East Devon and AONBs Landscape Character Assessment and Management Guidelines


This document provides a Landscape Character Assessment and Landscape Management Guidelines for East Devon District, East Devon AONB and the Blackdown Hills AONB. Parts of East Devon (specifically those areas which are not designated AONB) are currently facing unprecedented development pressure, and the vision and guidelines within this document will help to integrate that development into the landscape in the most positive way possible. These guidelines cover landscape management, the siting and design of development, and also identify potential opportunities for mitigation and landscape enhancement within the surrounding area.

The study area includes two AONBs, and the interfaces between the protected landscapes and the surrounding cities, towns and countryside.

Landscape Story and Description of the Chilterns

For the Chilterns AONB (2018)

This short project involved amalgamating numerous detailed landscape character descriptions presented in a variety of formats into a single, simplified description which could be used in public-facing documents. It describes the four key landscape types found within the Chilterns AONB, and also tells the story of the development of the distinctive Chilterns landscape – from the destructive power of glacial meltwater through to the planting of beechwoods by 18th Century furniture makers.

Kent Downs AONB Landscape Character Assessment Update

For Kent Downs AONB (Ongoing)

The previous Kent Downs Landscape Character Assessment was undertaken in 1995. Therefore an update was commissioned to inform the forthcoming revision of the AONB Management Plan. The updated Landscape Character Assessment takes into account current Landscape Character Assessment methodology, and has been subject to extensive stakeholder input and consultation.

The project has offered the opportunity to re-visit the photo locations from the 1995 Assessment, and to record the changes which have taken place in the landscape in the intervening 22 years. These include the re-growth of scarp-top woodland following the 1987 hurricane; the maturing of planting schemes associated with the Channel Tunnel Rail Link (HS1); the effects of Ash Dieback disease, and the planting of grapevines. The project also looks ahead and provides recommendations on landscape strategies for the future.

Blackdown Hills Landscape Enhancement Initiative

For Blackdown Hills AONB (2017)

This project was commissioned through the National Grid Landscape Enhancement Initiative (LEI) scheme, open to protected landscapes which are affected by high voltage power lines. It identified a number of landscape enhancement opportunities within the Blackdown Hills AONB which fulfil the LEI criteria, including strengthening historic landscape patterns of hedgerows; enhancing the settings of settlements and listed buildings; opportunities for habitat creation and enhancement, and improvements to public access.

Dartmoor Historic Environment Character Assessment

With University of Leicester Archaeological Services and Countryscape (2014)

Dartmoor has a rich and multi-layered historic landscape, with extant archaeological features dating from prehistoric to modern periods. This project (commissioned by Dartmoor National Park Authority) developed an innovative methodology to map and describe the various Historic Environment Character Types within the National Park. The draft version of the report contributed to a successful Second-Round Heritage Lottery Fund bid by the Moor Than Meets the Eye Landscape Partnership.

Strategic Landscape Enhancement Plan for the Darent Valley, Kent

With Sological Solutions and Robin Lines Landscape (2014)

The Darent Valley Landscape Partnership Scheme (LPS) area follows the river Darent from its source springs in the Weald to its confluence with the river Thames near Dartford. This project required the production of a single Landscape Character Assessment for the LPS area, and the identification of a series of Landscape Character Areas which reflect the changing stages of the river and its surroundings. The Plan contains a vision for each Landscape Character Area, and a series of practical project proposals and opportunities to make that vision a reality. The Plan was part of a successful First Round bid for Heritage Lottery Funding under the Landscape Partnership Scheme.

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.

Management Plan for Hillsborough Prehistoric Fort, Ilfracombe

With University of Leicester Archaeological Service (2011)

This project was undertaken for the North Devon Coast AONB and North Devon Council. Hillsborough is an elevated headland to the east of Ilfracombe in North Devon. The site is of considerable importance for its archaeology and wildlife, and its recreation and landscape values. It is covered by numerous designations, and is a Scheduled Monument. The five-year Management Plan brings together the various requirements of the site and provides a focus for community involvement.

It also made recommendations regarding the future interpretation of the site, including projects which could form future grant funding applications.