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Landscape Character Study 2005 - 2007

Background to the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Landscape Study 2005-2007

Cornwall has blazed a trail for landscape assessments, producing a County-wide Landscape Character Assessment in 1994, one of the first in the country. Cornwall also took the lead on developing historic landscape assessment, producing the first Historic Landscape Characterisation in the country in 1994, to a method which is still used as best practice today.

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Since the 1990's much more work has been carried out on landscape character and improved guidance and methodologies developed. Landscape Character has also gained a wider credibility, highlighted by the inclusion of landscape character in recent government Planning Policy Statements and the South West Regional Spatial Strategy.

The Cornwall Structure Plan 2004 introduced a policy advocating an approach to development decisions based on landscape character and set out a commitment to develop a Cornwall-wide landscape character assessment. This approach seeks to ensure that an understanding of landscape character will underpin planning decisions and inform land management. It does not seek to identify one landscape as ‘better’ or more valued than another- the aim is to identify the particular characteristics that make a landscape distinctive for the people that live there. The approach is also able to provide a framework within which the visual, natural and historic aspects of the landscape are brought together.

In light of this, and the changing nature of landscapes, the 1994 assessment needed to be updated, a process which started in 2004, and resulted in the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Landscape Study 2005-2007.  The Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Landscape Character Study is therefore the first stage in developing an evidence base for future landscape policy and landscape strategies in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. It will be used to develop planning policies in the emerging Local Development Frameworks, and Developer Guidance for planning applications. Further work relating to landscape sensitivity will form the basis of future landscape strategies.


The Study brings together information on all aspects of landscape planning and management, and also provides comprehensive links to specialist resources and further advice.

The Landscape Character Area descriptions for the 40 Landscape Character Areas (LCA)in Cornwall together with the profile data for the component Landscape Description Units (LDU) are the central resource of this Study and can be accessed through a map base. These provide a range of information including Key Characteristics, Historic Features, Biodiversity and Land Use and provide Planning and Management Guidelines linked to a set of Vision and Objectives.

The involvement of the public (as well as professionals) in developing this resource was critical and a series of consultation workshops in 2006 and 2008 provided the input to the Landscape Character Area descriptions. The Landscape Description Unit profiles can also be developed further to meet identified needs guided by feedback on the website. At this stage the Landscape Description Units show the attribute information that defines each area as well as information illustrating local landscape character. 

The development of this web-based resource represents a major initiative to make landscape information readily and easily accessible using the latest information technology. The aim also is to make this a live and interactive site which can be developed as a unique resource also providing a focus for landscape issues and debate.

At the time of launching this Study, the work for the Isles of Scilly was not complete. The Isles of Scilly Landscape Character Descriptions and Landscape Description Unit Profiles will therefore be included at a later date.

The Study was developed as a joint project between Cornwall County Council, the District and Borough Councils, the Cornwall, Tamar Valley and Isles of Scilly (supported by Area of Natural Beauty Partnerships, Natural England (at that time the Countryside Agency) and the National Trust. The Project Management Team was made up of representatives from the funding bodies: Cornwall County Council (Spatial Planning and Environment and Heritage); Restormel Borough Council; Penwith District Council; Kerrier District Council, the National Trust and the AONB units. Further input was drawn through a Consultative Committee made up of representatives from many national and local environmental organisations including the Environment Agency, DEFRA, FWAG , English Nature (now Natural England) , and English Heritage . Consultation with other organisations, planning professionals, land managers and the public has been and continues to be an important aspect of the Study.

The development of this Study has revealed an urgent need for more comprehensive and integrated advice on landscape character to inform many aspects of working and living in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. Further work includes the following :

  • Landscape sensitivity- review and assessment of sensitivity analysis
  • Seascape Assessment