Gloucestershire Campaign to Protect Rural England

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Landscapes

Cotswolds landscape near Painswick Cotswolds landscape near Painswick Photo: © Rob Colley

Gloucestershire’s landscape is outstanding by any measure, but different parts of the County have their own distinct character – the Cotswolds, the vale landscape, and the Forest of Dean.  The challenge is to ensure that local distinctiveness is respected in planning policy, development and land management.

At a national scale the varied landscape of England has been mapped into a series of 159 National Character Areas (NCAs) – areas with a broadly similar landscape character. Gloucestershire’s landscape mainly falls within NCA 105, Forest of Dean and Lower Wye; NCA 106, Severn and Avon Vales; and NCA 107, Cotswolds – we are a county of three distinct parts and each part has its own very distinctive character.

Three Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) have been designated within Gloucestershire in national recognition of their special landscape qualities. The County includes a substantial part of the Cotswolds AONB, designated in 1966 and extended in 1991, and the Wye Valley AONB, designated in 1971, together with a tiny part of the southern end of the Malvern Hills AONB, designated in 1959. The Forest of Dean was first England’s National Forest Park and there has long been an aspiration for its designation also as an AONB, as originally proposed in the report of the Hobhouse Committee in 1947. CPRE continues to campaign for the designation of a Forest of Dean AONB.

All landscapes matter. The finer grain of the landscape has been mapped in more local landscape character assessments prepared by the County Council and District Councils and for the AONBs. The National Character Area assessment and the more local character assessments are important in informing local plan policies and in determining development applications. The aims are to guide land management practices to retain and strengthen local distinctiveness across the County.

Our efforts are focussed on inputting into the preparation and review of local plans to ensure robust landscape policies, including criteria-based policies where appropriate which reflect local distinctiveness. We are working to support the Cotswolds Conservation Board and the Wye Valley and Malvern Hills AONB partnerships in looking after these special areas.

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