logo - The Countryside Agency    
title - Countryside Character Initiative

graphic: countryside viewEngland has a rich, diverse and beautiful landscape. This unique legacy is not just about biodiversity or landscape or history. It is about the juxtaposition of town, country and coast, of land form and land use, of history and progress that create the many facets of England's character. Contrasts in local character make Dartmoor different from Exmoor, Cannock Chase different from the Hampshire heathlands and farmlands in Cheshire different from those in Sussex. These differences set one area apart from those adjacent to it and make all of them special to the people who live there. To recognise the variation in countryside character is to understand how the many influences upon it combine to give different areas a unique 'sense of place'.

The Countryside Character Initiative came about because it was recognised that there was a need for a new approach to landscape assessment which would look at the whole of England's countryside - rather than just specific designated areas - and provide a consistent national framework within which more detailed local landscape assessments would sit.

This new approach led to the task of mapping the country into 159 separate, distinctive character areas. The features that define the landscape of each area are recorded in individual descriptions which explain what makes one area different from another and shows how that character has arisen and how it is changing. These maps and descriptions of these 159 character areas are now being published in eight full-colour volumes. The text can be accessed here. Go to our publications section if you wish to purchase one of our publications about this work.

If you require the digital boundaries for the character areas, please email: info@countryside.gov.uk


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