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Landscape Character in Government Planning Policy

This page contains text summarising references to landscape character in Government Planning Policy Statements, and links to the relevant documents.

PPS1: Delivering Sustainable Development

PPS1 sets out the Government's overarching planning policies on the delivery of sustainable development through the planning system. It states that one of the Government’s objectives for the planning system is that planning should facilitate and promote sustainable urban and rural development by protecting and enhancing the natural and historic environment and the quality and character of the countryside (Para 5). In its key principles, PPS1 states that “a spatial planning approach should be at the heart of planning for sustainable development” (Para 13.iii) and “design which fails to take the opportunities for improving the character and quality of an area should not be accepted” (Para 13.iv). When preparing development plans, “planning authorities should seek to enhance as well as protect biodiversity, natural habitats, the historic environment and landscape and townscape character” (Para 27).

PPS7: Sustainable Development in Rural Areas

Landscape Character Assessment, along with Village or Town Design Statements and Village or Parish Plans, is recommended as a tool to assist Local Authorities in the preparation of policies and guidance that encourage good quality design throughout rural areas (Para 13).

Landscape Character Assessment is recommended as a tool for creating carefully drafted, criteria-based policies in Local Development Documents to protect valued landscapes outside nationally designated areas without the need for rigid local designations, which may restrict sustainable development and the economic vitality of rural areas. Local landscape designations should only be maintained or, exceptionally, extended where it can be clearly shown that criteria-based policies cannot provide the necessary protection (Paras 24 and 25).

PPS22: Renewable Energy

The Companion Guide to PPS22 makes clear endorsements of the landscape character approach when planning for renewable energy at the regional level. It states that the “intrinsic qualities of each landscape character area”, as expressed in either the Character of England Countryside Character volumes or more recent Landscape Character Assessments, should be considered when addressing broader landscape issues at the regional planning level: these ‘intrinsic qualities’ should be set down in writing, and all parties involved or interested in development for renewable energy should be encouraged to consult this supporting information before making reference to a particular landscape character area (Para 3.29). It also states that regional planning authorities should identify the sensitivity of any landscape character areas referred to in plans for renewable energy development to particular types of change/development at a broad scale, and that “landscape character areas may be described in relation to their suitability as a location for particular types and scales of renewable energy development” (Para 3.29). It goes on to state that “applying LCA at the regional level is recommended to inform strategic planning for renewables” (Para 3.33).

The Companion Guide to PPS22 also makes specific endorsements of the Countryside Character Network, the former name of the Landscape Character Network, as “the main forum for ongoing discussion on landscape issues”, and LCA Topic Paper 6: Techniques and Criteria for Judging Capacity and Sensitivity (Further Information, p41).