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How to use the DLCA

How do I use the maps on the DLCA?

The interactive map allows you to explore the Devon landscape and to access profiles of Devon Character Areas. You can zoom and pan around the map and click on the map to display further information. Clicking on a Devon Character Area will display the name and summary information and provide a web link to access the relevant profile. Clicking on a Landscape Character Type will display the name of the Landscape Character Type together with links to the relevant profiles on each District Council website.

Who uses the DLCA and why?

The DLCA can be used in many situations, for example in preparing development plans, designing and assessing the impacts of new development, managing protected landscapes and the wider countryside, targeting and monitoring landscape change, and helping local communities to plan for change at neighbourhood level. In future it may also inform the development of seascape assessments to assist with the preparation of Marine Plans.

The DLCA is a useful tool for informing and engaging stakeholders in sustainable development. It can serve as a framework for decision-making that respects landscape character and local distinctiveness. In Devon this is particularly important as the County designation of ‘Areas of Great Landscape Value’ is planned to be phased out.

The LCA is important for the implementation of the European Landscape Convention (ELC) – the first international convention on landscape, dedicated exclusively to the protection, management and planning of all landscapes in Europe. The LCA provides a method to identify and assess landscapes and a framework for developing landscape quality objectives in partnership with stakeholders – all specific measures of the ELC.

How can the DLCA be used for spatial planning?

Spatial planning needs to take account of the particular characteristics of places and how these relate to each other. The DLCA provides a ready-made framework for spatial planning. The Devon Character Areas identify areas of distinctive landscape at a county scale, and can be helpful in developing spatial priorities at county level. Devon. For more localised spatial planning the information in local Landscape Character Assessments, carried out at the district level, should be used.

How can the DLCA be used for landscape sensitivity studies?

The DLCA provides the background information and a spatial framework for landscape sensitivity studies. The characteristics of the landscape as identified in the DLCA allow the assessment of inherent landscape sensitivity, which can then inform an assessment of the sensitivity of the landscape to particular types of change. Combining this with an assessment of the visibility of particular types of change leads to an understanding of overall landscape sensitivity. Sensitivity studies can be developed for a wide range of different change scenarios, including built development, energy infrastructure and forestry.

How can the DLCA be used for green infrastructure planning?

Green infrastructure is the interconnected network of public and private land and water that supports native species, maintains natural and ecological processes, sustains air and water resources, and contributes to the health and quality of life of people and communities. A key principle of green infrastructure planning is that it should utilise the existing character of the landscape and enhance the sense of place. Landscape Character Assessment is an important tool to guide the planning and design of green infrastructure that responds to local distinctiveness.

How can the DLCA be used for urban edge studies?

There is a need for urban fringe landscapes to accommodate a wide range of functions for society including development, recreation, agriculture, transport infrastructure and nature conservation. Although similar challenges exist in many urban fringe areas, there is a great diversity of Landscape Character Types near urban areas. Landscape Character Assessment captures the distinctive characteristics of these landscapes and promotes understanding of how they have developed.

How can the DLCA be used for biodiversity planning?

There are strong patterns of biodiversity across Devon, which relate very strongly to landscape character. The DLCA provides a useful spatial framework for biodiversity planning because specific habitats and species are often associated with particular landscapes. In addition, Landscape Character Types permit comparison of landscapes with similar characteristics across the county. The DLCA can assist in the design and targeting of habitat creation schemes that enhance the distinctive characteristics of particular landscapes.

How can the DLCA be used for understanding the historic environment?

The landscape of Devon has been shaped by the interaction between people and place over thousands of years. The DLCA provides a broad overview of the influence of the historic landscape on the present character of the landscape. Each Devon Character Area profile contains information describing the historic landscape. A detailed Historic Landscape Characterisation is available for Devon, which provides a much finer level of detail on the patterns of historic landscape across the county.

How can the DLCA be used for development management?

Development management decisions need to be informed by the landscape context of the proposed development. In a county as diverse as Devon, the potential impact of development will vary in different landscapes. The DLCA helps development management decisions to take account of the distinctive characteristics of different landscapes and the potential impact of development. Development managers should refer to the Devon Character Area profiles for an overview of the landscape. For local development decisions it will often be necessary to refer to the local Landscape Character Assessments created by district councils. See also Training initiatives.

How can the DLCA be used for planning new development?

New development needs to take full account of its relationship with the landscape. Understanding the landscape context of development is an essential first step of the design process. The DLCA helps developers to understand the characteristics of different areas of landscape and of the impacts of potential development. This helps in the identification of sites that are suitable for different types of development. When a development site has been identified, the key characteristics of the landscape can inform the design and layout of new development.

How can the DLCA be used for land management?

The DLCA provides an information resource to inform land management decisions and agri-environment scheme applications by identifying valued elements in the agricultural landscape. At a national scale agri-environment measures are targeted by National Character Area. The Farm Environment Plan Guidance instructs applicants to use local Landscape Character Assessments where they are available. Applicants should refer to the Devon Character Area profiles, which highlight locally distinctive features at a county scale. Applicants may also refer to district landscape character assessments for additional detail.

How can the DLCA be used for climate change mitigation and adaption?

Climate change will have varying effects and demand particular responses in different landscapes. The DLCA provides a framework for assessing the effects of climate change on the particular characteristics of different landscapes. It also provides a means for understanding how the characteristics of the landscape can be used to mitigate the effects of climate change, for example through peat management for carbon storage and land management to reduce flooding. There is also a need for society to adapt to climate change, which will include the introduction of new landscape elements such as renewable energy installations. Such development will have different impacts in different landscapes and the DLCA provides a framework for assessing these impacts.

How can the DLCA be used for education?

The DLCA helps to inspire people of all ages to learn about their relationship with the local environment. Within formal education, the DLCA has relevance for teaching history, biology and geography by showing how natural and cultural processes have shaped the landscape. Understanding how landscape has been changed by people over time and how it may change in the future provides an engaging tool for teaching citizenship. The DLCA also has a role to play in continuing adult education, providing an accessible way for people to gain an interest in learning about their local landscape.

How can the DLCA be used by local communities?

The European Landscape Convention requires the involvement of all members of society in the protection, management and planning of landscapes. This involvement will safeguard the heritage value of landscapes, enable positive change and help communities to look ahead to adapt and create the landscapes of the future. The DLCA helps local communities to understand the context of their landscape for community planning. The Devon Character Area profiles and Landscape Character Types provide information about the landscape that will help communities to identify and value the distinctive characteristics of their place.

Training presentations on the DLCA

Around 80 people attended three training workshops in March 2013 on the use of landscape character assessments in planning and land management. The presentations given at the workshops (held in Totnes, Exeter and Tiverton) are reproduced here: