Waveney Local Plan

Landscape Character

243 Reydon8.183 Waveney District is characterised by landscapes associated with the coast, river valleys and open countryside. Together these have contributed towards shaping historical patterns of development and the identity of local communities. The District shares part of the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and part of the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads (The Broads Authority is the Planning Authority for the Broads). These nationally designated landscapes benefit from significant levels of protection in national planning policy and the Council will apply national planning policy to proposals within the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty to ensure its protection. The National Planning Policy Framework also supports the protection of locally valued landscapes.

8.184 The Waveney District Landscape Character Assessment (2008) identifies and describes distinctive landscape character areas throughout the District. Ten landscape character areas were identified including Rural Wooded Valley, Rural River Valley, Coastal Broads and Marshes, Dunes, Coastal Levels and Resorts, Coastal Cliffs, Settled Farmland, Tributary Valley Farmland, Farmed Plateau Clayland, Estuarine Marsh and Sandlings. These have been further sub-divided into component landscape character areas each with distinct and recognisable local, and often historic, identity.

8.185 The Landscape Character Assessment sets out specific details about each landscape character area including 'sensitivities', 'strategic objectives' and 'considerations in relation to development'. Appendix 7 provides a summary of the key attributes and strategic objectives for each landscape character area.

8.186 The Rural River Valleys and Tributary Valley Farmland character areas are identified in the Landscape Character Assessment as being valued landscapes that are particularly sensitive to change.

8.187 Within the District, the area along the Waveney Valley is adjacent the Broads National Park. These adjacent areas share many similar characteristics. The Broads Landscape Character Assessment (2006) was updated in 2012 in conjunction with the Broads Landscape Sensitivity Study for Renewables and Infrastructure which explored the sensitivity of the landscape to renewable energy development.

8.188 The Settlement Fringe Landscape Sensitivity Study (2016) builds on the District Landscape Character Assessment (2008) and defines the sensitivity of landscapes around key settlements. This information can be used, to inform consideration about the effects of development proposals on the distinctive character, qualities and sensitivities of landscapes within the fringes of settlements within the District and on the settings of adjacent protected landscapes (the Broads and the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty). The study provides advice on the sensitivity, value and capacity of landscapes to accommodate development in the following buffer areas around settlements:

  • Market Towns - 1,000 metres
  • Lowestoft - 1,500 metres
  • Villages - 500 metres

8.189 The assessment supports the findings of the Landscape Character Assessment by identifying Tributary Valley Farmland and Rural River Valley landscapes on the fringes of settlements as being valued landscapes that are particularly sensitive to change.

8.190 Policy WLP8.33 provides protection for all landscape character areas in the District. It requires proposals to consider the strategic objectives and considerations identified in the key local landscape evidence referred to in the policy. In doing this, proposals should consider not only how they relate to the local landscape but how they can integrate into it through good design and landscaping. Landscaping and structural planting which reinforces historic field patterns or enhances connectivity within the green infrastructure network to the benefit of wildlife will be supported. Consideration should be given to strength of place, visibility, value and contribution to designated landscapes. The existing public rights of way network is fragmented in many locations and development proposals should consider how they could enhance public footways to benefit the network in the long-term.

8.191 The Policy also gives specific protection from significant impacts on those landscapes which provide a setting to the Broads, the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and landscapes characterised as Rural River Valleys and Tributary Valley Farmland in the Landscape Character Assessment. Significant adverse impacts will be judged based on the scale of the development, the associated effect on the key characteristics which define the sensitivity and value of the landscape, the visual impact, the duration and permanency of the effect and the extent to which any effects can be mitigated through a landscaping scheme. In assessing impact the Waveney District Landscape Character Assessment (2008), the Settlement Fringe Landscape Sensitivity Study (2016), the Broads Landscape Character Assessment (2006) and the Broads Landscape Sensitivity Study for Renewables and Infrastructure (2012) will be used.

8.192 Conservation of areas recognised for their tranquil character, dark skies and sense of wildness are key management issues recognised in the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Management Plan and by the Broads Authority. Tranquillity and Night Blight Maps prepared by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (2007 and 2016 respectively) indicate that the areas with greatest tranquillity are located between Kessingland and Reydon within the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and in the rural area near the Saints. These areas are shown to have good (but not high) levels of tranquillity. The maps also show that Waveney is the one of the darker Districts in the country with much of the District darker than regional and national averages. The Broads Authority Night Blight and Dark Skies Assessment (2016) identified that in the Southern Broads, the darkest skies were located around Geldeston. In Waveney District this relates to the area between Mettingham and Shipmeadow. 

Policy WLP8.33 - Landscape Character

Proposals for development should be informed by, and be sympathetic to, the distinctive character areas, strategic objectives and considerations identified in the Waveney District Landscape Character Assessment (2008), the Settlement Fringe Landscape Sensitivity Study (2016), the Broads Landscape Character Assessment (2006) and the Broads Landscape Sensitivity Study for Renewables and Infrastructure (2012).

Development proposals will be expected to demonstrate their location, scale, form, design and materials will protect and where possible enhance:

  • The special qualities and local distinctiveness of the area;
  • The visual and historical relationship between settlements and their landscape settings;
  • The pattern of distinctive landscape elements such as watercourses, commons, woodland trees, (especially hedgerow trees) and field boundaries, and their function as ecological corridors; and
  • Visually sensitive skylines, seascapes and significant views towards key landscapes and cultural features.

Proposals should include measures that enable a scheme to be well integrated into the landscape and enhance connectivity to the surrounding green infrastructure and Public Rights of Way network.

Development will not be permitted where it will have a significant adverse impact on:

  • The setting of the Broads or the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty; or
  • Locally sensitive and valued landscapes including Rural River Valleys and Tributary Valley Farmland character areas.

Proposals for development should protect and enhance the tranquillity and dark skies of the area.