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Landscape and visual impact assessment

What is a Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment?

A Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment looks at:

  • the magnitude of change
  • the sensitivity of the landscape

The results are used to measure of the significance of the effect of a development on the landscape.

The acceptability of a proposed development is decided by how much the long term landscape and visual effects are significant.

Understanding the character quality and value of the landscape determines the sensitivity of that landscape to accommodate change through development.

Cumbria County Council have carried out an assessment of landscape character within the County. The adopted South Lakeland Plan identifies the different designations of landscape. The Local Plan is to be replaced by a Local Development Framework in the next 2-3 years.

The sensitivity of people to changes in view is dependent upon the activity, location and nature of the view experienced:

  • people engaged in outdoor sports or occupiers of commercial buildings are considered to be of low sensitivity
  • road users, secondary footpath users and views from upper storeys of residential properties of medium sensitivity.
  • residents experiencing views from principal rooms, users of strategic recreational footpaths and people visiting well-known beauty spots are considered of high sensitivity to change.

When is a Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment required?

  • a Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment will only be needed for major schemes, which are likely to have a significant visual impact within the landscape
  • a Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment will be required for all applications where an Environmental Impact Assessment is required

If you are unsure whether an assessment is required you should contact a Planning Officer at an early stage.

If a Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment is not submitted with an application and it is deemed necessary then the application will remain invalid until an appropriate assessment is received.

As this form of assessment is a technical document any report should ideally be compiled by a qualified landscape architect.

Further Guidance

Landscape and Visual Assessment Guidance:

The following guidance outlines the appropriate methodology for carrying out Landscape and Visual Assessments.

Guidelines for Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment published jointly by the Landscape Institute and the Institute of Environmental Assessment in 2002.

Landscape Character Assessment; Guidance for England and Scotland published by the Countryside Agency and Scottish Natural Heritage in 2002.

Landscape Character Information:

A detailed landscape character assessment for the County has been carried out by Cumbria County Council.