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Assessment Methodology

Information Gathering - the Landscape Database

To assist the process of characterisation an integrated Geographical Information Systems (GIS) database was developed in which the landscape of the county was broken down into around 7,000 individual mapping units or landscape description units (LDUs). For each of these units information was recorded on a range of attributes that influence landscape character, including:

  • Geology: solid
  • Geology: drift
  • Soils
  • Landform
  • Land use
  • Field pattern
  • Field scale
  • Boundary type
  • Tree cover
  • Tree cover
  • Woodland pattern
  • Settlement type
  • Settlement pattern
  • Origins
  • Relics: Prehistoric
  • Relics: Roman
  • Relics: Medieval
  • Relics: Post-medieval
  • Wetlands

Data was drawn from a large number or sources including Ordnance Survey data, published maps of geology and soils, satellite data, and archival material such as enclosure awards. Much of the mapping was carried out using aerial photographs. 

Classification and Description

The landscape database was analysed for patterns of attributes - such as tree cover, boundary types, and the period of origin of field systems - which might influence landscape character at a range of different scales. A hierarchical approach was taken to the classification of the landscape, with Landscape Character Types and/or Landscape Character Areas identified at three different scales:

Regional - County Character Areas
Sub regional - Broad Landscape Types and Broad Character Areas
Local - Local Landscape Types and Sub-types

For more information on the classification process see Landscape Classification.

The classification was checked and revised through a process of field survey carried out partly by consultants Shiels Flynn who also recorded subjective, aesthetic or perceptual factors not readily apparent from the mapping exercise.

Descriptions of County Character Areas, Broad Landscape Types, Broad Character Areas, Local Landscape Types and Sub-types were written on the basis of field survey and analysis of the attributes recorded in the GIS database.

Both characterisation and description rely heavily on the professional judgements of those involved. A series of workshops with stakeholders was carried out to test the robustness of the classification system and the descriptive material. The assessment was published as a consultation draft on the Councils website in 2003, and feedback from that process informed subsequent revisions. Both the database and the assessment is subject to periodic review and is regularly updated to reflect changes in the landscape, to correct drafting errors, or to add new information as it becomes available. The issues identified through this process form the basis for the The Landscape Strategy.