Policies are constructs. Case law establishes what the wording of a policy means or implies.
For example: what is a valued landscape? How is this assessed and what kind of value does it relate to? Also how does green belt relate to openness? And what is the relevance of setting for heritage assets etc?
Landscapes do not have to be designated to be valued – a landscape may be valued by someone who likes to walk their dog in it. However, a valued landscape has to have attributes which make it out of the ordinary and be more than just somewhere you walk your dog. The ‘Guidelines for Landscape and Visual Assessment’ (Third Edition) describes the factors that establish landscape value in Box 5.1. This shows that it is not just landscape quality and condition but can also include other factors such as rarity and association. This can also include perceptual qualities such as tranquility and other experiential features. Value is commensurate with statutory designation, but a non-designated area can also be within a valued landscape.
Versus Green Belt Openness
A greenbelt’s purpose relates to its openness and permanence; the prevention of coalescence; and the preservation and enhancement of the landscape setting of historic towns. But openness is not defined. It does not relate to visibility, although it contains a visual element but rather the absence of development. Openness may not equate to visual impact.
The Issue of Setting
There is a visual dimension to the preservation of the setting of a heritage asset. However, setting is not strictly defined in only visual terms and there does not have to be an inter-visibility between elements for there to be a historical relationship which is deemed significant. The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) states that the setting relates to the ‘surroundings in which a heritage asset is experienced’. Therefore, the perceptual qualities of a setting including noise and smell may also have some relevance (e.g. tranquility in the setting of a religious shrine). The NPPF also states, “extent is not fixed, and this may change as the asset and its surroundings evolve”.
Case law matters because it answers the question posed by loose policy wording.
NPPF Seminar, LI Seminar 21.02.2019 - Paul Brown QC, Landmark Chambers – What’s Law Got to do with it? The Future of Landscape Led Planning Under the NPPF
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