NPPF PARAGRAPH 80E:
SENSITIVITY TO THE DEFINING CHARACTERISTICS OF THE LOCAL AREA – WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
A key requirement of a P80e proposal is to demonstrate the vision is sensitive to the defining characteristics of the local area. So, what are the defining characteristics?
The defining characteristics are unique to each place and site, understanding the characteristics provides a blueprint and route map to inform design decisions and develop a responsive yet sensitive vision. Characteristics are not just landscape features, but a unique mix of ecological layers, social history, land use, settlement pattern and visual relationships.
At the outset it’s important to consider characteristics at a variety of scales to ensure that all levels of a place are explored and understood to then constructively develop a sensitive vision.
Taking time to explore landscape designations from the National Character Area classifications to local landscape designations provides a valuable insight into contextual characteristics. Highly designated landscapes such as Special Protection Areas, Sites of Special Scientific Interest or Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty all have published references, management plans and design guidance which are valuable tools to inform a vision and understanding.
Local Authorities prepare landscape classifications at a regional and local level which focus upon district characteristics. This local level information is supplemented by further on-site analysis and assists in developing a well-rounded understanding and awareness of characteristics to build upon.
Although each place and site are individual there are common high-level themes which can be explored, each with a unique influence and contribution to local character. Built form, settlement pattern, land use and the visual relationship of spaces and buildings all contribute to defining a place and should be considered. In addition, heritage assessments covering the selected site and local context are a helpful tool to understand the social and historical influences which have shaped a place into the rich layers we find today.
A detailed understanding of the visual relationship between a selected site and setting ensures opportunities for enhancement are integral to the design, with any potential visual impacts addressed and avoided, ensuring that the vision explores all layers of character, evolution and the visual relationships they share with the landscape.
At Rural Solutions we are well experienced in distilling the character layers and historic evolution of place to develop proposals which are not only sensitively to the defining characteristics of the local area but contribute another positive incremental layer of development.
We have experienced landscape architects, architects and planning consultants who can guide and support you through the P80e journey.