Paragraph 170 of the National Planning Policy Framework seeks to protect and enhance valued landsacpes.  This has been the subject of a number of appeal decisions and again recently in a High Court challenge R (Campaign to Protect Rural England) v Herefordshire Council [2019] EWHC 3458 (Admin).  The court followed the guidance from the case of Preston New Road Acton Group [2018] and declined to set aside the Planning Officer’s Committee Report, which provided a balanced assessment rather than a legalistic and technical approach.

In an appeal decision in 2018, the Inspector observed ‘whilst there is no further definition in either the Framework or Planning Practice Guidance it seeks to recognise that landscapes do not have to be designated to be important.  Nevertheless, to benefit from this additional protection it seems clear that there should be attributes that take the landscape in question beyond mere countryside’.  She concluded ‘Although I do not consider the appeal site to be a valued landscape it is part of an attractive area of countryside that is not untypical of its landscape character area…..  To my mind the appeal scheme would result in signficant harm in terms of both [the landscape and visual impacts]… and would fail to recognise the intrinsic character and beauty of the countryside, which is a core planning principle of the Framework.’

In that case, although not a Valued Landscape the appeal proposals were contrary to Local Plan policies, which sought to protect the countryside.

We strongly recommend that proposals likely to impact on the countryside are supported by a Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment.