Devon's Landscape

Devon County Council’s role

Countryside in Devon

Devon County Council is committed, through its Strategic Plan, to keeping Devon’s landscape special and help people enjoy it for generations to come. The European Landscape Convention defines landscape as “an area, as perceived by people, whose character is the result of the action and interaction of natural and/or human factors”. The UK Government ratified the Convention in 2007 and now recognises landscape in law in its own right.

Public bodies have a statutory duty to co-operate on planning issues that cross administrative boundaries, as set out in the National Planning Policy Framework and the Localism Act. This includes strategic policies and priorities aimed at conserving and enhancing the natural and historic environment, including landscape. The National Planning Policy Framework requires the roles and character of different areas to be taken into account in planning, and for the intrinsic character and beauty of the countryside to be recognised. It requires sustainable development to be delivered that is well-designed and sensitive to the defining characteristics of the local area, taking opportunities to integrate development into the landscape, address the connection between people and place, minimise harm to its character and special qualities (such as tranquillity and beauty), and protect valued landscapes, particularly Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, National Parks and the undeveloped coast.

Devon County Council works to fulfil these responsibilities by:

  • Chairing and providing the secretariat for the Devon Landscape Policy Group, a forum which allows discussion, agreement and promotion of consistent landscape policy and advice in the geographical county;
  • Providing specialist landscape and green infrastructure advice and support in connection with planning services (development management and spatial planning) and Devon County Council developments;
  • Working with partner organisations to keep Devon’s Landscape Character Assessment evidence base up to date, and promote its use in planning and land management.