The ECS and GI Strategy represent new and exciting planning and design tools that have no parallels anywhere in the country. The full suite of documents provides a significant amount of information and guidance that will be of interest to anyone involved in the planning, design or management of the environment.
The following section provides a basic introduction to the full suite of resources that are available and guidance on how the specific components can be used.
Environmental policy for Northamptonshire sits within the framework of national and regional policy and guidance. Strategic and local policies relating to the ECA, HLCA, BCA and CLCA contained in Local Development Frameworks (LDFs) are an important step ensuring the character of Northamptonshire is protected and enhanced in the future. Policies should be referred to and acted upon by anyone who actions will result in a material change in the appearance or function of the physical environment.
Strategy and Guidelines provide a strategic framework in respect of Northamptonshire's historic landscape, current landscape and biodiversity character. They are designed to assist Local Planing Authorities and Local Delivery Vehicles, developers and land managers, and organisations and individuals who have the ability to influence and implement land use changes across the county. A brief Landscape Strategy Statement is provided for each CLCA, BCA or HCLA Character Type which provides the context for an introduction to the more detailed generic Guidelines. The strategy and guidelines for the HCLA, BCA and CLCA should be read in conjunction with the corresponding character assessment.
A suite of character assessments and supporting mapping has been prepared to provide an up-to-date description of the physical environment of Northamptonshire. Three parallel studies of historic landscape (HCLA), current landscape (CLCA) and biodiversity character (BCA) provide significant amounts of detail that can help designers, developers and land managers understand their locality. The ECA is an overarching assessment that draws these studies together into a more strategic and holistic picture of environmental character in the county.
A significant amount of baseline environmental data can be accessed and used to inform an understanding about a site or area. This should be used as part of a desk study prior to undertaking any form of site work. How the various features identified contribute to landscape, historic and biodiversity character should be understood prior to making decisions about their future management. In addition to the baseline data, simple summary maps of the physiography or land cover can be accessed as well as full aerial photographic coverage.
The ambitious and groundbreaking nature of the two initiatives has seen the scope of both the EC and GI Strategies develop rapidly to meet the challenges of the growth agenda and the radical changes to the planning system. Further and ongoing developments are anticipated but the original concept anticipated this andmade provision for the future proofing of the environmental base line data sets.
This set clear a clear programme to ensure the currency of the ECS, starting with a base line date of 2005 with a Quinquennial review and updating of the Biodiversity Character study, which will monitor change and progress in respect of habitats, and a Quinquennial review and updating of Green Infrastructure.
These would be undertaken in 2010, with a review and updating of the whole suite of studies in 2015. These will be co-ordinated by the RNRP who will provide continuing support for the integrity and management of the ECS and GI suites in support of the achievement of the goal of Positive Environmental Planning in Northamptonshire.