Woking Borough Council

CS24 Woking's landscape and townscape

Woking Borough has a varied landscape. Its townscape also benefits from attractive local and neighbourhood centres. It is essential that the character and sense of place conveyed by these different landscapes and townscapes are fully considered when making decisions that affect them. Future development should be well situated, and sensitive to its location, to protect the Borough's different character areas, whilst accommodating the change needed to contribute to environmental, social and economic objectives.

Landscape character is a distinct, recognisable and consistent pattern of elements in the landscape that makes one landscape different from another. Townscape character is the appearance and character of buildings and all other features of an urban area taken together to create a distinct visual impression. Landscape and townscape character is that which makes an area unique.

CS24: Woking's landscape and townscape

All development proposals will provide a positive benefit in terms of landscape and townscape character, and local distinctiveness and will have regard to landscape character areas.

To protect local landscape and townscape character, development will be expected to:

  • conserve, and where possible enhance existing character, especially key landscapes such as heathlands, escarpments and the canal/river network and settlement characteristics; maintain locally valued features, and enhance or restore deteriorating features
  • respect the setting of, and relationship between, settlements and individual buildings in the landscape
  • conserve, and where possible, enhance townscape character, including structure and land form, landscape features, views and landmarks, and appropriate building styles and materials
  • support land management practices that have no adverse impact on characteristic landscape patterns and local biodiversity

Reasoned justification

This policy does not seek to prevent changes to the landscape; its aim is to guide the direction of any change, whether initiated through new development or land management decisions, indicating sensitivities that should be considered in order to minimise negative impact, and provide the most positive opportunities for change.

Development in the urban fringe, adjoining the countryside, requires special consideration because these areas are most vulnerable to a range of adverse environmental pressures. It will be important to maintain the clear transition between the urban areas and the countryside and to ensure that development on the edge of the urban area does not create obtrusive and unattractive skylines. The urban fringe should be conserved and, where possible, be enhanced through appropriate landscape restoration, management and habitat creation.

Development will not normally be permitted on the slopes of the escarpments which are shown on the Proposals Map, or which would result in a significant reduction in the amount of tree cover. Development on the top of the escarpments will only be permitted where it would not adversely affect the character of the landscape.

The landscape values of canals, rivers and their valleys are an important attribute and can add considerably to the character of an area. Included in this definition are the:

  • Valley of the Wey and the Wey Navigation
  • Hoe Valley
  • Basingstoke Canal
  • Bourne Stream.

Policy CS24 will prevent development which would harm this visual quality by protecting the water course, its immediate banks and wider setting.

Delivery strategy

All new development must respect and, where appropriate, enhance the character and distinctiveness of the landscape character area in which it is proposed. Landscape enhancement works may be required to avoid adverse impacts associated with new developments.

Some schemes may require landscape assessments, depending on the size and location of proposals.

The Council will encourage the preparation of Design Statements for local and neighbourhoods by local amenity and community groups.

Monitoring and review

The number and content of landscape assessments submitted with planning applications.

Key evidence base

  • Character Study, October 2010, produced by The Landscape Partnership.