Landscape management

Protected landscapes

The high quality of Hampshire’s landscape is reflected in the coverage of nationally important protected areas.

Hampshire has two National Parks and three Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs). The areas are:

They cover a total area of about 144,000 hectares or about 38% of the County. Hampshire County Council is actively engaged in their management.

The Surrey Hills AONB also borders part of the east of the County.

Together with local planning authorities, we are responsible for the review, preparation and publication of statutory management plans for AONBs. We are also a key partner in the preparation of statutory management plans for the National Parks.

Management plans can be accessed using the links above.

Landscape planning

Landscape planning in Hampshire is guided by national legislation, regulation and planning policy guidance and county level land use plans, such as the:

Management Plans that cover Hampshire's protected landscapes are also material planning considerations in the determination of development proposals. Underpinning these plans, policies and procedures is a comprehensive landscape evidence base at county and district level. This includes the:

These studies also provide the basis for guidance to internal and external partners on land use planning matters. Matters range from green infrastructure to coastal management plans.

Landscape character assessment

Landscape Character Assessment (LCA) is a technique for looking at all the components of landscape and how they combine. LCA includes the:

  • physical
  • perceptual
  • ecological
  • historic
  • visual

The way that they combine will be different from one place to another. This leads to the classification of the landscape into:

  • generic ‘landscape types’ such as: ‘open downland’ and ‘open heath
  • locally specific ‘landscape character areas’

It is a way of understanding:

  • the distinctive elements of the landscapes
  • the forces for change affecting them
  • how they contribute to sense of place

These provide an essential baseline for making decisions about change, whether as a result of land management or development.
The character of Hampshire’s landscape has been assessed as part of the Hampshire Integrated Character Assessment.

Additional local landscape character assessments have been undertaken by Hampshire’s District and Borough Councils and protected landscape bodies. The assessments are available on their websites.

Historic Landscape Characterisation is used alongside landscape character assessment to help us understand how our current landscapes have evolved.

Local distinctiveness

Our local landscape is the backdrop to our daily lives. We often take it for granted, and it is only when something changes that we realise how much we value it. A valued landscape may be:

  • a particular view
  • the sense of history we experience as we walk along a hedge-lined track with high banks
  • part of our town or village that has a pleasing combination of buildings and spaces

Local distinctiveness and local landscape character is about what communities think makes their local area distinctive and unique.

With Community Action Hampshire, Hampshire County Council has produced guidance. This is to help local communities undertake local landscape character assessment for their areas: Local Landscape Character Assessments Toolkit

Assessing and maintaining local distinctiveness

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