Late last year the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group was successful in receiving grant funding to create a Heritage and Character Assessment of the Plan area (our Parish) to inform the Neighbourhood Plan.
The report is prepared by consultants at AECOM on behalf of Locality, working closely with the North Weald Bassett Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group and is based on a detailed appraisal of the area carried out through desk study and fieldwork. A landscape character assessment (which is included as part of the process) is a process used to describe and articulate what is special and distinctive about a particular place by identifying recognisable patterns of elements or characteristics that make one landscape different from another. Landscape is defined by the European Landscape Convention as “….. an area, as perceived by people, whose character is the result of the action and interaction of natural and / or human factors.” This definition is broad and encompasses natural, rural, urban and peri-urban areas.
The information generated through the process of characterisation can be used as evidence to support the planning and design process. This approach is supported by the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), which states that neighbourhood plans should develop robust and comprehensive policies based on an understanding and evaluation of its defining characteristics. In doing so, policies can ensure that future development responds to local character and history, and reflects the identity of local surroundings and materials, while not preventing or discouraging appropriate innovation.