Planning and Development Guidelines
For the purposes of residential development applications, the following questions will be asked during the assessment process when considering the potential landscape character impact(s) of the proposal.
If you are planning on submitting an application, you should ensure that you have considered each of these in your submission.
(i) To find out which Landscape Type your site is in visit the Worcestershire Landscape Character Assessment Maps portal and use the grid reference or zoom tools to navigate to your site.
(ii) You can access the generic Landscape Type profile and the specific Landscape Description Unit profiles for the site directly by clicking on the map itself. These will tell you the significant (primary/secondary) landscape characteristics, the settlement pattern and any detailed information relevant to that specific Landscape Description Unit.
(iii) General opportunities for landscape gain for each Landscape Type are identified in our Advice sheets. You should consider working these into your design wherever possible.
1. Is the Landscape Type Settled or Unsettled?
Development is not appropriate in the unsettled Landscape Types, unless in exceptional circumstances of regional or national significance or in occasional instances where there is local deviation from Type for historic reasons.
The unsettled Landscape Types are:
- High Hills and Slopes
- Wooded Forest
- Riverside Meadows
- Wet Pasture Meadows
2. Is the proposal appropriate to the settlement pattern of the Landscape Type?
Settlement pattern is, quite simply, the pattern in which settlements are laid out in the landscape. Those Landscape Types that are settled will have a distinctive settlement pattern type. The different types are defined as:
- Nucleated - Discrete, usually large villages with a low level of dispersal. There is little settlement beyond the village boundary and the farmsteads are contained within the fabric of the village.
- Clustered - Discrete settlement nuclei (small villages and/or hamlets) associated with a moderate to high level of dispersal. Dwellings are centred on an inner core, often the church, but farmsteads are situated outside the village in open countryside.
- Wayside - Small clusters/strings of wayside dwellings, associated with a moderate/high level of dispersal.
- Dispersed - Scattered farmsteads and rural dwellings associated with a low to moderate to density of dispersal.
- Scattered - A very low dispersal of individual farmsteads and rural dwellings.
- Unsettled - Landscape lacking human habitation
For example, the settlement pattern of Principal Timbered Farmlands is dispersed: farmsteads and strings of wayside dwellings associated with a lo w to moderate density of dispersal.
New development in this Landscape Type would be expected to have considered this in the planning stage and for the location and layout to conform to or enhance this pattern.
3. Is the landscape in good condition?
Landscape condition is formally assessed using a pre-defined method of assessment that requires detailed knowledge of landscape character and attributes, and this analysis will form part of the assessment of submitted applications.
Whilst applicants could not be expected to undertake such an analysis, you can at least make a basic comparison between the site as it is now and the landscape character description, noting how it conforms to or deviates from what would be expected given the generic Landscape Type.
Consider each of the key characteristics – e.g. enclosure type and pattern, land use, settlement pattern - noting whether they are present and in good condition, absent, or still present but in poor condition. Also note whether the character of the landscape has been weakened by the addition of uncharacteristic features.
Be aware that, in some instances, landscape condition can be so poor and denuded (by loss or inappropriate addition) as to differ markedly from the defined type. Proposals should seek positively to reverse rather than exacerbate this poor condition.
4. Does the proposal adversely affect significant characteristics of the Landscape Type?
Each Landscape Type possesses significant (key) characteristics that are the greatest contributors to defining the character of that landscape. For example, the key characteristics of the High Hills and Slopes Landscape Type (as seen, in Worcestershire, on the summits and upper slopes of the Malvern Hills) are:
- Prominent area of highland topography.
- Unsettled with few signs of habitation.
- Open and exposed with panoramic views.
- Extensive areas of acid grassland.
- Rough grazing.
- Absence of woodland.
The key characteristics of each Landscape Type are given in their own advice sheet.
Consider the primary and/or secondary attributes listed for the Landscape Type in question and determine if they are likely to be affected by the proposed development.
This would also be a good opportunity to consider how these primary or secondary characteristics could be enhanced or addressed in the design of the proposal, including choice of building materials in those Landscape Types where these constitute a significant characteristic e.g. Principal Timbered Farmlands.
5. Are there opportunities for landscape gain?
As explained in the introduction above, landscape gain is the notion of seeking proactively to bring benefit to the landscape rather than simply mitigating to prevent damage as a result of change or development.
Opportunities for landscape gain should be primarily associated with the primary or secondary attributes associated with the Landscape Type, or the specific site in question.
Note that, while landscape gain may most obviously be associated with the site itself, it doesn't necessarily have be restricted to this. Innovative ideas, for example involving agreements with adjacent landowners, may well be more beneficial to the overall landscape and will be welcomed.