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					                                            LANDSCAPE CHARACTER ASSESSMENT APPROACH                                                    4.0
4.1     Introduction                                                        and Wiltshire assessments, the OWLS approach examined the
                                                                            landscape at a more detailed level, equating a classification of local
The character of a particular landscape gives it a sense of place,          landscape types. Because of this different level of resolution, the
regardless of perceptions of quality or value This assessment               Oxfordshire Landscape Types did not marry into the boundaries of
provides a descriptive map of the Cotswold Water Park study area,           the Types within the counties to the west. However, it was possible
and draws attention to the contrasts in landscape character that are        to integrate the county findings at a broader level. Following a desk
often taken for granted. It recognises that all landscapes matter, not      review of these adjacent typologies, the distribution of the county
just those that are particularly well known, or evoke strong images.        level Landscape Character Types was subsequently verified and
                                                                            refined through field assessment and further desk study.
4.2     Landscape Character Types and Landscape
        Character Areas                                                     Reference was also made to the landscape character assessments
                                                                            undertaken by the district and borough authorities that extend
The ‘Landscape Character Assessment Guidance’, 2002 published
                                                                            across the area, particularly where they have been undertaken at
by the former Countryside Agency and Scottish Natural Heritage
                                                                            a more detailed level. Through this, their findings have guided the
sets out the methodology and spatial hierarchy for the landscape
                                                                            final verification and refinement of the Landscape Character Types /
character assessment process with a top down cascade from the
                                                                            Area boundaries and also their naming. The North Wiltshire District
National Typology down to local level. It also sets out the distinction
                                                                            Assessment in particular provided a valuable source of reference in
between and nature of Landscape Character Types and Areas,
                                                                            the process of classification of the Landscape Character Types and
recognising that each type and area has a distinct, recognisable and
                                                                            refinements to the boundaries.
consistent pattern of elements that makes it different from another.

                                                                            Reference was also made to the wealth of descriptive text that
•     Landscape Character Types are distinct types of landscape
                                                                            has been prepared by the various authorities in respect of their
      that are relatively homogeneous in character.           They are
                                                                            Landscape Character Assessment.          Where appropriate these
      generic in nature in that they may occur in different parts
                                                                            descriptions have been integrated into the text that follows.
      of the country, but wherever they occur they share broadly
      similar combinations of geology, landform, drainage patterns,         Building upon this approach and methodology, the Landscape
      vegetation, and historical land use and settlement pattern.           Character Assessment has identified a total of 5 Landscape
                                                                            Character Types and 13 Landscape Character Areas across the
•     Landscape Character Areas are single, unique areas and
                                                                            Cotswold Water Park study area. These are listed in Table 2 at the
      form discrete geographical areas of a specific landscape
                                                                            end of this section and their distribution shown on Figure 2.

                                                                            Following this introduction, and the Summary Table, each of the
4.3     An Objective Approach
                                                                            generic landscape types is described. The key characteristics are
An important feature of the approach adopted in this Landscape              summarised followed by a review of landscape character, and the
Character Assessment is that it is objective. The underlying principle      physical and human influences that have shaped the landscape and
is that all landscapes matter and not just those which are designated       contributed to its character. This is followed by a description of the
or are regarded as being of higher quality than others, so no               geographically unique Landscape Character Areas that occur within
judgement is made of a particular landscape’s value, or whether             each Landscape Character Type, and a summary of the principal
it is of higher quality than others.       Written descriptions avoid       features that are particular to each.
value-laden terminology such as beautiful, bland, attractive and
                                                                            4.5     Descriptions of Small Sections of Landscape
degraded, although attention is given to identifying characteristics
                                                                                    Character Types and Areas
that are distinctive, rare or special. In this way, the descriptions help
raise awareness of an area’s local distinctiveness and encourage            Some of the Landscape Character Types on the margins of the study
appreciation of variations in character across the study area.              area occupy a very small fragment of a much wider representation
                                                                            of the type that extends well beyond the boundary of the Cotswold
4.4      Identification of the Landscape Character Types
                                                                            Water Park. These comprise fragments of the Dip Slope Limestone
        and Areas
                                                                            Lowland, which occur within a narrow belt of land along the northern
This assessment has used the county level Landscape Character               margin of the study area; and a small section of the Limestone Ridge
Assessments prepared by Gloucestershire and Wiltshire as the                where Lus Hill extends into the south-eastern part of the study area.
principal reference source for determining the distribution of              In the south-western part of the study area, to the south of Pool
Landscape Character Types across the study area. Reference was              Keynes, a small area of Limestone Lowland also occurs, as classified
also made to the Oxfordshire Wildlife and Landscape Study (OWLS)            in the Wiltshire Assessment. However, this has been integrated with
in respect of the very small area of this county that extends into the      the neighbouring Cornbrash Limestone Lowland immediately to the
eastern section of the study area. In contrast to the Gloucestershire       north as the area is underlain by this rock formation.


