Ashford Landscape Character Assessment
English Partnerships and Ashford Borough Council commissioned Studio Engleback to carry out a Landscape Character Assessment for the area around Ashford, Kent. The study has been carried out over a 15 month period and has involved a field survey of the rural resource around the town. The area extends approximately 3 kilometres around the present town limits, covering a study area exceeding 100 square kilometres. The field work was confined to access by the network of public rights of ways – roads, lanes, bridleways and footpaths. Our study referred to the wider County Landscape Character Areas and County Landscape Strategy, evolved by KCC and Babtie. The studio then defined the landscape description units within this framework, using the Historical Landscape Character Study by KCC, English Heritage and the Oxford Archaeological Unit. Like units were aggregated to form larger District Landscape Types, which were assessed by our in-house team of landscape architects and ecologists.
An extensive data set was created for over 250 parcels of land, in 58 District Landscape Types, covering 12 Country Landscape Areas. Here we illustrate how landscape character and natural processes can be maintained and enhanced, whilst also looking to the ‘Green Infrastructure’ requirements of a town for water and energy management. These ‘Green Services’ are therefore set within the biodiversity and heritage conservation aspirations for the area. Bringing together these diverse and complex issues, with a deep understanding of the locale, is at the heart of what we term ecourbanism. This study helped to inform the Local Development Framework and future planning policy for Ashford.