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Landscapes & Areas

Increasingly, the historic environment is managed not only at the level of individual buildings, sites or monuments, but also in terms of entire landscapes.

This includes extensive tracts of countryside as well as entire townscapes and areas that are designated, such as National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Conservation Areas, as well as areas that are not.

Black Mountains
Black Mountains © Historic England

Historic England already carries out landscape-scale work of this type, including:

  • Providing advice
  • Carrying out research
  • Carrying out characterisation studies
  • Protecting places through designation and
  • Providing planning advice

We believe this allows us to develop a far greater understanding of the historic environment and its relationship with people today.

It helps us engage most effectively with large-scale uses of land such as farming and forestry.  In doing so, Historic England supports the implementation of the European Landscape Convention (The Florence Convention).

Bakerstead Miterdale, Lake District
Bakerstead Miterdale, Lake District © Historic England

The European Landscape Convention

The European Landscape Convention (ELC) – was published in October 2000 and came into force in England on 1 March 2007.  It is a forward-looking document, aimed at promoting the highest quality landscape everywhere for future generations through  protection, management and enhancement.

Moccas Park, Herefordshire
Moccas Park, Herefordshire © Historic England

The European Landscape Convention in England

The UK is already compliant with the Convention, but is always seeking to strengthen its implementation, which is led by Defra.

Defra plays a co-ordinating role for the whole of the UK and an organising role for England, where Defra works closely with Historic England and Natural England, within its 'Framework for Implementation in England'.

Historic England is currently updating its own Action Plan for the Convention. This plan will clearly show how our research and planning work is contributing to the implementation of the Convention in England.

Landscape Network

Historic England has a Landscape Network which brings together people within the organisation who are working on different aspects of landscape to discuss themes of common interest.

The network has produced a list of priorities for action in the period ahead, which can be summarised as follows:

Policy and communication

  • Ensuring landscape is addressed in the Historic England Action Plan
  • Updating our ELC Action Plan and engaging in discussion at UK and European level.
  • Establishing links to partner organisations' landscape activity.
  • Advising on the landscape impact of government policies.

Managing change

  • Understanding the pressures for change on the historic landscape.
  • Thinking about the role designation can play in protecting the historic landscape.
  • Aligning Historic Landscape Characterisation (HLC) with community planning.
  • Engaging with urban landscape initiatives, such as green infrastructure planning.

Analysing and interpreting landscapes

  • Extending the use of characterisation, including the development of a national HLC.
  • Using Natural England's National Character Areas (NCAs) as a spatial framework.
  • Developing methods for characterising deeply buried and submerged landscapes.
  • Integrating studies of particular asset types with their landscape context.

Training and outreach

  • Identifying needs and opportunities for developing skills relevant to landscape.
  • Developing guidance that will encourage communities to engage with historic landscapes.
  • Helping schools to get historic landscapes into the curriculum.

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