     For completion, full descriptions are provided of the Landscape          In many instances, the boundary lines were initially defined by
     Character Types that these small areas form part of.        Because      contours where these correlated with a well-defined landform, a
     they apply to a much larger area, some of the descriptions may           change in slope profile or a general height above Ordnance Datum,
     not fully apply to the detached fragments of land that fall within the   or a change in the underlying geology that resulted in a significant
     study area. This also applies to the Landscape Character Area            surface expression. The boundary lines were then drawn to the field
     descriptions as these also address a wider area of which these areas     boundaries that followed the closest correlation with the landform
     only form a small part of. Where appropriate, however, reference is      and mapped contours, or other identifiable features.
     made to relevant local detail in respect of the land that falls within
                                                                              Where the assessment of a particular site or area is undertaken that
     the study area.
                                                                              falls close to, or within 0.5km of a boundary line, the characteristics
     4.6     Boundary Determination of Landscape Character                    and descriptions for each of the adjacent Landscape Character
             Type and Areas                                                   Types and Areas should be taken into consideration. This includes
                                                                              any future management strategies that may be developed. This is
     The boundaries of the Landscape Character Types and Areas were
                                                                              particularly important in the evaluation of and guiding management
     initially mapped to 1:50,000 scale, using the range of data sets that
                                                                              requirements, as well as in the consideration of the development of
     were made available at this scale, and subsequently verified and
                                                                              landscape and environmental projects. Such an approach is also
     refined in the field. Reference to 1:25,000 scale maps was also
                                                                              important where there is a high degree of intervisibility between
     made as an integral part of the desk study and throughout the field
                                                                              neighbouring landscapes. ‘Borrowed’ characteristics are important
     studies, to provide a more informed and detailed analysis of mapped
                                                                              not just to the landscape they are in, but also to the landscape they
     features, including the pattern of field sizes and types. The final
                                                                              are visible from.
     mapping of the boundary lines was undertaken at 1:25,000 scale
     and mapped on GIS.

     Landscape character rarely changes abruptly or follows clearly
     defined lines on the ground, and as a consequence the boundaries
     that have been defined for the Landscape Character Types and
     Areas should be considered as transitional.      This is evident, for
     example, in the subtle transition from the Dip-Slope Lowland to the
     Cornbrash Lowlands in the northern perimeter of the study area,
     and also the River Basin Clay Vale area.      Other types are more
     clearly defined, however, such as the small area of Limestone Ridge
     in the south-eastern perimeter of the study area. Here, the locally
     prominent Lus Hill rises above the surrounding Rolling Clay Lowland
     Farmland to the north with the well defined break of slope enabling
     a more precise boundary to be identified.        Nevertheless, even
     this distinctive morphological unit demonstrate some transitional
     characteristics where the base of the hillock merges with the
     surrounding lowland.

     Despite the transitional nature of landscape character, the provision
     of a definitive line provides an clear reference point from which to
     commence the determination of specific outputs from the Landscape
     Character Assessment, including interrogation in GIS. Throughout
     this study, therefore, the boundaries to Landscape Character Types
     and Areas are all shown as definitive lines, mapped to 1:25,000 on
     GIS. In recognition of the transitional nature of landscape character,
     however, it is important to note that these boundary lines represent
     the centre line of the transition based on the determining features
     associated with geology, topography, soils, cultural patterns and
     land use. These are then refined to follow field boundaries or the
     perimeter of well-defined features such as woodlands, roads, tracks
     and occasionally footpaths.

                                 LANDSCAPE CHARACTER ASSESSMENT APPROACH                 4.0
Table 2: Landscape Character Types and Areas within the Cotswold Water Park Study Area


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