Core Strategy - Consultation Draft

CS5: Landscape and Historic Environment

CS5: Landscape and the Historic Environment

Landscape

The character, distinctiveness, diversity and quality of North Somerset's landscape and townscape will be protected and enhanced by the careful, sensitive management and design of development. Close regard will be paid to the character of National Character Areas in North Somerset and particularly that of the 11 Landscape Types and 31 Landscape Character Areas identified in the North Somerset Landscape Character Assessment.

The Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) will be protected by ensuring that development proposals conserve and enhance its natural beauty and respect its character, taking into account the economic and social well-being of the area.

Historic Environment

The council will protect and enhance the historic environment of North Somerset, having regard to the importance of assets such as conservation areas, listed buildings, buildings of local significance, scheduled monuments, other archaeological sites, registered and other historic parks and gardens.

Particular attention will given to aspects of the historic environment which contribute to the distinctive character of North Somerset, such as the Victorian townscapes and sea-fronts in Weston and Clevedon.

This policy contributes towards meeting the objectives of Planning Policy Statement 7: Sustainable Development in Rural Areas, Planning Policy Guidance 15: Planning and the Historic Environment and Planning Policy Guidance 16: Archaeology and Planning.

Background

Landscape

Policy CS5 recognises the importance of North Somerset's landscape, and the need to protect and enhance its diversity, distinctiveness and quality.

The landscape of North Somerset is highly varied, containing within it sections of four of the Countryside Agency/English Nature's National Character Areas (Bristol, Avon Valleys and Ridges; Severn and Avon Vales; Mendip Hills; Somerset Levels and Moors and Mid Somerset Hills).

These provide a broad indication of the landscapes of the district which range from the carboniferous limestone uplands of the Mendips to the level, wet pasturelands of the levels and moors. The significance of the landscape of the Mendip Hills is acknowledged by their designation as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Physical and cultural influences have combined to create the unique and distinctive character of North Somerset. The area is characterised by a diversity of landscapes and these variations and differences are represented by 11 landscape types, broken down into 31 landscape character areas:

A. Moors.

B. River floodplain.

C. Settled coastal edge.

D. Limestone gorges.

E. Limestone ridges and coombes.

F. Sandstone uplands.

G. Settled limestone plateau.

H. Settled hills.

I. Rolling valley farmland.

J. Farmed coal measures.

K. Inter-tidal bays.

Within urban areas, townscapes are also affected by the amount and type of landscaping, both public, in the form of parks, gardens and street trees, and also private areas, particularly gardens and boundary treatments. In certain areas these can make a significant contribution to character of the overall environment and to the quality of life of local residents. Development proposals, such as the residential intensification through the use of garden land ('garden grabbing') must be carefully assessed against the harm they may cause to the character of the local environment.

Historic Environment

Policy CS5 also reflects the importance of North Somerset's historic environment, and the need to preserve and enhance it in line with PPG 15 Planning and the Historic Environment, and PPG16 Archaeology and Planning.

There are 34 Conservation Areas in North Somerset, and 1,079 listed buildings. Particularly interesting is Birnbeck Pier, Weston-super-Mare, (Grade II* listed), the only pier in Britain linked to an island.

Historic parks and gardens are important in historical and landscape terms and may also be of wildlife and recreational value. North Somerset has several designed landscapes on the English Heritage Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest, including Ashton Court (II*), Barrow Court (II), Clevedon Court (II*), Leigh Court (II), Tyntesfield (II*), Barley Wood (II), Bristol University Botanic Gardens and Rayne Thatch (II) and Grove Park (II), Weston-super-Mare. Other designed landscapes of local historic interest include Abbot's Leigh House, Abbot's Leigh, Alexandra Gardens, Clevedon and Coombe Lodge, Blagdon.

Buildings need not be listed to be of importance to the historic environment. The council is proposing to introduce a scheme by which buildings of local or regional importance are identified, using specific criteria. It is envisaged that this status would be a material consideration in assessing planning applications affecting such buildings.

Archaeological remains are important for their historical and educational interest and may also be important features in the landscape. The Historic Environment Record (HER) contains details of all known sites, structures, landscapes or other areas of archaeological interest in North Somerset. They include Scheduled Monuments such as Worlebury Camp, a large hillfort on Worlebury Hill.

The Core Strategy approach

Policy CS5 sets out a broad policy framework for protection and enhancement of the landscape and historic environment, which can be reinforced by detailed development management policies in the Development Management DPD.

How and where the policy will be delivered

The policy will apply across the whole of North Somerset in order to respect the quality and character of the landscape, and the historic environment.

Much will depend on careful development management to ensure sensitive design and location of development to protect, enhance and respect the landscape and historic environment. This will require formulation and implementation of detailed development management policies, to be included in the Development Management DPD.

Effective delivery will require close liaison with landscape, conservation and archaeology experts and consultation with bodies such as English Heritage, the Mendip Hills AONB Service, etc.

blossom tree

Alternative options and contingency planning

There are no reasonable options to the policy approach put forward. An approach that does not adequately take account of the need to protect and enhance the character of the landscape and conserve historic assets would not be in line with government policy, and would not be sustainable.

Monitoring and review

Monitoring will assess indicators which reflect the impact of development on both the landscape and historic environment.