Planning "needs more National Character Areas", Built Environment Committee told

The Landscape Institute has called for the greater use of National Character Areas (NCAs) to help guide the planning, design and delivery of housing, transport and infrastructure, as part of its submission of evidence to the House of Lords' National Policy for the Built Environment Committee.

Landscape Institute president Noel Farrer. Image: Landscape Institute
Landscape Institute president Noel Farrer. Image: Landscape Institute

Each of the 159 NCAs in England is defined by a unique combination of landscape, biodiversity, history, culture and economic activity and is the most effective scale of planning, the LI said. But it said national planning policy "is currently failing because it has no spatial dimension".

"A spatial planning approach is necessary to align all policies that have an impact to achieve the ambitions set out in national planning policy."

The institute said introducing National Character Areas would ensure that any proposed developments would be designed to fit in with the unique local landscape character, as their boundaries follow the landscape rather than administrative boundaries.

Landscape Institute president Noel Farrer said: "The country is facing a housing crisis and it is clear from research that improved design, provision of green space and involvement of local communities are key to overcoming local opposition to new housing. All three can be tackled by a landscape-led approach to housing development that considers and responds to local landscape character and delivers the numbers of houses we need.

"It is these distinctive variations in character that defines England's Green and Pleasant Land and it is the quality of the local landscape that people really value.

"By working with landscape from the very outset of any development, it is possible to achieve distinctive local character in housing developments and a public realm where communities can interact and thrive. At present, landscape is often an afterthought in the house building process and in order to ensure quality, local support and speed of acceptance it needs to take centre stage."

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