How do you measure the value of a view?
This was the challenge set for the South Downs National Park Viewshed Study, completed by Landuse Consultants in 2015, and now shortlisted for a Landscape Institute Award 2016.
The ‘diverse, inspirational landscapes and breathtaking views’ of the South Downs are recognised as one of the seven special qualities of the National Park – in effect the reasons why the National Park exists today. From our high ground you can see for 20km or more and many of these views look beyond the National Park’s boundaries, out into some of the most populous parts of the country with high pressure for development.
Landuse Consultants were commissioned to provide evidence on the views from the National Park and what makes them special so that they can be protected and improved for future generations. They produced a series of simple interactive tools available to be used by anyone – including the 176 Town and Parish Councils and 52 Neighbourhood plan areas across the National Park.
Among the innovative tools available is a Google Earth virtual flight over the National Park with additional layers that provide detailed research out our landscapes. It is also possible to experience selected views as 360 degree panoramas.
The Viewshed study will form part of the landscape evidence base for the South Downs National Park Local Plan and we are already using it to consider how proposed changes in land use might impact our landscapes when deciding planning applications.
The winner of the Landscape Institute Awards will be announced on Thursday 24 November at an event hosted by Simon Reeve.