Policy SE 4: The Landscape

13.30 Cheshire East has a rich and diverse landscape. To the east, the land rises from the Cheshire Plain into the Pennine foothills and the Derbyshire and Staffordshire boundaries.

In the south east, it includes the southern part of the Sandstone Ridge that runs north-south from Frodsham to Whitchurch and the rolling landscape of the Shropshire boundary. The Plain itself consists of a mosaic of clay plain, heathland, meres and mosses, shallow river valleys – Weaver, Wheelock, Dane and Bollin, and salt related landscapes around Middlewich and Sandbach. Much of the Plain has a pastoral landscape of hedgerows, hedgerow trees and ponds, which provides an impression of a well wooded landscape, but in fact woodland cover is one of the lowest in England and many of the hedgerow trees are slowly disappearing from the landscape.

Policy SE 4: The Landscape

1. The high quality of the built and natural environment is recognised as a significant characteristic of the borough. All development should conserve the landscape character and quality and should where possible, enhance and effectively manage the historic, natural and man-made landscape features that contribute to local distinctiveness of both rural and urban landscapes.

2. Development will be expected to:

3. In Local Landscape Designation Areas, Cheshire East will seek to conserve and enhance the quality of the landscape and to protect it from development which is likely to have an adverse effect on its character and appearance and setting. Where development is considered to be acceptable in principle; measures will be sought to integrate it into the landscape character of the area by:

i. Protecting, restoring and enhancing the character and appearance of the local area through suitable planting, landscape and / or woodland;

4. Where development may affect a local or national (1) designation a full understanding of the context, characteristics and significance should be provided and informed by the Cheshire East Landscape Character Assessment, Historic Landscape Assessment and the Local Landscape Designation Study.  In Local Landscape Designation Areas, Cheshire East will seek to conserve and enhance the quality of the landscape and to protect it from development which is likely to have an adverse effect on its character and appearance.

Justification

13.31 The conservation of the intrinsic character and beauty of the countryside is a core planning principle in the NPPF and it is important to understand the characteristics of the local landscape and how development may affect it. Development should contribute to the enhancement of landscape character, both urban and rural and should also protect and manage the historic, natural features and characteristics that contribute to local distinctiveness.

13.32 The Cheshire East area is a significant landscape asset in the North West which is enjoyed and valued for, amongst other things, its ecological, recreational, agricultural, conservation and aesthetic aspects. This is reflected in both the quantity and quality of landscape designations which protect specific areas and in the high profile given to the environment in the council’s key objectives.

13.33 Landscape encompasses all outdoor space, from town centre pedestrian precincts, to the open countryside: all forms of development impact upon the landscape to some degree and this needs to be assessed to determine its significance, ensure development is designed to integrate into its setting and to identify possible mitigation (be they proposals for stables, householder applications, new residential development, business parks, new town centre buildings, public art, telecommunications masts, wind farms, nursing homes, nurseries, new retail, overhead power lines, new recreational landscapes such as golf courses and many others).

13.34 Whilst all of Cheshire East’s landscapes are of value, some landscapes are also recognised as being of particular importance and have been identified as Local Landscape Designation areas; these areas sit within the framework of the Landscape Character Assessment. Criteria for defining the special qualities of these areas include: distinctiveness, perceptual character, landscape and scenic quality, natural character, cultural character and function. Further guidance and/or design advice will be published for areas of particular distinctiveness such as the Peak District Fringe and the Alderley Edge sandstone escarpment.

13.35 The impacts of proposed developments upon existing landscape and views of the surrounding area should be assessed as part of the planning process. This can include assessing the suitability of landscape schemes (often submitted as part of a planning application), and negotiating any improvements.  With larger projects, for example mineral applications, this can involve a series of meetings and site visits with the applicant’s planning consultants to provide advice.

(1) Refers to Peak District National Park.