Natural England - Landscape character

Landscape character

Put simply, landscape character is what makes an area unique. It is defined as "a distinct, recognisable and consistent pattern of elements, be it natural (soil, landform) and/or human (for example settlement and development) in the landscape that makes one landscape different from another, rather than better or worse".

Old industrial chimney above Luckett

Why is landscape character important?

We can only make informed and responsible decisions on the management and planning of sustainable future landscapes if we pay proper regard to their existing character.

By understanding how places differ we can also ensure that future development is well situated, sensitive to its location, and contributes to environmental, social and economic objectives.

The need to enhance landscape character is endorsed by the Government in planning policy statements and is one of the central aims of Environmental Stewardship.

Landscape Character Assessment

Landscape Character Assessment (LCA) is a technique used to develop a consistent and comprehensive understanding of what gives England’s landscape its character.

It uses statistical analysis and application of structured landscape assessment techniques. LCAs provide more detailed descriptions and analysis at a local level within the national framework of National Character Areas.

The Landscape Character Network (LCN) provides an important forum for sharing best practice and helping to develop landscape character.

  • National Character Areas

    England has been divided into areas with similar landscape character, which are called National Character Areas (NCAs); previously known as Joint Character Areas (JCAs).


  • Countryside Quality Counts

    The Countryside Quality Counts project was developed as a national indicator of how the countryside is changing, to understand how and where that change occurred and, most importantly, where it matters the most.