It is vital that we understand what makes up the character of the landscape. We can gain an understanding of what elements of the character are important. This can be done through an assessment. An assessment adds value to help in decision making. Through this process, a landscape character assessment is created.
Cornwall’s landscape is described through 40 Landscape Character Areas (LCAs). Each LCA is supported by a description. This explains the key characteristics. These characteristics give an area its distinctive sense of place. You can view the 40 Landscape Character Areas on the Council's Interactive Map.
What is a Local Landscape Character Assessment (LLCA)?
A Local Landscape Character Assessment (LLCA) adds a much greater level of detail. The assessment describes the local landscape character at a local Council level. This is similar to that of your Neighbourhood Plan and the Cornwall Local Plan.
LLCAs provide your community with an understanding and evidence base. The assessment sets out what makes your landscape special. It helps strengthen the ability of planning policy and development management decisions. It also protects and enhances the special qualities and features that make Cornwall such a special place to live
An LLCA is a community led record of landscape character. That creates a detailed bespoke evidence base. It describes the character and value of the local landscape. This includes historic, ecological, and cultural qualities. The assessment will set out the character of settlements and how they have developed over time.
They can be used to identify features and landscape issues of key importance to the local community. This includes highlighting designated and protected landscapes, natural and built features. Most importantly, they can inform neighbourhood planning policies. The LLCA can affect decisions on the environmental implications of development proposals.
Should neighbourhood plans include a LLCA?
Neighbourhood plans are not required to:
- include an LLCA or
- address any specific topics via policy.
A LLCA will strengthen the evidence base supporting policies which:
- Manage development in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs). It identifies ‘valued landscapes’ which the NPPF seeks to protect.
- Protect and/or designate green space (NPPF paragraph 99). This includes green infrastructure within and between settlements and new development.
- Conserve and enhance heritage features, ecology and habitats.
- Set design standards for new development, such as matching local vernacular building styles.
- Consider climate change and energy related developments, including mineral working.
- Identify and allocate land suitable for new homes (as per NPPF paragraphs 120 and 121). This includes expansion of industrial areas.
- Plan for pedestrian and vehicular access.
You will need to have assessed, recorded the features and characteristics of each area. This will then help plan for new developments as part of the Neighbourhood Plan.
The Environmental policies in your Neighbourhood Plan will need to:
- provide protection and enhancement of the valued and important landscape characteristics
You will need to undertake an assessment in order to achieve this.
Help in producing an LLCA
Cornwall Council has helped the Roseland community in completing an LLCA. The document helped inform their Neighbourhood Plan and was commended within the Examiner’s Report. This has been used in producing a best practice guide on how to undertake an LLCA in Cornwall.
You may need help when producing an LLCA. This will depend on the skills of the NDP Steering Group. Cornwall Council can provide some free support if you have a special question that needs answering. The Council's Landscape Architects can provide in-depth support at competitive rates. This can help at key stages in the assessment. Further information about the support we can provide is outlined in the following guidance note:
Cornwall Council’s Landscape Architects can be contacted by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
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