Policy ENV1: Landscape

Open22 Jan, 2024, 10:00am - 4 Mar, 2024, 11:59pm

Policy ENV1:  Landscape

Development will only be permitted where it can be demonstrated, through a suitable assessment, that the proposals are sympathetic to the character and visual quality of the area concerned. Development proposals must respect, enhance and not be detrimental to the character or visual amenity of the landscape likely to be affected, paying particular regard to:

  1. The particular qualities identified within the council’s landscape character assessment and any subsequent updates or relevant guidance;
  2. The visual amenity and scenic quality;
  3. The setting of a settlement, including important views to, across, within and out of settlements;
  4. The local character of buildings and settlements, including important open areas;
  5. Trees, ancient woodland, hedgerows, water features such as rivers and other landscape features and their function as ecological networks;
  6. Intrinsically dark landscapes;
  7. Historic landscapes, parks and gardens and features; and
  8. The character of the borough’s rivers and tributaries, including the River Loddon, Test, and Enborne which should be safeguarded.

Development proposals must also respect the sense of place, sense of tranquillity or remoteness, and the quiet enjoyment of the landscape from public rights of way. Development proposals will not be accepted unless they maintain the integrity of existing settlements and prevent their coalescence. Development proposals also need to take account of, but not be limited to, identified features in Neighbourhood Plans, such as views and important open areas.

Where appropriate, proposals will be required to include a comprehensive landscaping scheme to ensure that the development would successfully integrate with the landscape and surroundings. The assessment of character and visual quality and the provision of a landscaping scheme should be proportionate to the scale and nature of the development proposed.

Designation of the North Wessex Downs National Landscape reflects the national importance of that landscape and its setting. Development proposals in the National Landscape or its setting will also be determined in accordance with national planning policy and criteria set out in the North Wessex Downs Management Plan and associated documents, such as position statements.

Landscapes of particularly high value outside of the National Landscape are identified as Valued Landscapes on the Policies map. Development proposals will only be permitted in these areas where they protect and enhance features that contribute to the character, quality and interpretation of these landscapes.

Valued Landscapes are shown on the Policies Maps and are:

  • Ecchinswell Lowland and Wolverton Lowland;
  • Pamber Forests and Heaths;
  • Loddon Floodplain;
  • Test Valley;
  • Ellisfield Valleys, and Candover Valley Floor and Lower Valley Sides.
7.5 The borough is largely rural in character and includes many locally distinctive, high quality landscapes which are greatly valued by both residents and visitors. It is important to conserve and, where possible, enhance the different landscape character areas of the borough, while accommodating the change needed to address social and economic objectives and meet the needs of communities. Attractive environments are essential to the borough’s tourism industry and to the wider economic objectives as well as the health and wellbeing of its residents. There is the potential for development, leisure, recreation and tourism pressure to erode the character and nature of the landscape unless properly managed. It is also important to be aware of the broader implications of gradual change through the cumulative effects on character, particularly in terms of the impact on more small-scale or local features.
7.6 A significant area to the north and west of the borough is within the North Wessex Downs National Landscape.  The National Landscape is managed by a partnership, with representatives from relevant local authorities and communities.  The partnership produces a Management Plan every 5 years which sets out the vision, strategic objectives and policy guidance for the area.  Position Statements have also been published as an extension to the Management Plan, on topics including housing, renewable energy and setting.
7.7 A comprehensive Landscape Assessment of the borough was undertaken in 2021; this document identified 20 distinct landscape character areas within the borough and summarises the key characteristics, qualities and issues associated with each area. This should be the starting point for all development proposals. Following on from this assessment the Valued Landscapes Study (HDA 2023) provides an assessment of landscape value across the borough, using the factors identified in the Landscape Institute Guidance (TGN 02/21: Assessing landscape value outside national designation). These factors include natural heritage; cultural heritage; landscape condition; associations; distinctiveness; recreational; perceptual; and functional. The study identified distinctive landscape qualities of various parts of the borough which justified being protected through a formal local landscape designation as they exhibit specific attributes and characteristics that lift them above the rest of the countryside. The purpose of the Valued Landscape designation is to protect and enhance the best of the area’s landscapes outside of the North Wessex Downs National Landscape.
7.8

Development proposals (other than householder applications) within Valued Landscapes are expected to submit a proportionate Landscape and visual impact Assessment, that demonstrates that:

  • The development will maintain and enhance the particular landscape attributes of the area identified in the Valued Landscapes Study 2023 (or any updates); and
  • The development will integrate within the landscape setting including the incorporation of mitigation measures.
7.9 The identified valued landscape areas are large scale areas of particularly high value which are significantly ‘out of the ordinary’, but other landscapes of value may not have been identified in the maps by virtue of their scale and Policy ENV1 Landscape emphasises the importance of assessing thoroughly the impact of proposed development on all parts of the borough’s countryside.
7.10 The council has in place a strategy and action plan for dealing with landscape and biodiversity issues set out in the document Living Landscapes (2014). Other relevant documents include community produced Village Design Statements, Neighbourhood Plans and Orders, Countryside Design Summary and the North Wessex Downs Management Plan adopted by the local authorities within the National Landscape.
7.11 Also of relevance are the council’s Landscape, Biodiversity and Trees SPD and Design and Sustainability SPD which set out how landscape, biodiversity and tree considerations should be integrated into the development process, detailing the information that needs to be accompany a planning application, design requirements, and management and monitoring processes along with guidance on how landscape should be considered and integrated to inform high quality design.
7.12 A proportionate approach shall be applied to development proposals so that the requirements of Policy ENV1 will be applied flexibly depending on the nature and scale of the proposals. Where considered necessary by the LPA, as a result of the nature and scale of the proposal, a landscape assessment will be required to demonstrate compliance with the criteria of this policy.
Implementation and Monitoring

The policy will be implemented through:

  • advice on and the determination of relevant planning applications; and
  • working in partnership with Natural England, and North Wessex Downs National Landscape.

The policy will be monitored against:

  • the objectives and action plans of the relevant strategies and plans set out in the supporting text of the policy
  • advice on, and the determination of, relevant planning applications and outcomes of relevant appeals

Representations

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