Guiding principle 4: Conserving, enhancing and strengthening links with landscape

To protect, manage and plan an attractive green infrastructure network that conserves and enhances:

  • the distinctive character, special qualities and features of Devon’s landscapes
  • the distinct identity, character and landscape setting of settlements
  • the cultural ecosystem services provided by green infrastructure
  • access to and enjoyment of valued landscapes for recreation, education and lifelong learning

Actions that strengthen the connections between people and their neighbourhood are to be supported.

Why this is important for Devon and beyond

Devon’s landscape is the result of natural and cultural influences over time, and is one of the county’s most important environmental and educational assets. Its quality, distinctive character and diversity – including two coastlines, two National Parks and 5 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty – is highly valued by people, and offers an envied quality of life for those who live within and visit the county. Its economic importance is priceless – attracting inward investment and supporting tourism and the Devon ‘brand’ for products from the land. Green infrastructure, from a single tree to an undeveloped coastline, can provide ‘cultural ecosystem services’ such as tranquillity, a sense of escapism, calm and contact with nature that support our wellbeing, creativity and mental health. Distinctive and well- loved places can also encourage a sense of belonging and identity with an area which can be vital for fostering community spirit.

But Devon’s landscape is constantly subject to forces of change that threaten to harm or erode the qualities. This could be through pressures for new development, the expansion of urban areas as our population grows, changes in land management, or natural forces such as climate change and coastal erosion. Equally, our population is becoming more urban, and making enjoyment and understanding of our natural environment more difficult. This, coupled with increasingly stretched public resources to manage the public realm, often means the management of GI suffers against other priorities, with consequent loss of quality and function.

Strategic priorities and approaches for working together across Devon

4.1: Use Devon’s landscape character assessments (LCAs), related sensitivity assessments and design guides to inform green infrastructure planning, design and management from the outset within all Devon landscapes, so that distinctive and valued features, characteristics and qualities of the area are conserved and enhanced as part of the green infrastructure network.

4.2: Support communities in identifying locally valued green spaces in their area for potential designation as Local Green Space, and ensure common approaches to designation across administrative boundaries, developing a shared Devon green infrastructure checklist for audit.

  • Your role

    Find out how you can get involved in the delivery of this guiding principle, whether you are an interested local community group or individual, a landowner or a public authority.

    Local authorities

    Policy planners: ensure there are policies and up to date evidence to support this principle in Local Plans.

    Landowners, developers and design professionals

    Be aware of an area’s landscape character evidence bases and design new developments to respect or enhance the local landscape character

    Communities and Individuals

    Neighbourhood planning bodies should ensure policies to preserve and enhance lcandscape character are included within neighbourhood and parish plans.

Tools and case studies to help you

The following tools and case studies will aid the delivery of this guiding principle:

Mapping of green infrastructure in Devon

We have undertaken mapping of the green infrastructure in Devon.

Devon County Council landscape webpages

Our landscape webpages contain lots of useful information and advice for:

  • Devon Landscape Character Assessment
  • Devon toolkit for natural environment
  • CPRE toolkit on landscape
  • Landscape Institute
  • Natural England