Historic Farmsteads and Landscapes in Worcestershire
Historic farmsteads and their buildings contribute to local distinctiveness and the varied character of our countryside by reflecting local geology, building traditions and farming practices. The future of the majority of historic farm buildings is increasingly dependent on a new role outside mainstream agricultural use.
Since 2009 Worcestershire County Council has been involved with a series of projects aimed at enhancing understanding of farmstead character and survival within Worcestershire, and the wider West Midlands region. The council has developed a conservation guidance that can be used to inform the sustainable development or re-development of historic farmsteads and their landscapes. The work undertaken will also be of significance to those with an interest in the history and character of the county’s landscape, settlements and historic buildings.
Small-scale farmsteads and smallholdings, associated with the development of rural industries from the 17th century and fruit growing, which boomed during the 19th century, in Buckridge, Wyre Forest. Photo © English Heritage NMR 27765/001
Historic Farmstead Characterisation in Worcestershire Project
The Worcestershire Historic Farmstead Characterisation Project aimed to develop a better understanding of farmstead character, survival and current use, at a landscape scale, by recording the distribution, scale, plan form (the arrangement and function of buildings), date (if known) and the degree of change of all farmsteads and outfarms shown on the Ordnance Survey 2nd Edition 25" mapping of circa 1900. The project followed the methodology set out in 'Historic Farmsteads – A Manual for Mapping' and produced a Geographical Information System (GIS) map layer incorporating over 5000 sites.
The project was funded by English Heritage and the Rural Development Agency (Advantage West Midlands), as part of a wider project mapping historic farmsteads across the West Midlands region and was intended to
- Inform land use policy and planning
- Develop the information held within the Worcestershire Historic Environment Record
- Inform local development frameworks and provide the context and guidance for applications relating to the sustainable development of historic farmsteads, including their conservation and enhancement
- Contribute towards the understanding of the sustainability of rural settlements
- Inform agri-environment targeting and applications.
Historic Farmsteads – A Manual for Mapping
The West Midlands Farmsteads and Landscapes Project
The West Midlands Farmsteads and Landscapes Project, conducted by Historic England in collaboration with regional development agency Advantage West Midlands and local county and metropolitan authorities drew together the results of county and metropolitan Farmstead Characterisation projects at a regional scale, to help national and local decision-makers describe the present day role of historic farmsteads in the West Midland’s economy, evaluate what the future uses for farm buildings should be, identify the most significant and vulnerable cases and develop a set of planning tools to inform spatial planning, land management and economic development.
The project has concluded that:
- Historic farmsteads are assets which make a significant and highly varied contribution to the rural building stock, landscape character and local distinctiveness of the West Midlands.
- Historic farmsteads are assets which, through agricultural and other new uses, have significant potential to make an important contribution to the rural economy and communities away from market towns and other rural centres. More than 80% of farmsteads recorded from late 19th century maps have survived across the region, only one third of these in agricultural use. The economic benefits of residential use have until now been overlooked.
- This understanding can be used to inform positive approaches to shaping the character and economy of places, which are tailored to the future conservation and use of historic farmsteads.
A series of documents were produced as a result of this project, including the 'West Midlands Farmsteads and Landscapes Project Regional Statement', 'Current Use of Historic Farm Property in the West Midlands: Introduction and Overview' and the 'West Midlands Area Farmstead Character Statements'.