Charnwood Forest Landscape Character Assessment

Charnwood Forest was formed some 600 million years ago and is a distinctive area with internationally important geological features, a varied topography, a wealth of heritage assets, arts and crafts architecture and a strong matrix of habitats including woodlands, grasslands and heathland. The area is not however protected by any formal status and could potentially be diluted and lost if its profile is not raised.

The requirement of the Charnwood Forest Landscape Character Assessment (LCA) was to review the previous LCA document, to refresh and update the study at a more detailed level, as required by the HLF. It was important that the document was designed and written in an appropriate style to be accessible to the public for planning, reference and education purposes, and to provide a robust evidence base for decision making.

FPCR have developed a comprehensive methodology which was used to review the area. The company is experienced at carrying out LCA’s for public authorities and also work on private development schemes which draw on published landscape assessments. This experience enables us to understand the requirements for clear and unambiguous guidance documentation.
Our East Midlands location and experience of working in the area meant we were familiar with the forest. Our consultants reviewed a substantial volume of background information and visited the whole area to identify key features on site, defined and described the key characteristics and developed the area descriptions.

The team led a consultation event with key stakeholders. The presentation was clear and concise with simple questions posed in order to obtain focussed responses which would guide the development of the report.

FPCR developed a good working relationship with the client who provided invaluable insight including a detailed knowledge of the history of the landscape and associated settlements. The client also provided key contacts for consultation to enable appropriate and effective consultation to be carried out.

The LCA was commissioned to support the second-round application to the HLF. A successful submission will enable future work to be carried out by the Charnwood Forest LPS to increase the identity and awareness of the value of Charnwood Forest. This will involve future projects relating to biodiversity improvements, improved management of the area and an increase in the depth of engagement of communities to develop a distinctive Charnwood Forest identity.

The landscape of Charnwood Forest is unique, and it is important to understand the influencing factors that shape the character of the area. The complex geology has led to extensive quarrying with local materials contributing to the local built vernacular. Nationally important archaeological finds have helped understand the lifestyles of early settlers and numerous priories and country house estates highlight the heritage influence on the area.

It is hoped that the Charnwood Forest LCA will be used as a tool for decision makers within the local authorities, as well as a guide for appropriate and suitable growth in the future. It will also support future projects of the LPS to promote Charnwood Forest to local residents and communities.

A wealth of existing information contained within a range of documents which included detailed and complex data relating especially to geology and heritage, was reviewed as part of the background research. This was supported by extensive field work and it was challenging to digest all the available information to extract the important features and present them as robust and accurate character area descriptions, management issues and recommendations.

The resulting document is however clear and easy to read, in a plain English format that will contribute to increasing awareness of the Charnwood Forest area for both professionals and local communities.

Overview

  • Project Name

    Charnwood Forest Landscape Character Assessment

  • Location

    Charnwood Forest, Leicestershire

  • Category

    Planning

  • Landscape Architect

    FPCR Environment and Design Ltd

  • Client

    The National Forest Company

  • Brief

    The Charnwood Forest Landscape Character Assessment (LCA) project was commissioned by the Charnwood Forest Regional Park Partnership (part of The National Forest Company) as part of the development of a Landscape Partnership Scheme (LPS) for Charnwood Forest. The LCA was to be carried out to support the second round Landscape Partnership Scheme application to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). An original Landscape Character Assessment was completed in 2008, however this needed to be refreshed and updated and carried out at a finer grain of detail as requested by the HLF. The 19 settlement character descriptions within the original document also needed to be updated to reflect new developments and changes that had come about in the last decade. The project brief was to produce a comprehensive landscape character assessment document for the Charnwood Forest Regional Park in a style and format which would help the Regional Park’s partners to enhance and protect the area’s distinctive landscapes. The document was to be designed and authored in a manner that would make it accessible to the public for planning, reference and education purposes, while providing enough detail to ensure that the decisions that it would inform are based on a solid evidence base. The LCA document is to be used to inform the production of a Landscape Conservation Action Plan which will be used in the second-round HLF funding application.

  • Awards

    Finalist, Landscape Institute Awards 2019

Details

  • Project Team

    Client: Julie Attard; Charnwood Forest Development Manager; The National Forest Company Project Team: Gary Holliday, Claire Heeks, Lucy Foster, Daniel Brennen; Michelle Tomlisson; FPCR Environment and Design Ltd

  • Year Completed

    2019

  • Project Size

    15,800 ha

  • Contract Value

    Fee value: £33,480

  • FPCR Environment and Design Ltd

    Registered Practice Membership
  • Approximate Map Location

    Location

    Charnwood Forest, Leicestershire

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