Built and historic environment

Historic environment character assessment

Today's landscapes have developed through a process of change with the influence of man-made changes extending back through thousands of years.

The evolution of the landscape, and the remaining evidence that demonstrates how landscapes have developed, is recognised as a factor that should be taken account of in considering where new growth should take place. The general approach should be to divert growth away from areas where there is greatest survival of, or continuity in, historic landscapes.

Conversely areas where there is least survival of the early influence of man in the landscape would potentially be harmed least by new development. Thus landscape considerations in relation to future policy need to encompass not only issues such as landform and the physical setting of settlements, (e.g. in urban extensions), but should also take historic elements of the landscape into account.

Staffordshire County Council is carrying out a project to consider such issues across the County, considering Lichfield District as a pilot for the remainder of the County.

The aim is firstly to provide an overview of the historic environment of the district through Historic Environment Character Assessment (HECAs) at a broad level (Phase 1), and secondly to undertake a more detailed assessment of the historic environment character for several buffered areas around Lichfield, Burntwood and Tamworth, and also around key rural settlements (Historic Environment Character Zones - HECZs) (Phase 2).

The project integrates the Historic Landscape Characterisation (HLC) information with the more site based data held by the Historic Environment Record (HERs).

The HLC is part of a national mapping project, carried out by Staffordshire County Council (SCC) in partnership with English Heritage, over three years and was completed in March 2006.

The aim of the HLC was to produce a broad assessment of the historic and archaeological dimensions of the county's landscape as it exists today.