New Topic Sheet produced to help communities assess their landscape and local distinctiveness
by Claire McGine, Head of Communications

Understanding the importance of your local landscape – a new resource to help communities

A new Topic Sheet introducing local distinctiveness and landscape assessment has been developed for use alongside the Community Led Planning Toolkit

Our local landscape is the backdrop to our daily lives. We often take it for granted and it is only when something changes we realise how much we value it. The Assessing and Maintaining Local Distinctiveness Topic Sheet has been developed to help put skills and techniques for explaining the importance of the local landscape into the hands of those best placed to say what they value – local people.

The Topic Sheet produced in partnership with Hampshire County Council (HCC) and Community Action Hampshire builds on guidance produced by HCC to help communities produce Local Landscape Character Assessments (LLCAs). Local Landscape Character Assessments provide a useful environmental framework and evidence base for local decision making, help structure environmental issues and provide information on what local people value about their landscape. Most importantly a LLCA can be used to provide an evidence base for future planning, for example if the community is considering writing a neighbourhood plan or can feed into a local authority’s planning system.

This Topic Sheet forms part of ACRE’s Community Led Planning Toolkit which will encourage communities to think about developing environmental actions as part of their Community Led Plan. It also case studies and signposts to more detailed support and resources. It is free to download from the ACRE website.

Notes for Editors:

1. Community Led Planning can be defined as a step-by-step process that enables every citizen to participate in, and contribute to improving the social, economic, environmental and cultural wellbeing of their local area. Already undertaken by approximately 4,000 communities across England, it represents an unparalleled opportunity for people to take responsibility for making things happen locally, rather than waiting on others to do it for them. ACRE | Our Work | Community Led Planning

2. ACRE has traditionally provided support to Rural Community Action Network (RCAN) members who help facilitate Parish Plans; a type of Community Led Plan frequently used by rural parishes.

3. The Rural Community Action Network covers the whole of rural England through the work of 38 local member organisations, eight regional bodies and ACRE. The local member organisations are all independent charities, largely county-based. As local development agencies, RCAN members have been facilitating social change in rural communities for decades by providing tailored and comprehensive support to rural communities to enhance their quality of life and access to services. With a strong focus on local advocacy and brokering relationships between rural community aspirations and local government strategies, RCAN members enhance the role of community action and self-reliance in rural areas across the country. ACRE | About RCAN

5. ACRE’s Community Led Planning Toolkit was launched in February 2012.It provides step-by-step guidance for communities who want to produce a holistic plan that will improve the wellbeing and sustainability of their neighbourhood; building on new rights introduced as part of the Localism Act.The complete toolkit, including Information Sheets, Advice Sheets, Resource Sheets and Topic Sheets can be obtained from RCAN members.

For more information about ACRE’s new Community Led Planning Toolkit, please contact:

Phillip Vincent

Team Leader (Community Led Planning and Housing)

01285 653477 (ext 101)