Tunbridge Wells Borough Council Local Development Framework by etssetcf


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									                  Tunbridge Wells Borough Council

                   Local Development Framework

       Landscape Character Assessment and Capacity Study

                             March 2009

                       Non Technical Summary

Landscape Section
Environmental Advice Team
Transport and Environment
East Sussex County Council
St Anne’s Crescent
East Sussex BN7 1UE

1. The Landscape Group of East Sussex County Council was commissioned by
   Tunbridge Wells Borough Council in July 2008 to carry out a landscape
   assessment and capacity study of appropriate parts of the Borough to inform
   future policy as part of the Local Development Framework.

2. The aims and objectives of the study were to define the relative capacity of the
   landscape to accommodate new housing and/or business development around
   existing settlements within the Borough to be incorporated within the Local
   Development Framework documents.

3. The study area took into account the approach taken within the Core Strategy:
   Preferred Options Report and assessed land outside the Limits to Built
   Development for 1km around Royal Tunbridge Wells and Paddock Wood and
   0.5km around Cranbrook and Hawkhurst. The study area around Royal
   Tunbridge Wells additionally included land within Wealden District.


4. The study has been carried out in accordance with best practice and the latest
   published guidance on this issue and has received the support of Natural
   England, the statutory consultee on such matters

5. To complete the study, field surveys were carried out to identify the landscape
   character sub-areas, within the already-established Tunbridge Wells Borough
   Character Areas, defined within the Tunbridge Wells Borough Landscape
   Character Assessment Supplementary Planning Guidance (2002). The field work
   was recorded using field survey sheets, describing the individual character areas,
   supported by a representative photograph of the character area.

6. The outcome is an analysis of defined sub-divisions of the Local Character Areas
   identified in the Borough Landscape Character Area Assessment (2002). This
   analysis compares the relative quality, value and sensitivity of the character
   areas and considers management issues and the potential for mitigation if
   development were to take place within these areas. The analysis, using the
   definitions below, results in a clear steer on the relative capacity for defined areas
   around each settlement assessed in the study.

       Landscape Quality is based on judgments about the physical state of the
       landscape from visual, functional and ecological perspectives. It also reflects
       the state of repair of individual features and elements, which make up the
       character in any one place.

       Landscape Value The relative value or importance attached to a landscape,
       which is of national or local significance , because of its quality, including
       perceptual aspects such as scenic beauty, tranquility or wildness, cultural
       associations or other conservation issues.
       Landscape Sensitivity is the inherent sensitivity of the landscape resource,
       which includes the sensitivity of both its character as a whole and the
       individual elements contributing to the character. Sensitivity also includes the
      visual sensitivity of the landscape in terms of views, types of viewers and the
      scope to mitigate visual impact.

      Landscape Mitigation is the potential of each character area to
      accommodate the required landscape mitigation for development. The
      potential to mitigate change in a particular landscape will depend on the
      factors, which determine the character of the landscape.

The Full Landscape Character Assessment and Capacity Study

7. The completed study comprises:

      Volume 1 – Text
      General Character Context
      Assessment of Capacity Analysis

      Appendix 1 Character Assessment Sheets (site survey sheets)

      Volume 2

      Table 1 – Landscape Quality evaluation criteria
      Table 2 – Landscape value Criteria
      Table 3 – Landscape Character Sensitivity to Change Evaluation Criteria
      Table 4 – Visual Sensitivity
      Table 5 – Character Area Landscape Capacity Evaluation Tunbridge Wells
      Table 6 – Character Area Landscape Capacity Evaluation Paddock Wood
      Table 7 – Character Area Landscape Capacity Evaluation Cranbrook
      Table 8 – Character Area Landscape Capacity Evaluation Hawkhurst

      Map 1 – Landscape Designations
      Map 2 – Borough Landscape Character Areas
      Map 3 and 4 – Tunbridge wells and Borough Map showing inset sheets for

      Tunbridge Wells (figures 1-7)
      Paddock Wood (figure 8)
      Cranbrook (figure 9)
      Hawkhurst (figure 10)

Assessing Landscape Capacity

8. Landscape capacity is the indicative ability of the landscape to accommodate
   different amounts of change or development of a specific type, in the case of this
   study, housing or business.
9. Landscape capacity is a combination of Landscape Character Sensitivity + Visual
   Sensitivity + Landscape Value and is expressed as High, Medium, Low or No

10. The capacity evaluation for each Character Area, does not assume that this is the
    capacity across the entire Character Area. The capacity is therefore explained
    further in a comments column on the Character Area Landscape Capacity
    Evaluation tables, which provides clarification on the capacity and the constraints
    within the individual character areas identified.


11. The following summaries for each settlement assessed through the study
    provide some general comments, which give further direction to identifying the
    areas of greatest potential capacity for development in landscape terms.

Tunbridge Wells

12. The town of Tunbridge Wells is surrounded by high quality and nationally and
    locally designated landscapes. There are no areas identified around the fringes of
    Tunbridge Wells, which would have a high capacity for development.

13. There are areas identified, which have moderate capacity for potential
    development. These are frequently areas where the urban edge is not well
    defined and the interface between town and countryside could be improved.
    There may be opportunities to encourage high quality new development in a
    landscape setting to strengthen the landscape character of these areas.

14. The areas with moderate capacity to accommodate change, include:
      • Limited pockets to the north east of Southborough, avoiding the steep
         open slopes
      • Areas close to the western boundaries of the town in the vicinity of St
         John’s and Rusthall
      • To the north east of the town in the Knights Park and Sandown areas
      • Areas to the south east of the town where there are more discrete areas
         close to the urban edges in the Hawkenbury and Tuttys Farm areas

Paddock Wood

   The town of Paddock Wood has grown around the railway. Most of the
   residential and town centre uses, including retail development, have spread to
   the south of the railway. To the north of the railway there is a concentration of
   industrial estates and large warehouse buildings. . The flat, open character of the
   town and the surrounding landscape would make it sensitive to the potential
   impacts of uncontrolled expanding development.

15. To the north of the town, the hard urban edges of the industrial estates intrude
    into the agricultural landscape. There could be scope to soften these edges with
    sensitively designed development in a new landscape structure ; from this point
    of view some areas with high or moderate capacity have been identified. This is
    notwithstanding the fact that the presence of the Medway flood plain would be a
    major constraint to development north and west of the town. The small-scale rural
   character of much of the surrounding countryside would be sensitive to major
   change. Where development may be considered to be acceptable in landscape
   terms this would only be acceptable close to the existing urban edges and where
   the urban edge could be redefined. The Medway flood plain would be a major
   constraint to development north and west of the town.


16. The context of the historic town of Cranbrook is in a distinctive rural setting,
    which requires protection against inappropriate development. Any proposed
    development would need to retain the tight-knit character of the existing town.
    There are limited areas where proposed development could be accommodated
    without detracting from this rural setting: these are the more enclosed locations
    where existing uses have intruded into the countryside. There are areas where
    new developments may provide opportunities to strengthen local landscape
    character and redefine the urban edges. The area to the east of Brick Kiln Farm
    would have a moderate capacity, but in a defined area close to the existing
    town centre.

17. Other areas with moderate capacity include the area east of Mill House,
    between the sewage works and Bakers Cross and also to the north west of
    Angley Road around Home Farm and the rugby club, where there are currently
    existing educational and recreational facilities.


18. The town of Hawkhurst is located on a broad, high plateau on the main
    ridgeline between the Rother Valley and the Hexden Channel. The town has a
    high-quality built environment and vernacular heritage. The edges of the town
    are well contained in the rural setting, with little evidence of suburban sprawl. A
    characteristic of settlement in this area is of ribbon development spreading out
    along the ridgetop roads and small historic settlements scattered along them.
    Any significant expansion of these scattered settlements would detract from the
    historic character. The visual containment of the built up areas around the
    settlement would make the edges of the town sensitive to further expansion into
    the rural areas. As with Cranbrook, there are areas where new developments
    may provide opportunities to strengthen local landscape character and redefine
    the urban edges. These would need to be designed within a substantial
    planted landscape framework.

      The areas identified as having moderate capacity are limited areas to the
      north and north west of Hawkhurst, but avoiding the more open slopes.
      Additionally there are areas to the east of the town, again avoiding the open
      slopes. There are areas with low capacity identified in the area to the south of
      Copthall Avenue where development could redefine the built up edge,
      similarly in very small pockets to the west of Highgate Hill. However, the need
      to protect the individual identity of settlements at Philpotts Cross, Lightfoot
      Green and Slipmill would restrict the capacity of this area to support

20.   This landscape capacity study gives direction for possible future expansion
      around the main settlements in Tunbridge Wells Borough. It gives a steer from
      a landscape perspective for the allocation of areas for housing and business
      development. The findings of the capacity analysis need to be considered in
      conjunction with other detailed studies in order to determine the overall
      potential of the areas to support development. These would need to include,
      amongst others, biodiversity, archaeology, hydrology, transport and access to
      existing facilities or infrastructure. More detailed landscape analysis would be
      required for each area, which is identified as having some capacity. This would
      help to determine the boundaries of any future development and the landscape
      infrastructure required to integrate and mitigate the possible development
      proposals into the existing landscape character.

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