The landscape character database now available

The Landscape Character Assessment (LCA) database includes over 500 LCAs from local to regional scale across the UK and Ireland.

The openly available resource was developed with the support of Natural England, NatureScot, Natural Resources Wales, Transport Infrastructure Ireland and DAERA Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA).

The database offers a single resource for the landscape profession and all other professions who may use landscape character data now and in the future. It provides a starting point for the sector.

The database includes information such as the scale of assessment, publishing authority, author, format of data and date of last update and is organised into the various Landscape Institute branch regions. The database captures published Landscape Character Assessments at all levels from local, sometimes associated with a Neighbourhood Development Plan, through to regional.

According to Natural England, the definition of a Landscape Character Assessment is the process of identifying and describing variation in character of the landscape. These documents identify and explain the unique combination of elements and features that make landscapes distinctive by mapping and describing character types and areas.

In December 2020, the Landscape Institute Spatial Data Group initiated a project to review publicly available landscape character assessment information and to provide a single resource that will be of benefit to many environmental professionals.

The project prompted interest from approximately 30 volunteers in several different practices across the UK and was supported by public bodies that share in the knowledge of the benefits this resource will provide. This project included a consultation period (1st March 2022 – 20th June 2022) where Landscape Institute members, local authorities and stakeholders were invited to feedback and contribute further to this resource.

The database will need to reflect regular updates to landscape character assessments and movement on the host authority websites. As part of future planning there are aspirations to create a collated visual resource with all the assessment data on a map.  

With thanks to Charlotte Williams (AECOM), Jon Dix and Chris Bolton from Natural England, Laura Campbell from NatureScot, John Briggs from Natural Resources Wales, Tony Williams from Transport Infrastructure Ireland, and Mike Shilton from Transoft Solutions.

Sue Morgan, Chief Executive of the Landscape Institute said, “I’m proud that the Landscape Institute is part of this cross-sector partnership. As designers, we seek to transform the world for the better. But to do this, we must have accurate and current information to better understand and represent the communities we serve. We know that there are longstanding issues and gaps in our knowledge, and by pooling our collective resources and intelligence, as well as standardising our approach to gathering information, we will be able to put this data to best use – addressing systemic barriers and ultimately bringing about real, positive change.”

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