Training in the Methodology and Practical Application of Landscape Character Assessment

Delivered through the ‘Up on the Downs’ Landscape Partnership Scheme, Kent (2014)

Fiona prepared and presented a two-day training course for Local Authority Planning Officers and environment professionals from AONBs, Natural England and other organisations. The course covered a range of topics, including: introduction to landscape character assessment; the methodology for landscape character assessment; the latest guidelines for landscape and visual impact assessment, and using landscape character assessment when responding to planning applications. The course included presentations, practical fieldwork and workshop sessions. Following the course, feedback was very positive, and delegates felt much more confident using landscape character assessment and landscape and visual impact assessment in their daily work.

Northern Ireland Seascape Character Assessment

With Douglas Harman Landscape Planning, Countryscape and KP Environmental (2013)

This Seascape Character Assessment was undertaken at a regional scale, and is intended to inform the development of Marine Plans for Northern Ireland. It covers the entire 650km length of the Northern Ireland coast from Lough Foyle to Carlingford Lough, as well as estuaries, island and sea loughs. It includes marine, intertidal and terrestrial parts of the coastline, and extends 12 nautical miles offshore. Fiona contributed to the project methodology and seascape characterisation, and was responsible for sections of the report describing how cultural influences have helped to shape the development of Northern Ireland’s varied seascapes.

Anglesey and Snowdonia Seascape Character Assessment

With Countryscape and SEACAMS/ Bangor University (2013)

This project was undertaken for Anglesey Coast AONB, Snowdonia National Park and Natural Resources Wales. The study area included the coast of Anglesey, and the coast of mainland Wales from the Great Orme to the Dyfi Estuary (excluding the Lleyn Peninsula). The project was an extension of the conventional landscape character assessment process. It involved the identification and mapping of marine, intertidal and terrestrial Seascape Character Types (SCTs), and the grouping of these into geographically-distinct Seascape Character Areas (SCAs). Maps and profiles were prepared for all the SCTs and SCAs. SCT profiles describe each SCT and where it occurs. SCA profiles provide an in-depth study of each SCA, including its key characteristics, natural influences and sites, cultural influences and sites, perceptual qualities, and the cultural ecosystem services which it provides. The forces for change associated with each SCA are described, along with inherent sensitivity.

Because the majority of SCAs include a combination of marine, intertidal and terrestrial SCTs, the project provides a comprehensive overview of the physical and cultural relationships between land and sea, and how these have developed over time. The report is being use d in a variety of ways, including contributions to planning decisions (for onshore and offshore development proposals), the management of coastal conservation and cultural sites, and shoreline management.

“What Makes a View ?” The Blackdown Hills AONB

With Sological Solutions and Robin Lines Landscape (2013)

Published Report

This project is simultaneously an analysis and a celebration of the Blackdown Hills AONB landscape and views. It was funded through the European CORDIALE project under the Interreg IV A programme, and has three key elements:

  1. A report describing the views within the Blackdown Hills AONB: Where they occur; how they are experienced; how they are portrayed; how they relate to landscape character, and the forces for change currently acting on them.
  2. A planning and management tool to be used to retain and enhance the area’s views in the future.
  3. A framework for enabling members of the local community to monitor long-term incremental landscape changes.

The local community was involved in many aspects of the project, including submitting their favourite views through online public consultation, completing questionnaires at AONB events and community centres, taking part in special projects in local schools, and contributing to the AONB’s landscape photography competition. Several local artists have also been involved, and their work illustrates the final report.

Brecon Beacons National Park Landscape Character Assessment and Supplementary Planning Guidance

With Countryscape, Alison Farmer Associates and Julie Martin Associates (2012)

Published Report

This major project was led and project managed by Fiona Fyfe. Fiona was involved in all stages of the project, including fieldwork, photography, stakeholder workshops and writing of the final report. The landscape character assessment was carried out using the recognised best-practice methodology for landscape character assessment, and also incorporated the Welsh LANDMAP GIS resource. The project brought together a large amount of data and background information on the National Park’s geology, ecology, archaeology, designations, landscape history, population, settlement and development issues. It presents this information in an attractive and easily readable way using text, maps, illustrations and photographs. The Landscape Character Assessment includes a brief ‘story of the Brecon Beacons landscape’, and a summary of the forces for change currently acting on the area’s landscape. It identifies fifteen distinctive Landscape Character Areas within the National Park, and sets out their distinctive characteristics, special qualities, sensitivities, landscape history, key views, Green Infrastructure and ecosystem services. It also looks at the forces for change acting on each Landscape Character Area, and makes recommendations for their future management in order to retain and enhance their special qualities.

The Brecon Beacons National Park.
The Brecon Beacons National Park.

The accompanying Supplementary Planning Guidance provides recommendations on how the planning system can be used to enhance landscape character. As well as text, this document also uses ‘before and after’ sketches and flowcharts to illustrate how consideration of landscape character can be positively applied to development proposals.