Cumbria, like everywhere else in Britain, is made up of a mosaic of different places and environments, each with their own unique character. This has been created through centuries of change and development and both tells a story about the past and provides the local distinctiveness that gives people a sense of place and historic identity. Cumbria's historic landscape is varied and greatly appreciated as an asset for the county's future.
Historic Landscape Characterisation Programme
In partnership with the Lake District National Park Authority a programme of work sponsored by English Heritage has been completed to map the elements of Cumbria's historic landscape using a Geographical Information System (GIS). The outcome is a series of interactive GIS-based maps that characterise the distinctive, historic dimension of today's environment in Cumbria. By using a GIS, different aspects of the landscape can be examined in isolation, for example, maps of former areas of parliamentary enclosure can be produced and those areas featuring some of the county's most ancient farms identified.
Using Historic Landscape Characterisation to inform decision making
Historic landscape characterisation can be used to inform the preparation of the county's future strategies for the historic environment, landscape and sustainability. It is a useful tool when undertaking environmental assessment at the strategic level to inform minerals planning policies for example, or to assess the county wide allocation of development land.
The results of the characterisation programme are being used to encourage the sustainable management of the important asset that is Cumbria's historic environment. Historic landscape characterisation is informing land-use planning, regeneration and environmental policies. Across the country it has shown that successful programmes of regeneration and new development are significantly enhanced when their planning is informed and influenced by a place's historic character, distinctiveness and identity.