape, is it managed? Are there animals or is it largely urban? Are there any areas which could be improved?
How could we do this? Can you think of things that you could do to help?
You may ask why anyone would want to start doing these things, why start asking these questions?
Its quite simple. When your local authority asks for feedback on its local plan, you will be able to put forward your ideas! Equally, you could start a new group to safeguard features that you like. Or join a society to find out more about your local landscape, its history, how it evolved, the communities it has served.
Landscape character assessment is a very useful tool in planning too. It helps planners to earmark areas for protection and this means that any new developments must be carefully located so as to preserve and enhance the landscape for future generations to enjoy. In many cases the long term protection of our landscape requires active improvements to a particular locality. Not just a preservation of a place in moth balls. It requires active involvement.
If you have questions about how to improve your local landscape please email;firstname.lastname@example.org
if you have a landscape design inquiry or question on landscape character assessment, call Landvision 01892 782200 or visit; landvision.co.uk and take a look at our website today.